A Little Something Extra – The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery #38

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The Purple Pickle sign. 2014-03-30 13.41.59That was the first thing that greeted Mercutio Krispytreats and I when we arrived in the little town of Kimmswick for a day of cake hunting. We should have taken it as a…well…sign of the interesting adventure awaiting us.

Cake #38 at the Blue Owl

Cake #38 at the Blue Owl

What we had really traveled to this historic town to see was the cake at the Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery. What we got was a whole lot of unexpected adventure.

Unfortunately Mercutio and I did not have the opportunity to sample the food (or the “Levee High Caramel Apple Pecan Pie“) at the Blue Owl, but if the crowd waiting outside to get in and the huge list of TV shows the restaurant has been featured on are any indication, we were definitely missing out.

Cake #38!

Cake #38!

But we were on a cake hunting mission and had other sights to see, so we took our standard cake hunting pictures and started back toward the car.

As we were walking back, I noticed a lady a little in front of us walking a cute little dog, and I mentioned to Mercutio how cute the pup was (and probably something about missing Miles James). The lady (we decided to call her Anastasia) must have heard us because she turned around and told us we could pet her dog. As we said hello to the little dude, Anastasia asked us what we were doing in Kimmswick and if we had ever been there before. We said that we were on a cake hunting mission (and then of course, explained what that meant) and that it was our first time in town.

Then, in the true fashion of most people I tend to encounter, Anastasia started opening up and telling us about the history of the town, the best places to eat there and then finally, that just down the road is the Anheuser Museum and Estate. At this, Mercutio and I gave each other a look that said, “We are totally checking that place out.”

And what an excellent decision that was!

Anastasia had told us the estate was right down the road, and while I still decided to map it out on my phone just in case, she was right on. We had barely driven away from the Blue Owl when we came upon a huge spread of land and a massive mansion.

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Not terrified.

Not terrified.

 

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Terrified.

As we got out of the car, and looked around, the first thing we decided to check out were some gorgeous horses penned across from the mansion. They were pretty friendly and even wanted to pose for pictures…although, I was less stoked about the idea of a massive animal sniffing my face than Mercutio was.

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The back of the estate

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Decoration on the estate

We later learned that the estate was owned by Fred and Mabel Ruth Anheuser. When Mabel Ruth passed away in 2000, she gave the estate to the town of Kimmswick as well as a large donation to keep it looking good. And since then the city has added a museum and a tour of the grounds, which, I can say from experience, are pretty fantastic.

Front view of the estate

Front view of the estate

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Gorgeous

Before we left, we even got to check out the view across the river which in the early spring, was the perfect way to start a cake hunting day.

wpid-wp-1425170579211.jpegHowever as if the cake hunting universe knew that we were having a fun time on an unexpected adventure, as we were leaving, we saw a giant reminder of just how sketchy things can be when you are cake hunting:

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Why is she so angry?

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Totally legit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Monster Only Runs for Cake – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri #37

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Cake #37 at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Cake #37 at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

After our group had finished posing with the cake at the Fox, I spied out of the corner of my little eye yet another cake just waiting to be hunted only a short walk away. And so, being the cake monster that I am, I made the executive decision that we were going to see that one also (aka I just kind of took off in the general direction of this cake hoping someone would follow me).

Luckily enough, the group was feeling gracious and followed me to the second cake of the night at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri.

Besides being a fantastic organization that helps pair children with adults who truly want to care for them and help them succeed, I also learned that 2014 marks 100 years since the St. Louis chapter of the organization was founded!! And even more exciting, the organization itself was founded in 1904, so 2014 marked it’s 110th birthday! With so many milestones going on, it’s no wonder this location was chosen as home to a cake.

Cake #37 at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Cake #37 at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Plus this cake was definitely one of my favorites! I really liked the color choices used by the artist and the fact that each tier has it’s own theme.

And so after my mama and I had taken our customary pictures with the cake, we walked back to the Fox to enjoy our show.

However the fun did not stop there. After the rockin’ show, and with two cakes in the books, our little crew headed home. On the way, we talked about the cakes we had seen, my mission to see them all and where the rest were located. And just as we were about to jump on the highway, we felt the car screech to a halt and shimmy over to the side of the road. All of us looked at each other wondering what was going on when our fearless driver screamed, “Cake!” We all rushed to the side of the car facing the street to look out the window and saw, a few feet away and up the street, the cake at the LGBT Center.

Of course, I ripped off my seat belt as fast as I could and started for the car door. But mid way through this rush, I looked out the window again only to realize that there were zero streetlights around the cake, so it was pretty much just a glittering lump in the darkness. And after searching my purse, I  also realized my cell phone was dead (the beginning of an all too common occurrence when cake hunting). So with a heavy heart, I informed everyone of the near impossibility of getting a good picture of the cake that night and with a big collective sigh, everyone put back on their seat belts and prepared for the rest of the ride home.

Regardless of this minor misadventure, though, when what starts out as just a trip to the theatre turns into a surprise two-for-one caking adventure, I still count that as a win in my book.

 

Cake adventuring aside, I do fully support the mission of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters, so if you’re interested in learning more about what they do and how to get involved, visit their website here.

We Will Rock You – The Fabulous Fox Theatre #36

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Cake #36 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre

Cake #36 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my cake hunting adventures is that sometimes, when you least expect it, life hands you a cake (apply this to your own life accordingly).

As it so happens, for Cakes #36 and #37, this was exactly the case.

As I’ve said before, my family has always supported musical theater. In fact, many of my childhood memories are soundtracked (that’s a thing right?) by songs from the different musicals I was exposed to growing up. (Check out Of Course I Have a Plan…Part 6 The Muny for further evidence of just how integral musicals were to my upbringing and how much they may have contributed to my eventual sketchy life. It will explain so much).

So in addition to spending my summers at the Muny, I was also fortunate enough to be able to see numerous shows over the years at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.

On this particular winter evening, I was set to see Queen’s We Will Rock You with my mama, papa and family friends. But it wasn’t until halfway to the theatre that a little light bulb went off over my head as I realized that in addition to being dazzled by an incredible performance, I was going to be dazzled by the presence of a cake.

Cake #36 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre

Cake #36 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre

I don’t know why it took me so long to put it together, but the Fox was a perfect place for a cake because in addition to being a fantastic St. Louis landmark, the theatre was also celebrating a major milestone in 2014 – it had been 85 years since the theatre doors were opened for the first show in 1929 (AND ’85 was the year I was born…it’s all coming together.)

I also read an interesting quote on the Fox’s website, “‘No longer need residents of St. Louis look beyond their own city for the finest entertainment.'” Apparently this was something that was said when the Fox held it’s first show. And, in my opinion, the theatre has definitely lived up to these lofty expectations.

The black and white helps with the blurriness right?

The black and white helps with the blurriness right?

I must also admit that this occasion, while already pretty incredible because of the chance caking, was made even sweeter by the show we were there to see: Queen’s We Will Rock You. Now it is true that this cake monster spend some time in England “studying.” And while I was there, one of the things I wanted to do was see a show. And when the woman at the ticket booth told my companion and I that this show was like seeing a rock concert, we were totally in. And she was totally right.

The basic idea of the musical is a little wonky, and I won’t get into it, but it is packed with a crazy amount of Queen songs and the best part is, often times the audience is encouraged to join in with the song (*Exsqueeze me?* I get to head bang to Bohemian Rhapsody in a reputable theater? *chah*).

So even though the cake may have been only around for a short year, I definitely would recommend taking any opportunity you have to check out a show at the Fox Theatre. And who knows, maybe the universe will bring you some actual cake when you least expect it (but for real, if that happens, let me know, I love cake :) ).

The ceiling at the Fox - totally not frowned upon to be taking a picture of this before the show

The ceiling at the Fox – totally not frowned upon to be taking a picture of this before the show

Cake Hunting in the Snow…Flurries – Spirit of St. Louis Airport #35

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After thirty-four cakes, I was finally settling into a nice cake-hunting routine: pick a day to hunt cakes, pinpoint which cakes to find, lay out a plan for driving to them and more often than not, lure someone into going with me. :)

Cake #35 at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport

Cake #35 at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport

For number 35, I wanted to see the cake at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport in West St. Louis County with my (mostly) willing accomplices: my mama and Mr. Miles James.

And as a bonus, while we were driving to the location to see the cake, we got to experience a cake hunting first – finding a cake in the snow!! Ok, so it was more like snow flurries, but I’m gonna still count it as snow.

I’ll be honest and say that even though I grew up not far from this cake, like the one at the Kemp Auto Museum, I did not even know that there was an airport just a short drive from Chesterfield Valley.

After doing some research into the location, I found out some interesting facts that made me realize just why they had chosen this location for a cake.

The first thing I discovered was that the Spirit of St. Louis Airport was celebrating it’s 50th year of operation in 2014! (Hooray small airports/businesses!) So that right away seemed to be enough reason to have a cake at this location, but when I started digging deeper into the history of the place, it seemed like a tale right up this cake monster’s alley.

The airport was founded in 1964 (50 years ago…) by a pilot who was tired of waiting in line with his small plane at Lambert Airport while all the other bigger planes got priority. So he decided to find some land to open his own airport. Pretty legit so far…

Miles says, "Did someone say there was gumbo here?"

Miles says, “Did someone say there was gumbo here?”

BUT here’s where it gets good! The stretch of land that he found to build the airport on came to be called Gumbo…no explanation, just Gumbo.

Right, so on Gumbo they needed to build a tower, and this tower was built (according to the Spirit of St. Louis Airport’s website ) from storm doors (classy) and windows (those are important) on top of four telephone poles (seems SUPER safe). And what was this magnificent catastrophe-waiting-to-happen called? Why Old Shaky, of course!

After doing this research and seeing that, despite this randomness, the airport has managed to survive and thrive for 50 years, I was filled with hope. It really seemed as though this airport’s history was tailor made for this cake monster to enjoy and learn that from sketchy beginnings can come good things. And with so many unusual names and sketchy ways of doing things – I couldn’t be prouder to have this airport in my (former) backyard!

Just focus on the faces and not my fingers in the shot...

Just focus on the faces and not my fingers in the shot…

Plus! As if this hunt wasn’t exciting enough with all the snow (flurries), the exotic names of the land and tower, and having Miles and my mama with me along for the ride, this cake marks the first of a few cakes I found that had an image of a man with a very unusual expression on his face  – truth be told, he’s a bit terrifying. For all of this, I’d say Cake #35 was definitely a win!

Come on Ride the Train…But Only If It’s Before 5 O’Clock – The Museum of Transportation #34

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The third and final stop on our mother/daughter cake hunting adventure was the Museum of Transportation in West St. Louis County.

So far on our outing, we had had one sketchy type adventure at The Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos and one relatively quiet type adventure at The Maritz Corporation. So since we were one for one, it was pretty much a toss up as to what this last location would hold for us.

We should have known it would be sketchy.

Our first clue that something was a little off was the fact that when we pulled up to the entrance of the museum, which is a massive wrought-iron gate, we had to squeeze past another car that was on it’s way out. As we passed the other car, the people inside started making strange gestures at us and waving their arms. But with our eyes on the prize and more specifically, my mind on not scraping the side of their car with my car, we just figured they were being friendly, and so we waved back as we continued into the museum parking lot.

The next clue that things were a little off should have been that there were zero other cars in the parking lot. But it was late on a Sunday afternoon in early March, so, again, we didn’t think much of it.

Cake #34 at the Museum of Transportation

Cake #34 at the Museum of Transportation

Before I reveal the final clue that something was definitely not right, I want to interject a little knowledge about this cake location (and add a little suspense to the story!). The museum was founded in 1944 by several people who had gotten a hold of the rare, mule-drawn streetcar called Bellefontaine (hmm…a familiar St. Louis name…). Since then, the museum has grown to house the world’s largest collection of transportation vehicles. The Museum of Transportation’s website tells more about this saying, “With over 70 locomotives, half of them ‘one-of-a-kind’ or ‘sole survivors’ of their type, the Museum has one of the most complete collections of American railroad motive power, and its collections of automobiles, buses, streetcars, aircraft, horse-drawn vehicles, and riverboat materials are constantly expanding to reflect the ever-changing nature of transportation.” Legitimately incredible and right here in St. Louis!

*Now back to the regularly scheduled sketch.*

Right, so despite the fact that we had had a strange encounter with a couple leaving the museum and spied no other cars in the parking lot, my mama and I were not fazed and started walking towards the museum.

After trying the doors to the inside part of the museum and finding them locked (yet another sign!), we finally spotted the cake at the top of a hill next to a rather intimidating locomotive and started walking towards it.

Once at the top, I started in with the usual cake pictures when to our left came a rather loud, “Hey! What are you two still doing here?” More than a little rattled, my mama and I looked over and saw a rather burly man in a security guard outfit looking at us like he’d seen a ghost.

“We’re just here to see the cake,” my mama said calmly (the best way to handle unexpected sketchiness).

“Well we closed about 15 minutes ago. You guys gotta get out of here.” And with that, it all made sense – the couple at the gate was probably signaling that the museum was closed and if we had put that together with the lack of cars in the parking lot, we probably could have saved ourselves and the security guard an unnecessary encounter.

Cake #34 at the Museum of Transportation

Cake #34 at the Museum of Transportation

But all we could do was laugh, so we took the rest of our pictures under the watchful eye of the guard and then made our way back down the hill to our car.

Once we were safely off museum property, my mama turned to me and said, “You know, that was pretty fun. We should break the rules more often!” Ok, ok, she said something more along the lines of wanting to cake hunt again, but I mean, when else do you have a good excuse for being on museum property when they are technically closed? Cake hunting for the win!!

What Rhymes with Maritz? – Maritz Corporation #33

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Cake #33 at Maritz

Cake #33 at Maritz

The next cake on our mother daughter adventure list

Was at a corporation that’d be pretty hard to miss.

With international locations, but a headquarters in our city,

For this place to have a cake was really only fitting.

 

So with our eyes wide and ready to spot the cake,

My mama and I made our trek across the state (ok, across town, just adding some dramatic effect :) ).

And once we were within Fenton’s city limits,

The cake at the Maritz Corporation was found in just minutes.

 

What does Maritz do, you may find yourself wondering.

Well let me tell you – it’s a simply wonderful thing.

Maritz helps companies find ways to keep their employees around

With incentives and programs and even trips out of town.

 

It all began when the first Maritz man wpid-wp-1422584360690.jpeg

Was selling jewels and wristwatches as part of his plan.

When suddenly the economy had a big crash,

And he decided to do something unique with his stash.

 

He turned to businesses all around,

And starting selling his watches all over town,

So companies could present the watches as a gift

And help give their employees’ spirits a lift.

 

So with a simple act of ingenuity,

Mr. Maritz started something that would live in perpetuity.

 

wpid-wp-1422584368383.jpegThousands of St. Louisans are now employed by this corporation,

And the cake itself is quite a sensation!

Even this cake monster thinks this place is the best

Because the Maritz Corporation is also a sponsor of the Cakeway to the West!

 

 

 

Cake Monster Finds a (Mostly) Peaceful Place – Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos #32

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wpid-wp-1422584256665.jpegThis not at all sketchy dancing(?) monk sign was the first thing that greeted my mama and I as we entered the site of the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos on our second mother / daughter cake hunting adventure.

Despite his rather large head and unusually toothless smile, my mama and I took the sign to be a good omen that we were welcome there and got out of the car to look around and take in the landscape.

Located off the back highways of Pacific, the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos are a true testament to the dedication, passion and ingenuity of a Polish Brother in the rural hills of Missouri.

Brother Bronislaus Luszcz (amazing name!) came to the United States from Poland in 1937. Inspired by the dedication of those making pilgrimages to the Black Madonna shrine in his home city of Czestochowa, he spent 23 years constructing each scene of the grottos by hand. And let me tell you right now, they are magnificent.

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Each scene is made with what is called Missouri tiff rock – shells, colored rocks, geodes and other wpid-wp-1422584295091.jpegpieces of costume jewelry and brightly colored glass that are incorporated in such a way that you can’t help but be drawn to them and awed by the way they shine in the sun.

So, with the thought in mind that eventually we’d just naturally stumble upon the cake, my mama and I set out to explore the numerous grottos that cover large amounts of the land around the shrine and even lead up into the surrounding hills.

Once we had had our fill of the beautiful sights, and had sufficiently wandered around aimlessly with no luck finding the cake, we decided to head to the shrine itself and see if we could find someone to help us.

The Black Madonna Shrine is housed in a covered space with chairs for services or personal reflection. At one end of the space is also a gift shop with a small button that said, “Press for assistance.” We were in need of assistance, so we pressed the button.

wpid-wp-1422584337051.jpegA few seconds passed when to our right we heard a screen door slam against the side of a house and an older gentleman peer out from the opening. “You all here to see the cake?” he shouted with much more aggression and frustration than we were anticipating.

A little in shock, I managed a vigorous head nod.

The man accepted this answer and started down the stairs. We weren’t sure what to do, so we awkwardly started walking towards him.

When the three of us reached the middle, he, rather gruffly, said, “All anyone ever wants to do is see the cake. No one wants to see the shrine anymore or hear me talk about it.” At this he gave us both a lengthy stare down as if he was expecting us to change our minds and say that no, we didn’t want to see the cake anymore, but yes, could he please tell us about the shrine.

But at this point, my mama and I were both pretty dumbfounded and just stared back at him. The stare down lasted a full minute and only ended because he eventually broke the silence by sighing loudly and starting to walk towards the back of the building that held the shrine.

As we neared the back, we both breathed a sigh of relief as we saw the top of the candle on the cake come into view down a little hill. We thanked him for his help, but he just sort of brushed us off and shook his head while walking away.

Cake #32 at the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos

Cake #32 at the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos

Without looking back, we hurriedly took our customary pictures with the cake, still taking time to admire the color on the cake and the muted tones used – the burnt orange played incredibly well against the white accents.

Once our cake-quest was complete, we started back up the hill. At the top, my mama started walking towards the car thinking our adventure was complete, but I started walking toward the shrine. When my mama asked me where I was going, I said, “I’m gonna go in the gift shop and buy something. I feel like he might like us more if I did.”

Cake #32 at the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos

Cake #32 at the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos

And apparently, that was the golden ticket to his heart. Once I started looking around at the different trinkets for sale, he became an open book, and we were regaled with his thoughts on the cakes (he did not understand them), where he thought the cakes should be placed (mostly in Pacific) and why the shrine is called the Black Madonna.

That part was actually pretty interesting. Apparently Black Madonna is the affectionate nickname given to the painting that the shrine is paying homage to. She was given this nickname because her skin tone was painted olive to begin with and because over time the painting was exposed to a fire, numerous services where incense was used and the general breaking down of the paint due to age giving it a darker hue. A replica of the painting is what sits in the shrine surrounded by equally stunning mosaics. (PS There’s a lot more to the story of the shrine. If you want to check it out, click here)

So with a new rosary in hand (I had to buy something), my mama and I bid farewell to the gentleman keeper of the shrine and grottos and decided that even though our hearts may have stopped a bit when he yelled at us from his doorway, he made us laugh and couldn’t take away from the breathtaking beauty of the landscape.

Plus, like all the characters I met along the way, he just added to the richness of my cake hunting adventures.

 

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