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My sweet Gregory. Sweet, kind, funny, happy, positive, lovable, loving, cuddly Gregory. Gregory loves most things, but Gregory loves baseball above all else. Except hopefully me and our families, but I’ve never asked him. I quietly suffer his mlb.TV obsession and make faces behind his back when he watches his Kindle for hours a day and go nuts, I mean insane, when he has the audacity to make a comment about the time I spend blogging. I’m documenting our life here, not watching a bunch of multi-millionaires screw around most of the time and adjust themselves the rest.
But I love that Gregory has so much love for baseball and I humor his hobbies happily. I love baseball, too; it’s always been my favorite sport to watch. And what better way to while away an afternoon than sitting in the sun watching hot dudes with beards prance around in their tight pants? Full disclosure: Greg knows all about my baseball boyfriends; he remains my favorite.
One of Greg’s big dreams is to see a game in every MLB stadium. When we started this trip the only teams he was missing were the Royals, Cardinals, Rangers, Astros, Rays, Reds, Indians, Tigers, Blue Jays, Athletics, Giants, and the Dodgers. The Royals were out of town when we left Tulsa, but we caught a St. Louis night game on our way to Virginia to meet up with my sister, her partner, and my mother.
Neither of us had ever stopped in St. Louis before but Gregory did some research before we left and found free baseball parking across the river at Casino Queen, which also offers a free shuttle on game nights. I saw some $5 parking downtown and mentioned it to Greg who scoffed, obviously. It’s less than two miles to walk from the casino and we always appreciate the opportunity to stretch our legs after a drive. And the opportunity to save $5.
Greg likes to get to games at least an hour, if not two, before they start, so as soon as we parked THE VAN we filled up our water bottles at the casino and started walking. Now Gregory hates the Cardinals as he hates the Packers. He told me once if there was a burning car with a Packers fan and a Cardinals fan inside he would have a hard time choosing who to save. But sacrifices must be made to see a game at every stadium. Only kidding about the burning car, by the way; he wouldn’t save either one. Only kidding again, Greg is one of the most selfless people I know, no matter what team you support. But he did tell me before the game I probably shouldn’t wear my Cubs hat because Cardinals fans can be real jerks. And speaking of Cardinals fans, whew! On our way to the game we were swept up in a massive sea of red as they swarmed Busch Stadium. A Wednesday night game brought in over 43,000 Redbird fans. I don’t know how many people we talked to told us “St. Louis is a baseball town.” And why not? The Cardinals have a great team (sorry honey bunny) and Busch Stadium is right downtown and gorgeous, with views of the Arch and an Arch cut into the grass. It’s beautiful! And red. Very, very red.
We took our own snacks and water, and tested our willpower by walking past all the food stalls so Greg could see the entire stadium. Don’t let these svelte thighs fool you- we Warckens love our junk food. But what do we look like- millionaires? A Nathans hotdog was $10. TEN DOLLARS!! A 20 oz Diet Coke was over $5. We ate our jerky and nuts, and drank our warm water, and narrowed our eyes at everyone who walked past with nachos, and trembled in our seats every time the cotton candy man came around. Okay, that was just me.
The Cardinals played the Diamondbacks and the first pitch to the birds resulted in a homerun by Wong. Oooo… not a great start. I tried clapping once for a good hit by the D’Backs and quickly realized I was the only person in the stadium making any noise so I stopped. It’s real tough going to a game and not cheering for anyone, real tough. We sat next to two sweet old retired ladies who kept us updated on Cardinals players and made lots of comments about “those little shits” sitting in front of us- a bunch of first grade little leaguers, judging by their teeth, who spent the entire game screaming and yelling and chanting. Just when we thought they couldn’t get any worse, one of the adults brought them snow cones. Good thinking, parents- the more obnoxious your kids get, the more sugar you should feed them. How about making them run laps instead? Again, my Grandma Charlotte, though coocoo for Cocoa Puffs, had the right idea: When the grandkids got bored, restless, or annoying, she sent them outside to run laps around the house, and always said “Go again!” when they tried to go back inside. Run that energy off, don’t give them more. Okay, I’m off my soap box.
We almost went into one of Greg’s favorite things in life- extra innings- but the Cardinals pulled out a walk-off error and won the game. We asked the sweet old ladies if we’d be safe walking home across the Eads Bridge and they assured us if there were other fans around we’d be fine. Of course we got to the bridge and there wasn’t a soul in sight. I like to think I have a wise, safe head on my shoulders, but Gregory always tells me “The world’s not out to get you, Jamie”, meaning I should stop being so paranoid and believe that all men are inherently good like he does. I’m not paranoid; I just assume everyone I see is high as a kite on methamphetamines. Clearly we made it home safe, but I was imagining getting stabbed and robbed and our bodies thrown into the deep river the whole way.
There’s a lovely little RV park at Casino Queen, but we parked just outside the gates to save a few dollhairs. We were still on casino property so there was 24 hr security, and there were other campers around so I wasn’t scared of getting robbed, though I did imagine zombies swarming out of the trees and overtaking the van. That didn’t happen either. The next morning we took advantage of the RV park’s covered picnic tables and made oatmeal with peanut butter, and coffee and tea. A kind RV’er came by and asked if we needed access to the locked restrooms. Yes please! What a great group, RV’ers; they really get it.
After breakfast we walked across the Eads Bridge again and headed toward the Old Courthouse and the Gateway Arch. The courthouse offered free admission and was full of Native American, slavery, and westward expansion lore. We debated about going up into the Arch and finally decided it was worth $7 apiece. $10 for the general public, $7 if you have a national park pass which of course we never leave home without. Afterward we laughed about debating at all. What a gem, the Arch! And the video about how they made it- forget about it! Greg and I were both sick to our stomachs watching it was so incredible. Did you know? To fit the keystone piece in they had to pull the Arch’s legs apart four feet.
While we were at the game my friend’s mom Judy wrote me on FB and told me she was in the area if we needed a place to stay. Yes please! We made our way to the booming metropolis of Waterloo, IL- yes, the Waterloo of both Napoleon and ABBA fame (not really). Judy always takes good care of us, and she and her sister, Paula, treated us to lunch, then took us to a barbecue with all their siblings. That’s what this time off is all about- catching up with family and friends, and making a few new ones.