Doing a Little Research

We are headed to Altoona, Iowa (just outside of Des Moines) where we are going to spend about 4 and half months working at the Adventureland park. We are both going be working with the rides group – we assume loading, unloading and operating the rides. We figured that it would be appropriate to observe how other parks operate their rides – so we decided to spend last Saturday at Six Flags St. Louis. Yes we are crazy just two weeks before we park next to and work in an theme park for over 4 months we pay to visit one. We call it research.

The name Six Flags comes from Texas origins of the company and refers to the six different nations that have governed Texas – Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States, and the Confederate States of America.  The park was originally called Six Flags over Mid-America when built in 1971 as the third and last park actually built by Six Flags (the other parks were acquired). Although the park is now called Six Flags St. Louis it located in about 30 miles outside of St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri.

Pulling into the parking lot we knew we were not in Disney any more. The signs were just so loony we found it very confusing.

Six Flags- Parking Areas

Parking is just Loony at Six Flags

We started our day in the Studio Backlot area of the park riding Batman the Ride which is a steel inverted coaster that is about 109 feet tall and reaches a top speed of 50 mph. We were happy to see the theming – we like a theme park much more than a plain amusement park. The picture in the lower right attempts to show the incredible amount of track, twists and turns that they pack into a small area. The ride really got our blood flowing.

Six Flags - Batman the Ride

Six Flags - Batman the Ride

We then went over to ride the Ninja – a two minute steel coaster that has 4 inversions and a drop of 80 feet.

Six Flags - Ninja

Six Flags - Ninja

We walked thru the kiddie ride area of the park which is named Bugs Bunny National Park. I think Leslie was a little disappointed that she could not get a cancellation for her National Parks Passport. They did have a unique take on Mt. Rushmore.

Six Flags - Mt. Rushmore

Six Flags - Mt. Rushmore

We moved out of the National Park into the Britannia area of the park headed to The Boss, however before we could get there Pandemonium caught our eye. This is a very different type of coaster – the best way to describe it is that it is a combination of a roller coaster and tea cup ride put in one. Four people sit in a car with 2 facing 2. The car then moves over the roller coaster track – but it also spins. From watching the ride it appeared that a fairly even weight distribution results in the most spin. We were joined by another couple that balanced the car nicely. Talk about being dizzy after getting off a ride.

Six Flags - Pandemnium

Six Flags - Pandemnium

Next up was The Boss. The Boss is a 5051 foot wooden coaster built in 2000 and is ranked as one of the top 5 wooden coasters in the country. It’s track follows the terrain of the land and include 4 drops and 570 degree helix. Although all the coasters at Six Flags St. Louis were wonderful – this one was our favorite because it gave a ride as thrilling as a steel coaster but on wood.

Six Flags - The Boss

Six Flags - The Boss

We needed a short break for some food and a cool down on the Log Flume before we were ready to tackle the newest coaster in the Park (which opened a few days before we went) – Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast.  The track is liner track with a single loop and a section of track that shoots up at 90 degrees. Like the name proclaims – it is a reverse blast – going from 0 to 70mph in 3.8 seconds in reverse, thru the loop and up the 90 degree section where it pauses for a brief moment before you shoot back forwards over the track a second time. The ride has two 5 car trains that move off to the sides to load and unload. One is unloading and loading as the other travels the track.

Six Flags - Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast

Six Flags - Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast

we took a little break again from coasters for a picture with Shaggy and Scooby and for a ride on the scary Scooby-Doo Ghostblasters.

Six Flags - Shaggy and Scooby

Six Flags - Shaggy and Scooby

We also rode the other coasters in the park – River King Train Mine, Screamin’ Eagle (which was the largest fastest wooden coaster when it was built in 1976), and the American Thunder. As we were rounding the corner Leslie looked over and was taken back when she thought the car in the picture was the ride car for the American Thunder.

Six Flags - American Thunder Car

Six Flags - American Thunder Car?

It was a great day of research we feel we are now much better prepared to work at Adventureland this summer.

 

Home of the King of Beers

In 1843 Eberhard Anheuser left Germany and finally settled in St. Louis, Missouri. Anheuser who was trained as a soap manufacturer grew a soap and candle company to be the largest in the St. Louis.  In 1852 a group of Germans started the Barbarian Brewery to produce lager beer. Anheuser became part owner of the brewery and by 1860 bought out the other investors and changed the name to E. Anheuser and Co.

In 1857 18 year old Adolphus Busch made his way to St. Louis and started working as a clerk on the riverfront. By the time he was 21 he had a partnership in a brewery supply business. It was through the brewery supply business he met Eberhard Anheuser and was introduced to Anheuser’s daughter Lilly.  In 1861 Adolphus and Lilly were married and Bush went to work in his father-in-laws brewery. He eventually purchasing half the brewery and becoming Anheuser’s partner.

Prior to the mid 1870’s beer was brewed to the tastes of the local area in which it was sold. Bush wanted to create an American-style lager and coined the name ‘Budweiser’ a name that would appeal to German immigrants and also be easy to pronounce by Americans. Busch propelled the Anheuser brewery to become the first American brewer to use pasteurization, artificial refrigeration, refrigerated railcars and rail-side icehouses to allow the company to grow and made Budweiser the first national beer brand. In 1879 the company was renamed Anheuser-Bush to recognize the Adolphus’s contributions.

Last Friday we toured the Brewery. According to one of the tour guides the brewery and associated headquarters building occupy about 100 acres in the city of St. Louis. The tour starts in the visitor which includes various displays on everything from the process of brewing beer to the history of the Clydesdales. There were also steins from the Anheuser-Busch Mettlach Stien collection on display. Mettlach beer steins where produced between 1885 and 1910 in western Germany.

Bush Brewery - Mettlach Stiens

Bush Brewery - Mettlach Stiens

The first stop on the tour is the Clydesdales Barn. The horses no longer live on the brewery property, but they bring a couple in each day to be available during the tours. The Clydesdales where introduced to the public on April 7, 1933 to celebrate the end of Prohibition.

Bush Brewery - Clydesdales

Bush Brewery - Clydesdales

From there we went to the Beachwood Aging Cellars. This is where the beer rests for aging, clarification and natural carbonation. The entire cellar is kept at a nice 50 degrees. Each of the huge tanks holds 3600 barrels (which is just under 1.2 million 12 ounce bottles).

Busch Brewery - Beachwood Aging

Busch Brewery - Beachwood Aging

Next we visited the building in which the malt, rice, and hops are combined with water to make mash, then strained and brewed, where we learned that Anheuser-Bush purchases about 90% of the rice production of the United States to use in its beer production.

Busch Brewery - Beer Making

Busch Brewery - Beer Making

From there we visited the Bevo Building which was built to bottle the non-alcoholic beverage that they produced during the probation years. They currently use the building to bottle their beer.

Busch Brewery - Bevo Building

Busch Brewery - Bevo Building

The last stop on the tour was the tasting facility where we tasted three different beers. We tasted the Shock Top Lemon, Stella Artois, Ultra 19th Hole Light Tea and Lemonade. Neither of us are beer drinkers so we did not like the Stella Artois at all. The Shock Top Lemon was helped a little by the lemon taste – but we still would not drink it. Leslie liked the Ultra – but for me it tasted too much like black tea – and I only like some green teas.

Busch Brewery - Tasting

Busch Brewery - Tasting

For many people the highlight of the tour is the tasting room. For us the highlight was the Clydesdales and the overall theming of the facility. The interior of all the buildings were magnificent with wrought iron fixtures, wonderful murals and even the Anheuser-Bush logo on the escalators.

Busch Brewery - Theming

Busch Brewery - Theming

A Visit to Busch Stadium

When we are going to be in an area that has a major league baseball team during baseball season we look and consider going to see a game. We don’t always go – for example we did not go to a game in Boston last year because we would have had to pay a lot to get tickets all the way up in the nose bleed section. We talked about going to Cardinals game – but then decided to go to a Red Sox game in Kanas City next week.

We stopped at a gas station earlier in the week and as I was filling the tank Leslie saw a sign that talked about up to 50% off Cardinals tickets. After I filled the tank I went inside to ask about it.  The gas station was handing out scratch cards that would give up to 50% off on Cardinals tickets. Since they had a lot of the cards and most just people don’t take advantage of offers at gas stations she gave me a number of them.

Leslie got on the internet and looked and we could get 50% off really good (about 25 rows behind home plate) tickets for the Thursday afternoon game against the Pittsburg Pirates. Well we can’t turn down great $30.00 seats in a park we have not been to so we decided to add Bush Stadium to our list of MLB parks we have visited.

Busch Stadium was opened on April 4, 2006 and occupies part of the footprint of the former Bush Stadium (the Busch Memorial Stadium) in downtown St. Louis. The stadium has an exterior of red brick like all the new downtown stadiums. Set into the sidewalks around the outside of the park are plaques commemorating important milestones in the Cardinals history – like McGwire hitting 70 home runs or the game in which Fernando Taltis hit two grand slams in the same inning.  Of course there is a giant Kraft macaroni and cheese noodle – what lengths the go to for advertising.

Outside Busch Stadium

Outside Busch Stadium

The interior of the park is very nice although I did not like the very closed in nature of the main concourse. There were only small openings to the field from the main concourse to the field  with many of the vendors being located on the field side of the concourse. Although this was the only ball park that I have been in that has a Build a Bear store in the stadium. No we did not purchase a Fredbird doll (but we did think about it for a few minutes).

Busch Stadium Concurse

Busch Stadium Concurse

The St. Louis Cardinals have won the World Series 11 times, most recently last year. They proudly display flags for each World Championship in the park and had the trophy on display.

Cardinals World Series

Cardinals World Series

Of course the stadium is laid out so that so that the Gateway Arch is visible from all areas of the stadium. The park has limited outfield seating and that section of the stadium is lower allowing views of the Arch. I walked around to the outfield area to take the picture of the arch below. I also have a picture I took the day before of Busch Stadium from the top of the Gateway Arch.

Busch Stadium and Gateway Arch

Busch Stadium and Gateway Arch

They even cut the grass showing an ‘arch’ in cut pattern. I did not feel ambitious enough to go up the levels to get a picture that showed the whole field so this little will have to do.

Busch Stadium - Arch in the Grass

Busch Stadium - Arch in the Grass

When we visit a ball park we try to have some of the food the park is known for – in this case it was the make your own Nachos. We had the beef (they also had pulled pork – but that did not sound right on Nachos). They were execellent.

Busch Stadium - Nachos

Busch Stadium - Nachos

Oh yeah there was also a ball game going on. As I mentioned above – we had really good seats.  If you look at the picture on the left that I took from the other side of the park – our seats are circled in yellow – you can actually see Leslie sitting there. The other picture was our view of the field. It was a pretty good game with St. Louis taking an early lead, although like our Mariners – they could not hold on to it today.

Busch Stadium Game

Busch Stadium Game

Next week we go to Kauffman Stadium to watch the Royals and the Red Sox.

The Reluctant President Ulysses S. Grant

In 1983 my teacher assigned everyone in our class a president to do a paper on. I remember being jealous of some of the other students that got presidents we had heard of, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, etc. I was given Ulysses S. Grant. Who the hell is Ulysses S. Grant? Now if I had said that when I was in school my mother woulda slapped me. So I begrudgingly did a paper on the president guy who died so many years before I was born why on earth should I care? What I got out of the experience was that there was a dude name Ulysses (stupid name with too many s’s) who was the 18th president and he fought in some war. As Bill and & Ted would later say, “He was an old… dead… dude.” Now I may be seeing why I liked that movie so much so many years later.

No in the last year Mr. U. S. Grant and I have met in many different places that were important in his lifetime and now I realize mine. As we have been following much of the Civil War Trail through the country I have heard this man’s name again and again and now I have learned who he really was and how much my life is different because of him and men like him. Here is the paper I should have written nearly 30 years ago.

The Reluctant President by Leslie McIntosh Moss

Ulysses S. Grant was a man full of compassion and born leader. After graduating from West Point he met the love of his life, Julia Dent, sister to a dear friend from school. He joined the Mexican American War to help fight for America’s freedom and as soon as the war was over he married Julia and they traveled together with his work until he was sent to the Oregon coast. At the time Julia was pregnant and he did not want her to have to try and make the trip, which at the time was still very treacherous.

After being apart from his beloved for too long he decided it was done. He quit the military and moved back home with his family to be a farmer. His father-in-law owned a farm and slaves. This was very much against the upbringing he received from his parents back home in Ohio. Knowing there was no way he could manage the farm on his own he kept the slave but worked along side them in the fields as equals. In doing so he received backlash from the other local slave owners.

Things were very lean and when the War Between the States became evident he joined back up with the Union army to fight for the freedom of those slaves he had worked along side. Grant succeeded in guiding his troupes to victory that he was brought to Washington DC and made Lieutenant general, the first American to hold that title since President George Washington. Lt. General Grant fought long and hard accepting the surrender of the Confederates at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

After the assassination of President Lincoln, President Andrew Johnson fought civil rights legislation setting Civil Rights back even further. When the nomination was made for Ulysses S. Grant to be president he knew he couldn’t fight the process. He had no wish to be president but knew someone needed to step in and do what President Lincoln had wanted done. Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1875 he sought to protect not only the African Americans but also to protect the Native American Tribes that were left. He was a man of convictions that believed all men were created equally. So many people bow to the great President Lincoln but few know the man that picked up the pieces and continued the great fight for the freedom for all.

Gateway to the West

Many cities have landmark or attraction that they are well known for. For example when people hear San Francisco they think either of Lombard Street or Cable Cars, Seattle is known for the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, San Antonio the Alamo – well you get the idea.  We are currently visiting St. Louis, Missouri – of course a trip to see the ‘arch’ is a requirement.

The Gateway Arch is near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and is actually part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The memorial includes the Gateway Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion (housed underground below the arch), two movie theaters (also housed underground which show documentaries on the building of the Arch and the Lewis and Clark Expedition), and the Historic Old Courthouse (which is where Dred Scott filed suit to gain his freedom from slavery).

We started our exploration of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial across the street and in the Mississippi. We purchased a ticket package that included the tram ride to the top of the Arch, both movies and an hour long sightseeing cruise on the Mississippi.  We boarded the river boat Tom Sawyer (appropriate given the last RV park we stated at) for our adventure.

Riverboat Tom Sawyer

Riverboat Tom Sawyer

As we started to cruise up the river we passed a statue of Lewis and Clark on the edge of the Mississippi (see the top left picture in the set below). If you look closely in the front of the boat is a big dog (about 140 pounds the guide said) that belonged to Meriwether Lewis and accompanied him on the expedition. I have been to a number of historic sites in Oregon, Washington, and Montana and never once heard mention of a dog.  It turns out that the dog was Newfoundland – just like one that lived with me years ago.

We then passed the Union Electric plant (top right picture in the set below) that was built in 1904 and provided power to the St. Louis World Fair. It still provides steam to downtown buildings today. Of course we saw barges – barges waiting on the side of the river, barges being filled with scrap metal (lower left hand picture below) and empty oil barges being pushed back up river (lower right hand picture below).

Views from the Riverboat Tom Sawyer on the Mississippi

Views from the Riverboat Tom Sawyer on the Mississippi

As we continued our trek on the river we passed the site where they were building the support towers for a new suspension bridge for I-70. The “holes” visible near the top of the towers are the holes the cables will be strung thru. I was fascinated watching them work on the tall structures and seeing the scaffolding systems used for the workers. I did not realize how simple building those towers are to what was done to build the Gateway Arch.

Supports for new I-70 Bridge

Supports for new I-70 Bridge

Of course there was a wonderful view of the Gateway Arch from the Mississippi River.

Gateway Arch as seen from the Mississippi

Gateway Arch as seen from the Mississippi

After we completed the water portion of today’s adventure we went back underground to watch to documentary movies. One of the movies was on the building of the Gateway Arch, and the other on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 

Although the historic monument was created by an Executive Order in 1935 the competition for the design of the main part of the memorial was not held until 1947. Architect Eero Saarinen won with plans for a 590 foot Arch.  Construction was delayed first due to agreements needed with railroad companies on the relocation of track that ran thru the site, and then by the Korean War, and finally the actual re-alignment of the railroad tracks.

By the time ground was broken in 1959 for the foundation – the details of the arch were changed a bit increasing the height to 630 feet with a span of 630 feet at the base. The first triangular section of the stainless steel arch was put in place on February 12, 1963. The arch is made up of 142 segments.  Each segment had to be put together the lifted in place and welded to the segment below.

Once the legs of the arch got too tall for ground based cranes – the workers had to construct a that rode on tracks attached to the side of the arch. The lift provided a platform for a crane in the sky along with work platform for the workers. It was amazing watching the film of the construction and seeing the workers walking and climbing over things high up in the air with no safety harnesses having one hand occupied smoking a cigarette.

Work continued thru the seasons for over 2 and half years. It must have been amazing to live in the area and watch the legs of the arch grow taller and getting closer together.  Finally on October 28, 1965 the final segment of the arch was lifted and fitted between the two legs joining them into a single arch.

The top of the arch contains an observation area that contains 32 small windows (measuring 7 X 27 inches) allowing views of the city, the Mississippi River and the southern Illinois countryside. The issue is getting from the ground up 630 feet to the observation area.

Each leg of the arch contains a tram that is made up of eight small egg shaped cars that each barely holds five people. It takes about 4 minutes to ride to the top of the arch and 3 minutes coming back down. The photo in the upper right shows the row of little doors that lead into tram cars. The picture on the left shows tram car and the one in the lower right shows how tight the seating is in the tram cars. The cars are really small and setting is very tight – Leslie did a great job remaining clam and making the tram trips.

Gateway Arch - the Tram

Gateway Arch - the Tram

The view from the top of the arch was amazing.

View From the Top

View From the Top

The next picture is panorama view that I created using a group I pictures I took from the top of the Arch. The total size is just over 1 Meg. If you click on the picture it should download the large image into your browser. It will then size the picture down so you can view the entire image. You should be able to view at its full size and scroll around to see the details.

Panoramic View from the Top of the Gateway Arch

Panoramic View from the Top of the Gateway Arch