Column - 'The Sports Trail': Feet retreat leaves spouse cruising the Ice Cream Social alone

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My feet have taken a pounding the last week-and-a-half, which included a trip to St. Louis with my better half, Alice, and two days of the Ice Cream Social in Berryville on Friday and Saturday, without Alice.

See, the woman is selective when it comes to her feet. At St. Louis we roamed far and wide, to the Arch Park, the zoo, botanical gardens, Union Station, Budweiser brewery, and art museum.

On Saturday when I was falling out of bed at 6 a.m., she was nowhere to be found. Well, actually she was burrowed under the covers somewhere trying to appear like a lump in the mattress.

I crept around like a ghost so she could sleep in while I got ready to go, then as I was making for the front door I heard a sleepy voice say, "Do you want me to make you some breakfast, honey?"

"Sure. Bacon, eggs and toast," I shot back, only to hear, "Bye. Have a good time," as the covers rustled smoothly back into place.

Not so at St. Louis.

"I've got it planned," Alice said. "We'll get to town in the morning, go to the Arch and stay all day."

"Fine," I agreed, hoping there were some benches to set on at the Arch museum. We parked, we walked through Arch park, looked at the Mississippi almost breaking over the sidewalk (scary, very scary), then got in line.

You know, the vacation line, the one you are guaranteed to stand in while visiting any attraction during summer months. Security was tight, to the point you not only had to empty your pockets and camera bag, they wanted your belt, too.

Try going through a security checkpoint holding an opened camera bag, gift bags and a handful of change -- without a belt.

We stood in line to ride to the top of the famous Arch, then stood while taking in the view. An early supper at Hannigan's was all that saved me for the walk through Union Station in the evening.

The next day it was the zoo. That was also the hottest day so far this summer in St. Louis, clocking in at a toasty 92 degrees. By 1 p.m. I didn't care if the lions ate me. They wouldn't. They were asleep in the shade, resting their feet.

But Alice had planned wisely. As I faded, she pointed up the hill and said, "Art museum. Airconditioned," and away we went. Except for the marble floors, it was a real break.

But the botanical gardens awaited, and the stop I was most looking forward to, the Budweiser Brewery. So the next day after walking through flower beds that seemed to really reach as far as Japan, or China, or other exotic locations, it was off to beer world.

The place was spotless, every building painted exactly the same, landscaping everywhere. The inside was even cleaner. On the fifth floor one line was filling and capping more than 1,900 cans of beer a minute.

We walked past Clydesdale horses, past the grainery, past giant storage tanks, up stairs and down. Or at least, I did. Alice got selective on this tour in order to save her feet.

I was reminded of all this while walking around shooting pictures for five hours at the Ice Cream social on Saturday while my "partner" rested her feet at home. That's okay. I ate all the ice cream I wanted without even feeling guilty.

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