We headed to St. Louis to see Bill’s nephew, Brad, and his wife Sarah, and their two twins, Rilee and Teddy. Keeping with our a avoidance of large urban RV parks, we chose The Dr. Edmund Babler State Park, about a half hour west of Brad and Sarah’s house in Webster Groves. Additionally, the park was a short distance to a local spur trail off of the famed KATY Trail State Park.
Our first night, Brad and Sarah made dinner reservations on the patio of Katies’s Pizza and Pasta. It was perfect, a table all by itself, outside and a beautiful evening. The food was great and it was nice spending time with Sarah and Brad. Keith and Joanette had not previously met Brad and Sarah and this was the last of Bill’s niece and nephews for this trip. So, Keith and Joanette have now met all but Andy and Julia, who live in Massachusetts and Kyle and Ida, who are in Norway. It was especially rewarding to share Bill’s family with Keith and Joanette.
Since Keith and Joanette had never been to St Louis, we planned couple of touristy activities. Of course, no St. Louis stop is complete without visiting the Gateway Arch and Bill and I enjoy biking Forest Park. But, before either of those, we decided to load our bikes up and drive to the trailhead of The Monarch Chesterfield Levee Trail and then ride along that trail, across the US 61/40 bridge bike path and then down onto the KATY trail. Since Keith and Joanette have less bike experience than Bill and me, we let them set the pace and distance. We rode out 12.5 miles, stopping in the trail town of Defiance for lunch. Then we headed back, making the ride over 25 miles long, Keith and Joanette’s longest ride to date, a fact that Strava noted on Joanette’s post. Keith and Joanette would later drive out to Defiance, to visit The Daniel Boone Home National Historic Site, near Defiance. Most will remember Daniel Boone in Kentucky, but he spent his last 20 years in Missouri, in what was, at first, Spanish Louisiana, and later, after the Louisiana Purchase, again, the United States.
I will have a lot more to say about the KATY trail later. But, just know it is the former rail bed of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas rail road, affectionately known as the Katy. The entire trail from Machens, near St. Charles to Clinton, a total of 237.5 miles, is a state park.
Bill and I had ridden from along the KATY from Creve Coeur Lake to Defiance on a prior trip and we were happy to share this small part of the KATY with Keith and Joanette. Joanette thought the bridge approach was a little tough, but she got it done!
The next day, we decided to drive into St. Louis and spend some time in Forest Park. Forest Park, opened in 1876, is a 1326 acres of open space, lakes, trails and is directly next to the St, Louis Zoo. There is a bike path that runs along the entire perimeter, with various connector trails that lead to a variety of venues. The park hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition and the Summer Olympic Games, both in 1904. It is a great example of an urban park, and is positively compared to Central, Golden Gate and Balboa Parks. Bill and I have spent time in the park, our last two visits.
The next day, we went back into St. Louis and visited the Gateway Arch. The Arch was built as a monument to western expansion. Construction of the arch began in 1963 and was completed two years later. The construction of the surrounding grounds and visitor center took another two years. It was inaugurated June, 10, 1967. An interesting fact is that the arch is as high as it is wide, 630 feet.
Luckily, there were not a lot of people and we felt comfortable in the visitor center, learning about the construcruon, the growth of St. Louis and the westward expansion. A great deal of time was devoted The Corps of Discovery, also known as the Lewis and Clark Exhibition.
In the pictures of the arch, notice the sun is obscured, not by clouds, but rather smoke from the Western US wildfires. That night, we had a patio dinner outside at Brad and Sarah’s house. Brad had smoked pork steaks, which were so tender, they just fell off the bones. We got to see Rilee and Teddy, and of course, their dog, Stella.
And this brings me to the other big reason for our stop in St. Louis, to ride the KATY trail, from beginning to end. But, I will save that for the next post.