Missouri – Days 1-2: Catching up with Friends and Dealing with Darkness

Brittany Swanson   April 25, 2016   Comments Off on Missouri – Days 1-2: Catching up with Friends and Dealing with Darkness

I started my day in Kansas City at Loose Park. It is so beautiful there I could have stayed all day and been perfectly content. Spring is so pretty. I’m glad the flowers are finally blooming and everything is green again. It makes me so happy.

Such a beautiful day at such a beautiful park, Loose Park, Kansas City, MO.

Such a beautiful day at such a beautiful park, Loose Park, Kansas City, MO.

When I arrived in Kansas City I realized a friend from college lives there now and it just so happened she was free most of the day. After a couple hours at the park I met up with her and we went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It’s a pretty typical art museum. Lots of classics. Even the architecture was classical. Once we’d seen enough of the museum we wandered down to the Plaza, which has some really neat architecture. We walked around the Plaza and Bailey took me to The Better Cheddar where we tried samples of lots of different interesting cheeses. So good! Then we headed back to the art museum and sat on their lawn and chatted for a couple more hours. It was so great to see her again and catch up.

That night I drove up to St. Joseph, a suburb of Kansas City, and stayed with my friend Tegan, who I know from high school. She took me to this place called 54 Street for dinner. I had a veggie burger and it was delicious. Then we went to this place called Cabana for ice cream which was also quite tasty and spent the rest of the night catching up on each other’s lives. Fun fact: Tegan is in medical school with Bailey’s (the girl I went to the art museum with earlier) sister Emily. AND Tegan and Emily know each other. Small. World.

The next morning I woke up at six a.m. to try to be productive as possible as soon as possible  before continuing on with my day. I sent out requests for Couchsurfing hosts and emailed a guy about a farm in Hawaii. I even worked out and took a shower. I’d given myself a leave-by-this-time alarm, but somehow set it later than I meant to. I’d pre-purchased a ticket to go up the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but I had to make it by a certain time. I sped, slightly, the whole way there and was making good time until I only had twenty minutes to go. I should have made it fifteen minutes before the fifteen minutes early I was supposed to get there. Instead I ended up being fifteen minutes late.

Oh, how I raged in the car. The whole drive across Missouri was horrible. People were driving in the left lane going ten miles under the speed limit and it was driving me bonkers. I hate when I feel rushed and when I have to be somewhere at a certain time, but I had to get to the Arch, I’d already bought my ticket. I barely spend money on things any more so not making it was simply not an option.

I literally got so mad I started crying and then sobbing. It was awful. There was so much negative energy in me it was making me feel like complete crap.

When I finally got to the Arch I’d missed my tour. I went to the counter just in case… The lady told me to go around the corner, so I did. There was a line of people and an official looking guy talking and handing out tickets. I didn’t want to interrupt him, so I just stood in line. He passed out tickets to the whole line of what looked like a school group. After giving tickets to the people in front of me he had one left which he gave to me.

Astounded by my luck I decided to say nothing. Once inside we got a tour guide to tell us more about the Arch. Our guide was terrible. He kept stumbling over his words which sounded rehearsed, but clearly not enough. Meanwhile, I’m still in a crappy mood despite my luck and that it didn’t matter that I was late because I was going to make it up in the Arch anyway. Instead I’m sour because the group I’m tagging along with is from Eastern Kentucky and they have the most awful, grating Southern accent I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my headphones so I couldn’t tune them out. Not to mention that the kids were middle schoolers on a field trip so they were extra crazy.

If you’ve never been in the Arch going up is kind of awful. You’re in this little pod thing with four other people and it rocks kind of like a ferris wheel, but the only thing you get to see on the multiple minute ride up is the innards of the Arch which are not really that interesting. It’s especially terrible if you happen to be in a pod thing with a lady who’s feeling claustrophobic, which sends her daughter into a mild panic and it’s all exacerbated by the fact that they have those horrible Eastern Kentucky Southern accents. But perhaps that was just me.

I made it to the top, took some pictures and then was feeling a little claustrophobic myself surrounded by all those people in this small space, knowing my only way down was back in a pod.

View of St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO.

View of St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO.

Needless to say, I went back down on the first available pod. On the drive up to the Arch I’d noticed some cool street art, so when I got back down I decided to take a walk to go check it out and hopefully chill myself out. What I had thought was just a small wall of graffiti was actually the start of a whole wall following a road. It was super sweet. I also really appreciated that a couple of kids were taking prom pictures with the art as their background. What a great idea!

I really like how whimsical this street art near the Gateway Arch is, St. Louis, MO.

I really like how whimsical this street art near the Gateway Arch is, St. Louis, MO.

I was still feeling super irritated when I was getting ready to head to my host’s house so before I left I got rid of some of my extra negative energy by chucking driftwood back into the river. It wasn’t as destructive as I might have liked in the moment, but it did make me feel better.

As I drove down my host’s road I was looking at the house numbers trying to find the right one. After maybe three seconds I looked back at the road and all of a sudden there was this seven year old blond girl right at my passenger side wheel. She’d ran out from behind a parked car and nearly ran straight into and under my car, but then just as quickly ran back. I kept staring at the place she’d just been and then shifted my gaze and made eye contact with who I can only assume was her mother and she gave me a “did-you-just-almost-hit-my-kid?!” look and I responded with a “holy-crap-I-almost-hit-your-kid!!” look. I parked a few car lengths away and as soon as I shut the car off I noticed I was shaking. I almost ended a person’s life with my car. Utterly terrifying.

After that hell of a day I chatted with my hosts for a bit while we had dinner and then went to bed early ready to put the day behind me.

In the morning I got up and, per my hosts’ suggestion checked out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and all its mosaic art, which was actually pretty freaking cool. I probably didn’t get to see all of it though because I was there on a Saturday during Mass. Whoops. I didn’t know Saturday Mass was a thing. I mean, maybe I did, at some point, but I didn’t remember at the time, or even realize it was a Saturday, for that matter.

All the mosaics in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, MO.

All the mosaics in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, MO.

I swung by the post office to get some more stamps and mail a letter and then drove by abortion protesters in front of a clinic. I was still in sort of a residual funk from the day before, so this set me off again. I mean seriously, I totally respect that people are ProLife, but I do not respect anyone who chooses to camp out in front of a clinic and intimidate women. That’s just wrong. Clearly no one has ever stood in the protesters way and made them fear for their lives, or I doubt they’d be standing there, because they would understand how utterly terrifying being surrounded would feel.

I know Missouri was a bit of a downer, so to end on a happy note: Google Maps finally updated to remember my preferences so I can set it to avoid tolls all the time now, which is super convenient.