Gates of the West

Trip Start Jul 20, 2002
Trip End Sep 05, 2002

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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Wednesday, July 31, 2002

For someone making the drive frome ast to west, hitting St. Louis is a major milestone. The traditional "gateway to the west" is marked by the St. Louis Arch (Jefferson's monument to the notion of Manifest Destiny) and the crossing of the mighty Mississippi River. I reckon the Mississippi doesn't have the mystique it once possessed, that mine was perhaps the last generation to be reared with familiarty of all thinks Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Mark Twain. But it is still a tremendously powerful symbol of American mythology to me, and crossing it is always an event. Plus, this was my first time crossing it on my own, driving myself west rather than riding int he back of my parents' car.

I'd also never actually been up into the Arch or the accompany museum. Both were well worth the trip. Ellie and I picked up a Parks passport, which allows you to get a little stamp for each National Park you visit so you can look back and try to remember what all of them were. Some are easy. Others, since we then determined to visit every park we came across, are more obscure. But a summer spent with a US National Parks pass is a good time.

The Arch museum was great, with a ton of weird anamotronic dioramas that creeped kids out. To go up the arch, you sit in a little egg shaped pod designed to let you know what Mork from Ork felt like. They zip you up to the top, where everyone gets to crowd around little windows and look out either upon the sprawl of St. Louis to the west or the span of the Mississippi River to the east. Either way, it all meant one thing to me: we were heading west.
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