much trouble we navigated downtown and found the turning onto the interstate that would take us across town to the zoo, only to find that the ramp was closed and with no diversion signs to tell us where else to go. We're still not familiar or confident enough in US road systems to take the interstate in the opposite direction and hope that we can leave and come back on in the opposite direction so we pulled into a nearby petrol station to fill up and ask for directions
. Let’s just say we weren’t successful in either count. The card machine on the pumps didn’t like our card and told us to "see attendant" but as the only other person around was a slightly crazy looking black man we decided to cut our losses and get back in the car. We were just looking at the map when he came over spouting something about how much he loved us and how he was appealing to our better nature and how he had two bags that weighed more than him. Basically he wanted money for a bus fare, so Gareth did a deal with him that if he gave us directions we would give him a couple of dollars. I thought this was quite hopeful of him but the directions that came were fairly coherent. We took our leave when he asked if he could say something spiritual to us. Now I don’t know if left and right mean the opposite over here or if we’re just stupid, but after failing with his directions and the next set that we were given by a helpful lad in a tyre centre we kind of gave up. We’d had no coffee and only a doughnut for breakfast and were on a road with little traffic so decided for our own sanity we’d just follow that road and try and get some food. Then a huge brick building with the word 'Budweiser’ on it appeared on the horizon. The guy at reception in last night’s hotel had recommended the brewery tour to us but we didn’t think we would have time so had dismissed it. We thought that we may as well do it now, as we were this close and it would give us time to decided on our next move.
Now I hate Budweiser I think it tastes like piss and Laura isn’t a beer drinker but the buildings looked impressive so we went in, we got the free tour, even this cost us too much, the girl taking the tour wasn’t that great but she explained how the beer of Budweiser came to be and why it is called Budweiser
. Another tour guide took us to the next part of the tour, to be honest with you I wasn’t paying attention as I soon came to realise it was another Budweiser’s way of advertising , bombarding you all the way round with words like fresh, crisp, quality etc. It was all very Americany and the other members of the tour lapped it up, laughing at all of the bad jokes the tour guide made, almost like they were the studio audience for a typical unfunny American sitcom. After the whooping and hollering had died down the tour guide invited any questions, one bright spark asked why Budweiser is called Budweiser much to mine and Laura’s bemusement. From that point on we paid even less attention to the rest of the tour and just made snide remarks, we got taken to the bottle plant to watch the beer getting bottled, this was down for maintenance so we saw empty conveyor belts. Then the highlight of the tour, we would be allowed to walk on the factory floor, in reality this meant following the yellow line for about 10 paces, then turning back on yourself to leave, pointless, truly pointless. At the end of the tour we had a free drink, luckily they are licensed dealers in stella, so I had one of those. All in all a boring way to spend an hour or so.
We left the car park and for once found ourselves navigating to the interstate with ease, driving for about 30 mins before we thought we would stop at a burger king for some lunch
. Now I know the running theme of these blogs is failure to get where we want and this was no exception, we took a wrong turn and found ourselves on a winding foresty road, heading to the town of Eureka, this consisted of a high school and not much else so we carried on driving till we hit the town of Wildwood and for once I was so happy we had taken the wrong route, we found a great place to eat and stuffed our faces seeing as we had only one doughnut each all day. It felt like we had finally found the real America we had been searching for.
We set off again, on the right road, travelled for another 20 miles or so and with our new found confidence decided to turn off and get fuel. Now in typical American style the fuel pump colours are different, black means petrol and green means diesel, way to go guys, we filled up with the correct fuel, got some snacks and an ipod lead (no more rubbish radio for us) and set off for the caves as the motel we were staying at is on the complex too. We checked in, had a friendly chat with the staff, there little boy said we had funny accents, we just laughed, I thought it was probably best that I didn’t say we invented the language even though the tv has been advertising the series frozen plant with David Attenborough but calling him David Attenboro. The caves await us tomorrow.
Well what a busy day we had today, first to St Louis Zoo and then out of town about 60 miles to some caves. I know- touristy, but the zoo is free and Billy Connolly went to the caverns on his Route 66 trip and they looked cool. While I made use of the iron in the motel, Gareth was left to plan the route to the zoo. I wrote it all down and even showed it to our friend at reception when we checked out and he said it was exactly the right directions. We took advantage of the free breakfast (juice and doughnuts) and set off on another beautiful, sunny day, which was not what the weather man had told us it would be. With not