Friday, 20 April 2018

Visiting St. Louis, Maplewood Style....

The day we leave the Yellow Springs Ohio area, is the same day we arrive in good ol’ St. Louis, Missouri. How lucky for us to go from one cool spot to another.  I have a friend that lives there.  I think it is now safe to say, WE have FRIENDS there.  So, no camping on this leg of the trip, but no rest for the weary Eggcellence as it was quite a hit with the locals there. The last time I was in St. Louis, my people lived in a different part of the city.  Now my friend and her husband and three of her four children, reside in Maplewood.  Maplewood, I learned rather quickly, is a segment of route 66 from the 1920’s via Manchester road and represents itself as a resilient self sustaining  borough of St. Louis that doesn’t much require one to stray far beyond.  Although we did a tiny bit, but I will get to that in a minute.
Nighttime at Schlafly
I have always been fascinated by the lore of “route 66”.  Unlike reading about wars, it isn’t historically laden with death and dishevelment, but a little upheaval does exist I suppose.  I get grouchy and I don’t “understand” why such an interesting and beautiful stretch of highway disappeared. The Natchez Trace, that so much of my family traversed back and forth across America when establishing their roots, is an example of trying to do the right thing in memorializing 400 miles of history,  but also falls short of maintaining the true characteristics and nuance of what these roads once meant. So when we arrived in Maplewood, St. Louis, MO. and I realized that it was home to several blocks of the famed route 66, I was pleased and annoyed all over again.

But about Maplewood.  What a cool little section of St. Louis.  I think Abby mentioned when we got there, we went rather directly to a brewery with a bit of history.  The Schlafly Brewery  has the  distinction of being one of the oldest craft breweries and brewpub in history as well as having become somewhat of an anchor for the community of Maplewood, hosting not only a myriad of functions but is even home to the local farmer’s market as well.  We began and ended our stay at Schlafly while in Maplewood and brought home some of their wares thankfully found in the local grocery store.  Their presence is hard to miss, as the success of the brewery is profound and a definite must see while in Maplewood.
Macy post-air-mattress-launch... air mattresses are not made for dogs.
After our hosts provided a bonfire complete with neighborhood friends and St. Louis style Imo's Pizza, Abby and I crashed after a long day of driving, believe it or not, in more snow and wind.  We needed our strength for the next day, which began with a walk to a local coffee shop and music venue called Stone Spiral Coffee.  Small and quaint; the perfect setting for a little writing and reflection.  We had a lazy day which included a tour style walk with our host and her two dogs and Macy as well as lots of sitting around “catching up”.  That night, we were taken to a new and innovative establishment called The Side Project Cellar.  This is an amazing place that requires a bulging pocket book and lots of time (like days) to investigate the amazing and tantalizing list of concoctions.  If you are into libations, deity or sans, this is a place to go while visiting Maplewood...or Missouri for that matter.  The evening was capped with a casual patio dinner at The Crow's Nest, local neighborhood dive and a swing by the neighborhood bar Foley's on the walk home.  It would take more than one night to feel like a regular at a good old loud neighborhood Irish bar in St. Louis, but the bartender did his best.  It was later I was told they have a really good burger at Foley's. Next time, for sure…. Have I mentioned the trains yet?  Thirty yards from our host’s house on a corner lot, is a railway that caters to several train lines and provided me with MUCH happiness during our stay.  Outside of Foley's (just down the street), are these very same tracks that provide a sort of ambience that would be hard to manufacture on a set of even the most expensive Hollywood production.  I love trains and the sound all night from their comings and goings, as well as being able to sit on the back porch and watch them go by.

But wait, we aren’t done yet!  The next morning, Abby and I decided to do laundry at a brand new laundromat just blocks away.  Look folks, it was a laundromat, so not much to say, but that ‘The Wash House’ was clean and efficient.  But after that, we wandered over to Tiffany's Original Diner for a quick counter breakfast.  Open since the 60’s, it doesn’t get much more simple or real at this “cash only” diner with a menu that get straight to the point.  Kind of like, “do you want this...or that?”.  I wanted and got, the most delicious, can’t tell you why, flattop hashbrowns I have ever had in my life, along with...I can’t even remember; there might as well have only been the hash browns.  Also located on that route 66 section of Manchester road, are a number of shops and a fabulous looking bookstore, The Book House we unfortunately never got to, knowing we would be there all day.  We did however duck into Penzeys Spices where I grabbed a few necessities for the ever revolving spice drawer. We finished up the day at home with a family dinner of grilled pork, brussel sprouts and sweet potato goodness.  Also, my first inocent experience with the evil little game of ‘Cards Against Humanity”...never again. I think there is incriminating video.   

After amazing biscuits and gravy the next morning, my friend took us on a little tour.  We hit Old Mountain Gear Exchange where Greg provides hikers and climbers and outdoors persons with exchanged good for sale.  I could safely say that, that particular day, save for a couple of “wanted items”, there were no “needed items”.  However, the inventory at OMGE is always moving, so if I lived nearby, I would hit that place at least once a week!   Next we headed over to Laumeier Sculpture Park for a little hike around the property, where I learned a few things about outdoor art...until it started raining and the weather turned us into heading for a suburb of St. Louis referred to as “The Grove”.   A quick drive around and Abby and I started talking real estate, as in…”if we had a few coins to rub together, what a great investment…”.  We talked about it some more while visiting a huge biergarten style brewery called Urban Chestnut Brewing and Beirhall.  My friend’s husband joined us and we waited out the turning weather ,partaking in a variety of brews, comparing notes, people watching and feeding our peckishness on fresh in-house pork rinds, pretzels and deviled eggs.  Back at Schlafly for dinner and the end of our stay, we enjoyed a pleasant night of feasting and tummy rubbing.
Our Hosts and some grub @Urban Chestnut
Our hosts saw us off bright and early the next morning with donuts from Strange Donuts in Maplewood as well as some homemade sandwiches for our drive.  I can not tell you all of the other things we left St. Louis with.  I will leave to Abby in her next tale.  But, if you are thinking by now that you would like to go to Maplewood, St. Louis, MO… you may be on the right track.  If you are thinking we had some great hosts...we might be able to hook you up!
Truckload of TREASURES!

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