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Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

How fortunate for me that the WP Photo Challenge is so unexpected.  I didn’t expect to have Monday alone in St. Louis, but most of my friends left on Sunday, so I had unexpected found time to explore on my own.  I like to go the seamy, trashy underbellies of a city when left to my own devices.  I know – that’s unexpected.  I was downtown with no car, and wanted to find the local river, you know the Mississippi.

It’s not a particularly well-known river in these parts.  That’s because it’s so hard to find.  That was unexpected.  There were no signs pointing the way, no tours advertised in the hotel lobby.  I had to ask a passerby how to get to the river front.

By the way, St. Louis is not the only place with strange statues, but you tell me, is she a bit odd?

Most cities flaunt their river fronts with chic shops and restaurants.  Some places combine the two like good book stores where you can browse among thousands of books, choose something, and sip a cup of coffee in between moments of distracted staring out the window at the beautiful river.

I found myself unexpectedly going in circles trying to find the Mississippi River in St. Louis.

I found myself unexpectedly going in circles trying to find the Mississippi River in St. Louis.

The first person directed me in the general direction towards the river.  I finally got close enough to catch a glimpse of his idea of, “Go straight down this street and you can’t miss it.”  Finally, I caught my first glimpse of the great Mississippi.  Can you find it?

I worried that the parking lot attendant would demand money from me for walking through his lot.

I worried that the parking lot attendant would demand money from me for walking through his lot.

Do detour signs make you dismal?  When you motor in unfamiliar cities, confident that your GPS or map skills would direct you to your destination, have you ever found that the recommended street was unexpectedly closed for construction?  Fortunately I was on foot because there were plastic construction fences everywhere. The closer I got, the more nervous I became that here would be no hole in the fence, and I would have to recalculate, make a u-turn, and find an alternate route – again!

Downtown foot traffic was light on Monday.  You should have seen it after the Rams v the Bears game on Sunday.

Downtown foot traffic was light on Monday. You should have seen it after the Rams v the Bears game on Sunday.  I was relieved to get closer and see that there was an exit.

Fortunately I saw one other person walking my way, so I knew he had come from the other side of the red barrier somewhere.  Once I squeezed past the plastic rope barricade I reached the chic restaurants and bars.  I don’t know who else could, though.  Streets in Atlanta proved hazardous to me and to Cheryl, a friend of mine, four years ago at NCSS, but those streets and sidewalks were silk roads compared to these.

Mind the street.  Spiky heels are not recommended.

Mind the street. Spiky heels are not recommended.

Have you ever driven through an unfamiliar town at night and it seemed that someone had hijacked all the street signs so that GPS, iPhones, and traditional maps were useless?  Now I know where they put those signs.

At night they must light these up and flash a hologram into the sky so drivers can see them.

At night they must light these up and flash a hologram into the sky so drivers can see them.

This must be very helpful when you walk with your handsome date in your platform heels down a dark street to go to a bar with a great dance floor.  Keep in mind that the sidewalk, though a little wavy, might have been walkable, but if you unexpectedly veered into the street, the least bit tipsy, you would probably not make it home with all your bones attached.

SFW 2013 Streets of STL114

It was so cold that your feet might have slipped on the icy bricks.  By morning only slush remained seeping between the cracks.

The reflections were good, but I missed seeing what hours they opened.  I think you went to the website to warn them you were coming before they sent someone to open the door.

The reflections were good, but I missed seeing what hours they opened. They didn’t expect visitors.  I think if you wanted to visit, you needed to go to the website to warn them you were coming so they could someone to open the door.

I wondered how any of the business in this area stayed afloat, even when there were no flood waters.  I unexpectedly encountered the famous St. Louis Wax Museum.  It looked particularly inviting with professional signs admonishing me to carry cash if I wanted to see their evil, life-like monsters.

I took a picture of their faces in case I needed to report them to the police.

I took a picture of their faces in case I needed to report them to the police.  It was unexpected to feel so molested in the middle of the morning.

There was some traffic in front of one restaurant.  Their tables remained outside for anyone who wanted to enjoy the stiff breezes taking the temperature down to about 12 degrees.  The traffic ambled along as it ate up the street.

The other street traffic jogged up to the vehicle and walked along beside it for a ways.

The other pedestrian, a construction worker, jogged up to the vehicle and walked along beside it for a ways – a real SMV.

I finally go to the river’s edge.  It lapped peacefully at the shore as though it might have been the beautiful McKenzie River in Oregon.  With the exception of my visit that morning, no one else visited that I saw.  One truck looked like it wanted to commit suicide.  I took several pictures to see if it actually completed the act, but it must have waited for me to leave before rolling to its demise.

See the truck thinking about jumping in?

See the truck thinking about jumping in?

I snapped a few pictures of the bricky bank and the boats navigating the murky waters, then headed back to catch my shuttle to the airport, satisfied that I had seen the unexpected seaminess of St. Louis.  Here are a few more pictures of the beautiful Mississippi to upload to your memory before I go.

What are some of your unexpected experiences in strange cities?  Click here for more of the unexpected.


29 replies »

  1. Greetings Marsha.
    What a dreary place! We have been there, but never very long! You see some of the reasons we left the Midwest and moved to FLA. Very drab and dark. FLA is far brighter and friendlier.


    • It had its dreariness, as did Seattle last year, but also its loveliness. Some of the old brick and cement buildings were interesting. The people were nice, and very helpful. The food was amazing, and I gained at least 3-4 pounds in just a few days, and now I have Thanksgiving and Christmas to help me lose weight! Yikes! I agree that FLA is much brighter, but, like Autty, I sometimes enjoy the ugly things in life, like bumpy roads. Of course, I also had time to visit some amazing people, and make new friends. That is a big turn on for me. Lots of love to you and Autty for Thanksgiving. I’ve already started eating and it’s only 7:17. Enjoy 🙂


    • Thanks, Denisha, and thanks for reading. It was so much fun to be with you all. You and Jenny have definitely become life-time friends over this NCSS stuff – as have the three of us. Love you guys. Have a great Thanksgiving. 🙂 M


      • Ah!!! Jean again, my favourite person! Send her my love! We’re off to go hiking. In fact, Sir is attempting to dislodge my corpse from the computer and launch it out the door, even defenestrate it if necessary. (one always wishes there were more opportunities to use that word…). Have a grand time!!


      • Indeed! Just as it was, very fitting. I love the old brick and the crumbly noir of these photos, too. Perfect place to imagine all sorts of lovely crimes…fuels the imagination, aye that it does. Plus, one just loves to explore the strange and sad beauty of the grittier, more neglected, time-lashed sides of any city…just too much of a thrill!! Cheers!


  2. Oooo this was just my kind of groovy post, gritty, gelid, foreboding, desolate, crumbly, craggy, dismal…….aaaaahhhhh wonderful. I have been to St. Louise a few scant times, briefly. No real explorations. This was quite enthralling, and I just love the eerie effect of the wax figures. That woman that directed you early-on is indeed quite odd, I must concur. Certainly felt as though I were there. A little too familiar in a vague way. I would have been madly searching about for bodies in the murky waters there. Reminds me of the old town I lived outside of for some several years in N. IL. Just dramatically increase the potholes (it is considered the pothole capital of America har har), crags, dirt, construction, and suicidal vehicles, and you’re there. 😉 Cheers!!

    Smiling Toad


    • Tee hee I missed the bodies. My friend Jean and I thought we saw someone throw a body into the water in HI. Very scary. We were a long way away, and couldn’t see very well, but someone opened a trunk and pushed something into the water. Now why they would be doing that in the light of day, I have no idea, but Jean was sure that’s what it was. – She’s an attorney, though, with a pretty active imagination, and a touch of paranoia.

      St. Louis was fun. I did enjoy my time alone almost as much as my wonderful time with people, but wish I’d had my better camera. Those were all iPhone photos because I was so short on space. I need to just break down and pay for shipping a suitcase when I go places. I just hate to wait for them in baggage. So I have to pack and unpack them so make everything fit, and my camera did not make this trip.

      BTW, the truck never rolled, as far as I know. So maybe I have an overactive imagination, too. I hope so!

      Want to be one of my book readers? You’d have to be critical, not just complimentary. It has holes in it, I’m sure. It’s 116 pages, and I have to have it turned in by Nov. 30.


      • YES I would be greatly honoured to be one of your book-readers!! Por Favor! Can send via my email, I think I’ve shoveled it onto you before but here it is again-

        I must respond more to this later, that body bit is most THRILLING and how NOIR to be in the middle of the day like that, WOOOW! Er……oh dear, I mean…er, that experience must have been most troubling, vexing and terribly mysterious, indeed.

        P.S. I suspect that your pal Jean and I would very possibly, and rather instantly, become bosom pals, high-fiving in a happy heel-kicking jig, ready to scour the lands and turgid waters together for great onslaughts of sailing bodies tumbling from every which way, and then tearing after hoodlums and criminals, ululating our constant refrain- CITIZEN’S ARREST and puling for the police every four feet. Of course, Jean would get ahead of me because I would keep falling…terrible habit to have when one is pursuing murderers and so forth. But! Think of the terror those poor criminals would feel…when usually they are so unnoticed and thus left in peace. Not when the Jean and Smiling Toad Sleuths are on the case!! We will write books accounting the various cases where justice has been served because of our wonderful and stupendously astute sleuthing!!

        In all solemnity, however, one does wonder if that was the real thing. If only I had seen it…What else could people be in the habit of dispensing from their vehicles into the sea, there, in Hawaii, in the middle of the day?? HUM…All one can imagine would be things like toxic waste or some such thing.

        I did see a cluster of bodies the other day, and became quite excited, but when one of the cadavers moved a foot, the joy evapourated and I stopped speed-running toward the slumbering picnickers with my magnifying glass poised and my latex gloves fluttering….blasted people, sleeping in the sunlight under nodding trees and all that sort of rubbish…hmph. Only DBs should do that…

        It seems I have written more than I intended here.

        What a joy…aaaahhh right. Must flit, a happy and most jolly stupendous holiday to you!






Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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