Monday, June 8, 2015

St. Louis City Museum


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What started out as a trip to the St. Louis Zoo turned into a day at the City Museum due to major storms. I have to admit, I've read about this place and even checked it out online, but nothing can prepare you for the scale of this ginormous fun house slash museum occupying an entire city block in downtown St. Louis. And the price for parking at $1.25 made it worth the $12 price of admission. The former International Shoe Company stands ten stories tall and has been transformed into what I think is an accurate description: McDonalds' playland on crack or steroids or both. A mini Ferris wheel adorns the roof along with a school bus that partially hangs over the side of the building. The stairs, railings, and slides have been constructed from recycled building materials. The three story indoor slide remained the highlight attraction for younger children. A visit to the ballroom on one of the upper floors is a must to get your sanity back. In this space, the chaos trims dramatically and you can finally hear yourself think again.



Once you've burrowed through the maze of rabbit holes (I'm not kidding how tiny and creepy some of these are) and Goonies-like shipwrecks and abandoned shacks, you enter the upper levels that resemble more of a museum. Just plan to lose your kids at least once, maybe twice, or more. At least the wrist bands provide a space for a parent's cell number.

One of my favorite rooms turned out to be the taxidermy room with enough stuffed owls, hawks and dead bugs to complete any fourth grade science project. The vastness of the former Shoe Company grips you the moment you step through a tiny rusted door on the third floor where you squeeze your way through twisted metal staircases and tunnels several stories tall in this maze of Dysopian wonder world. You're left wondering if you've entered the Matrix or a Divergent dream or some other similar alternate universe or fictional world.



The side of the building features more intricate tunnels and slides and, yes, that is an airplane. 

Numerous artifacts (wooden, stone and metal facades) like these gargoyles are spread throughout the museum mostly from long gone skyscrapers from Chicago or St. Louis.

A wall of printing engraver's plates decorated one room. I could've spend hours sifting through these, but you have to read them backwards and it was giving me a headache and the room turned out to be off limits and I got kicked out by a really nice worker.

Are you taking any road trips this summer? Or do you prefer to take day trips? Now you know what I do when I am unable to write: urban exploring while dragging my kids along. The official countdown to our family vacation is in one month. Any trips planned? Hope you are having a fantastic summer!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June IWSG: Writerly Inspiration


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On the Old Chicago Road about thirty minutes from downtown Chicago you will find an abundance of empty fields filled with windmills and a strong sensation you just crossed over into the fifth dimension. I gain inspiration for my writing through photographs. I can return to the same photo and linger for hours.

I get lost scouring through an endless assortment of Chicago IGers on Instagram. Since I'm several hours away, I must live vicariously, peeking into the Rookery, the Soho House, or catching a glimpse of Calder's Red Flamingo on the sidewalk just outside the Federal Building. Every fall I return to the city. Until then I stalk my favorite Instagram account, Skydeck. With its sweeping views, the Sear's Tower remains the single most photographed landmark in Chicago.


Tornado Alley runs through Illinois (and Missouri, oh joy). Typical flat farm fields stretch forever across this state where each spring and summer clouds swirl with potentially dangerous weather. And who doesn't love writing a good storm scene?


Another source of inspiration for my writing comes from reading books in my genre (and out of my genre). I can't tell you enough how much this inspires me--more than anything else. I'm always on the prowl for unputdownable books.

Did I mention my two teenage boys? Of course, you guys already know how much I shamelessly use them. It doesn't get any better than real live kids in your house eating all of your food, fighting with their siblings, and pulling a million pranks. I'm okay. Deep breath. Summer's just starting. I can do this. OK, who put the traffic cone on top of the house??

Where does your inspiration come from? Need to find some? What have you read lately to inspire your inner Hemingway or Jeff Kinney?

October #IWSG

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing p...