Friday, July 28, 2017

A Good Time In The Gateway City Part 1

Hello again everyone. I haven't posted in over a week for a couple of reasons. 

One of them is something we all have experienced. My laptop's hard drive decided that it no longer wanted to work. So data backup and weighing my options on what to do going forward (repair or replace) became a top priority. 

The other reason for not posting was that my wife and I took a mini-vacation this past weekend. Our time there hanging with our friends and exploring the city, is enough to require a 2 post series to write about all the details I want to share with you. 

It was a trip that had its origin 6 months ago. Here's the story of our mid-July trip to St. Louis, MO. 

Back in January, I was watching NBC's Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Two of his guests were Steve Martin & Martin Short. 
The show was a rerun from October 2016. 
They were promoting their national tour.
I thought it would be fun to go see them if they were coming to our area. 

I looked their touring schedule and sure enough they were coming to Nashville in early spring. Then I saw a date in mid-summer in St. Louis.
 This got my attention for several reasons. I will expound on most of them later. For this post I want to explain one reason. 

My friend, Mark, who lives in St. Louis, and I are both very big Steve Martin fans. As a matter of fact, one of the very first things we connected on was talking about the "Wild and Crazy" guy's stand up comedy. 

I couldn't think of anyone else I would rather have with me when going to see Martin in person, than Mark. We hadn't seen the Quigley's, since September of last year. 

I got in touch with him and we decided that the Martin/Short show would be a part of a weekend visit with them.

Six months later, on Thursday July 20, we made the 5 hour drive to the "Gateway to the west" reuniting with our good friends. 

Shortly after we arrived and unpacked the car it was time to go pick up Patty at the downtown hospital where she works. From there we would head to the theater on North Grand Boulevard. 

We purposely arrived a couple of hours before showtime. We planned on enjoying dinner at the diner right next to The Fox Theater. It's appropriately named the Stage Left Diner. 
At first I found the diner's name rather strange because if you face it from the street it's the to the right of The Fox. But as I would learn a little later, in perspective to the theater it's actually on "stage left". 

It's a nice little place that's decorated in a retro style. But it's not over the top like a Johnny Rockets. 

The menu is typical diner fare based mostly on burgers and fries. They also offer tater tots. 

The four of us ordered a variety of dishes. I got a Swiss mushroom burger and fries. 

I must say that, at best the food was average or below. It wasn't bad for what it was. The place is probably more of a convenience for theater patrons than anything else. 

But the best thing about it was the company. Even though it had been nearly 9 months since we'd seen Mark & Patty, after only a few minutes it seemed like it was only yesterday.  
The main problem with the diner was the volume of the music they played. I can't say it was "background" music because it really interfered with our conversation. As a matter of fact it even made it hard to communicate with our waiter. I'm still not sure of his name. 

After we ate it was time to head on over to the Fox Theater. 
I had a real excitement about getting to see Steve Martin live. I had my ticket in hand as I headed toward the multiple doorways. I chose one that was being held open by a very welcoming door man. 

He was so upbeat and friendly with his greetings that I decided that I needed to get a selfie with him. 
 Upon entering the front doors I had no idea the wonder I was about to encounter. It was an overwhelming sight. I started taking pictures and shooting video. 

After looking around and taking lots of pictures we made our way up the 3 sets of winding stairs to our place seats in the 
upper balcony. We were 3 stories above the stage just a few rows from the top of the seating area. This was our view of the stage. 

The show was 2 hours long with no intermission. It was very entertaining. You could tell that a lot of the material was scripted but it didn't matter. This was Steve Martin and Martin Short. The Steep Canyon Rangers music also added to the quality of the show. 

Now it may seem that I've written a lot about the theater and the show but there's a lot more. I will devote an entire post to the details of the show and The "Fabulous Fox" in the near future. 

By the time the show started at little after 7:30 we were ready to have a good time. 
The show ended about 9:30 and we headed back to Mark & Patty's town house for the night. They were gracious enough to allow us to stay with them during our visit. 

Shortly after getting home we said "good night." Although we'd been in St. Louis for a few hours it was already enough to make for a great weekend. and it would only get better as the days went along. 

The next day, unfortunately, Patty had to work again. So it was just Mark, Paula and me for most of the day. 

Mark was gracious enough to make us a delicious breakfast of bacon & eggs with toast. 

After breakfast we had to decide what we wanted to do for the day. The area was in the grasp of a mid western summer heat wave (triple digit temperatures) whatever we decided we knew it was going to have to be indoors. So at my suggestion we headed to the West County Mall. I wanted to go to the Lego store.

Now, I know you are probably saying yourself, "He's on vacation. Why go to a Lego store?"

The answer to that is that the store was only 10 minutes from the Quigley's town house. The drive there and back was less than 1/3 of the time it takes for me even to get to the Lego Store in Nashville. Knowing that, I almost had to go. 

Also, I wanted to get the new kit that's only available to VIP members before August. 
I also got a special "with purchase" kit too. 
We also went to the "Go!" toy and games store just across from the Lego store. I got a surprise for my granddaughter that I'll give her one day soon. 

We enjoyed a snack in the food court and then headed out. 

Mark & Patty were still looking for a house to buy while we were there. Mark was prudent in keeping an eye on what, over the last few months, had proven to be a very fast moving real estate market. 

He found a house that they might be interested in that was on the way back to their town house. From the mall we drove by the house and looked around at the exterior. He would have to set up an appointment with their agent to see the inside later. 

Patty got home from work a little after 5. We enjoyed a nice dinner of rotisserie chicken and veggies. 

Our evening outing was a trip across town to a nationally famous St. Louis landmark.  

Ted Drewes' custard stand is a very popular ice cream stop for both St. Louis visitors and residents as well. 

As the sign pictured above says, it's famous for its "concretes". These treats are soft ice cream with candy or other treats mixed in. They have been served by Ted Drewes in St. Louis since 1929. That's about 60 years before DQ served their first Blizzard. 

The other unique thing about the place was that it was once part of the famous Route 66. The one that inspired the Pixar movie, Cars. 

Here's a shot of me and the rest of my Drewes crew in front of the sign. 
I tried one mixed with cookie dough while I was there. Here's a link to my You Tube video I made. Ron @ Ted Drewes In St. Louis

On the way back to Fenton we drove down Grivois Road most of the way. We drove close to some land that's part of Grant's Farm. Its the 280 acre ancestral home of the famous Busch family. A big part of it is a large game preserve. 

I got excited because from the road I could see buffalo grazing on the land along with deer and horses. Although they were a safe distance away and behind a fence, it seemed kind of strange to see them so close to the road. They got my attention.

Although it wasn't in our plans for this trip, next time we go to St. Louis, Grant's farm it will be on my agenda. 

The end of the 2nd day of our trip was spent back at the town house playing a couple of games of Quirkle. It's a shape/color matching game played with individual game pieces.

Although I came in last in both games (Mark & Paula each won one), I had a good time playing. 

So that's where I'll end "part 1" of this series. Next time I will start with how we spend our Saturday and Sunday before we headed back home. 

Remember, I'll have a special post with more details about the Fox Theater  and the show we saw there coming up as well. 

Thanks for taking the time to read about our trip. There's a lot more to come so come back and I'll meet you in St. Louis.  

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