Monday, October 24, 2016

State #32 GO! St. Louis Halloween Race Half Marathon, St. Louis, MO 10.23.16

I arrived in St. Louis on Friday, October 21st around midday. The flight in was fine, and I even spied the Gateway Arch from the window of the plane! For this trip, I opted to take the local airport shuttle to my hotel rather than rent a car. This wasn’t a bad option. It was cheaper than renting a car, easier to let someone else do the driving  from the airport the hotel, and convenient to not have to return the car, get gas, etc. The airport is pretty close to the downtown area, so once I grabbed my luggage and found the van transportation area, we were to my hotel in no time. 
View of Gateway Arch from plane.
I was planning to meet my friend Will sometime after I arrived. I assumed we’d meet for dinner. But as I arrived and he and I traded texts, I realized he wanted to meet earlier and just after I checked in to my hotel he was there! Wow! I made a quick wardrobe change, threw on some make-up and went to the front of the hotel where Will and his partner Zak were waiting. It was so good to see Will…we determined it had probably been around 16 years since we last saw one another. We used to work together many years ago when I was in the higher ed/financial aid industry. He looked just the same and had the same wonderful personality. I jumped in their truck and we were off for a late lunch.
McGurk's exterior.
McGurk's street view.
Will and Zak brought me to a really neat part of St. Louis called the Soulard neighborhood. Most of the homes there are old brick row houses, and the historic look of them was just beautiful. They brought me to an Irish pub called McGurk’s which looked like a tiny little corner pub, but once you got inside, the restaurant was pretty large and also had a really cool outdoor patio.  That’s where we sat for lunch. Will told me that they often feature live Irish music, too.
Restaurant courtyard fountain.
Another fountain view looking up to a covered bar area.
We had the best time catching up on all the years. We talked jobs, marriages, kids, deaths, moves, travels, running, colleagues, food and more! Zak was so sweet, too. We left the restaurant and they drove me by some of the neat areas downtown on our way back to the hotel. Our two hours together flew by, and because the guys had double booked another event that night, we had to part. Will was flying out on a work trip the next day, so I wouldn’t see him again, but Zak and I traded numbers and planned to meet up on Saturday for some fun. It was a terrific meet up that absolutely filled my heart with joy!
Will and Zak and I at lunch.
I got back to my hotel and decided to check out the 360 Degree rooftop bar/lounge. Three different people had mentioned it to me as THE place to get the best views of the city. So up I went. And it was magnificent! 
Arch from rooftop at my hotel. 
Old Courthouse from rooftop at my hotel.
Mississippi River and beyond from rooftop at my hotel.
I made my way up there around 4:30 pm and enjoyed a couple of cocktails as the sunset dazzled with a gorgeous show. On one side was a view of the Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch. On another side was a view of the Mississippi River, Busch Stadium and the Budweiser Brewery off in the distance. The other two sides showed the downtown skyline. 
Fireside cocktail.
My spot on the roof. Not too shabby.
Sunset over St. Louis on 10/21/16.
Sunset over Busch stadium where the Cardinals play.
I sat at a low bar that had a double-paned glass fireplace running along it. It was perfect for me because I’m almost always cold, and as the sun went down, the temperature became chilly. I ended up staying up there for quite sometime, meeting various people along the way. I had a great conversation with one of the bartenders who told me that his sister was a library media specialist! We traded book titles and talked a bit about the history of St. Louis. I also ended up chatting with two guys who sat next to me for a bit and were locals who had run in a half marathon last year. One of them was also a mountain climber who had summited Mt. Rainier. Impressive. After they left, a group of people attending the Juice Plus conference in town joined me. They told me all about the amazing health benefits of their products. I might have to look in to it. 
Finally tired from all the travel and excitement, and not wanting to have any more wine, I headed back to my room to relax, watch some tv and then eventually fall asleep. What a great day it had been. I couldn’t wait to be a tourist in St. Louis tomorrow!

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