This continues my coverage of our trip out west … the move to Portland. This recounts our first day in St. Louis, MO.

The Gateway Arch is a great attraction. The sun was intense, and the heat wave still with us, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. Luckily the park around the Arch had walkways shaded by trees. We broke off and walked by some of the ponds, only to retreat quickly because we must have smelled great to the mosquitos.

Yesterday, when we arrived, we talked about going up into the Arch and weren’t sure whether we wanted to. We didn’t really know the size of the structure, or how the trip up would be. I’m not really afraid of heights, but I’m not a fool either. The elevator/tram thingie has to be robust enough.

We walked up to the Arch and didn’t know what to do next. Then we saw a security guard doing bag checks near a ramp that went below ground. Had no clue what it was. Thought maybe it was the entrance to the tram ride to the top, so we checked it out. Holy cow, there was a museum down there, some movie screens (Lewis and Clark, and Arch Construction), and tons of people. We had no idea.

The tram ride was exciting, but to most it’d probably be a little scary. You’re in this round pod thing (think “Dr. Evil’s escape egg from Austin Powers”), and there are two vertical slit windows out which you can see the internals of the arch, along with some stairways that follow you on your ride to the top. The pod keeps rotating abruptly as it rises, so as to keep you more of less seated vertically. We only had the two of us on our way to the top. The five seats were filled when we came down.

At the top was a carpeted walkway, and the walls met the floor diagonally. The underside of the top of the Arch is V-shaped, so these carpeted walls probably weren’t far from the actual exterior walls of the arch. You could lean on the slanted walls and look out the 2.5 foot wide X 8 inch tall windows. There were about 10 of them on each side of the walkway. If you boosted yourself up high enough you could look straight down out the windows. Amazing! From here you can see views of the Mississippi on one side, and Downtown St. Louis on the other. The sun was intense, so the colors might have been washed out a bit, but I wanted to relive every minute of it so I took tons of pictures.

You could stay at the top of the Arch as long as you wanted. I think 15 minutes was enough for us. My mouth got dry from the jaw dropping views. We got in line to board the South Tram down. The other three ladies that accompanied us seemed quite ready to get on stable ground.

More later …