Gateway Arch National Park

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Martin Hash
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Gateway Arch National Park

Post by Martin Hash » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:47 am

My wife, Gwynne, and I were crossing from Illinois into Missouri on Route 66 and we decided to stop at the iconic giant arch in St. Louis because I’d done a Social Studies report on it in Fifth Grade. When we found it on the map and learned it was a National Park, both Gwynne & I simultaneously said “60.” You see, when I started planning to see all the National Parks, there were 58. Then one day we were driving down the road and there was a sign to a National Park we’d never heard of, Pinnacles, so we took the exit and went to it. That was number 59. So I made a new plan, then we randomly heard of a 61st National Park, Indiana Dunes, and we went there. Where were all these new a National Parks coming from? And it’s not what I would consider a “park.” There’s nothing natural about it: a giant stainless steel structure over a manicured lawn and cement patio. The whole thing can be traversed in a few minutes jogging. I guess it’s a park for city folks.

Continuing the story: since we had no plans to do anything but take a picture, we hadn't planned our day do coincide with government hours; it was 5 o'clock and there was only 15 minutes before the park closed, and I desperately wanted to get a stamp in my National Park passport. We were still driving and Gwynne parks like an old lady, so I leapt from the car and ran down the street, passport in hand, following my GPS to where it said the National Park office was, but I couldn’t find anything open. Finally, I called Gwynne to ask where she was and tell her I’d failed.
Gwynne said she was in the park Visitor Center with the Stamp lady and where was I, they were closing in five minutes.
“Where is that?!” I asked frantically.
“Right under the Arch.”
Of course! But it was at least five minutes away walking so I ran like a bat out of hell: across busy streets, through crowded sidewalks, my sandals flapping like gunshots, and I was sweating like only guys can do. I had the phone to my ear the whole time. I heard the Passport Lady say, “He better get here quick ‘cuz they’re going to lock that door.”
The entire front of the Visitor Center is glass and everyone in the place must have known I was coming because I could see the security guard smiling & waving me in while people were clapping.

Visitor Center s.jpg

“We only got 15 seconds before everyone has to leave,” I heard Passport Lady warn.
I ran through the revolving door, right up to the counter where Gwynne was, and slapped my book down opened to the page. Passport Lady already had her stamp raised and she slammed it down just as fast, then security came and shooed us out.
I was so winded, I couldn’t speak for a moment, but finally “Got it,” I said with satisfied triumph.
Gwynne just wrinkled her nose; “You stink.”

Martin & Gateway Arch s.jpg
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