Miles Gets Schooled – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville #116


img_2492And so the Cake Monster and Miles James Illinois adventure continued with a thankfully still sunny second stop at Cake #116 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville or SIUE.


Cake #116 at SIUE

Previously Miles James and I had visited the cake at Lindenwood University as well as the cake at Webster University, and both times I was more than a little worried about the rules governing cute little pug pups on campus. And even though both of those cake hunts occurred without incident, I still had a few butterflies in my belly about tempting the pug policy at yet another institution of higher learning.

But just as we were lucky enough to still be cake hunting in the sunshine, we were able to tramp about campus at least for a bit without even running into a solitary student, which was nice. The one person we did run into was a fellow cake hunter who was ADAMANT about taking a picture of Miles and I in front of the cake, which I suppose isn’t all bad as that photo turned out to be one of my favorites from the year-long hunt.


Cake #116 at SIUE

However even that assertive encounter that brought me in front of the camera for a quick cake pose, didn’t deter the quiet simplicity of roaming a college campus relatively undisturbed. And the campus itself was pretty impressive. The idea for a college institution in the Alton/East St. Louis/Edwardsville area began in 1955 when locals began to realize that there were not enough opportunities in the area for those interested in attending a higher education institution that was close to home and affordable.img_2488 By 1957 two campuses were opened, one in Alton and one in East St. Louis, but as enrollment climbed, those in charge looked for a larger, more permanent home for the college and settled on Edwardsville where ground was broken for what would become SIUE in 1963.


Cake #116 at SIUE

Apparently the campus is also famous for the Mississippi River Festival which ran from 1969 to 1980 and featured such well-known artists as Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and Elton John. While there are apparently no plans to revive this festival, this Cake Monster, for one, thinks that that sounded like a pretty sweet set up and would definitely be on board if it were brought back.

I Bless the Rains over in Illinois! – Clinton County Courthouse #115


Cake #115 at the Clinton County Courthouse

It was always something with Illinois, I swear. 🙂 First, I was visually assaulted with mannequin after mannequin after mannequin on my first trip across the border with Mama Monster, and then on this trip, it stormed so often that I eventually just realized that if you love something as much as I love cake hunting, you’re willing to go for it even at the risk of frizzy hairs and a wet puppy smell that lingers in your car for weeks.


Cake #115 at the Clinton County Courthouse

The first cake of the day was at the Clinton County Courthouse in Carlyle, IL. And thankfully at this point in the hunt, the sky was still only rumbling and had not yet burst open, so we were able to enjoy the cake in a general state of dryness – although Miles James did make a silly pug face at having to be woken up from his car nap for a courthouse cake with sailboats on it, which, if you think about it, might have been a pretty obvious suggestion for the type of vehicle we should have been traveling in the rest of the day!

From what I can gather, what makes the Clinton County Courthouse worthy of a cake is the fact that it is the county seat of Carlyle, IL.


Cake #115 at the Clinton County Courthouse

I did discover that Carlyle is home to Illinois’ largest man-made lake and that Clinton County is named for DeWitt Clinton, a former governor of New York, who helped build the Erie Canal. Overall not too shabby, I suppose.

As usual, Miles James was a crowd favorite and was given quite a few head scratches and compliments on our short trip from the cake to the car, and the cake itself was very well done, but even this warm reception back into Illinois was not enough to prepare us for the eventual torrents of water that were to plague the majority of our day – is it obvious that I’m still bitter? 🙂 🙂


Hot on the Trail – Grant’s Trail #114


Cake #114 at Grant’s Trail

Oh glorious, glorious cake-redemption, you are so, so sweet. During the year of the cake hunt, there was nothing quite as satisfying as finally being able to locate a cake that had previously been a sad cake fail. And Cake #114 at Grant’s Trail was one such redemption cake.

The first attempt at finding this cake took place a few weeks prior when even though my official list of placed cakes said that the Grant’s Trail cake was out and available for everyone to enjoy, we simply could not find it. On that trip, we even went so far as to park the car on a super sketchy patch of road that I’m like 85% positive wasn’t meant for cars, and then walk several paces in either direction only to end up with heavy hearts and sadness where cake happiness should be.


Cake #114 at Grant’s Trail 

But this trip – the trip where we actually came face to face with the cake in all its glory – was the complete opposite of our failed attempt and therefore that much more wonderful.


The trail. Ooh. Aah.

Grant’s Trail, which, in case you hadn’t guessed, was named for former President Ulysses S Grant and is about 8 miles long. The trail is about 10 miles from the Arch, but it runs all the way to Kirkwood. Apparently the trail follows an old rail line so there’s tons of history already built into the trail itself not to mention the other hot spots you can visit if you follow the trail including Grant’s Farm and a few other of Grant’s properties.


Cake #114 at Grant’s Trail 

Mercutio Krispytreats and I did make a little use of the trail during our time visiting the cake, walking up the trail past the cake and back down, but even better than this pause for exercise was the special feeling that one more cake could be crossed off the list, and as it was the only cake on the list for that day, our cake hunting mission had been accomplished!

The Sketchiest Square Beyond Compare – Imo’s Pizza #113


2014-05-30-19-41-28There are just certain things about living in St. Louis that all St. Louisans can relate to – enjoying toasted ravs, being asked where you went to high school, and of course Imo’s pizza. There’s just something about that thin crust and Provel cheese that you either love or you can’t stand, but you’d definitely know that unique combination anywhere.

So after starting our trip with an ice cream parlor, and then taking a little detour into city beautification land, Mercutio Krispytreats and I were ready to end our evening with a carry-out pizza from Imo’s because who could pass up such an opportunity?

2014-05-30-19-41-18Currently there are 96 or so Imo’s stores around the St. Louis area, but it all started with Ed and Margie Imo’s first pizza shop on Thurman and Shaw, where the cake was conveniently placed. Before getting into the pizza business, Ed and Margie had no prior knowledge of how to run a pizza shop but knew that the one thing St. Louis was definitely missing was a pizza delivery service. So in 1964 the first Imo’s pizza location was born and for a long time it was only open in the evenings for delivery or carry out. But with the success of their delivery idea and their signature thin crust and Provel cheese, Ed and Margie were able to open more and more pizza shops and serve us all the delicious pizza that seems to somehow signify St. Louis even to out-of-towners.


Cake #113 at Imo’s Pizza 

With all this glorious pizza knowledge in mind, and hungry bellies, Mercutio and I figured we’d find the cake, snap a few photos and then call in a pick-up order for our dinner. But because neither of us had ever been to the original Imo’s location, we thought finding the cake would be the difficult part, and per usual with cake hunting, we had no idea what was really in store for us.

We were feeling pretty good about things as we circled the intersection of Thurman and Shaw as we scouted out both the cake and a good place to park the car. After our customary selfies with the cake and general admiration of the artwork, we jumped back in the car to place the order for our dinner, which turned out to be such an easy task that we also had that part accomplished before we even left the cake in our rear view mirror. Now all we had to do was drive to the location, pay, and pick up our food and then be on our merry way, free to go home and enjoy the end to a great cake hunt.


Cake #113 at Imo’s Pizza

We put the Imo’s location into the GPS and started in that direction, and things were going great until the GPS started having us make turn after turn after sketchy turn, and we started to get suspicious. We chalked our suspicions up to our rumbling bellies and patiently turned back to the GPS. But when we kept making circles and weren’t any closer to pizza heaven, we knew something was up. Finally, with thoughts of abandoning our pizza dreams dancing in our heads, Mercutio said he thought he can get us there from memory and we began again.

Thankfully the gods of Provel cheese were on our side because just a few minutes after Mercutio took over the directions, we saw the most beautiful sight: an Imo’s sign fast approaching. Once inside, we practically threw our dollars at the cash register as we hurried out the door with our pizza prize. Getting home was a snap, and once we hit the front door, only seconds stood between us and Provel cheese goodness, and it really all did seem worth the wait.

Destiny Is Calling Me – Brightside St. Louis #112


2014-05-30-19-33-29Coming from an ice cream cake,

And we’re doing just fine

Gotta, gotta be quick

Because we wanna see it all.

It started out with plan

How did it end up like this?

It was only a plan. It was only a plan.

Now we’re on to our second cake,

And it’s a pretty sweet thing.

Brightside St. Louis,

Where clean-up is king.


 Cake #112 at Brightside St. Louis 

Ok, that’s enough of that. If you haven’t caught on yet, I was attempting to employ a sweet play on words for Cake #112 at Brightside St. Louis using the lyrics to The Killer’s song Mr. Brightside, but you know, a Cake Monster can only be so creative for so long 🙂

So silly lyrics aside, Brightside St. Louis is one local not-for-profit that you’ve probably seen the efforts of without even knowing it. Located just a few blocks away from the Botanical Gardens, Brightside was founded in 1982 by former Mayer Vincent Schoemehl and G. Duncan Bauman, who was the publisher of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, in response to a survey taken of St. Louis residents who felt that the biggest problem with the city was that it was too dirty.


 Part of Brightside St. Louis’ Demo Garden

In order to staff this initiative (originally called Operation Brightside) to clean up the city, volunteers for the project were asked to each sign up 10 additional volunteers who were then in turn asked to sign up ten more volunteers and on and on and on. Now, more than 30 years later, volunteers are still making St. Louis a cleaner place by collecting trash, removing graffiti and offering seedlings for area residents and volunteers to beautify their little part of St. Louis.


 Cake #112 at Brightside St. Louis

So while my attempt at being witty may have failed just a little bit, the mission and efforts of this awesome not-for-profit certainly have succeeded in making St. Louis a cleaner place to live, as well as providing a fun Demo Garden for Mercutio Krispytreats and I to stomp around in before heading to our last cake of the day.





 Cake #112 at Brightside St. Louis 



“Life Is Uncertain…Eat Dessert First” – Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream #111


Cake #111 at Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream 

As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing I love more than pulling up to Mercutio Krispytreats’ curb, barely stopping the car, and telling him to get in because we are headed off on an adventure. And for this cake hunt, the plan was no different.

With both of us safely in the car and ready for adventure, the first stop on our mini cake hunt was at Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream on Big Bend Road in Webster Groves. This first cake stop was both strategic and will power challenging because I knew that the cake itself was actually inside the ice cream shop, so I had to both make sure that we were planning to arrive at the location when the shop was open, as well as try and resist the temptation to sample every single flavor of ice cream they serve, which seemed next to impossible.

An award-winning ice cream shop, Serendipity opened in 2003 and since then has been serving St. Louis with delicious homemade ice cream made with local ingredients. The owner of the ice cream shop, Beckie Jacobs, also supplies ice cream and other dessert deliciousness to area restaurants, which is a pretty awesome gig for a relatively new ice cream shop.


Cake #111 at Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream 

On the afternoon of the cake hunt though, Mercutio and I did our best to hold ourselves back from the mountains of ice cream staring at us, and fight the growing crowd of ice cream lovers for a spot next to the cake for our customary selfie – which I will admit, I was having a difficult time of, awkwardly looking off into the distance instead of at the camera! But when all was said and done (and photographed) and I learned of the ice cream shop’s motto: “Life is uncertain…eat dessert first,” I thought it was pretty serendipitous ( 😉 ) that we had stopped there for our first cake of the day.


The Vinyls May Be Vintage, But The Music Is Still My Jam – Vintage Vinyl #110


Sweet Baby Miles in his Halloween costume circa 2012

Take it from this Cake Monster, the best way to end a long cake hunting trip is with a cake stop at a place that always makes you smile. And for me and Miles James, that place is Vintage Vinyl on the Delmar Loop.

Miles and I have a long history with the Loop, going back even before we were fearless cake hunters. When I lived in Maryland Heights, I would sometimes take Miles with me to the Loop dressed in his Halloween costume, even if it wasn’t Halloween time, just to see how many people would stop and pet him and smile and say how cute he was. During these trips, Miles and I were frequent visitors to the last stop on our cake hunt for the day: Vintage Vinyl. Miles, in particular, is a fan of the the free concerts they host in front of their store on Record Store Day.

With all the greatness Vintage Vinyl has to offer the Loop, I was not at all surprised that they were chosen as a cake location, and when I went to look up a little bit more about their history, I fell a little bit more in love with the location.


Cake #110 at Vintage Vinyl

The idea for Vintage Vinyl – a place that was run by music lovers for music lovers – started in 1979 as the brainchild of Tom Ray and Lewis Prince. To kick start their idea, they decided to start used bringing records to the Soulard Farmer’s Market to sell. With the income from those sales, they bought more and more records and pretty soon they had sold enough to buy a really real store where they could sell their records. Their first store on Delmar was only 400 square feet and their inventory soon outgrew their space, so they moved to a second location, still on Delmar, that was 1000 square feet. And after a few years at this second location, they again needed to expand so they finally settled on their current location at 6610 Delmar, and with an awesome marquee out front, you can’t miss it! (PS this is just my condensed version of their history, if you need a good laugh, check out the owners’ version of their history; it’s ridiculously good).


Cake #110 at Vintage Vinyl

And true to form, a snazzy place needs an equally snazzy cake, and the cake that was chosen for this location did not disappoint. This one was super sparkly and very fitting for its designated home.

So even though Miles and I did not go inside the store on this particular outing, I myself have been a frequent shopper at this location, including one memorable trip the day after Thanksgiving when I was at work and only had a half an hour for lunch but HAD to have all of the Incubus catalog on vinyl which had just been re-released at certain record store locations across the country. So I left the office, drove to Vintage Vinyl, snatched up everything Incubus I could find, and made it back in just enough time to thank my lucky stars that I work so close to one of the chosen few stores that was selling those records before returning to work. That was a pretty good day, and it was made entirely possible by the guys at Vintage Vinyl.