Our first group stop was at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Â At the start of the tour, the guide asked “why are we here?” and while everyone else shouted “beer!” I yelled “pretzels”. Â Shortly thereafter I made friends with the guides which proved to be a good use of my time. Â The venue stopped us for a group photo and I borrowed the set-up:
|From 2012-03-10 to 11 TI: St. Louis|
The brewery itself was very clean and the tour was interesting much to my surprise. Â At the end, we were invited to have free beer but there was a moment of hesitation before anyone stepped forward to drink anything. Â One of the bar attendees, what I will call a beer siren, held her hands to her cheeks and said “I have all this beer and no one to drink it. Â Who among you will help me?” Â to which Ken said “I will” and he bravely began drinking.
I was running around a lot taking pictures and at one point a security guard asked if I needed to be removed. Â The tour guide told him “no, he’s cool” and I got to continue running around. Â That was kind of the guide. Â Also, Alex pointed to the large cylinder of hops on display and said to me “Terry, please take a picture of that. Â It’s very important to me.” Â I did.
Lunch was at a local restaurant and then it was off to the St. Louis Arch. Â The group has split in two and in going back and forth between the two groups, one at each entrance, a woman stopped me and said “sir, how tall is the arch?” Â What the heck? Â Why would anyone ask me, a man with a camera, who was obviously running, how tall the arch was? How should I know? Â So I looked her right in the eye and said “630 feet”. Â Showed her.
The arch itself was interesting and the view it afforded novel. Â I don’t feel that it really stood as an emblem of westward expansion but it afforded a nice photo op which I was obliged to take.
That photo is a triumph of technology over ability as it is an HDR pano. Â After the arch, some people wanted to rest and they split off while others wanted to continue to the St. Louis Zoo. Â I found the Zoo was closed and retired to the hotel for an hour of quiet. Â I recharged my batteries both literally and figuratively and was glad I did.
Dinner was at the Pi Pizzaria which is an annoyingly popular place in St. Louis. Â I had to reserve the place a month in advance for our group and even then it was only for an end-of-the-evening time. Â Every member of their wait staff had a unique haircut, was attractive, or both. Â They also offered smoked gouda as a pizza topping. Â I can see why people come here.
There was a Radiohead concert taking place across the street and parking was impossible, the restaurant called me in a bit of a huff:
Host: Is this Mr. Robinson?
Host: If your party isn’t here in five minutes we’re giving your…
Me: I mean no disrespect by this, but I need your patience. Â I am a leader for a group of 25 nerds from the Internet who I somehow convinced to drive in some cases literally a thousand miles to come to your city for more social interaction than some will get during the rest of the year combined. Â Some of these people are very important to me. Â On top of that, we are strangers in a strange city dealing with the complications of some event taking place next door. Â Our day has been long as will be our night, please don’t make me disappoint my people.
They gave us more time.
The City Museum
My near highest compliment is to call something “strange and wonderful”. Â Some things with adjectives like “loud”, or “threatening”, or “beautiful” break us from our surroundings but those things have a built in word bias. Â “Threatening” usually isn’t a good thing but “strange” can go either way. Â The strange is worthy of attention which is rare. Â Strange things shine. Â Wonderful carries two meanings, the first being “good”. Â The second, and more important one to me, is the idea of arousing wonder, a cardinal value in my non-religion. Â I have met a few people that are strange and wonderful and have been to a handful of places that are strange and wonderful and tonight I added to that list: The City Museum.
Walking into it made me excited as each element of it screamed “engage with me!” to the point where I walked back to the car and left my camera. Â The museum proper is housed in a 10-storyÂ building that covers about a quarter of a city block. Â It’s filled with… odd things like an indoor tree house, a skate park, a cave system, a very tall slide, several bars and even a vintage cloth store. Â Outside they have a ball pit filled with kickball-sized spheres and a jungle gym of rebar and small planes. Â The City Museum holds the first human hamster wheel I ever used, the first tree house I climbed over, the first rope swing I used, and the place where I executed my first parkour maneuver. Â The last is a story:
The outside portion had a climbing area with a commuter plane stuck sideways through it. Â You could continue on the path by going in the rear door of the plane and exiting at the front or you could go over it. Â I felt adventurous so I got a running start, jumped, grabbed an overhead bar and swung over theÂ fuselage. Â Someone who appeared to have been hitting the hashish looked at me and went “whoaah”. Â I felt like a god, or at least a 7-year old.
Rest of the Night
Before returning to the hotel, Suzie, Dallas, and I picked up an ice cream cake to use as a birthday cake for Team Interrobang. Â We were turning four, and we deserved a cake.
As the cake was being consumed we started telling stories and the locus of attention shifted to me. I was the founder, I had been to every meet-up, and I enjoyed dishing gossip. I went through my standard stories of our shared oddities, triumphs, and tragedies but one casual line stopped me for a second. Someone, I think it was Ryan, said to me “Tell the one where…”. Â Tell the one where. Â Stories had become lore had become legends and for an evening I was the old chieftain in the Tribe of Interrobang.