Worst. Gateway Arch Trip. Ever
I’m from St. Louis, so of course I didn’t go up the Arch until we took a visitor, and let me tell you the view of East St. Louis in the 1970s was not that impressive; actually the view of downtown St. Louis wasn’t much better.
But now I have a son, so it was inevitable that during one of our trips to St. Louis he would demand a trip up. That happened several years ago, and we thought (hoped) we were done with that.
As we prepared for our annual trek down from Peoria to St. Louis for Thanksgiving, Joel began making trip up the Arch noises again. Now I knew there was construction going on under and around the arch, and I thought (hoped?)trips up the Arch were cancelled as well.
No such luck.
Arch Tickets: The Ordeal Begins
With the museum under the Arch closed, you now pick up tickets at the Old Courthouse, across the street and up a ways from the actual Arch entrance. They’re building what I’m sure will be a nice park there now, which will allow you to walk above the highway straight to the Arch, but that’s not the way it works now.
Oh, wait a minute, I forgot getting down there and parking.
That went fine, got a spot on the street a block away, paid for two hours, which was going to FINE, even with our getting there the suggested 45 minutes before our departure time (1:10 p.m.).
Went into the courthouse and got in line … oh, there’s a line, huh.
Well the line only took about 10 minutes, but overheard someone coming back saying they’re running late. So I asked if I should change our time, but was told we’d just get the next available if we were late, so no worries, got our tickets and headed on down.
Did I mention that on Thanksgiving Day the temperature was 67, but on Saturday it was in the 40s? I didn’t? Well it was. But we figured it wasn’t a big deal, we’d just be getting in line and going in the Arch, so no hats or gloves necessary and they’d just get in the way.
The Ordeal Really Begins
Tickets in hand, we marched down to the Arch, eventually figuring the way we had to go around to get to the one open entrance. We arrived and saw groups of people, some milling around, some looking like they might be in a line, and some clearly huddling against the Arch trying to stay of the lovely biting wind that was accompanying the temperature.
We asked someone if they were at the end of the line and they told us that there wasn’t really a line, they were calling people by the time on their ticket to line up and go through security.
OK, seems reasonable, it was around 12:40 and we had 1:10 tickets, so that should mean we’d be in line pretty soon.
Except we found out they were just calling people with tickets for 12:25 and 12:30.
That’s when this happened:
Because as I might have mentioned, we didn’t dress for the weather, not expecting to have to deal with it for long. And this was with us actually finding a place slightly out of the wind, at the entrance approach where you start going downhill. (We weren’t supposed to be there, they wanted us farther back, but as long as we stayed quiet and didn’t cause trouble, the people doing crowd control didn’t care.)
The Weather, Part 2
After about twenty minutes of huddling (Joel of course was having no problems), and hearing a couple of additional groups called, it began to rain.
There was no rain on the radar when we left, so this cold rain was just for us.
And after another twenty minutes, of huddling in the rain, we were finally called into line.
And after another ten minutes of standing in line in the rain, we made it to the overhang.
And then finally … we got to go through security. Which was just like airport security except we got to keep our shoes on.
Sometimes it really is the little things.
It Got Better
But after we were inside through security, the rest went ok. We walked straight to the elevators, got a place in line and within about 5-10 minutes were shoveled into our capsule for the always interesting ride up.
Once we got up, we got back in line to go back down.
The line to go down stretched all the way from the stairs pretty much to the other end of the viewing area, so you just started walking down one side, looking out the windows, and got in line on the other.
Joel, of course, was free to look around while Cecile held our place in line, and it was kind of interesting seeing the view with low clouds and rain.
Although I don’t think we’re actually supposed to be at cloud level.
Do NOT go up the Arch. In the winter. For now. At least not until they’re done with construction. Unless it’s warm. Or you don’t mind standing outside freezing. Possibly in the rain.
Pictures From the Top of the Arch