Blake’s wedding & the Feasting Fox
We left 9 AM Friday morning from Ben’s house, Cory and Cara in the back seats, Ben behind the wheel. We met Andrea and Robert in the parking lot of the Riverside Casino, where they left their car for the weekend to hitch a ride with Micah & Alice. We all stopped for a late lunch in Hannibal MO at an Italian restaurant that appeared nice but was suspiciously out of stock of numerous menu items. A stop by McD’s for a sinfully delicious shamrock shake and we were back on the road, passing the Mazda en route to St. Louis.
Upon crossing the Des Moines River into Missouri we noticed nearly all houses had vehicles seemingly abandoned in their front lawns, as if mandated by law. The distinction between residence and junk yard was blurred to an obscene degree. But we had some hilly scenery to entertain us, and we found the one decent classic rock station amidst a sea of country music.
There are two Ramadas near the STL airport. Cory’s iPad app directed us to the wrong one; largely deserted, decrepit and completely uninviting. When we reached the other one, they didn’t have any non-smoking rooms available for us to check into. By the time a room did become available we had no time to rest — we changed clothes, hopped right back into the car and drove through downtown to the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts on Cherokee St. We scored premium streetside parking and, with a half hour at our disposal, wandered through a nearby hipster thrift store.
The wedding ceremony was totally befitting Blake and Hannah’s personalities; informal, carefree, creative and fun. Blake’s little brother Trevor played “here comes the bride” on electric guitar. Officiating the event was John Hancock, fellow printmaker, donning a wizard’s cape, WWI-era German Hun helmet and large brass belt buckle. He kept things moving and the crowd laughing. The entire ceremony took 5 minutes. Short and sweet.
We left the gallery and walked around the neighborhood. A number of stores were serving chips and drinks to celebrate the printmaking convention taking place. A parade came down Cherokee St. shortly after the ceremony ended. Floats, drumline, fire breathers, robots, Superman, the works.
We didn’t stick around for long, as we had 8 PM dinner reservations at the Feasting Fox, a German hotel and restaurant a mile south of Cherokee St. Hands down the best meal I ate that weekend. A robust German ale, various sausage appetizers, black bean soup, Wiener schnitzel, garlic potatoes and a scrumptious slice of carrot cake for dessert.
Back to Cherokee St for post-wedding festivities. The wedding party was hanging out at El Leñador across the street but we chose instead to walk off our feast. We went up and down Cherokee, checked out the artwork on display inside several galleries and a record store with bizarre animals stuffed into glass jars filled with formaldehyde.
We pooped out around 11 PM and returned to our hotel. Taking off my shoes and socks was the best feeling in the world, and I was out within minutes of my head hitting the pillow.
The free breakfast at the Ramada barely qualified as cafeteria fare but I ate it anyway. The waffle was okay. It baked fast. But I’ve stayed in worse places. The Pruisners and Reihers opted to lodge at a pricey downtown hotel, so we didn’t see them again until Saturday afternoon.
After getting gas and a stop at a dingy thrift store, we headed downtown to the Arch. By the time we reached downtown and found parking and stood in line for 20 minutes in the chilly morning breeze, tickets for the ride to the top were sold out. So we walked north along Mississippi riverfront instead. Saw a statue commemorating Lewis & Clark, hordes of cooing pigeons, cobblestone roadways, the metro line running across one of the oldest steel bridges still spanning the river.
We drove back through downtown to Union Station where we met our other travelers, minus Alice, for lunch at Houlihan’s, a sporty bar/restaurant inside the mall. The Angus beef burger hit the spot.
We all piled into the Yukon and headed for the Anheuser-Busch brewery for a tour of the impressive campus. My camera battery died while my fully charged replacement battery sat idle back at the hotel. The finale was a trip to the hospitality room for free beer! We enjoyed a dozen glasses of various fresh brew and bags of pretzels. I liked their new raspberry Shock Top drink. Too bad Busch Ice wasn’t on tap.
Next stop: Delmar Loop, another up and coming neighborhood swarming with teens, hipsters and art folk. I joined Micah, Andrea and Robert for some quick Chinese grub and then left them to head down the street to meet Cory and Ben at Blueberry Hill, where they were enjoying some PBR on tap.
Cara found us and we returned to Fort Gondo, just minutes after the repeat service had ended. But no worries, we had seen the fun version. Blake was happy enough that any of us had bothered to make the trip in the first place, but I don’t think he should have been surprised. Our collective appearance in St. Louis is testament to how good of a friend he is to all of us.
Cookies and kegs of Schafly pale ale and oatmeal stout were served along with a Cajun dinner prepared by Blake and Hannah; white rice, spicy beans and cornbread. We ate and drank and talked and blew bubbles from pencil-thin tubes of soap. Blake gave us a tour of the upstairs apartment. The owner had acquired the building ten years earlier for $3,500 on his credit card.
Our crew decided against attending the after-reception burlesque show and instead went looking for a bowling alley. It was raining fairly steadily and by the time we found an alley, it was packed. We waited half an hour for a free lane before giving up and returning to the hotel for the night.
Same crap breakfast on Sunday morning. Check-out was a breeze. We drove to the south side of town for Ben to pick up a 1930s porcelain Frigidaire, The sun was shining and the temps were in the seventies. Pit stops were made for White Castle, double fish fillets and shamrock shakes.
The weather turned cloudy and cooler as we approached Cedar Rapids. Pit stops in Center Point and Elk Run Heights. Rain began to fall as we reached Ben’s house. I helped Ben moved the Frigidaire into his house before returning home for a much-needed shower and shave.