The Gateway to the West

gateway  008Continuing our westward drive, we made an overnight stop in St. Louis, which was about halfway between Louisville and Kansas City,  where we were headed next to visit a friend.

gateway  010gateway  024birthday-balloons-56thgateway  001This was our first casino overnighter, and we chose the Casino Queen because it was centrally located and accessible to a little touring and dining nearby.   I was impressed when a security person immediately drove over to check us out.  He was very courteous and directed us to the specific area where we should park.  It was a gravel lot, level, and fairly large.  There was one other RV and one truck already in the lot in the early afternoon when we arrived.

It was Hector’s birthday and we planned to visit the Gateway Arch and go out to a nice dinner in the evening.  We settled in and walked Angel on a big grassy field behind the gravel parking lot.

Next we headed over to the Arch, which I’d never seen.  It’s an impressive and lovely symbol of the role of the city of St. Louis in the westward expansion of the United States.

gateway  003The Gateway Arch is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson, who bought the Louisiana Territory in the Louisiana Purchase and made westward expansion possible.

gateway  026gateway  011gateway  012The Memorial encompasses a total of 91 acres, which includes the Old Courthouse, Luther Ely Smith Square and some surrounding streets (managed as easements).  The 62 acres that include the Gateway Arch structure and the surrounding landscape were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

The Arch itself is made of steel and concrete, stands 630 feet high (63 stories) with a span of 630 feet at ground level between the outer sides of the legs, and weighs 17,246 tons.  It’s really quite beautiful.  And the story of its construction is also fascinating.

gateway  013The Museum of Westward Expansion, located inside the Arch, preserves some of the rarest artifacts from the days of Lewis and Clark.  The exhibits explore the world of the American Indians and the 19th century pioneers who helped shape the history of the American West.  The museum was fascinating although it closed before we were able to get through it.  Definitely worth a longer visit.

gateway  023

photo-2We returned to our temporary “campsite” to change, and gave Angel her second walk on the nice grassy area behind us.   There is an RV campground (owned by the Casino) on the other side of the field, but it  was closed for the season.  But we still enjoyed the field.  So far, I was pretty happy with our free overnight.

The birthday celebration continued at a barbecue restaurant that evening.  The restaurant had the second World Series game on.  It was fun to see a small crowd of St. Louis fans rooting for their team, who won that game (but ultimately not the Series).

gateway  027gateway  028The birthday boy had his fill of barbecue and free dessert and we headed back to Island Girl.  A couple of other RV’s and trucks were camped for the night.  Both the lot and the field were (very) brightly lit, so Angel got an evening walk on the grass.  We’d planned to have a drink at the casino (we don’t really gamble), to patronize the place offering us a free night, which is a “rule” we normally follow.  But, alas, we were too tired and pooped out.  So, I’m hoping this nice review of our overnight at the Casino Queen will slightly make up for that 🙂

The following day, we continued to head west, following the footsteps of many before us.

~ Brenda

5 thoughts on “The Gateway to the West

  1. GREAT arch pics! How did you get the sky so blue??? St. Louis is a great town to explore, so much history and great folks! And the ribs… Glad you enjoyed and thanks for the pics.

  2. It is to bad you could not stay in St.Louis longer. There are many things that I think you would love to see. If you are ever back in town you may want too stay at Babler state park. We camp host there a lot. It is 20 min out of down town, with a lot of shopping and places to eat. Also the town of St.Charles Mo is very close and has a lot of history you may like.

    • We would have liked to stay longer, there was more to see even at the Arch Museum and surrounding gardens but we were on a timeline to get back to Denver. Thanks for the tip on the Babler State park, we love staying at state parks, and 20 minutes is quite close to town. Usually you have to stay in one of those “parking lot” type parks to be that close. We will certainly check Babler as well as St. Charles out next time we are in town.

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