Friday, April 10, 2009

Arch Enmity

Each time I was in St. Louis I would usually make some attempt to head over to their famous arch to make the ride to the top to check out the views. You travel up inside the curved arch in these impossibly small box cars and end up on your back at some point, rounding the curve to the top...but don't do it if you're claustrophobic . And each time we got there the ride to the top was either shut down or closed for maintenance. By the third or fourth time of having to make due with browsing through the American pioneers exhibits in the underground museum they built beneath, I could say I had had about enough of covered wagons and stuffed bison. I began to think that arch was out to get me.

At a certain point, when something is continuously denied you, it becomes the goal of doing it, if only for the absurdity of having not. It reminded me of the challenge that occurred traveling in Europe when some of us became determined to get to the the top of whatever was the highest church or tower in every town or village we visited and snap a shot of the view. No matter where we went, we became obsessed with it, forgetting the views and just going to great lengths plotting and planning how and when we would get up there. We researched steeples and bell towers and didn't care if they were open to the public or not, no stairway was too steep or ladder to hard too traverse. I don't think I climbed as many narrow passageways or bumped my head on more ancient stone. Ah, goals.

So, arrival at the top of the arch, the gateway to the west, finally happened with a little better planning and cooperation from the gods of the arch. And, while the views were slightly obscured by the cloudy day, I could successfully check that one of the list. That, and not having to look at another stuffed bison ever again was a relief.

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