We accepted the invitation to Meet Me In St. Louis, where Bob and Ann graciously hosted us in their beautiful home from September 1 through 5. Bill and Julie arrived at Lambert Field Thursday morning, Gail and Al followed in the early afternoon, and Maija came in during mid afternoon. Sadly Bob and Lolly had to cancel at the last minute after Bob injured his knees. Kathy had previously excused herself because of a conflict with a family visit.

To quote another movie, some like it hot. One thing we will always remember about this gathering was the temperature exceeding 100° F on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

After checking out the St. Louis Walk of Fame Thursday evening, we enjoyed dinner at Blueberry Hill Restaurant, an easy stroll from Bob and Ann's house. Chuck Berry sometimes performs there. He was not there that evening, but there was a more-than-life-size statue of him across the street.

Citizens National Bank sign showing 100 degrees
A panorama showing the base of the north leg of
              the Gateway Arch and continuing up to the peak Our first stop on Friday was the Gateway Arch. We rode to the top of the 630-foot high memorial in a tram inside its north leg. Each car of the tram was spherical with a 4-foot high door on one side and with five seats around the perimeter. We sat with knees touching and our heads against the ceiling. What would happen if there were an earthquake?

At the top, there is a very nice gallery with windows through which we got terrific views of the city and its attractions. In one direction is the Old Courthouse, where the original Dred Scott trials had been held, and the center of St. Louis. In the other direction is the Mississippi River and Illinois.

Back down from the top, we watched a movie on how the Arch was designed and constructed, and then took a one-hour cruise on a riverboat, the Tom Sawyer. The cruise was mostly along the industrialized portion of the water front. A park ranger discussed some of the history, but not as much as we were hoping to hear.

After a late lunch, we visited the Old Courthouse. The Old Courthouse has been restored and includes two courtrooms as well as an exhibit area. The open area under the dome is impressive.

Inside the Gateway Arch, looking down at the city The shadow of the Arch on the street and park far below
Ann points out
     some sights to Gail and Maija The shadow of the Arch curves
           across the park at its base and onto the Interstate highway
The Old Courthouse seen from the top of the Arch Riverboats
The white courthouse 
     has four wings and a green dome. It sits in parkland amidst office
     buildings Two riverboats are 
         docked at the riverboat cruise wharf. Their upper decks are
         blue. The water is muddy.
The Clan preparing to board the riverboat Tom Sawyer Looking up into the Old Courthouse's dome
The white courthouse 
     has two wings and a green dome. It sits in parkland amidst office
     buildings A large flag hangs
     down in the middle of the space. The dome and the balconies
     around it are each painted in different pastel colors

Saturday was the opening day of the annual Japanese Festival held in the Missouri Botanical Garden. We knew it was going to be hot, and it was. We saw the opening procession, strolled through the Japanese garden and watched a Taiko drumming demonstration. But it was too hot for us and, after unsuccessfully trying to see the Japanese cooking demonstration, we retired to Schlafly's Bottleworks Brew Pub for lunch. All in all, still a successful day!
Taiko drumming demonstration The bar in Schlafly's brew pub
Many drummers in green shirts
      are surrounded by an audience Bob and Gail stand near 
           the bar. A large neon-lit Schlafly sign hangs on the wall
           behind the bar

Bill and Julie had to leave Sunday morning. After dropping them at the terminal, we headed off in search of the Civil War museum at Jefferson Barracks. This was harder than expected. First, we wound through the National Cemetery, National Guard base, and housing developments. Then, the museum wasn't open yet. We eventually came upon a county park museum in the Old Ordnance Room that featured stories of Jayhawkers and Bushwhackers as well as articles used by and worn by the soldiers. Two elderly women provided a good conversation.

Lunch at a barbecue restaurant followed and then we visited Ulysses S. Grant's home. This was actually his father-in-law's place, but Grant lived here in the 1850s. His father-in-law, Frederick Dent, was a slave owner who came to live with Grant in the White House when Grant was President. They must have had many interesting discussions.
White Haven, the country home of U.S. Grant's father-in-law
The house is
              painted green. The main part is two stories
              with a covered porch and a covered balcony 
              above it. To the left is a one-story wing
              with no porch.

The planning and creation of meals played a big part in previous Minn Clan gatherings. This year meals were more casual. Bob made a great pulled-pork barbecue for Friday evening, but the other lunches and dinners were either restaurant meals or leftovers. Breakfasts were do-it-yourself with cereal, fruit, yogurt, juice, bread, coffee and tea. This worked well for us.

In our discussions, we missed the contributions of Bob, Lolly and Kathy, though we did get to talk with Bob and Lolly on the phone. We covered, but did not exhaust, topics ranging from politics to family history, from religion to medical science. Bob demonstrated Pandora internet radio and Ann demonstrated Ancestry.Com working in concert with Family History Maker software. We watched some episodes about the brain on the Charlie Rose TV program. Bill introduced us to the unique voice of Jimmy Dale Gilmore (a more recent performance can be seen here).

So where to in 2012?

Maija suggested Madison, Wisconsin, as a destination that is central to all of us. For our base of operations, she recommends a house in Cooksville, about 23 miles south of Madison. She visited the house and says it has lots of room, with space for ten people at the dining room table. She proposed Thursday, Sept 27, through Sunday, Sept 30, for the get together. We could attend the Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know? show, visit brew pubs, and try to solve the problems of the world.

Bob has suggested three other future destinations. One is Lanesboro, the bread and breakfast capitol of Minnesota, where we could see plays. Another is Bear Head Lake State Park, which is about 60 miles north of Duluth. The third is Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula where the fall leaf colors are spectacular.