A significant landmark on our summer road trips was a glimpse of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis towering over the downtown as we zipped by on the interstate. It is right next to the bridge as you cross the Mississippi River but I would be so nervous about navigating through the city traffic that I wouldn’t be able to do more than give it a quick glance. I’d always wanted to stop and get a closer look but with so many miles left to drive we never wanted to take the extra time.
Now in our retirement years our road trips can take a more leisurely pace and we have time to make unplanned stops. We found ourselves today passing through St. Louis on a sunny Sunday afternoon so we decided to make a stop to visit the Arch. Trying to get a photo that captures the immensity of this 630-foot monument is next to impossible. But we tried. Most of our time there was spent walking the park grounds that surround the Arch taking pictures from every possible angle. It was a beautiful day to be outside, though, so no complaints.
Built as a tribute to our nation’s history of westward expansion, it is referred to as the “Gateway to the West.” In my visits over the years from New Mexico to Michigan I always thought of crossing the Mississippi River at St. Louis as the boundary marker for being in the East versus getting back to the West. It was wonderful to visit family in Michigan and to enjoy the abundance of green grass and trees. But I always looked forward to getting back out West in the wide open spaces under sunny, blue skies. Though our time in the East this summer hasn’t been as long as what the kids and I used to do in the summers, I’m still feeling today that by crossing the Mississippi we have entered the gateway back to the West.