The Fitbit application on my phone informed me that I’d walked 10.9 miles today. I started off at Forest Park, not too far from Zen’s house. The park itself is huge and contains all sorts of lakes, museums, lawns and a golf course. St Louis was the place to be in 1904, not only hosting the Olympic Games but also the World Fair, which was based in Forest Park. Many of the buildings are still standing today, with the St Louis Art Museum being perhaps the most impressive. I had a look around the Missouri History Museum and it certainly seems that there’s plenty of history that’s taken place in Missouri. Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Pulitzer were from here and there was a Route 66 Exhibition to celebrate the famous road that passes through St Louis.
It seems as though St Louis is almost too big a city for what is there, hence the large walking distance covered. There are three main sections. In addition to the area around Forest Park, the midtown section is where the Fox Theatre is, along with St Louis University and some other stuff. Then there’s downtown, with the Gateway Arch, river, offices, government buildings, historic buildings, as well as a few bars and restaurants. In between are large sections of disused industrial areas, wastelands and simply gaps where buildings have probably stood in the past. St Louis is one of those post-industrial cities that has had a steep population decline over time. From a peak of 850,000 in 1950, this figure is now 315,000, which probably explains the gaps in the landscape.
To escape the heat and humidity, as well as the bugs which seem plentiful in the St Louis air, I stopped for a pint. At the bar I managed to get talking to a local barfly. This year the St Louis Rams have moved to Los Angeles in the way sports franchises in North America can and do, a concept that seems inconceivable and ridiculous to many outsiders. Dan said that although they won the Super Bowl in 1999, they have been awful for years and they just didn’t seem to capture the imagination of the St Louis public. According to Dan, baseball is king in St Louis with the Cardinals being huge here. He’s more of an ice hockey fan and told me if I ever go to see a St Louis Blues game, smuggle some whiskey in as the arena prices are ridiculous. Obviously he must have be down as a fellow degenerate drinker!
I finished off at the Delmar Loop, one of the so-called trendy areas frequented by the younger crowd. This is also the location of the St Louis Walk Of Fame, essentially the local version of the thing in Hollywood. Some places have these sorts of attractions where there are barely enough celebrities to warrant such a tribute but there’s loads of legends from the St Louis area. You have Maya Angelou, Jimmy Connors, Scott Joplin, John Goodman, Tennessee Williams, Tina Turner, William Burroughs, Miles Davis, TS Eliot and Chuck Berry, who also has a statue adorning the sidewalk. I’ve always presumed that Chuck Berry is dead but apparently he’s still going strong. Good job I checked as I have just deleted the last potentially libelous sentence, alluding to his personal conduct! I popped into the Blueberry Hill Bar for a drink. It’s a bit touristy but is a nice enough place with plenty of cool memorabilia.
Back at the Zen’s, the Indian medical students are watching Grown Ups on DVD. They seemed to be loving the stupid jokes. I’d go as far as guessing that nobody has probably laughed more at this film than these two! While I can just about tolerate daft Adam Sandler comedies I draw the line at watching Judy Garland musicals. When Meet Me in St Louis came on and Zen and the girls started singing along, that was the cue for me to go to bed!