A runner with an appetite for adventure!

St. Louis: Around Town September 11, 2013

Filed under: St. Louis,Travel — Kelocity @ 8:58 am
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On Labor Day, a lot of Saint Louis was closed, but we still had a jam-packed day. We started out visiting the Cathedra Basilica of Saint Louis. It has one of the largest mosaic collections in the world. In fact, it was so beautiful that Pope John Paul II deemed it a ‘Basilica’ in 1997.

We stayed for part of the mass to view the art inside the church. Very impressive and pretty.IMG_0350

Then we headed over to the City Museum. This place came recommended and we weren’t quite sure what to expect…. but it was insane.

Basically… it was Gymboree for adults. Seriously, this place is NOT for kids. It’s 10 stories of real-life ‘chutes and ladders’. Here’s Laurie climbing up the dome of the building….
Think about that… you basically end up upside down by the time you reach the top! That was too scary for me. How do these little kids do it?!


This piece was on the roof of the building and it looked innocent enough…. but halfway up, i questioned if i could go the whole way! I didn’t really have an option at that point, so up we went! Scary!!!! It was quite the workout!


There were tunnels and slides that led to underground caves and fantastical worlds. We’d enter on one side and end up on a different floor somewhere else! They don’t have maps in the museum so you have NO idea where you are going. What if you lost your child in there somewhere?!


We were SO sore after ‘working out’ in there all day. Who needs a gym?


A random tree house. ha!


I highly recommend checking this place out solely because it was just SO STRANGE! It’s mostly made out of recycled materials. The highlight is the 10-story slide, but once we got to the bottom, we couldn’t figure out how to get out and had to climb 10 flights back up to the top. it was so confusing.

Annnyways, after that fun adventure, we needed gelato. We happened upon this place and it was delicious!

Then we drove around the Bellafontaine Cemetery looking for some notable tombs. (Laurie’s idea, not mine! haha) It was really neat though. We saw the final resting place of William Clark (of the Lewis & Clark fame).

And the tomb of the Anheuser family (the founder of Budweiser).

There were lots of other pretty ones along the way too. We talked to some locals who said they had never visited there before, but it was worth the drive. A lot of history in there.1185868_10200657655903912_2054948931_n

That night, we met up with some friends we met on our Italian Contiki trip! We had some great burgers at Bailey’s Range. Great choice, food and company were stellar!

And for dessert, we HAD to try the Frozen Custard at Ted Drewes. It’s been open since 1929! It used to be a popular stop on the historic Route 66. It was SO good!

By 8:30p we were back in our hotel room heading to bed! We were exhausted! haha

On Tuesday morning, we were out the door by 8am heading to tour the Old Courthouse. The Courthouse used to be the stage for slave auctions and later made history with the Dred Scott case.

Here’s the courtroom where the case played out:



When we were done with learning about the Civil War, we headed back in time a little further and visited the Cahokia Mounds.

But first… LUNCH! Laurie wanted authentic BBQ and I wanted toasted ravioli… so we did both! First, we stopped at Pappy’s and Laurie got a really good pulled pork sandwich (apparently the best she’s ever had!)

And I finally got to grab some food from Cunetto’s. DELICIOUS!!! I got the Ravioli and some Spaghetti and Meatballs (Thank you for suggesting this, Janet!!!)

We ate in the car when we got to the mounds. They were off the beaten path and pretty fun and interesting too!


The website I linked to above has a lot of great information, but the short story about these tall mounds is this: They were handmade, built by Native Americans, in 1100AD. The land here was flat and they built small mountains little by little over 150 years. There used to be temples and houses on top of them. And some of the small ones were used as tombs. I had no idea we had ‘pyramids’ in our country! Did we learn about this in school? I don’t remember it if we did!

We watched a quick documentary about them at the visitors center and then went off to explore. Laurie made me hike to the top of the biggest one (Monk’s Mound). There were a million stairs and it was super hot, but worth the trek up for sure.


From the top, we could even see the arch! Sadly the native Americans didn’t have that view way back then.


The mounds are located close to the Great River Road too. It was in the ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die” book, so Laurie was excited to check the road off the list as well.

We pretty much did every touristy thing there is to do in St. Louis in just 2 days. We had an absolute blast. It was such a great, clean, fun town. I’m excited to go back again soon, hopefully with Adele and Irving, and explore more. Til next time, St. Louis!!


Endeavor Flyover September 21, 2012

Filed under: Los Angeles — Kelocity @ 3:29 pm
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I’ve always been fascinated with space. When I was little, I would set up my telescope and stay outside for hours looking at the moon and the stars. I vividly remember looking at the Hale Bopp comet when it came by. In fourth grade, I did a presentation on why Sally Ride was my hero. I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. I dreamed of going to Space Camp (remember that movie?!) And I was so excited when my family visited the Kennedy Space Center in fifth grade.

So when I found out that the Endeavor Space Shuttle would be flying over Los Angeles today, I was pretty excited. Irving got up early to hike up to the Hollywood Sign. But since it was 97* out today, we decided not to take Adele up there. I sent him on his way solo with clear instructions to take LOTS of pictures! While he was waiting, he first took some awesome shots of Hollywood.





Then the big event!! Here comes the space shuttle!





But I was determined to catch my own glimpse of history, so I packed up the baby and we headed to Universal Studios (where it was supposed to also do a flyover!)
Don’t worry, Adele. Someday, you’ll learn about this day in school and you can say you saw it!

We waited in the shade at City Walk with a crowd of people. Tourists kept walking by saying “what are you all waiting for?” And I responded “We’re waiting for the shuttle” and they all thought I meant the Universal Studios shuttle. haha I corrected myself to say “The Space Shuttle!”

Finally, after two hours of waiting… it arrived!

And it was as magical as I expected. I actually got tears in my eyes watching it. A piece of history right above my head. Amazing.

So proud to have the shuttle in my new hometown of Los Angeles. Can’t wait to visit the exhibit when it opens!
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To infinity and beyond!


Krakow: The Sad History and the Importance of Visiting September 20, 2011

Filed under: Contiki,Europe,Poland,Travel — Kelocity @ 10:55 pm
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Our first full day in Krakow started with a really great walking tour in Kazimierz, the old Jewish Quarter of the city.

This area was once home to many synagogues and a bustling community before the Nazis invaded and forced nearly all of the Jews into the ghetto. This was called the Old Synagogue, but was later occupied by the Germans to store weapons. Now it is a museum dedicated to Krakow’s Jews.

At the other end of the square from the Old Synagogue is a touching memorial to the Jews who used to live there.

And next to it is the only functioning Synagogue in Krakow now. Before the war, more than 60,000 Jews lived in the city. And today, less than 200 identify themselves as Jewish. The weight of the Holocaust was starting to hit me standing in that square.

The square fell into disrepair for decades and nearly all of the facades looked like this:

But when Steven Speilberg came here to shoot his movie, Schindler’s List, based on Krakow, this square became the ghetto. It wasn’t the ghetto in real life, but it served the purpose for the film. After the movie came out, tourists starting visiting this section of the town more frequently and suddenly people started to rebuild it once again.

This is where we ate dinner the night before, and right next door, we noticed this sign:
”Probably the best pierogi… Pierogi is a traditional Polish dumplings similar to ravioli but more delicious.”

Oh my gosh, we laughed so hard. It’s an honest sign. Truthful, humble and quite funny. I respect that. hee hee
They’re not 100% sure if it’s the best… but it probably is. Oh man, we laughed for a long time over that.

Then we hopped back on our bus and headed to our next destination: Wawel Hill, home of the Royal Castle and Cathedral.

The grounds are really beautiful with all kinds of architectural designs mixed together.
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It over looks the city on one side and the river on the other.

This castle was designed centuries ago with the harsh winters in mind. It was genius in design back then.


It was spared during the war because the Nazi’s made it their home. They even built a wing to house their military headquarters.
Sad as it is, the Nazi’s saved a lot of historic buildings in Europe by making them their private dwellings. There are a lot of stories like this one throughout the continent.

Outside the castle walls is a hodge podge of a church. It’s famous not only for it’s quirky design, but because this was Pope John Paul II’s home church before he became Pope. If there is one thing the Poles love about their Country, it was their Pope. There is evidence everywhere about how proud they were of him.

Reese, my gnome, visited the Vatican in 2008, and now she (and I) got to see the former Pope’s beginnings here in Poland.

Though I’m not religious in practice, I find religious history fascinating.

Next on our tour, we took our bus over to Oskar Schindler’s factory. Schindler’s List was based on how Oskar used his business to save the lives of more than 1,000 Jews during WWII. This was the actual factory that has now been turned into an amazing museum. But most of the scenes from the movie were shot here, on location.

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The front part of the museum has a few props from the movie and a small café, but they did a great job of focusing on the serious history rather than commercialize the film.

We had a private tour through all of it and starts with the history of the Jews before the war, telling some of their stories and showing actual photos of the happy people who used to live in Krakow.

Then it taakes you back in time and explains how Poland fell under Nazi rule… then later Soviet rule. Poland ceased to exist for nearly 80 years while it was being occupied by the east and the west.

Then we learned about the Nazi occupation and how they took control of Krakow. Here’s an image of the Germans in front of the Cathedral we had just visited.
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These exhibits were so well done in such an interactive way that you couldn’t help but be engulfed in it.  This section was about the Nazi regime and how they took over the city. Those columns rotated and it looked like the soldiers were actually marching. The floor has the Nazi symbol in it, and the photos on the wall shows how they transformed the city to feel German (streets were renamed with German words, etc).

This staircase was decorated in the street signs, and was also the scene where Spielberg shot one of the scenes from the film.

Here was Oskar’s desk. I think they said the actual desk here was a prop, but the map behind him was original.

The workers that Schindler saved worked here making pots and pans. I want to watch the movie again, now that the reality is so fresh in my mind.

Then the museum goes through the horrors of the ghetto and how most of them were then sent to the nearby death camps.

Out back you can still see where most of the people worked.

Also in the museum was a collection of first hand accounts from Jews who survived the Holocaust. One of the most famous survivors was Roman Polanski, who lived in the Krakow ghetto.

Translation: “I suddenly realized that we were to be walled in. I got so scared that I eventually burst into Tears” – Roman Polanski, Aged 8

On the way back into town, we passed the actual site of the Krakow ghetto. There is a powerful memorial in the center now, a bunch of oversized empty chairs and normal sized chairs along the edge. I read a little more about it online:

“The memorial to the Jews of the Podgorze Ghetto in Krakow was inaugurated on 8 December 2005.

The winning project by Krakow architects Piotr Lewicki and Kazimierz Latak included 33 steel and cast iron chairs (1.4 m high) in the square and 37 smaller chairs (1.2 m high) standing on the edge of the square and at the tram stops. The theme of empty chairs has also been used at the Oklahoma City Monument at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building blast site to reflect "absence."…

Ironically, the Krakow monument intrudes to bus and tram stops and are used by locals awaiting transportation, suggesting that anyone can be a victim. The small building in the square was used by Nazi authorities during the occupation and ghetto period. The inscription on top is 1941-1943, the years of the ghetto. The interior of the building has been reworked artistically to resemble the interior of a deportation train car.” – [source]


Even though we did all of this sightseeing in just four hours, I’m going to continue the rest of the day in another post. This one feels heavy and I think deserves to stand alone. I know that I will never be the same after what I saw in Poland this morning. I will never forget it.


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