The thought running through my head is that I’m leaving my homeland of Minnesotafell.
So, I currently live in Iowa, but typically identify myself as being
born and raised in Minnesota. When I throw in the fact that I was actually born in South Korea, it adds another complication to the whole “Where are you from?” question. I’ll have arrived in St. Louis, MO via South Korea via Minnesota via Fargo, ND via North Iowa to be exact.
“Is St. Louis even still in the Midwest?” I asked Jake. As we entered the city, we saw signs welcoming us to the gateway to the Midwest, so technically, we still are. A four-hour drive has always taken us to Upper Midwestern destinations such as Eau Claire, WI, Grand Forks, ND or Des Moines, IA. Now, a four-hour drive will take us to cities like Memphis, Louisville, and Indianapolis. It feels exciting and strange.
My bones are only used to living in states where winter lasts six months and looks like this.
The drive from Mason City to St. Louis is 6.5 hours. Once you pass Cedar Falls, the drive isn’t very scenic, though there are some hills and rock ledges lining the freeway as you get closer to St. Louis. I was surprised at how few cities we could see from the highway, except for of Palmyra and Hannibal.
We stayed in St. Charles at the Frenchtown Inn that just came under new ownership. The bed and breakfast was located within a relatively easy commute to Jake’s work and I could easily walk to coffee shops and restaurants since Jake took the car. Christine, a retired critical care nurse, and Larry, a retired firefighter bought the inn from the previous owner and worked hard to update it by repainting the interior and adding furnishings. When we arrived, they had only been open for a few weeks but were busy each night. They mentioned visitors had even made reservations before they had officially opened.
We stayed in the Fleur-de-Lis room. Chris and Larry had this stained glass window specially made for the room.
Our room included a queen sized bed, large closet, couch, and private bathroom. Business travelers might want to inquire about accommodations with a desk. We were too busy driving around the city house hunting after work to miss an office set-up.
Bed and breakfasts are truly my favorite way to travel.
When I travel solo, I feel safer and cozier at a bed and breakfast setting that seems more like staying in a home as opposed to a large hotel. Plus, I meet the coolest people at B & B’s. Who would have imagined I’d meet Frank Lloyd Wright and Abraham Lincoln history enthusiasts? For an introvert, the thought of dining with strangers at a set time for breakfast can feel intimidating. Believe I get this, but it’s worth it because I’ve had most incredible conversations with strangers at B & B’s.
Larry and Christine were gracious hosts and I felt very much at home at the Frenchtown Inn. The first morning, I remarked to Jake that they must already think we’re crazy. We had scrambled to drive to St. Louis after work and forgot an embarrassing number of items. Larry caught me sneaking out of the house at 5:30 a.m. in search of a drug store to purchase toothpaste and a razor. He kindly provided both.
I loved sitting on the big porch listening to the wind chimes. One afternoon, Christine prepared plates of warm cheese crisps.
The bed and breakfast is located in the quiet Frenchtown neighborhood. I enjoyed the ten-minute walk from the inn to the historic St. Charles area.
The walks were peaceful. I passed by several bridal boutiques and homes that reminded me of New Orleans. Having lived in Fargo and North Iowa for the past four years, I forget how flat our landscape is. “There are hills here!” I kept exclaiming to myself.
I spent several afternoons at Picasso’s Coffee House.
When I heard Sufjan Stevens, I knew I found the right place to chill.
I walked the uneven brick cobblestone sidewalk along the main street and curiously popped into many of the shops. I found thrift shops, a Polish pottery shop, Italian bakery, and a specialty soap boutique.
This British shop sold a wide variety of pantry items and chilled British sodas.
I admired this interesting statue and unusual sign about babies.
Other St. Louis adventures included getting stuck in a Cardinals traffic jam downtown, viewing homes in different neighborhoods, curiously drinking a beer in New Town while people went for evening strolls and whizzed by on golf carts (I even saw a man doing yoga on a platform in the middle of a small lake) and eating our first Jumbo Jacks.
Jake’s coworkers suggested we visited Sugarfire Smoke House. The man carving the meat hid an extra rib under others so he’s basically my new best friend. I also loved their self-serve pickle, jalapeno and sliced bread station. The ribs were tender and lean. I had a grand time sampling all of their seasoning blends and squirt bottles of sauces.
There’s so much to explore and to eat in St. Louis. I’ll miss my friends in North Iowa, but have the feeling that STL and I will get along just fine. Bring on the Provel!
Coming Up Next: Jake and I just signed a lease on a home we visited during this trip. We’re busy coordinating the details of our move and listing our house for sale. The big summer auction school session begins today. You can catch a glimpse into what my next nine days will look in this post: 10 Things I Learned In Auction College.