Beer touring and tasting

Seems like the thing to do when in St Louis.

We visited the Anheuser Busch brewery last year, but there’s free beer involved so we decided it was worth another visit.

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The weather has been perfect while we are in the St Louis area and today was no different.

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The tour includes a stop at the elaborate Clydesdales stables.

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They also take you through the aging area and the historic brew house.

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Then we were lucky enough to see the Dalmatian and Chief out in the paddock. Our tour guide told us Chief is a TV star. He was the Clydesdale that jumped the fence in the Budweiser commercial starring the little Golden Retriever puppy.

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We had a very nice lunch at the Biergarten enjoying our free beer.

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And we quite possibly found our next RV

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Another Presidential Home – US Grant

Seems we’ve been drawn to the presidential sites lately. Today we concentrated on POTUS18.

We didn’t know beforehand that Ulysses S Grant lived for a while in St Louis. The National Park Service runs a visitors center and exhibits near downtown St Louis at the site of White Haven, Grant’s in-laws’ plantation. And, we happened to visit on Civil War Living History weekend. We LOVE when things work out like this.

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Civil War weekend aside, the focus here is not on Grant’s military career, but his time spent as a farmer and family man.

Grant visited White Haven in 1843 and fell in love with his future wife Julia Dent. Her father owned the property. The plantation made use of slave labor during the time Grant lived here.

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Hmm it’s call White Haven but the house was bright green.

Surprisingly, the man that commanded the Union forces fighting against slavery in the Civil War was himself entangled in the ownership of enslaved people. The Dents in the 1850’s had 18 slaves working at the farm.

Missouri was a slave state up until the time of the Civil War and the areas along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were known as “Little Dixie” because of the large cotton plantations that made intensive use of slave labor. The interpretation of slavery at White Haven and how Grant was influenced by his experience here is an important part of the mission of this historic site.

In 1859, Grant freed William Jones, the only slave he is known to have owned. Certainly, slaves were on the property when Ulysses and Julia lived here in 1854-1859 and Ulysses managed the farm for his father-in-law.

During the Civil War, when caretakers were managing the property and Ulysses was off to war, some slaves at White Haven simply walked off, as they did on many plantations in both Union and Confederate states. A Missouri constitutional convention abolished slavery in the state in January 1865, freeing any slaves still living at White Haven.

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The day we visited, we were lucky enough to be treated to a reenactment of the Missouri 18th including musket shooting demonstration and encampment.

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The festivities also included a Civil War themed band that played period songs and dressed in uniform.

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There were also several story tellers we found very interesting. We were especially interested in the presentation by Dr. Tommy Smith, portraying a Union soldier and recounting the story of Grant at Chattanooga.

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Tom’s great great grandpa fought with the Ohio 9th Volunteer Infantry who were instrumental in the victory at Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga.

We were also able to tour the property including the restored house and outbuildings.

It was a picture perfect day and we very much enjoyed our visit here. Although we didn’t visit, next door is the Grant’s Farm attraction owned and operated by Anheuser Busch and free to the public.

The Arch

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Its impressive structure dominates the landscape of St Louis. Officially, it is called the Gateway Arch of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

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We were able to reserve 6 nights at the 370 Lakeside Campground in St Peters, NW of St Louis. We were here last year and really liked it, so we returned. We never made it to the Arch last visit due to bad weather and construction so it was on top of the list of things to do if and when we returned. There’s still a lot of construction going on around the Arch and to buy tickets in person you must visit the Old Courthouse. (We got ours on line, discounted with our America the Beautiful Pass)

Really, the Courthouse on its own is worth a visit. It is the sight of the Dred Scott decision which was integral to the Civil War.

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Then it’s about a 8 block walk to the entrance to the Arch. The Courthouse and Arch are part of the National Park System. We continue to be amazed at the diversity and quality of our National Parks.

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It takes quite a while to get through security and wait in line for your timed ascent. When it is your time, you are crammed in a rather small pod 5 to a capsule. You are in very close quarters with complete strangers for the 4 minute ride to the top.

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Tom in the pod-like tram car

There’s a lot of clicking and creaking and we are reminded that construction of this thing started when we were in the first grade. The door opens when you are 360 feet up and you extricate yourself to a narrow room where little slits of windows present a spectacular view.

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We picked a good day, as it is very clear and we can see a long way, perhaps 30 miles.

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View from the top looking West


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View looking East and the Mississippi River

Then you wait again for a trip back down. There’s a very dramatic filmstrip about the construction and a small gift shop. They are renovating the museum so it is closed now and due to reopen in 2018.

Claustrophobia and Acrophobia aside, we are happy we made the trip. We’ll be here a few more days and then will head south with a scheduled stop at the Mark Twain National Forest and on to Branson.

Visiting The Hermitage

Recently, we visited the homes of POTUS1 and POTUS3, and today we visited the home of POTUS7.

We are staying at the very lovely Seven Points Corp of Engineering Park on J Percy Priest lake just outside Nashville. A short half hour drive north and we were at The Hermitage the home of Andrew Jackson 7th president of the United States from 1829-1837.

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Jackson gained fame as a general in the United States Army particularly for his victory at the Battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812 and served in both houses of Congress. As president, Jackson sought to advance the rights of the “common man”.

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The back of the mansion is as impressive as the front

His plantation at the Hermitage relied on the labor of enslaved people keeping the mansion running and growing cotton.

Jackson and his wife Rachel lived here, first in a log cabin and later in the mansion they built on the property. When they moved into the mansion, the cabin was converted to slave quarters.

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The ‘First Hermitage’ converted to slave quarters

Also on property is the cabin where Jackson’s servant Alfred lived. He remained here after emancipation and even served as a tour guide until his death at age 98 in 1901.

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Alfred’s Cabin

Jackson and his wife are buried on the grounds with their adopted son Andrew Jr and his wife and family.

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The family cemetery

Our day here included a guided tour of the mansion (no pictures allowed) and a self guided tour of the grounds. We also enjoyed the displays in the museum.