Monday, May 4, 2015

Day 24-Kansas City/St. Louis

Allie got up around 5:30am to go to the gym, I wanted no part in that so my alarm was set for 7:30am. I really didn't want to get up, and regretted agreeing to going into school with her. She returned, showered, and was awake; I was still half asleep trying to function. I packed up the car while she got ready and listened to a podcast. We each grabbed a banana and out the door we went, I would drive her to school since her and Kelly were doing something together after school. We got to Academia De NiƱos and the kids were flooding in, I was still not fully awake. It was teacher appreciation week so one parent had brought coffee for all of the teachers, Allie grabbed hers and downstairs we went. I sat in a child size chair and watched as the children walked in, one after the next. They would stare at me, and wonder who I was and what I was doing here. With the exception of Bella, and a couple others who had seen me Friday, no one knew who I was. Some would ask Allie who I was and she would correct them making them say goodmorning, and to ask me my name, and tell me theirs. This went on a couple times before the class practically knew I was Allie's friend. She had about 15 students in her class and throughout the duration of about three hours with them, I fell in love and had already picked favorites. They were all so very smart in each their own ways. Allie took attendance, and handed out homework one by one asking if they wanted it in English or Spanish; 90% chose Spanish. We went to a 20 minute ensemble which was pretty intense. It was full of excitement, cheering, singing, and clapping; I who knew none of this. I sat there as an outsider, they spoke and sang in both English and Spanish, it was pretty inspiring. After, we sat in the hallway while Allie read a book and they took turns using the bathroom, and the water fountain. Back at the classroom, we sat to go over the month, day, and year, as well as some adding and subtracting equations. The kids were very smart, they just lacked the confidence to say the answer when they weren't sure it was right. Half of the time I could see they had it on the tip of their tongue and just wasn't saying it yet. I wanted to be like, you've got it! Just say it! The enthusiasm amongst them was extraordinary; when a question was asked, the majority of hands would shoot up. Allie would call on a child, and they didn't know what to say sometimes, it was as though they just liked raising their hands automatically before thinking about if they knew the answer, though 9 out of 10 times eventually they would think and answer correctly after a minute. It was pretty inspiring to see someone I have known for so long, teaching these children, and doing it well. You could tell they loved and respected her, and wanted to be there. They had independent reading groups with Allie based on their skill level and I got to sit with at least three groups while they read before they went off to their Spanish class, and I headed out to St. Louis. I felt at home in Kansas City with Allie even though I had never been there, I am grateful to have so many amazing people in my life all over the country that I am able to visit. We said our goodbyes, and I left the school with a 3 hour or so drive ahead of me. I had reserved a ticket online to go up in the arch at 3:30pm, giving myself a little time for anything that may happen along the way. The drive to St. Louis was filled with one of two things; adult stores, and fireworks. I stopped for neither. When I arrived, I noticed I had some time. I decided to visit the world's largest chess piece at the chess hall of fame. The king measure 14 feet tall, pretty cool! While walking back to the car, I noticed a clown-like joker statue. I went over to take some photos and a man interrupted his current conversation to tell me how they were building a stone stage for him so he wouldn't be in the way on the sidewalk. Seems back in 2003 an artist created him but didn't have a name for the statue, it stood outside of a restaurant and the man worked there. He said he thought they should have a contest some night to think up a name for it, and the winner would get a prize. The man's name was Justin, and at the end of our conversation he offered me a free appetizer if I came in on Wednesday (too bad I wouldn't be around) I thanked him, and walked to my car. From here I put in the Gateway Arch into my GPS. Upon arrival, I noticed a lot of construction going on right in front of the arch. It had been probably 15 years since I had been up in the arch and figured it was time to revisit. I found some free street parking by the construction area, parked the car, and read a sign that stated to get tickets at the old courthouse. I had bought a ticket online, but needed to pick up a physical one so I headed over to the courthouse in hopes of that was where I would get it. I read in the e-mail that you had to be to the arch 30 minutes before your tram was scheduled to leave; since mine was scheduled for 3:30, and it was now after 3:00 I was late. I read a sign in the courthouse that said next tram 3:40, at least I could pay for that one if I missed the one I had already reserved. Luckily, they told me I would be fine and have plenty of time to get over there for my 3:30 reservation. I got my ticket, and followed the construction signs leading to the arch. I took some quick photos outside before heading inside to go up. I was nervous and didn't remember anything from the time before. It wasn't until I got downstairs where the tram doors were that I remembered. The doors were tiny and slid open, there was seating for 5 people, very close together, with low ceilings. I sat with 3 people that were here for a school trip, two of which were chaperones. I talked with the lady about what I was doing, and my road trip. Before I knew it, we were at the top; it wasn't bad at all. At the top, there were tiny windows which looked down at the city below. Nearly all of the people up there with me were part of the school trip and after 10 or 15 minutes we all decided to head back down. It was very cool to go up there again, and it was a pretty clear day to get photos of the city. In one photo I took with my cellphone, I was able to zoom in and see the car from up there! It is the third from the left in the photo below. After, I went back down with a family with a little boy around the age of 3 or 4 years old; though we didn't talk. By this time I decided to get some food, I had saw online a nice sandwich shop and decided to head there in hopes of going to the botanical garden after. I drove to the deli and it was closed, bummer. I decided to drive to the botanical garden before it closed and then figure out dinner after. Seems everything in St. Louis is 9 minutes apart, at least that was my experience. I got to the botanical garden grounds and noticed it would be closing in 5 minutes, it looked huge so I decided I would come back in the morning. Instead, I left and went to Pappy's Smokehouse located near the college. It was your typical BBQ joint, I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and baked beans. The meat was pretty good, but I didn't care for the bun. The coleslaw was also vinegar based which was Southern and different than I am used to. I had made a reservation for a KOA about 20 minutes away so I decided to head there and get settled for the night. The address on their website took me to a dead end to what looked like used to be a bridge for a train, but was now blocked off-awesome. I went back on the website and noticed they also offered written directions, I got back on the highway and followed the directions a few exits further. I stopped at a Shell for gas, and to clean the windshield of the bug mobile. I saw a sign for the KOA and turned in. The building said closes at 6:00pm and it was now around 6:30. I looked around for my reservation information but found nothing. I decided to take a map, stay, at a site, and figure it out in the morning. But before I left, I tried to open the door; and it opened. I went in to talk with a young girl, she was very peppy and friendly though she couldn't find my reservation. After awhile searching, and an older woman and gentleman coming over we figured out that I had called a different KOA. They tried to call to cancel my reservation but no one picked up. The older man advised I stay here the night since the other KOA is located in an industrial park and I would be safer here. They said to come up in the morning and we could call and get a refund, and if they wouldn't refund me not to worry about it. I thanked them a few times for their help and hospitality and then the young girl brought me to where the campsite were and told me to choose anyone I'd like. I chose one with two trees ideal for hanging the hammock. I unpacked the tent, as well as the hammock, and set everything up. I decided I would sleep in the hammock tonight, but have the tent set up invade I couldn't sleep. I sat in the hammock for awhile editing and uploading photos. I went to the bathroom; and after a minute, I was sitting in the dark. They were awfully strict on saving electricity it seemed. I had planned to write some entries since I was behind quite a bit, but couldn't keep my eyes open; I was exhausted. It was only around 8 or 9:00pm and here I was ready for bed. I climbed in the hammock, and at first the constant swing made me a little motion sick; after awhile the motion subdued and I drifted off to sleep. I remember waking up around 11:00 or so to what seemed like a bright street light, it was the moon. It was a gorgeous sight so I snapped a couple photos and closed my eyes and rolled over to my left falling back asleep. 

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