I was laid off from a job I had held for 7 years in early spring. I spent the next 4 plus months looking for employment. This search was, at various times, arduous, tedious, grueling and occasionally terrifying. Frugality was the order of the day. I had built up a financial cushion of sorts and was receiving unemployment, however I did not know when I would see a regular paycheck again or what economic calamities I might encounter before finding work. I resolved if I were to come out of this in a fiscally solid position I would buy myself a treat.
While unemployed I had an enormous amount of time on my hands and fooling around on the computer came to realize how affordable a trip to St. Louis could be. I have never visited the "Gateway to the West" and made the decision that a short trip there once I was rehired would be my reward. Especially in light of the realization that might be some time before I was able to leave town again.
I, at long last, secured a job. I had 2 weeks or so prior to starting so began to hatch my plan. Labor Day weekend was high, the timing seemed perfect. I would travel by train finding Chicago to St. Louis routes that were both time and cost efficient. Reservations were made at a small gay guesthouse in a historic area. Two gay bars were located nearby, one apparently right next door. Online research revealed that the neighborhood is sometimes referred to as the "French Quarter" of St. Louis due to the number of clubs featuring live music located in the area. My plans were to visit the cities Art Museum and zoo. Both of which are highly regarded, free of charge and located next to one another in a park and accessible by public transit. I also planned to visit the world famous Arch which the gentleman I spoke to on the phone at the guesthouse assured me was walking distance from them.
There was the possibility that tropical storm Issac would rain a bit on my personal parade, however, the radar the morning of my departure suggested that it was moving faster than was expected and could be out of my way, or only a minor annoyance during my trip. The train was scheduled to arrive mid afternoon Friday. My return was planned for early, very early, Monday morning. I packed a gym bag with shorts and tee shirts, this was to be a casual relaxed weekend, and bid adieu to my partner and our spoiled rotten cat.