The Gateway to the West

I really did leave Knoxville on Thursday, a day later than planned. I thought I was on the road at 9:30, but I somehow managed to make two wrong turns leaving a town that I lived in for eight years. The first took me at least a couple of miles in the wrong direction. The other sent me in another mile circle. Why is it so hard to leave town?

By noon I had reached Nashville, where I got my cheeseburger on French bread at Rotier’s, a mom and pop meat-and-three that I frequented in a former life. They don’t have their own web page. One thing I loved about Rotier’s when I lived in Nashville was that they did not take credit cards. A couple times a year, I would get to the register and realize I was out of cash. “No problem, just pay next time you come in.” I expected there to be an ATM there now, but to my dismay they now accept credit cards. Worse, though, was that there was no Durkee’s to put on my burger. It was good, though, and the hash brown casserole was just as good as I remembered.

As I left Nashville, Google estimated my arrival in St. Louis to be at about 6:30. A year ago, I liked to have some idea where I would be sleeping much earlier in the day, but for a number of reasons, I am much less concerned about figuring that out now. I asked Google for a list of breweries in the St. Louis area. It turned out there were several. One, Schlafly, sounded familiar and I thought it was one that I had visited on my last trip to St. Louis. It was in a suburban area and it seemed likely that their parking lot would be a safe place to sleep for the night.

Driving through Kentucky it occurred to me that I was going to Utah, which, I have been lead to believe, has a limited selection of alcoholic beverages, and that given that information, even though I am far from being an aficionado of bourbon, purchasing Bourbon in Kentucky seemed essential. When in Rome, drink as the Romans, I always say. I asked the Google to put liquor stores on the map. The one that appeared to be closest to my route was called “Dirt Cheap.” I was sold.

Dirt Cheap was awesome, though I was somewhat dismayed that my camera, for the second time in recent memory, claimed that my memory card was broken. I hope that the memory card is indeed broken, as it will be much cheaper to replace than the camera. In front of the bourbons I met what appeared to be septuagenarian and her fifty-something daughter. We talked at some length about the joys of buying bourbon in Kentucky, and indeed the bourbon in Kentucky seemed a good deal cheaper than I have seen it anywhere else. I bought a bottle of Four Roses, which my new friend said that she had heard of when she was a child, and another one that I was familiar with, but whose name escapes me.

Approaching St. Louis I encountered a bunch of traffic where three lanes went down to one, but I still made it to Schlafly by 7:00. It was not the suburban place I remembered. It was in the heart of downtown, or at least seemed so. I was pleased to get what appeared to be the last place in their large parking lot. For the first time in a very long time, I closed all of Walden’s curtains in anticipation of returning there to sleep.

Schlafly Tap room is a big place. There are two bar areas downstairs and another area upstairs. I missed the bathroom on my first circumnavigation of the lower level and decided to check out the Haiti something-or-other upstairs. It was some kind of fund raiser. I went up and asked a woman at a table about it. I was chipper and friendly and tried to find out how and whether and why one might attend the event. The woman at the table never said anything like “For $100 you’re welcome to attend our gala event.” Perhaps I was inappropriately dressed. After being shunned from helping the Haitians, I descended, this time successfully locating the bathroom.

At the bar, I got a taste of their pumpkin ale, which was quite delicious, but, as I told the bartender, the generous taste was all I needed. He said that he understood. Thinking that a few ounces might be all I needed of any of their many beers, I ordered a sampler of six, which were all good. The menu included frog legs. Before I ordered them, I quoted Kermit the Frog, saying that I was somewhat saddened by the thought of all of those frogs in wheelchairs. They were over-breaded as the bartender had promised, but pretty good. I can probably wait another ten years to eat frog legs.

I asked whether “my car” would be okay in the parking lot over night. The bartender said that he thought so, but was reluctant to make any promises. He did assure me that I would not be towed. I ordered another beer, knowing that I was home for the night.

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6 Responses to The Gateway to the West

  1. Jerry says:

    Glad to see that you’re back on the road again. That is, of course, a purely selfish sentiment because I could use the entertainment. Sorry I missed you when you were in town.

  2. hilary says:

    I know that dirt cheap, you were in paducah ky! Enjoy your trip!!

  3. Howell says:

    When we were in St. Louis a few years ago we also went to Schlafly’s. Great little brew pub. I have seen their beers in Nashville before.

  4. albert says:

    not such a fan of frog legs. i’m not squeamish, just convinced they are disappointments with 10 years between them.

    big fan of four roses, though.

    happy vanning!

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