Recently, my wife and I realized that it had not been since December of 2019 that we had been away on a trip by ourselves, which was right before the pandemic hit. Once we were vaccinated and able to travel again in 2021, it was trips to visit our kids, their spouses, and our grandkids that took priority. That continued into 2022 at least until the week after Easter when we got away for the weekend.
Knowing we really only had the weekend, we decided to drive somewhere fairly close by that would give us the feeling of being away. We first thought of Hot Springs, AR where my parents had retired to, and where our son and granddaughter had recently visited.
We had not been there since my parents’ death over 20 years ago but when we saw it was the height of horse racing season, we decided to save that destination for another time. Exploring several other options, we settled on traveling to St. Louis, MO, an easy trek of less than 300 miles.
Living this close to St. Louis, we had actually been there several other times on family vacations so when talking of things to do, we decided to skip all the things most tourists see on their first trips such as the Arch and all the nice free museums. My wife found us an historic hotel in downtown that interestingly had been frequented by Cary Grant whenever he came to town.
Our drive up in the afternoon went well and soon we checked into our hotel.
Rather than venturing out that night, we decided to start off our weekend by relaxing with a spicy drink (what our grandchildren call our adult beverages) at the hotel restaurant. After only a few sips, my wife proclaimed this get away was exactly what we needed; I heartily agreed. As we made our way over to our dinner table, we noticed on the walls there were a series of black & white photos of Cary Grant obviously taken on the set of the movie North by Northwest. Dining on a delicious Italian dish (you know St. Louis does outstanding Italian), we learned Grant always stayed in a certain suite whenever he was in town.
Saturday morning, we started off our day visiting the Missouri Botanical Gardens. It was wonderful to see so many tulips in bloom, not that this could make up for one of my springtime trips to Amsterdam, but still impressive displays.
Everywhere we explored, there was a tremendous variety of plants, all well labeled. Looking around, we were both amazed at how large the park was. And then when we went into the geodesic domed conservatory, we saw many tropical plants that we had never seen before. And in the middle of some, were beautiful glassworks by Dale Chihuly, my favorite glass artist.
While there, we toured the summer home of the person who donated the property for the park, Henry Shaw and then we toured the Japanese gardens.
By early afternoon, it was becoming quite warm and so we decided to take our leave after having spent several hours there. We could have easily spent our entire day there.
Our next stop was the Delmar Loop, acclaimed as one of the 10 great streets in America. Along the way, we stopped off at some of the stars along the walk of fame—much akin to the famous Hollywood stars—these famous people either born in St. Louis or who adopted it as their home.
After walking along the shady side of the street marveling at the variety of shops, we decided to get out of the heat for a while and enjoy a local craft beer. Satiated and cooled off, we made our way back to a vintage record store where my wife added some treasures to her ever expanding collection of vinyl albums.
We then headed off to the Contemporary Art Museum. It was a small venue, but I was intrigued by this piece.
That night, we walked over to a nice craft beer and wine restaurant where we enjoyed local beers and some fine wine along with some more delicious food.
Sunday morning before heading out, we went down to Soulard with plans to eat breakfast at the Farmers’ Market—only to learn it was closed on Sunday. We happened upon a crowded restaurant nearby for a huge breakfast that kept us full all the way home.
As we drove home, we both commented on what a special weekend getaway it had been and how much fun we had had together.
With several more work activities and family trips coming up, it was nice to squeeze in some recharging time for ourselves. Hopefully it won’t be another three years before we get out and do this again!