Sunday, September 3rd.
The drive took us over the Mississippi River, by the Arch and past downtown St. Louis. The U.S. Grant National Historic Site is roughly 13 miles southwest of downtown St. Louis.
Our destination was the U.S. Grant Historic Site. When we turned on to the road that the historic site is located it took us almost 30 minutes to go 1/4 of a mile due to traffic from Grants Farm, which is just beyond the historic site.
Grants Farm is a free animal farm run by Anheuser-Bush, although it costs $12.00 to park. Hordes of people flock to the park. The parking lot is on one side of the road and the park is on the opposite side. So everyone that visits has to cross the road at least twice which stops traffic at least twice….now multiply that by the gazillion people that visit.
There are parking monitors that stop traffic to allow people to cross the road to get to the park or back to the parking lot which back traffic up. It’s crazy. We were told it’s like that all the time. We’re thinking they need to figure out a new system to get people across the road rather than holding up traffic for so long. Yikes.
One of the traffic monitor told us it’s best to get their as close to opening time as possible. Some day we may give it a shot.
When we finally got parked at the historic site we went inside and the first thing we did was to get Michael his America the Beautiful Access Pass. The Access Pass is free of charge to U.S. Citizens with permanent disabilities. You must show proof of permanent disability (we took Michael’s VA letter showing his service related disabilities).
We also stamped our Passport book and bought a postcard with a picture of the U.S. Grant Historic Site to put in the book.
We had a little more than half an hour before the next house tour was to start so we decided to watch the 22 minute video that had started about 4 minutes before.
I found the video pretty interesting…some of the videos at this places can be kinda blah. But this one captured my attention and held it. Thankfully, it had closed captioning too…Michael could hear most of what was said but used the closed captioning as a back up.
The home at the historic site is called White Haven and was originally owned by Julia Dent Grant’s parents and is where Ulysses and Julia first met in 1844. They eventually lived in the home with their children and Julia’s father from 1854 to 1859 after he left the military, the first time. He would eventually return to the military in April 1861 and less than a month later he was promoted to Brigadier General! That’s some fast rank climbing! I’ll bet our son, Captain Barnett, would like to move up in the ranks that quickly!
The ranger gave us all the facts about the house, Grants military career, presidency, etc while we stood outside White Haven and then let us loose to roam the first floor while he waited for us on the back porch. It’s not a large home, by any means. There wasn’t much in the way of the furnishings as they were put into storage when the Grant’s left the home and the home that they were stored in burned.
We also were allowed into the office at the back of the house and the summer kitchen which is located beneath the house.
An ice house and a chicken house are located behind the home and still stand today.
Walking back toward the Visitor’s Center is the original horse barn that was moved to it’s current location several years ago and now houses a museum.
The museum has a few artifacts but is mostly made up of some pictures, plaques and stories. I’m not against reading, by any means…I’m a book lover. But a museum filled with ‘read this, read that’ mostly gets kinda boring. Michael’s back was bothering him so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time there.
After finishing up at the historic site we headed back toward downtown St. Louis where we planned to have lupper at Sweetie Pies, a soul food restaurant originally opened in 1996 and featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives in 2008 or so.
The Sweetie Pie’s location (there are several across the country) we went to is right down town and I was a bit concerned about finding parking but we had no issue as the entire street that the restaurant is on is pretty much dedicated to Sweetie Pie’s.
When we arrived there were about a dozen people on the street in line. However, the line stretched into the restaurant for quite a way. We ended up waiting about an hour before we got done going through the cafeteria style line and were seated at a table. The wait really didn’t end up feeling as long as it was…the only part that really bothered us was that we were both hungry…me to the point of starting to feel sick to my stomach.
The restaurant is cafeteria-style with dishes that are featured every day and then certain things that are only served on certain days.
Today’s offerings: Meatloaf, fried chicken wings, baked chicken, pork steak with gravy, roast beef, turkey legs. Mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, collards, yams, rice, black eyed peas, macaroni & cheese. And desserts: Caramel cake, coconut cake buttermilk custard pie, pear cobbler, peach cobbler and banana pudding.
The fried chicken wings are VERY popular and responsible for the hold in the line quite often as they run out of them and people stand in line waiting for them. We had considered ordering them but when it came our turn to order there were already about 8 or 10 people waiting for more wings to be brought out.
Instead we scooted ahead of them in line and ordered something else.
Michael had baked chicken, black-eyed peas and macaroni & cheese. While I had roast beef, yams, rice and gravy and green beans. Each meal came with either a dinner roll or corn bread. We each got dessert too! Pear cobbler for Mikey and buttermilk custard pie for me…each were something neither of us had ever had before.
Both of our meals were delicious. Everything was perfectly seasoned, tender and delicious. Even our desserts…oh. my. goodness. Good stuff.
Now for the not so politically correct portion of this blog post.
Out of all of the people (TONS) at the restaurant we saw only one other white person and four Hispanics (that were customers) the entire time we were there. It felt a bit odd but…who cares? We’re all human, have red blood and were created by the same being. We were welcomed and had a good time chatting with some young ladies right behind us in line.
The only reason I mention this is I want to HIGHLY recommend visiting Sweetie Pie’s but if you are uncomfortable in such an atmosphere you should probably skip this place….but I sure hope you don’t as it was worth every minute we waited…and then some.
By the way…we finished the entire Sons of Anarchy Series on Saturday. If you EVER get the chance to watch it…do. We both loved it.