St. Louis

Getting ready to head into Missouri, I was warned on two separate occasions about East St. Louis.

“You know you have to go through East St. Louis to get to St. Louis, right? Man, I wouldn’t want to be you.” – Gage.

“#1 murders, more than LA.” – a gas station attendant who is also from southern California.

Hearing this, I couldn’t help but be nervous. As it turned out, East St. Louis wasn’t bad; what I should have been nervous about occurred right after that – crossing the  Mississippi River.

Crossing at the Martin Luther King bridge was a mistake, though I don’t know if there was a better option. Two lanes, no shoulder, no sidewalk, and drains jutting out from the sides with tire-width vents. Cars were passing literally inches from my bike. I pedaled like crazy, not daring to look back, not daring to stop, not daring to stare at the picturesque view of the St. Louis Gateway Arch appearing ahead. Thank goodness it was rush hour leaving the city instead of entering. I made through with my life, barely, but it was definitely the scariest part of the trip thus far.

The city was a breeze compared to that bridge. I had planned to stay with a host, but when I found out that Edward’s aunt and uncle were willing to have me (though they lived quite a bit further), I decided to stay with them.

Christine, Kevin, their daughters Adele and Lilah, and son, John, were in the process of moving homes, so I ended up getting a whole, albeit empty, house to myself! I had originally planned to stay just two nights to rest, but with bike repairs, laundry, blog-updating, and the absolute gracious nature of their family, I ended up staying three. The first day, Kevin took me out to lunch, to frozen custard, to REI for a camp stove fuel refill, and for a small tour around the area. As we rode, I mentioned the warnings I had heard coming into the city.

“You know, you hear things like St. Louis is the murder capital of the U.S., and you look around and think, ‘Really?’ I mean, just over there, in that park, young men and women organize a giant kickball tournament every weekend. Just like any city, there are certain neighborhoods you’re better off avoiding, but overall, it’s a good city. I think we get this reputation because you hear in the news about kids killing each other over drugs. It’s a shame, really. There’s so much more to this city.

Looking around, I could see what he meant.

The second day was spent painting John’s bedroom wall, assembling his bed, and getting things in order for my departure.

Christine, Kevin, Adele, John, and Lilah, thank you so much for letting me live in your new home (even before you!) and taking such good care of me.


2 responses to this post.

  1. i don’t think MLK would approve of that bridge– not really espousing equality for both motor vehicles and mooses… not sayin’, i’m just sayin’. god bless it, be safe!


  2. […] Rivers crossed into Portland: 1, the Willamette, thankfully less intense than the Mississippi crossing […]


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