Thursday, December 27, 2012

DAY 124- St. Louis, MO...

My hotel was situated right near the base of the St. Louis Arch which was rather neat to be so close to, but my room happened to be facing the downtown area.  It was a very nice view especially at night with the lights of the city.  I woke up to the same basic view only with the sun starting to reflect on some of the buildings and I could see a bit of the shadow of the arch falling on some of the buildings.  I walked across the street from my hotel in the morning to get a good photo of the arch.   Then, I walked a bit of the park area around it but the wind had picked up overnight and it was very chilly out.
Photos- St. Louis from my hotel window at night and in the morning.

Photo- The St. Louis Arch.
Next, I found myself on my way to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis on the west side of downtown.  I had been told that I had to visit this Basilica if I ever went through St. Louis.  It looked HUGE from the outside but I was not prepared for how amazing it was on the inside.  I walked in the door and was greeting by a gentleman at the visitor’s stand just inside the front foyer.  I was told that I could take pictures, where the gift shop was, and that there was a museum downstairs. 
Photo- The outside of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Walking down the main aisle of the church I was in awe as the music from the choir floated down around me in the surrounding beauty of the Basilica.   The choir was practicing for the Christmas midnight mass.  I could almost feel like I was in the presence of God amid all of this beauty and sounds of harmony floating around the HUGE open areas of the Basilica.  I sat at a pew to just take it all in and I was almost to the point of tears.  I felt full of emotions.  It was just all so much beauty to take in at once.  Wow! 
Photos- The wonderful interior of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

The interior was full of marbled columns, arches with mosaic tiles, and painted frescos.  At the center above the alter there was a large dome area that went at least 30 ft. above the main floor area.  Everywhere I turned was a new beauty that I took my breathe away.  Off of the main pew church seating area there’s several hallways where there are chapel areas with smaller statues of Mary and a baby Jesus, and among others.  Off on onside there was a row of Christmas trees along with a smaller Christmas manger which almost seemed out of place in a majestic place such as this Basilica.
Photo- Forest Park in St. Louis, MO.

Next on my way to find the Interstate heading west then north out of St. Louis, I wandered into Forrest Park.  Forest Park is a large city park in St. Louis that has a city zoo in one corner of the area and surrounds the St. Louis Art Museum.  There’s a large pond like area in the middle of it.  Out on the pond there are several fountains sprouting up and out.  There were walking/running trail paths.  People were out on them; some of them even with their dogs.  I imagine on a warmer day this park would have been packed.  There also was a large statue of Saint Louis riding on a horse.  I got out and walked around for a short bit around the park.  The whole park took up what would have been several city blocks.  It was a very large space with trees and grassy areas.  Right now, it was mostly barren trees and yellowed grassy areas but in the height of the late Spring time I would guess that this would be an amazing place to just come spend some time.

Next, I was off on the interstate heading north towards eastern Iowa.  The plan was to spend the holidays in Iowa with family.  That is something I will admit that I have not done in years.  Quite often, the driving conditions between Salt Lake City and eastern Iowa are not ideal in the winter time.  This year so far had been a mild winter and I thought it would be an easy ride into Iowa coming from the south.  I didn’t see a hint of snow until I reached the northern portion of Missouri. 
Photo- The Iowa scene as I drove north towards my hometown of Cedar Rapids, IA.

The roads were still clear with a bit of snow of new snow off to the side as I got into Iowa.  There was a bit of patches of ice under the over passes here and there but for the most part it was wonderfully clear sailing on the interstate.  The only real touchy driving conditions came when I ventured off of the main roads and onto side roads as I got close to my old neighborhood in Cedar Rapids; slow and steady was the key here.  But my front wheel drive always makes it easier to drive in these conditions.  But there is also the added benefit that I learned to drive in Iowa’s winter.  I feel very comfortable on winter roads driving but please don’t ever ask me to parallel park.  I made such good time I was there about 40 minutes earlier than what Mom was expecting me.   She didn’t complain about my showing up early.  She was very happy to see me.

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