Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Ride Recap: St. Louis, Root Beer, Santa Claus, and IKEA...only in a Christine ride.


Ride Recap: St. Louis, Root Beer, Santa Claus, and IKEA...only in a Christine ride.

After getting my work schedule scrambled around unexpectedly, I found myself with quite a span of free time on my hands. So I get on Facebook and muse about riding somewhere this week, especially because the weather called for clear and in the 70s during the day, a very unusual weather pattern for a November in the Midwest.
My friend Cris suggests (jokingly, of course) that I go visit her in St. Louis, MO, a very doable 450 miles. Thinking it was a good idea combined with the fact that I was bored and wanted to pile some miles on Eleanor before it got way too cold this year, we shot a few messages back and forth and I was on my way west around 9AM on Tuesday morning. The straight shot down I-70 was pretty uneventful and the weather was just pleasant, trickling into the mid-70s by the early afternoon. This journey would mark my return to St. Louis in nearly three and a half years.

(Somewhere in Illinois) Not bad for midday in November in the Midwest!
I reached St. Louis around 4:30PM (Central Standard Time) where I topped off my gas tank in the arena/stadium district and then met up with Cris on the campus of George Washington University. On the way to campus, an older guy in an SUV was hitting on me at an intersection, winking at me and asking for my number before I jumped onto I-64 East (super creepy). I stared at him funny, flipped my tinted shield down, and blasted onto the freeway. Of course, try to pick me up after I get married!
Hey look, it's the Arch!
Here's Cris and me at GWU.
We took a short ride over to Fitz’s American Grill and Bottling Works in the historic Delmar Loop area of St. Louis. As a root beer aficionado, I had learned about Fitz's when I still lived on the West Coast and had a case of their root beer shipped to CA, so it was fitting to go to the original source of the good stuff. I definitely wasn't disappointed at all...bottomless frosty mugs of in-house brewed root beer and a tasty mushroom and swiss burger with onion rings! Yummy.

On-site root beer brewery! (There's my OMG face for you.)
I'll take a few glasses to go?
After dinner and some good conversation, we rode back to her place in Wentzville, MO, about 40 miles west of St. Louis where I stayed for the night. The next morning, I followed Cris to St. Louis where we split off, her to work and me continuing on I-64 East toward Louisville, KY. After crossing the bridges back into Illinois, I stopped for breakfast at a place I thought I wouldn't see again: Jack in the Box. I even got out of there with the customary antenna ball!

Regional WIN for IL and MO. Dear OH, when are you getting one of these?
After a few hours on I-64, I stopped in Santa Claus, IN, mostly because of the strange name and simply out of curiosity. Besides, I had already visited Superman in Metropolis, IL in 2006 so what the heck...on with the towns involving "imaginary" figures!

Really? He's that way?
Santa Claus, IN is a very small town that thrives on tourism and retail. It has an all-year Christmas shop, two seasonal amusement parks called Holiday World and Splashin' Safari, and a highly rated campground and RV resort called Lake Rudolph. The road to the middle of town was a nice five-mile stretch of twisties. There wasn't much open when I got up there (which is expected for a Wednesday in November), but I perused the Christmas store and picked up a few ornaments and some tasty, homemade cookies. I wonder what this place is like when it's in full-tourist mode, perhaps stay at Santa's Lodge?

This is probably the largest collection of Christmas ornaments in one place.
Aloha Santa!
Free jail time along with a lump of coal if you're a baddie!
Hey look, it's a CAMS Christmas napkin! However, both variables aren't in parentheses so the cube only affects the "o," making it just say "Hooo." (If I had to explain, you wouldn't understand.)
That's town hall for Santa Claus, IN...need I say more?
I rode straight through Louisville, KY and headed over to IKEA in West Chester, OH (Cincinnati) for a rib dinner (only happens on Wednesday nights) and to pick up a couple bags of frozen Swedish meatballs (a special Matt request). I also took some time to shop for some kitchen supplies and other tidbits for the house. Arrival back in Columbus was about 7:45PM.

Here's the route. I put my well-practiced, "super-slabbing" abilities to work. This ride was not one of those curvy, obstacle-laden journeys that I'd normally dabble in, but sometimes just heading somewhere [far] is just as satisfying, especially when it gives me a chance to hang out with a friend I don't get to see that often.

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