I checked on the St. Louis Gateway Arch on the web first thing friday morning, and unfortunately, no tickets for riding up in the arch were available for the weekend. That was my first disappointment, and it might have been a clue that things weren’t ok in St. Louis.
We needed to meet linda at the St. Louis airport at 8pm friday night. Gina and I made our way from south of Nashville, stopping off at a civil war battlefield and picnicing, and taking some fun back roads. By the time we crossed into southern Illinois, we faced about an hour of fierce thunderstorms coming the other direction. We crossed the Mississippi into St. Louis about 5:30 and I followed the GPS directions to the airport on the NW side of the city.
With 2+ hours to kill, I started looking for a hotel on the northside. The first intersection off the freeway had a dead traffic light. Then the second one was dark too. uh oh. I should’ve paid more attention to the news reports about the widespread power outage and state of emergency declared for the city of St. Louis! Lets head for the airport hotels, those should be running I thought. Struggling through traffic that was choked at 5 out every 6 intersections, I noticed lines at an open gas station. That was when I noticed my fuel light had just gone on. uh oh again. That was when I realized this was not going to be one of the better days of our vacation. Forget the hotel, lets find some gas.
We waited in the chaos at one gas station, watched a fight nearly break out, then the manager came out and started bagging the pumps. He had run out of gas. We headed down another road with functioning traffic lights in the distance. After about 10 slow blocks, I pulled into another jam-packed gas station and started trying to work my way into position for one of the pumps. After 20 minutes, we got a full tank of gas, and headed back out to seek the airport hotels.
Found the nearby hotels with help of the gps, however, they were running on emergency power only. Every hotel had travelers sitting on the curbs outside trying to cool off.
None of the restaraunts seemed to be open. This is clearly post-hurricane type conditions. People seeking ice, water and gas. So we headed directly to the airport to sit and wait for linda.
BTW, the St. Louis airport is a dump. Her plane was 45 minutes late, but we were all glad to see one another. I explained my plan to drive out of town, head north towards Hannibal, and find a motel once we got a little further than a cab ride distance from the airport.
Turned out we had to go
90 120 miles. Every motel off of Highway 61 was booked with AC-seeking refugees from St. Louis. We finally checked into the last room available at a Super 8 Motel in Hannibal, about midnight.