The One in which We Generally Head in the Right Direction – Head’s General Store #127

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                                                                  Cake #127 at Head’s General Store 

Sooo West County’s a big place and despite my seeming confidence in where I was geographically and where we needed to go to see the rest of the cakes on our hunt, I was pretty lost as soon as we started traveling through St. Albans, and we lost cell phone service. In case you’ve never heard of St. Albans before this post, which I hadn’t before the hunt, it is this cute little unincorporated part of Franklin County that includes a school, golf course and apparently pretty weak cell phone towers. But through sheer will power and stubborn determination, we powered through the cell phone dead zone and drove this way and that until we found what we had been looking for: Head’s General Store and Cake #127.

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                                                                           Cake #127 at Head’s General Store 

While it may not look like much due the repairs happening at the time, Head’s General Store is on the National Register of Historic Places and has in been in continuous operation since 1892. Originally called St. Albans General Store, it was renamed after longtime owner Mae Pfeiffer Head to commemorate her family purchasing the store in 1915.

The area around St. Albans itself is pretty notable in that in 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed through it, and apparently, according to legend, our good friend Meriwether Lewis slipped and almost fell from a cliff 300 feet above the caves that members of the expedition were exploring. Lewis was only saved by – get this – thinking on his feet and digging his sweet knife into the ground to stop his fall. Are. You. Kidding. Me? Such a hardcore awesome move there, dude!

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                                                 Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban, Cake Monster and Mercutio Krispytreats 

On our trip to see the cake, Mercutio, Palmetto and I did not encounter any caves or dangerous cliffs into which we could dig our knives to save ourselves from falling, but we did get to see a little more of the St. Albans area thanks to some unplanned detours as well as admire a pretty sweet coffee cup filled cake which still ranks up there as one of my most favorite cake designs.

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Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban and Cake #127

Finally We Find Ourselves at a Fort – Fort Belle Fontaine #124

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                                                                      Cake #124 at Fort Belle Fontaine

Finally, after a long day of rain, Illinois adventures and more rain, Miles and I headed back over the bridge into a familiar state, sunshine and St. Louis!

As we were making our way home, it occurred to me that we just might have enough time to visit one more cake, and so with that thought, the decision was made, and we were off to Fort Belle Fontaine.

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                                                                      Cake #124 at Fort Belle Fontaine

Interesting fact that I did not know before cake hunting: Fort Belle Fontaine, and other Forts, I’m assuming, have a curfew that is strictly enforced! Miles and I discovered this as we pulled up to the entrance to the Fort and were greeted by a nice gentleman with a clipboard who asked us what business we had going into the Fort. I was about to tell him about my cake-ventures when Miles bounded up onto my lap from the passenger seat and stuck his head out the window towards the man. And with a few licks from Miles, the man’s professionalism dissolved and he leaned over to pet him and tell us to have a good time exploring. Score one point for having a cute pup along for the ride!

 

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                                                                                      Cake #124 at Fort Belle Fontaine

Fort Belle Fontaine was established in 1805 and is the first US military installation west of the Mississippi. It has had some pretty famous visitors in its history including Lewis and Clark, who stayed at the Fort on the last night of their expedition. Over time, the Fort became a refuge for those exploring the Louisiana Territory and a gathering place for those who provided the Fort with supplies. In 1986 it was officially labeled a St. Louis County Park.

 

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                                                                                           Cake #124 at Fort Belle Fontaine

Thankfully Miles and I didn’t have to go far to find the cake at this location, which was nice since we were already waterlogged enough from our travels. We did happen to come across the Fort at the right time of day, however, because as we looked out across the barrier onto the lower levels of the Fort, the sun was just setting, and Miles and I took a deep breath and gave each other high-fives as we realized we had accomplished quite an impressive cake hunting day indeed.

 

Rain on Our Parade – Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower #118

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img_2506It finally happened. On the fourth cake of the day, our luck ran out and Miles and I were treated to a sudden and heavy downpour just as we pulled into the parking lot for Cake #118 at the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower. So, since the day had otherwise been mostly sunny, we did what seemed like the only plan of action – waiting in the car and bonding over our shared conclusion that Illinois was not a fan of our cake adventures.

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Entrance to the Confluence Tower

While we waited, it was practically impossible not to admire the enormous structure directly in front of us. Soaring to a staggering 180 feet, the Confluence Tower was constructed in 2010 to commemorate the location where Lewis and Clark set sail on their momentous expedition. With viewing platforms at 50, 100 and 150 feet, you can not only take in the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers but supposedly you can also see all the way to the Gateway Arch if it’s a clear enough day, which, of course, on the day of our expedition, it was anything but.

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Miles admiring Clark’s biography

So for one of the first times, but certainly not the last, this Cake Monster swallowed what was left of her pride (and let’s be honest, vanity, because there is no coming back from rain on curly hairs) and decided it was time to let Miles run wild in the rain so we could continue with our hunt.

As you walk up to the entrance to the Confluence Tower there are two little areas with concrete steps and water running over them on either side with a likeness of Lewis and his biography on one and Clark on the other. Since we were basically alone at this point in the day, and we were already soaking wet, I let Miles decide which side to check out first and because he’s a history buff, he chose Clark and jumped right into that side’s water steps without a second thought.

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Cake #118 at the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower

The cake itself was a bit behind the tower just past a little water fountain that again Miles sampled as we passed by because a pug’s gotta do what a pug’s gotta do, and I was too waterlogged and soggy to stop him.

After we had walked around a bit, I saw there was a museum type place located a few feet from the cake, and so I poked my head in just to look around and of course Miles saw his opening and barged in after me as if he had been there many times before. The teenagers who were working the front desk thought seeing Miles was the best thing since sliced bread and didn’t even stop him from looking around and sniffing all the artifacts he came across. They even said that we could climb the tower if we wanted to for free, but as I realized just how many steps that would amount to with a lazy little pup, I had to pass saying we had other cakes to visit before our time in Illinois was over.

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Cake #118 at the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower

So we said goodbye, and like Lewis and Clark, headed back into in the wild Illinois unknown, hoping for good weather, a strong sense of direction and hopefully no further obstacles on the way to our next destination.

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Cake #118 at the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower

Welcome to Illinois Where the Street Names Are Confusing and a Pup’s Dreams Don’t Matter – Lewis and Clark State Historic Site #117

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Cake #117 at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site 

Miles James is a simple pup. He likes simple things like food, a good rawhide to chew on, his various stuffed animals and visiting cakes. And so he was absolutely devastated when we arrived at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site during our Illinois adventure, and he was told he had to wait in the car because the cake was inside the building.

Ok, quick rant: For real, I did not understand then and I do not understand now why some cakes were placed inside buildings – like business type buildings with events and people and operating hours!  Also some of these buildings were not open on the weekends, so in order to make sure I saw all the cakes, I had to plan specific days off work to check out some of the indoor cakes – not ideal, yo! I guess I can assume that a small reason why some cakes were inside was to preserve those cakes from the elements and general vandalism, but what about the other poor cakes? Are they not good enough to have an inside house and not an outside one? *sigh* End rant.

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Cake #117 at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site 

What made this inside cake even more of a frustrating find was the fact that it was incredibly difficult to locate. For some reason my GPS (aka my old school Garmin) wasn’t bringing me to the right location, and I kept driving down the same street expecting to see a turn I had missed or a big statue or even the cake, but nothing. I drove down and around this same location so many times a kindly police officer even asked me where I was headed and when I told him, he just said, “Yeah, there are a lot of Lewis and Clark things around here, but I’m sure you’ll find it eventually.”

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Cake #117 at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site 

Luckily, or unluckily as it may be for Miles, I tried a slightly different route to my new favorite road and that led us to the cake location. Once we arrived, I promised Miles that I would be quick and pretty much skip-ran to the building where I could see the cake in the window, praying the building was open. Thankfully it was!

Since I had Miles waiting in the car, I didn’t get a chance to really poke around too much in the museum part, but I learned that this historic site was home to Camp River Dubois which served as Lewis and Clark’s winter camp from December of 1803 to May of 1804. During that time the men who camped with Lewis and Clark helped prepare for the spring expedition by gathering supplies and hunting. Pretty neat actually to see another Lewis and Clark location after Miles and I had previously checked out the Boat House in St. Charles on a cake hunt that seemed so long ago.

Thankfully the sky had turned cloudy but hadn’t started to pour yet, so even though Miles wasn’t able to be with me, I still enjoyed a short walk around the cake and the front of the building where there was an interesting (and super reflective) rock? statue? commemorating the location.

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Cake #117 at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site

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These Boats Were Made for Sailing – Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center #57

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Cake #57 at the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center

Cake #57 at the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center

For the next cake Miles and I decided to embark

On a journey much like Lewis and Clark.

We traveled to the boat house in St. Charles, MO

To find the spot where the duo left from so long ago.

In memory of their momentous trip,

The boat house offers something you don’t want to skip.

On the bottom level just behind the cake,

Are full size replicas of the boats Lewis and Clark decided to take.

Cake #57 at the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center

Cake #57 at the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center

And besides the boats, which are incredible to be sure,

Inside the museum you can get an idea of what life was like in 1804.

What’s more, there’s even a group of modern day performers,

Who set out every year and sail the same route as those early explorers.

So with historical pride beating in our hearts,

Miles and I continued on just like Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.