At 3am, my road trip began! My friend drove all day from Philadelphia and stopped and grabbed me in Ohio and it was my turn to drive. I had tried to take a few naps during the day, but didn’t have much luck, but I couldn’t let my friend drive after she had already been on the road for 12 hours, so I rallied. Our goal was to make it to St. Louis, Missouri around 9am so we could be one of the first groups on the tram up to the top of the Gateway Arch.
I had read online to book our tickets in advance, but when I looked earlier in the day, there was still plenty available, and they charged an extra dollar per ticket booked, so I figured we could just get the tickets when we got there.
On our way through Indiana, my friend asked if it was ok if we stopped at the Lucas Oil Stadium since she was a HUGE Colts fan. We looked it up on our map and saw that it was right off the highway and her eyes lit up!! It was like Christmas morning for her. We pulled into the lot, but it was blocked off. She jetted out of the car anyway and started hugging a lamp post that had the Colts logo on it, the horseshoe. I literally had to pry her off of it so we could get back on the road.
When we got to Illinois as the sun started coming up. I saw a sign a little later that said “World’s Largest Golf Tee” in town named Casey. I immediately turned off and started following the signs. It was kind of a hike off the highway, but we needed some more excitement. It was tucked away on a tiny golf course. I wasn’t overly impressed with its size, but it was still funny that this was some towns claim to fame.
We grabbed our pictures and kept on going. We didn’t really see the signs for the wind chime, and we also found out that they have the world’s largest rocking chair also.
On the other side of the Mississippi River, you can already see the Gateway Arch. We got there right around 9am, as planned. We pulled into a parking garage, and since we were there early, parking was only $4. We walked over toward the arch, down a tree lined path toward a manicured lawn. The arch was massive!
Fun Fact: it’s the largest monument in the U.S.
After taking pics on the lawn, which didn’t turn out great because the sun was behind us, we went inside to purchase our tickets.
I got in line to buy the tram ticket, and it said the next available tram was at 1:20 pm. Noooooooo! I guess they were right about highly recommending buying them online in advance 🙁
But now the sun was a little higher, so we tried taking a few more photos from the other side, closer to the river and they turned out much better.
Since we hadn’t eaten since the night before, we decided it was probably a good idea to try and get some food in us since our next stop was going to be Nashville, Tennessee. We walked around and tried to find some breakfast, but weren’t having much luck on our own. So we stopped and looked at a few large maps that we found on the corner. We noticed a little cafe a few blocks away. When we got there, there was nothing where it said it should be. We looked at another map…. one that was apparently updated… the cafe was no where to be seen on it. So we finally found a bar that was open that also served food, and had outdoor seating since we had a little dog with us. The place was called Sundeckers, and was called that because they don’t “deck out”/put any toppings on your sandwiches so they can’t screw up your order.
After lunch, we got back on the road and drove back through Illinois toward Nashville. I saw another sign for a “World’s Largest Superman” and, again, I swerved off the interstate to go and check it out. It was deep in the town of Metropolis, and this seemed to also be their claim to fame. They had little shops dedicated to Superman, a telephone booth where you could switch into your Superman costume and little cutout figurines to pose with.
After our 5 minutes of fun, we got back on the road. We hadn’t seen many cops thus far, and we were making pretty good time. I had the cruise control set to 83 in a 70 when we finally started going through the middle of nowhere, and of course there’s finally a cop hiding in the median.
What’s funny, is that I’ve been pulled over 5 times in my life and I’ve only had one written warning, and the rest of the time, the cop just gives me a stern talking-to. I told my friend this when I first started our trip back in Columbus, and she told me to “knock on wood.” I knocked on my forehead because I had nothing else. Apparently, it didn’t work. He was in his car for awhile, and when we finally emerged, I only saw one piece of white paper, so I figured it was a warning. I was wrong. But the cop was nice enough to reduce my ticket down to 75mph, so it wouldn’t show up in Florida, but it was still $150 ticket.
We kept going, and around rush hour, we got stuck in some standstill traffic. I look over to my right and I see an SUV full of frat dudes who appear to be having way too good of a time considering where we were. Then I see a Busch Light can come into view. That explains it. They are yelling and trying to get the attention of other cars. Of course, they caught mine. And I like to humor people. So they are waving at my friend and I, and out of nowhere, I decide to flash them. Obviously they were shocked/stunned/amazed because they didn’t see it coming. Luckily, traffic started moving a little bit then and they were a little bit ahead of us. But we finally caught up again and they told my friend that it was “her turn.” For the record, she’s not as ballsy as me, so she didn’t participate.