Monday, November 8, 2010
Greetings from St. Louis, the Gateway to the West! (Only I'm going east.)
The first day of my journey has gone smoothly. The weather was perfect and bad traffic was minimal. I was amused that the first two songs I heard on the radio at the very start of the day was "Go Your Own Way" and "Interstate Love Song." Leaving on a southern trail, indeed.
I took my first break in Columbia to have lunch with a friend. About 40 miles before COMO, I felt pretty tired (and it wasn't even noon yet). My tiredness was certainly linked to not enough sleep, no food, and stress. Stopping in COMO came at the perfect time: my tummy was rumbling and I was ready to stretch my legs and have someone to chat with.
We had lunch at a little place called the Main Squeeze.
They had lots of delicious sounding sandwiches and wraps on the menu, but no gluten-free vegan bread. Some of their salads looked decent, but I wanted more than a salad. I went with the Buddha Bowl because it sounded warm and comforting: two things I really needed.
It reminded me of something that I would make at home, which was nice because I feel like it's been ages since I've cooked a decent meal such as this. My favorite part of this meal was the fluffy brown rice and the savory, tangy tahini sauce. I also enjoyed the veggies.
It was supremely satisfying.
My lunch companion ordered the hummus sandwich with a side of chips & salsa.
She didn't want the avocado (what a weirdo!), so I took it off her hands and added it to my Buddha Bowl. It was a delightful touch.
After we parted ways, I happened to walk past a store called Cool Stuff, which my friend Brandon recommended I visit if I had the time.
I had a few moments to stroll through. The store is appropriately named: it really is full of cool stuff!
Lots of ice cube molds
I liked this one.
After that nice little distraction, I was back in the car, back on the highway, heading east again. I took another little detour to visit a place that is the heart of a running gag/inside joke between a friend and I. I had to stop and take a picture. (Anyone who has driven on I-70 around the Columbia area should recognize the name of this store, as its billboards are prominently displayed for miles.)
After phoning said friend, I went inside and ended up getting a little history lesson on Ann's Bra Shop. The whole experience was hilarious.
I made it to a friend's house in St. Louis right at dark. After digging out what I needed for the night from my packed car, we chit-chatted for awhile, then headed out to dinner at Pi with her daughter. I'm always so impressed with True City Folk and their keen ability at navigating public transportation. I was not raised in a big enough city (like STL, Chicago, or DC) to have such nice, frequent, and thorough public transportation, which is probably why I find it so enjoyable and exciting. If I had to depend on it 100% of the time, I suppose it could get very frustrating, but as it is, I love it!
Anyway, on to the pizza. My friend ordered a pie with fragrant basil, spinach, fresh tomatoes, and zucchini.
I ordered mine with portabella mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and sundried tomatoes.
This is no Waldo Pizza, but it was still pretty good. I was very impressed with their friendly and courteous staff. Every employee that we encountered on this visit was delightful. An error happened with my pizza and they had to remake it, causing it to come out a little later. I didn't mind at all, but I was given apologies from the waitress and the manager, as well as offers of a free salad or appetizer "for the inconvenience." I declined, but was impressed that they would even offer.
I've had two good stops, visiting with two lovely friends today. It has definitely made the day happier and kept me from feeling too sad about things. I feel so blessed to have the amazing friends that I have in my life.