The Start of the Sketchy Adventures – Famous Footwear/Brown Shoe Company #29

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I have a pretty sketchy life.

Let me explain: I don’t purposely go out seeking said sketchiness, or making lots of bad life decisions, sketchiness just sort of happens to find me. From random people on the street wanting to add their two cents to a conversation I’m having, to listening to my GPS and letting it talk me into a wrong turn (or two) while driving, to people just wanting to tell me secrets about their lives while I’m out cake hunting, it’s pretty much unavoidable. (See Of Course I Have a Plan Part3 – Cherokee Street #8 for further evidence of the sketchy things that just seem to happen in my life.)

Fortunately most of this sketchiness makes for generally pretty good stories; unfortunately when this stuff happens, there’s usually someone else with me who isn’t used to the sketchiness, and they are unwittingly along for the ride.

In the instance of this cake, the one on the receiving end of the sketchiness was Mr. Miles James. And truth be told, based on the way the evening started out, I should have taken it as an omen from the universe that cake hunting was not to go well that evening.

"Why are things always so sketchy, Mom?"

“Why are things always so sketchy, Mom?”

So, to set the scene, it was a typical early Spring evening, and after I had finished working for the day, I decided to gather up Miles James, hop in the car and see some cakes before the sun went down (remember those days when the sun was out past 4:30? *Sigh*).

The first stop on our list was Famous Footwear/ the Brown Shoe Company. And as we headed to the car, I was filled with a great sense of purpose and direction – I had four cakes on the list to see that evening, and By George, we were going to see them all. Oh how naïve I was!

On the way to the car, we crossed paths with one of my neighbors who also has a dog – a little white one that I had seen before with his owner, but never gotten to officially meet. So, with a heart full of joy at my upcoming cake-venture, we approached the dog and his owner, thinking it would be a brief sniffing of tails, a few circles around our legs, and then we would be on our way. Again, the naivety!

At first it did start out calmly, with Miles and the dog sniffing each other, and Miles’ eyes bulging out in their typical fashion when he gets excited. But then, things took a turn for the worse! The other dog started growling under his breath a little, and I took this as a sign that it was time for us to go. But just as I started to tug Miles toward the car, the dog lunged at Miles and chomped him right in the butt!!

As any dog owner would do, I sprang it action and put myself between Miles and this vicious, five pound beast with sharp little teeth to make sure the dog didn’t try to bite again. During all of this, by the way, the dog’s owner was seemingly unenthused by the whole thing. And so as she just stood there sighing, and I realized she was going to be no help, I pushed the little dog away from Miles, and in one motion, scooped him up into my arms and started running for the car.

Once we were both safely in the backseat, and my breathing had returned to normal, I looked down to see that Miles was completely fine – no bite marks or broken skin. In fact, he was looking at me like he was quite sad that I had just taken him away from a new friend he wanted to play with, as if that new friend hadn’t just tried to take a chunk out of his behind!!

Cake #29 at Famous Footwear/the Brown Shoe Company

Cake #29 at Famous Footwear/the Brown Shoe Company

*Whew*

So with what I thought was all of the day’s sketchiness out of the way, I got behind the wheel of the car and drove us to the Brown Shoe Company in Clayton.

The sun was still out when we got to the cake, and as a nice break in the sketchy, Miles and I had our first, if a bit brief, interaction with other cake hunters. It’s weird to say this now, but at the time, in the early days of cake hunting, it felt like a pretty solitary activity. This was before I found other blogs (check out Share the STL250 Love for some great ones) and forums where people were tracking their adventures, and for a while I kind of felt like maybe I was the only one actually looking for the cakes. So when I saw a mom and her kids posing with the cake, I was overjoyed to find out I wasn’t alone in my cake-quest. (As a side note, I will admit that she did add to the sketchiness of the day by first being friendly with me then when I asked what other cakes they had seen, she gathered her kids and ran away like I had just sprouted an extra head. See what I mean about attracting the sketchy?)

Anyway, back to the cake location, besides being a St. Louis institution since the 1870s and a global seller of pretty kickin’ shoes (I’ve been known to frequent a Famous Footwear or two in my day), outside the Famous Footwear/Brown Shoe Company headquarters in Clayton is a massive, glittering, beautiful spectacle of a sculpture. I present to you, the shoe made of shoes:

2014-03-18 18.28.17This sculpture is beyond legit and although I tried in earnest, Miles was not open to sitting inside for what I thought then and still think now would have been an excellent photo op.

And as if I wasn’t already a supporter of the company, after I posted a picture I had taken of the cake on Instagram (IG: whatssowrongwithbeinghippie #shamelessplug), they responded thanking me for stopping by: 2014-04-03 17.53.10

 

 

I’m from the Lou, and I’m Proud – Centennial Greenway/Katy Trail #28

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Cake #28 At the Centennial Greenway/Katy Trail

Cake #28 At the Centennial Greenway/Katy Trail

The final cake of the day (at least for this adventure) was at the Centennial Greenway/Katy Trail. Haven’t heard of the Centennial Greenway? Well sit back, relax, and let me give you a quick lesson on its awesomeness.

The Centennial Greenway is a really exciting project that I never would have known much about if it hadn’t been for cake hunting (sneaky sneaky cake-placement-deciders!) ;)

And according to the magical website of knowledge for the Greenway (centennialgreenway.org), “The Centennial Greenway is a system of linear parks and a trail that will connect people in Metropolitan St. Louis with the great natural and the cultural assets of the region. It is…a 600-mile network of trails and parks that will one day allow the region’s residents to connect by foot or bike from the Katy Trail to the central downtown riverfront.”

Ok, so what does this mean and why is it so cool? Basically when it is completed, different cities and counties around St. Louis will be connected like never before.

STL250.org tells more of the story (with my comments added for maximum awesomeness emphasis), “Central to this connection is the Creve Coeur Park Connector [close to home and convenient]—a 3.6 mile long bike and pedestrian trail that enables cyclists and pedestrians to cross the Missouri River using the Page Avenue/364 Bridge [what??!!]. This dedicated path is separated from vehicular traffic so cyclists and walkers can feel safe and protected [I like feeling protected and safe]. It connects to the Katy Trail State Park on the west end at mile 42.8, south of the Family Arena. On the east end it connects to the Creve Coeur Park trail system, giving recreation enthusiasts opportunity to explore the Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park Trail [aka a place everyone needs to explore].”

Miles trying to blend into the landscape like the cake

Miles trying to blend into the landscape like the cake

So, just as the settlers of yore crossed Missouri on foot/oxen (that was a thing, right?), you can pop on your bike (don’t forget to wear a helmet!!) or lace up those hiking boots (need to get me some of those!) and get from place to place without worrying about that pesky river getting in the way!

There are several cakes along the Greenway marking different areas of convergence, but the one that Miles and I admired that day was where the Centennial Greenway/St. Charles meets up with the Katy Trail. And even though some of the cake locations I’ve had to travel to on my cake-ventures have been questionable (have I emphasized this point enough? :) ), this location was very inviting and safe as well as insightful into what cool things St. Louis has in store. Now, if that doesn’t warm your heart just a little, look at the picture of the cute pug on the left and let the feels wash over you! *Group hug!*

Cake Huntin’ at the Drive-In – Chuck-A-Burger Drive-In #27

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Cake #27! At Chuck-A-Burger Drive-In

Cake #27! At Chuck-A-Burger Drive-In

Next on my list of after-work cake-ventures was Chuck-A-Burger Drive-In on St. Charles Rock Road.

I had never heard of this St. Louis establishment prior to my cake hunting adventure, so I was a little worried about finding it in an area I was unfamiliar with. But I could tell we were getting close when my trusty, furry side-kick Miles James ran to the closest car window and started frantically sniffing the air.

Chuck-A-Burger Drive-In officially opened in 1957 adding several different locations over the years each in keeping with the nostalgic ’50s diner theme. However, the only location that is still open is the one graced with the presence of one of the 250(ish) cakes.

Photo credit: stl250.org

Photo credit: stl250.org

And according to their website, Chuck-A-Burger still has Cruise Nights featuring only special interest and pre-1973 vehicles to keep the restaurant’s theme going.

Unfortunately Miles and I did not get to witness any of that excitement at the time of our visit.

But, although burgers are not exactly in line with my vegetarian diet, I know Miles was definitely hoping that by some cake miracle, he would get to experience someone chucking a burger his way  :)

Cake #27! At Chuck-A-Burger Drive-In

Cake #27! At Chuck-A-Burger Drive-In

Cake Monster Site Seein’ on Such a Winter’s Day – Historic Hanley House #26

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Cake #26! At the Historic Hanley House

Cake #26! At the Historic Hanley House

Once I caught the cake hunting bug, there was no stopping me! So just two short days after Mercutio, WD and I had our cake-venture, I decided it was time for Miles James and I to take our dynamic duo on the road once again.

This was the first of several trips that Miles and I would take after my work day had ended. And let me tell you, those days of waiting on the edge of my seat knowing that I had a little furry friend at home just waiting to go on a cake adventure with me made the minutes just fly by.

Since I was just getting down the rhythm of my cake hunting, I decided to plan this trip around 3 cakes that were close to each other and not far from my home, so it would be an easy after work trip.

Which brings us to the first cake location of the evening: the Historic Hanley House.

The Hanley House is located in Clayton and is on the National Register of Historical Places (*woah*). It’s also the oldest structure in Clayton which I think Mr. James did a good job of illustrating by his rather stately pose next to the cake in the picture above.

The house itself was built in 1855 by Martin Frank Hanley. He purchased all 100.6 acres of the land the house sits on for $750 – not a bad deal.

Unfortunately on this day, Miles and I were not able to get too close to the house itself, but we did get to walk around the garden / open area by the cake and enjoy a few minutes of crisp mid-March air before we were off to the next cake location.

Cake #26! At the Historic Hanley House

Cake #26! At the Historic Hanley House

P.S. This cake’s location is one of my most favorites because I absolutely love that the magical cake location-choosers put the cake on top of the *HUGE* tree stump. It just seems like a perfect place to present a cake (yay alliteration!).

A Diamond in the Rough – Creve Coeur Lake #25

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Cake #25! At Creve Coeur Lake

Cake #25! At Creve Coeur Lake

Mercutio Krispytreats, WD and I’s epic cake hunting adventure was coming to an end, and for an adventure of this magnitude, there was no better place to end the trip than Creve Coeur Lake.

wpid-wp-1413235829295.jpegI don’t think I’ll ever forget the absolute joy I felt the first time that Mercutio introduced me to the glorious beauty that is Creve Coeur Lake. I had only recently moved into my new apartment down the street from the lake, and I was getting adjusted to living on my own. Mercutio knew that I needed a little pick-me-up, so he brought Miles and I to the lake for some relaxation, and we’ve been hooked ever since!

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Photo Credit: Mercutio Krispytreats

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Photo Credit: Mercutio Krispytreats

One of the main reasons I love Creve Coeur Lake so much is because it’s a like a little getaway right down the street from home. At 320 acres (what!), it’s the largest natural lake in Missouri. And while I have not personally seen all 320 acres of the lake (yet), the parts that I have seen are pretty spectacular.

The trail that we usually walk around the lake takes about an hour and a half to complete (or longer, if you’re like Miles and I and stop to smell every tree…Miles does this…not me…) and goes from sandy shores along the water to tree lined trails winding through the woods.

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Photo Credit: Mercutio Krispytreats

While the water at the lake may not be ideal for drinking, it was the first lake that Miles ever swam in. And one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen Miles do is swim out in the lake to fetch a stick, take a wave too hard, go under for a second, then pop right back up like nothing happened and keep swimming. He’s such a survivor! :)

There are few things, however, that can compete with the cuteness of a tired pup when he’s had enough walking for the dawpid-wp-1413235881345.jpegy and decides to let you know by just plopping down right where he is on the trail and not moving.

My most favorite part of walking around the lake, though, is knowing you have almost reached the end of your trip when you start to hear the sound of the lake’s very own waterfall.

Inwpid-wp-1413244238921.jpeg the few years that I’ve lived in Maryland Heights, I’ve probably visited the lake a couple dozen times and each time I walk around the lake, I always come away feeling calmer and more at peace.

And although I’ve seen a lot of interesting cakes on my adventures, and learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the cake at Creve Coeur Lake and all the amazing adventures I’ve had there.

P.S. Aren’t Mercutio’s photos amazing??

Cake #25! At Creve Coeur Lake

Cake #25! At Creve Coeur Lake

It’s Fun to See a C-A-K-E – The YMCA of Greater St. Louis #24

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Just a…

Hop

Hop…

Skip

Skip…

And a jump

And a jump…

…down the street from this Cake Monster’s home is where we find Cake #24 at the YMCA of Greater St. Louis. While there are many YMCAs across St. Louis, this one was chosen by public vote to be a part of the Cakeway to the West, in part, because it’s also celebrating it’s 160th birthday – yay history!! :)

Cake #24! At the YMCA of Greater St. Louis

Cake #24! At the YMCA of Greater St. Louis

Even though I pass this YMCA at least once a day almost everyday on the way home from work, I have never been inside to poke around. So I was pretty excited to take a look at all it had to offer when Mercutio, WD and I’s adventure took us to this location.

The first thing we saw as we entered the building was a huge place for kids to play complete with foam pits, basketball hoops and some strange, fun-looking spidery type thing that seemed totally legit…mostly….

And as we walked further in to spy the cake, we were also hit with the smell of chlorine and the sight of a pool right behind the cake – standard fare for maximum YMCA awesomeness.

As for the cake itself, I think it does a great job of illustrating all the different facets of just what a YMCA provides. The most obvious fun-tivities (oh yeah, word invention!) are sports, but the Y also offers adult classes not only for fitness but for education as well such as tutoring in math and science and literacy programs.

It’s pretty amazing to have all of this just down the street, and when this Cake Monster is done exercising her cake hunting muscles, she might just have to start exercising her real muscles…but we’ll see :)

Cake #24! At the YMCA of Greater St. Louis

Cake #24! At the YMCA of Greater St. Louis

Cake Monster Finds Another Museum to Explore – The Holocaust Museum #23

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Cake #23! At the Holocaust Museum

Cake #23! At the Holocaust Museum

At this point in the trip, the wild, exciting journey of Mercutio, WD and I’s cake adventure was coming full circle as we began to explore the cakes that happened to be close to home (or at least to my home :) ).

The next cake we saw on our adventure that day was at the Holocaust Museum, located in Creve Coeur, just down the street from my humble abode.

According to hmlc.org, “The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center houses a 5,000 square foot core exhibition that provides a chronological history of the Holocaust with personal accounts of Holocaust survivors who emigrated to St. Louis. Photographs, artifacts, text panels, and audio-visual displays guide visitors through pre-war Jewish life in Europe, the rise of Nazism and events during the Holocaust between 1933-1945, and post-war events including the Nuremberg Trials and Jewish life after the Holocaust.” The Museum also holds special exhibitions and different events which, like the museum itself (and lots of things in St. Louis!), are free to the public.

Cake #23! At the Holocaust Museum

Cake #23! At the Holocaust Museum

Until the Cakeway to the West brought us to the cake, this Cake Monster was unaware of such an educational museum not far from home.

Unfortunately on the afternoon of this cake hunt, the museum doors were not open, but I made another mental note (ok, an actual note this time – I have a lot to remember!) to stop by at a later date and take in all the museum has to offer.

And despite the ever menacing, retina-burning sunrays that were obstructing our vision, the cake itself was very beautiful to look at and extremely well done with swirling blues and whites, and the especially poignant quote on the front from the Talmud, “He who saves a single life saves the entire world.”