The strain in our muscles grew as a crowd assembled. Each pull of the steel chain, thanks to the power of pulleys, inched the heavy anchor chain out of the shallow pool below us. We beamed triumphantly after raising the weight as high as the pulley would allow. A loud crash we heard later, indicating that the anchor chain had returned to its watery origin, could have disappointed us. However, John and I by then were too busy crawling through maze-like tubes, sliding down ten story slides, and playing pinball on vintage machines in a neon-filled bar to care. The City Museum of St Louis is no ordinary destination.
Driving from Denver through Kansas and Missouri was surprisingly fun. Hays, Kansas makes a great stop on the way to Kansas City with the Sternberg Museum of Natural History being the top attraction. We learned about mosasaurs, or gigantic aquatic reptiles that swam in the seas that once covered Kansas, and walked past dozens of rattlesnakes. A life-size T-Rex, static when I strolled past, snorted and menacingly turned its head to examine John as a possible meal – perhaps taller people taste better.
An argument can be made for speeding on I-70 in Kansas in order to enjoy the barbecue in Missouri even sooner. Q39 in Kansas City hit the spot after a full day’s drive, and Pappy’s in St Louis provided a belly-busting lunch the following day. Be sure not to eat too much if you plan on visiting the nearby City Museum. This interactive sculpture museum, as a high-minded sophisticate would say, or ‘giant playground,’ as my plain-spoken cousin more accurately described it, is a sort of place where pretty much anything is possible. Crawling up a maze-like set of coils (kneepads strongly recommended) was just the beginning of our adventures. A cave-like grotto, darkened but with hints of neon and a modern soundtrack playing in the background, was like a nightclub except actually enjoyable. Rooms full of insect specimens and building adornments from long ago demolished St Louis landmarks added to the intrigue as did a collection of robots. Whether your interests lie in sliding through the floors, walking on top of a gigantic pencil, or drinking a beer in an eclectic bar (you earn it after all the physical activity involved), there is something for everyone here.