I was waiting at the corner of Washington Avenue and Tucker Boulevard for the lights to change so that I could cross the intersection. I noticed a disheveled chap in a light colored shirt and long pants standing on the median of the road making random motions as if he was a little distracted. He looked at me for an instant and then went back to what he was doing. He then yawned. I wondered where he had spent the night and if he had gotten any sleep.
Yes, it is another morning in St. Louis, and time for another run in the city. This time I had decided to find a route that started close to the apartment. Internet searches the previous evening revealed a loop that was a little longer than 5 miles in length, but it seemed go through neighborhoods that we had little knowledge about. I was not sure if I should take the risk. I had gone to sleep remembering the route, but undecided about where I would actually run.
I woke up earlier than I expected once again. By sheer coincidence the sun was rising, same as the previous morning.I could start this run early since I did not have to first drive to another location. It was only at this point that I finally decided that I was going to try out the route I had seen on the computer last night. If something about the path bothered me somewhere along the way, I would change direction. With the city roads being set to a grid, I could generally figure out where home was, and a new direction to take in case the need arose.
I headed west on Washington Avenue. The sidewalks were generally empty, but I encountered a lot of cars at the intersections. People were coming in to work. At 14th Street, I turned south. All was quiet and there were very few people outside. I saw the sign on a building for St. Louis University. There were older, more classically styled, buildings around. St. Louis has a slightly rundown feel to it. There are signs of construction all over the place, and quite a few buildings are surrounded by fences that keep you away. I passed a memorial for the place where the American Legion was formed, and a sign that said “Liberty is not License”. Then it was past the stadium when the St.Louis Blues play their professional hockey home games, next past a major bus stand, and finally over a bridge across the railroad tracks.It was interesting to note that one of the freight cars was marked “Saskachewan!”, a reminder of one of my adventures of last year! The station for Amtrak trains is to the right of the picture.
I was the only person crossing the bridge.
The neighborhood changed on the other side of the bridge. It had older houses and apartments and generally looked less well off. The streets were empty. Pretty quickly I came up on a wide road called Chouteau Avenue, also Route 100. It sounded vaguely familiar from my Internet investigation. (Apparently this road is also the Historic Route 66.) I turned east to head back towards the Mississippi River.Pedestrian traffic continued to be light but commuters were definitely streaming into the city in their cars. I had to be careful at the intersections. I also did go past the buildings of the Purina worldwide headquarters during this stretch.
As I got closer to the river, I had to make a decision about where I wanted to turn back north in order to head back towards the downtown areas. When I got to the intersection with First Street, there was a moment of hesitation on my part because Chouteau Avenue began to look more rundown. The buildings ahead of me looked like they were in states of disrepair, and the sidewalks were generally overgrown with grass. After taking stock of the situation – seeing that there were no people simply hanging around who might be bothersome, and noticing that there were vehicles moving on the road, I proceeded. I noticed that a small section of one of the buildings had been renovated into office space. It was interesting to see this, because the rest of building still looked like it was falling apart. Perhaps rents were cheap. The trusses for the railroad bridge crossing the river also looked like they were in bad shape. Certain sections seemed to be falling apart. It looked like the railroad company was only taking care of those sections of the approaches to the bridge that they still happened to be using.I reached the end of Chouteau Avenue and the road that ran along the waterfront pretty quickly, and was happy to see that I was at one end of the stretch of waterfront area associated with the Gateway Arch, an area meant for tourists. I ran along the waterfront, past the Arch, and up to the Eads Bridge.I passed a work area where there were barges and a towboat next to shore.The last stretch of my run was across the Mississippi on the Eads bridge. Traffic was streaming into the city from across the river. There was a somewhat narrow walkway next to the road. Pieces of broken glass and empty cans of beer littered the pathway. But there was nobody around. So I proceeded on to the bridge, looking behind me occasionally to see if there was somebody else who was following me on the walkway, and also looking out for people approaching me. It was quite possible for somebody who was strong enough to throw me off the bridge!I reached the train station for the Casino I had seen on the other side of the bridge.The place I had reached was called East St. Louis, and folks are in general cautioned to be more careful when they are in these parts. But the only other people I saw were a few tourists who were waiting for a train to take them into town.
The last part of the run was back across the bridge.The Eads bridge terminated at Washington Avenue. I just had to follow the road to get back to the apartment building. It was a little after 8 o’clock when I returned, and the streets were getting crowded with people by this time. It was already beginning to get hot and humid, and I was sweating up a storm as I used the fob to gain entry into the air-conditioned foyer of the apartment building.