Thursday, June 28, 2012

You can find me in St Louis!

This past weekend, one of my really good friends from SCO got married in St Louis. Paul and I decided to make a mommy/daddy vacation out of it by heading up Thursday. We headed up to Covington Wednesday after work. Thursday morning we began our trip up north. Well, the getaway didn't get off to a great start. About a mile after we got on the I-155 in Dyersburg, we ran over something and could hear it in our tire as we drove. We pulled over to check it out and there is this metal rod sticking out of my tire! AGH! Well, we decided to try to turn around and head back into town to see if it could be patched or plugged. After about a couple hundred yards, the tell-tale sign of 'thunk-thunk-thunk" disappeared. As much as I hated the 'thunk', I really hated to not hear it. Our tire went from 35 mmHg pressure to 0 in about 10 seconds! We were SO close! But as Paul always says: "Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades!" No biggie though right? I mean, my big strong husband should have no trouble changing my spare tire and head into town to plug the flat. Right?! NOPE! When I bought my SRX, the salesman explained that people that drive Cadillac's don't change there own tires, so there is no spare! If I ever got a flat, all I had to do is press the OnStar button and someone would bring a spare and change it for me! Great! Right?! Well, after pressing the OnStar button and being put on hold so they could find a service technician in our area, we were told no one had a spare and that we would have to be TOWED to the nearest Cadillac dealership where they would repair/replace our tire! Excuse Me?! This is not the knight-in-shining-armor I had been promised when buying the vehicle! And to top it off, their ETA was 1 HOUR!!!!! Great, just GREAT! Well, I got on the phone with my dad trying to see if he knew anyone in the area that might be able to help. After making a few calls, the soonest someone could get out to us would be 15-20 minutes. It had already been about 25-30 minutes since we had talked to OnStar so that only left about 10-20 minutes before the FREE tow service could come get us. Luckily, the tow truck guy was arrived early and was EXTREMELY nice and careful with my car. We got to the Cadillac dealership and they said they would let us know if they could repair it or have to replace it. Well, after about 10 minutes, they informed us that they still didn't know if it was able to be patched but they didn't have a replacement if we needed one! Luckily, they were able to patch the tire and even told us they would file it under warranty so there would be no charge! So, all in all, it could have been worse but this RELAXING vacation wasn't getting off to a great start! Needless to say, we were VERY diligent of everything little thing in the road all the way to St Louis!
I had wanted to stop at Lambert's Cafe for lunch and we were still about to do that around 1:30. It was delicious as usual. We finally made it to our hotel around 4:00. We were staying at the Westin Downtown and it was very beautiful! Our room overlooked Busch Stadium where the Cardinals play.
The view from our room

Our friend Wooty, who lived in St. Louis for about 5 years, recommended a few restaurants for us to try, so after we checked in, we headed to a local sushi joint called Drunken Fish. It was really great food. One roll we tried was the Fried Philly Cheesesteak Roll, which is exactly what it sounds like! It was DELICIOUS! For dessert, I ordered the Fried Cheesecake Roll which was to die for! If we are ever in town again, we will definitely go back here!
Me and the hubby at Drunken Fish

Afterwards, we decided to see if we could change our luck around and headed to the Lumierre casion which was downtown. We had a great night, turning our $200 into $900! Gosh I love craps when the table is hot! We ended up meeting this guy, who was standing next to me at the table, who is the co-founder of Heartland Poker Tours. He was heavily intoxicated and betting HUNDREDS (sometimes THOUSANDS) on the 6 and 8! It looked especially funny next to my measly $12! =) But like I said, he was really nice and really funny. Even invited us to join the tour crew and travel the country with them, TWICE! ha!
Friday, we ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant, which was great then headed out to see what the day had in store. The first thing on our agenda was the Anheuser Busch tour. The brewery was right downtown and FREE! I had heard there were the famous Clydesdales on site and I was dying to see them. The two free beer samples at the end didn't hurt either! The tour lasted about an hour and was really a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. We saw the Clydesdales, learned a lot about the history of Aheuser Busch and how to make beer, and even got to walk through the factory and take a look at the plant in action. If you are ever in St. Louis, you have to check it out. I mean, it's free! There is no reason not to. The samples were no joke either. I was expecting little shot-glass size samples but they were probably 12 oz glasses!
The Busch Bell Tower. It was a really beautiful and historical place.

My favorite part of the tour, even if you couldn't pet them.

The River of Beer

Had no idea they made ShockTop products!

My second favorite part of the tour! See what I mean about the size of the 'samples'!

After the tour, it was time for lunch, so we headed to a place that i had read about. It was called Bailey's Range. They make great out-there burgers, even making their own buns. You can choose beef, chicken, bison, or duck as your meat. I got a beef burger with goat cheese and avocado. It was great! The fries left a little to be desired (a little too crispy, and I really like my fries crispy). Paul got your basic burger and said his was really good too. It was a cool place in that it had TONS of beer to choose from and even had a soda fountain and ice cream parlor!
I really wanted to go to the top of the arch and Paul was nice enough to go along with me! After waiting about 15 minutes to get through security, there was another hour wait to buy a ticket to stand in another hour long line to get in the vessel that takes you to the top! I definitely didn't want to go to the top of the arch THAT bad! =) So we decided to take a look at the FREE museum they had of the adventures of Lewis and Clark and the exploration of America. It was really interesting but had those creepy 'people' that were machines that moved and blinked and looked too real for comfort.
After leaving the arch, my feet were hurting from all the walking so I called around and found a place that could get me in for a pedicure while also getting a massage for Paul. It was in this really eclectic part of town called Central West End. Reminded me of the South Main district in downtown Memphis. Lots of neat little restaurants and shops.
View of the arch from the bottom.

Love this man more than life itself!

We made our way back to the hotel and decided to treat ourselves to a nice steak dinner. Wooty had recommended a place called J.Bucks but it was about a 20 minute drive from our hotel and we really weren't feeling like going that far. So I did some research online and found a place called Carmines. It is owned by the Lombardo family. They are known for their Homemade Toasted Ravioli, which I love. So, we walked there and were really expecting to have to wait, being 7:30 on a Friday night. But we were seated right away. Our waiter was extremely helpful. We decided on the Toasted Ravioli for an appetizer. And I'm glad we did. They were the best I have ever had. The pasta was hand made, the stuffing was plentiful, and the breading wasn't over done. The marinara was also made in house. This had to be a sign of good things to come! For entrees, I ordered the Petite Filet with Risotto and Paul had the Porterhouse with Au gratin Potatoes. Both came with a salad. The waiter warned us that the sides were big enough to share, so we shouldn't order the same side. I was a little concerned when he didn't ask what kind of dressing we wanted with our salads, but come to find out, the house dressing is to die for! I'm not really sure what it was, but it had a sweet vinaigrette taste to it. Then came our entrees. I ordered my steak medium and it couldn't have been more perfect. The outside had a nice crust on it but the inside was a nice warm pinkish red. Paul could cut his with his fork! The risotto was delicious and the au gratin potatoes were just as yummy. I couldn't even finish my filet (Paul helped me out there), but of course I had to get dessert. I went for the vanilla custard with strawberries and chocolate sauce, while Paul got the chocolate mousse cake. Mine was very good (think melted vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and strawberries). Paul's was good, but not great. Texas de Brazil has kind of spoiled us on Chocolate Mousse cake. These steaks rivaled Ruth's Chris, they were that good. And we were shocked when the bill came, but in a good way. Appetizer, two entrees, two sides, two desserts, one beer, and two cocktails = $120! Thats all! Seriously? I would have paid well over $200 for this meal at Ruth Chris! Another place to keep on the list for any future trips to St Louis. The service was great but very slow (we didn't get out of there until 9:30). Which was fine for us, since we were having a romantic dinner. There was a wedding rehearsal dinner going on in the private room so that might have had something to do with it.
Saturday was the big wedding day. The ceremony was set to take place at 2:30 with the reception at 7:00 that night. The time between was used for the wedding party to travel around town taking pictures. On our way back to the hotel Friday night after Carmines, we had passed a starbucks in a hotel just two blocks away from our hotel. So, while Paul showered, I ran over and picked up my fix! I am seriously a coffee/white mocha addict. We had planned on meeting our friend's Aubrey and JB at a Diner's Drive Ins and Dives place, called Iron Barley, for lunch but they wouldn't be getting into town until 12:30 so we decided to hit up J.Bucks' more informal restaurant that was just one block from our hotel called Joe Bucks. They are famous for BBQ. On their appetizer menu was toasted ravioli. I told Paul that, after the ones from last night, I just didn't think any other toasted ravioli would taste the same! So we went with their 'award winning' spinach dip. It was really good. Lots of cream cheese, which we both like. We each got the BBQ salad as entrees, me choosing pork and Paul going with the beef brisket. It was really good. No dessert this time.
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to get ready. We got to the site of the wedding and it was beautiful. It was an older Preservation Hall. Lots of exposed brick. Really classy and elegant with a touch of rustic. The ceremony went great. Hilari looked beautiful as always. They did something I have never seen before. Instead of a unity candle, they had a Wine and Words portion where they put a bottle of wine into a wooden box. They had each written a letter to the other, explaining how they felt about each other on that day and the many reasons they loved each other. They sealed the letters into envelopes, unread, and put them in the box also. Then, they locked the box. If sometime between now and their 5 year anniversary, they come to a point where they have an argument and things seem just too much, they are to open the box, drink the wine, and read the letters. If they are lucky enough to never find the need to open the box, on their five year anniversary, they open it, drink the wine, read the letters, and replenish it with new letters and new wine. This is to be repeated every 5 years. How romantic and what a great tradition!
Aub and JB (and Elizabeth Kate!)

Waiting on Hil to come down the aisle

Saying the Vows

With this ring, I thee wed...

Mr & Mrs Chris Smith

SCO gals after the ceremony

After the ceremony, Paul and I headed back to the hotel to chill out, while Aubrey and JB went to check-in to their hotel. We met up at a place called The Chocolate Bar, which is exactly as it sounds. A bar that specializes in chocolate drinks. They also have cheese plates and pizzas. I decided on their house specialty drink called the Tiramisu! It was heaven in a glass! Even had ice cream in it. We all split a cheese plate. Aubrey got a chocolate cake and some truffles that she let me try. They were both delicious. Then it was time to head to the reception, which was at the same place as the ceremony. It had been transformed into a dance floor and tables. Her colors were white and tiffany blue with silver accents. Very beautiful. It was a really fun reception with lots of dancing. She even had a photo booth with lots of props to have tons of fun!
Me and the bride! Yes, I did a wardrobe change. I went shopping for a dress and couldn't decide between the two. So I bought both hoping to let Paul help make the decision, which he did. He just told me to wear one to the wedding and one to the reception. Smart man!

SCO table watching the first dance

Me and Aub! Miss you!
Sunday, we got up super early and headed home, well, after making a necessary stop by Starbuck's and Cracker Barrel. We had loads of fun but really missed our little man. He had actually been getting sick all weekend and I was torn up inside about being away from him. It makes both him and me feel better if I sit there and just hold him when his stomach hurts. It really killed me to not be there. But we got to Paul's mom's around 12:30. He felt so bad, that he slept most of the way home, only waking up about an hour away from our house. He has since gotten better, but only yesterday did he really act his usual self. His pooping issues have returned so we are back to hard-core potty training. Wish us luck! =)
My sweet little man, all tuckered out from the weekend and being sick!

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