Wednesday, October 12, 2011

That Ain't Pittsburgh: Adventures in St. Louis Vol. 2

I woke up Sunday morning, my first full day in St. Louis, to the sound of rain falling outside of Marlana's dad's house. Our first plan of the day was to wander around the Bellefontaine Cemetery, where some notable St. Louis folks are buried. The rain didn't stop us, in fact - it probably enhanced the normal creepiness and stillness of the cemetery. I love cemeteries, especially ones like the Bellefontaine where it's basically a park, just with decaying bodies underground.

When presented with a chance to take a self-portrait in the reflection of Anheuser (of Anheuser-Busch)'s mausoleum, you take it.

Another notable St. Louisian (did I just make that up?): William Clark of Lewis & Clark.

Shark attack! The grave of William S. Burroughs.

When we were driving and looking for the entrance to the cemetery, we were hugging the perimeter and I caught a glimpse of this massive tree that had fallen over. Once we finished driving through the self-guided cemetery tour, we went off the map and drove until we found the fallen tree.

Picture taken for scale. (I'm about 5'9''.)

We went from the cemetery, an eerie and quiet place, to the City Museum, pretty much the exact opposite of eerie and quiet. I don't know if I will ever be able to adequately describe what it was like to walk into the place. What you need to know is that I am a big kid stuck inside of a 28-year-old's body. Sometimes I can keep my act together and act my age, but upon walking into the City Museum and being presented with what is basically an insane jungle gym/maze/system of tunnels and slides and caves, I instantly turned into a four-year-old. I did try to mask my childlike enthusiasm for a couple minutes, but then I saw a slide that appeared to be a 75 degree drop, and needed to try it out. I promised Marlana that I would take the slide and then come right back up, but when I got to the bottom of the slide, I was in the basement of the museum. There was no stairway back up to the first floor. Only a system of caves that I had to find my way through. Without realizing it, I had crawled from the basement to a system of steel tubing hanging above the first floor. That's when I started a fun game with Marlana where I'd appear somewhere above her or below her and yell "Here I am!"

Every now and then I was able to pull myself away from the sprawling jungle gym/maze/system of tunnels and slides and caves to take in the museum's actual exhibits. There was an entire wall covered in letterpress patterns. Marlana and I agreed that we could have spent an entire day taking in this wall, but eventually we pressed on because there were still three floors and an outside (and out-of-control) playground to discover.

This picture should give you just a glimpse as to how crazy the set-up of the City Museum is. The crazy jungle gym spans multiple floors of the building.

Ropeswing. Check!

Marlana balancing on the World's Largest Pencil.

Found! A notable Pittsburgher in St. Louis.

Here is a guarantee: If there is a photobooth machine, I will force whoever is with me into it. I promised Marlana I wouldn't post this, but it's great!

Love this quote, and love any wall-sized painted map.

View from going down the BIG SLIDE. So much fun.

THIS IS WHAT THE CRAZY OUTSIDE LOOKS LIKE. It's pretty much the most entertainingly awesome deathtrap ever. At one point in the inside part, my leg went right through one of the coiled tubes and I wound up with a bloody knee and a bruise the length of my shin. The embarrassment (of being a 28-year-old adult dangling from a coiled tube two stories in the air) and pain was well worth it. I can't recall the last time I was this excited by a place and my ability to interact with it.

One of my last undertakings at the City Museum was to climb up into the gutted planes that hang well above the ground. (Not dangerous at all.)

"Here I am!"

I left the City Museum beyond exhausted. I felt like I had just been run over by a truck. As I sat at a Buffalo Wild Wings watching the Steelers game by myself while Marlana attending a family event, I thought: "There aren't a lot of things that I think Pittsburgh lack, but a mega-insane and fun place like the City Museum would be a welcome addition."

Anyone want to give me a few million dollars to buy an old factory (we have enough of them!) and turn it into a world of awesome? Anyone?


  1. Mike! It is my dream to charter a plane and take everyone there for my birthday next year. I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue.

  2. I would be down with that for sure. I've never been to St. Louis and know nothing about it, and it's really close to where my dad was born.