Monday April 15th 2019
Woke up pumped for this day with our new reality slowly setting in. This was our new life waking up to a new adventure everyday and today was our 1st of many National Parks visits.
St. Louis was insane with overly uneven and unkept brick roads and offered no RV Parking. I ended up jumping out and to a car lot attendee who basically laughed at me when I asked the question where to park. He did thankfully point us to the road over that had metered parking if we could fit, we could park. We took up 2 spots in 2 hour parking so I paid for one spot for 2 hours and hoped if I quick paid for the next after those first 2 hours were up that I could avoid tickets. It worked no parking tickets!!!
We walked down the ragged old brick street and sidewalks, under the subway station and entered into another world of delicately kept grass, gardens and walkways. Very beautiful area wish I could see it in full bloom.
Making our way to Gateway Arch National Park, just dedicated a park last year by the way! There is no entrance fee to this astounding architecture that is beyond me. Get this the entrance is underground, yes you read that right. First section is where you buy your tickets. They say its a good idea to plan ahead as most tours often sell out. We bought ours online the night before and opted for the email version where all they have to do is scan a barcode on your phone. If you do this option make sure you take a screen shot of each ticket barcode as there is no service at the actual entrance point of tour, a very nice park ranger informed us of that. I’m not big on technology so had to ask how it worked. thankfully.
We paid $25.00 all together for our tram ride to the top of Arch.
Once tickets are secured you go thru actual security removing all things from pockets and belts. Head down the stairs into the world of the Arch. Several rooms presenting the history of not only the Arch but of St. Louis itself also including a fun throwback to the Oregon Trail game.
They will not accept you early and must wait until actual time of your tour. We got in line at 12:50 for our 1pm tour and still didn’t get a boarding pass until almost 1:30 so plan accordingly. Once you got that boarding pass in hand you go even further underground where a tour guide shows you a short history video and explains the proceedings. Little did I know what I was really in for!
A legit egg shaped space capsule looking tram car is what was going to bring us almost 630 feet up. Ummmm.…….I’m not one for small spaces and this was an extra small space that we crammed 5 adults and 1 toddler in. I was shaking looking around at the lack of air holes and how the door was about to shut us in this tombstone lol. Yea I got extremely claustrophobic and was literally calming myself down. It’s just a 4 min ride to the top I got this, while Phoenix thought it was the coolest thing ever. 7 min ride round trip, I found that to be amazing. Something else I found amazing was the how widespread our tour group of 40 was. We had people from Vancouver, Las Vegas, San Antonio, South Carolina, Chicago and of course us Cheeseheads!
Not even joking once at the top and walking over the hump of the Arch at 630 feet up my knees buckled. I literally crouched down and bout lost my heart when leaning over to lookout the very small rectangle windows. HOLY SHIT!! You could see the whole damn city of St. Louis and then some to the west. East was unique bridges finding their way across the powerful Mississippi.
Great reception called for paying our next 2 hours of parking and a video call with my parents just so they could see the spectacular sights themselves.
Panickily walking back to the RV to see if it was still there in one piece and without parking tickets. We are clearly not meant for the big city.
Quick snack of “Ants on the log” before getting the hell out of the city. Stopped in O’Fallon Illinois for a gas fill and learned taking the interstate was smooth riding but such a waste of gas.
In 2.5 hours we would find our home in southern Illinois for the next 2 days, Oak Point Campground in Shawnee National Forest. Super pretty area with beautiful Redbud trees everywhere. We arrived just before dusk so we were unable to enjoy the true beauty. Paying only $22 per night for a single electric/water site and free showers! Deal! Jason set up camp while Phoenix and I walked up to pay for the site. Glad he came with cause there was a cat I’m assuming the camp host’s that looked identical to our Applejacks. (our cat that my grandma took in)
Back at camp Phoenix was ready to go and was such a big boy helping us gather firewood. I had the honor of starting our first fire and had it going in no time. We kicked backed and watched Phoenix play till way past his bed time. Once we finally got him in bed it was almost impossible for him to fall asleep with all the yelps from coyotes and the incredibly loud owls hooting and hollering. Lets just say I sang Rock-A-Bye-Baby several times.
Jason and I were finally able to enjoy ourselves. So we brought out the fireball and watched the fire till it grew dim and called her night.