Miles Gets Schooled – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville #116

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Put a Little Moon in Your Rise and Shine – Moonrise Hotel #109

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Cake #109 at the Moonrise Hotel 

Just like a lot of great nights out, this particular cake-venture ended with a trip to the Delmar Loop. In 2014, the year of the Great Cake Hunt, the streets of the Loop were absolutely flooded with cakes from the University City Lion Gates when you first enter the Loop to the Regional Arts Commission almost at the end of the street. Plus the first ever intentional cake hunt that Miles and I embarked upon took place on a cold winter’s night in the Loop.

But since the cake-putter-outer people decided to place the cakes in increments instead of all at once, Miles and I found ourselves once again in the Loop looking for cakes we hadn’t seen. The first of these on this excursion was at the Moonrise Hotel, which let me tell you, is a pretty stellar place.

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Cake #109 at the Moonrise Hotel 

The Moonrise Hotel was opened in 2009 by a man named Joe Edwards who wanted to revive the Delmar Loop and bring in more colorful and exciting attractions for visitors. As part of this, he decked out the Moonrise Hotel with a lunar theme and created specialty rooms that are described as “quirky,” and much like the Cheshire Hotel, revolve around a theme, which in the case of the Moonrise Hotel, is famous St. Louisans from Josephine Baker to Tennessee Williams.

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The Moonrise Hotel 

Inside the Moonrise Hotel is the modern American restaurant Eclipse and of course, the famous Rooftop Terrace Bar which seems like a great place to imbibe some liquid courage to confront your fear of heights. And you can’t miss the fantastically enormous sculpture of the moon at the top of the hotel which when seen at night rivals the actual moon itself in terms of awesomeness.

Memories at the MetroLink- Shrewsbury MetroLink Station #106

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Cake #106 at the Shrewsbury MetroLink Station

Ok, so this one was a little weird….I guess I should have known to be a little wary of this cake in the first place because it was located at a MetroLink Station, which in and of itself is not sketchy per se, but, on that day and to this day, I keep coming back to one question, “Why?”

With the majority of the other cakes on this and my other hunts, I can usually think to myself, “Surely this old building/museum/statue has some historical significance to St. Louis or the mid-west, even if I don’t know what it is yet”, but a MetroLink Station? In Shrewsbury? Still not too sure about that one. And even after searching for some fun tidbits or interesting data about the location, the best I could come up with is that this branch of the MetroLink was built in 2006 and was renamed in 2008 to the Blue Line…other than that…not so much! Granted, I will give St. Louis some props for having such a transit system in place at all, but I’m not so sure that decision warranted a cake.

So even with questions on my mind on the day of the hunt, Miles and I still went on with the show and I parked the car in the parking lot so we could walk to the cake which was under an enclosure. Now this enclosure is right where the MetroLink takes on passengers and leaves them off, so I waited for what I thought was an opportune time to examine the cake and take our customary photos with it. Should be easy peasy, right? Wrong. Because right then something strange happened: a young woman who I had never met before got off the MetroLink, made a beeline for Miles and myself and plunked an elbow down on the cake as she started talking to us.

Initially her behavior wasn’t that unique, as I had encountered other cake hunters and curious strangers who had stopped for a moment or two to talk with me along the way, but what set this encounter apart was that she just didn’t leave. At first this was fine, maybe she wanted to make a new friend, but the conversation she struck up with me was mostly one-sided. She wanted to talk about her boyfriend and the dates they went on, and she even went so far as to ask my opinion about whether or not I thought they should move in together. Now at first I was game for her conversation; I listened patiently and tried to respond as best I could, but she quickly outwore her welcome, mostly because it was pretty obvious what I was trying do: as she was resting on the cake, I was standing a few feet away from the cake with my camera in one hand and the other raised and snapping to draw Miles’ attention to it so he would look in my direction for the picture. However, despite this, or maybe in some strange way, because of it, my stance and gestures did not even give her pause and she continued right on with her thoughts as if I were an old friend, intently interested in what she had to share.

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Cake #106 at the Shrewsbury MetroLink Station

As she continued on, it quickly became apparent that, like it or not, some part of her was going to be in the picture, and if our interaction had been even an ounce less sketchy, I may have considered asking her to be in it in a more formal way, but as it was, I just zoomed in as much as I could on Miles James and thankfully only captured a part of her leg and some elbow/arm.

After the pictures were taken, the next obstacle remained how to leave this conversation that I had not wanted to participate in in the first place. I started by making some small shuffling moves away from the cake while emphatically putting my camera away and grabbing my keys, but true to character, she was undeterred. Next I tried the more overt tactic of saying, “Welp, it was nice talking with you,” and hoping she would respond in kind and I could slink away, but this only served to help her change her course of conversation to something about how nice it was to get my thoughts on things. Finally I just decided to spit out a quick, “Goodbye and good luck,” and flee as inconspicuously as I could. And without looking back, Miles and I headed straight to the car, leaving the parking lot in record time.

But, you know, from time to time in my current life, I pass the Shrewbury MetroLink Station, and each time I do, I pause for a moment to think of this unique young lady who shook up my cake hunting experience so drastically that I still associate her with that location even more so than the actual cake placed there. So, wherever you are, overly friendly lady, I hope you got home safely that day at the MetroLink Station and thanks(?) for making that event so much more memorable if a bit strange.

Take Me out to the Ballgame…Before the Cake’s Gone! – Busch Stadium #63

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Nothing pleases this Cake Monster more than adding more cake hunters to my posse, and when those cake hunters also happen to be family members, and also happen to not be aware at first that they are on a cake hunt, it’s even more fun.

Cake #63 at Busch Stadium

Cake #63 at Busch Stadium

To set the scene, it was Cake Monster’s brother’s birthday (Brother Monster), and he decided that to celebrate, he wanted to go to Ballpark Village to look around and eat some delicious food. And if there is any thing this Cake Monster loves as much as cake hunting, it’s delicious food and family birthdays, so when Ballpark Village was brought up, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to combine my three loves (food, family and cakes..the real and plexiglass kind…).

Awkward family photos at Cake #63 featuring Papa Monster, Cake Monster and Brother Monster

Awkward family photos at Cake #63 featuring Papa Monster, Cake Monster and Brother Monster

So while there was external excitement over a birthday celebration and food, there was also a lot of internal excitement over the fact that we would be dining right next to the cake at Busch Stadium, and it just really made sense for us to see it after dinner, after all. And so once everyone was full of food and had the successful family birthday celebration glow about them, I nonchalantly brought up the cake only feet away, and thankfully everyone was on board to see it!

However it was a good thing we saw the cake when we did because only a few months afterwards, in August, the cake was taken down for the rest of the year.

"Front" of the cake

“Front” of the cake

I’ve read a few different articles on the official reason for taking it down, and they seem to differ a bit, but the one thing that remains consistent is that there was a dispute between the cake artist and the organizers of the Cakeway to the West that was not able to be resolved.

Regardless of this cake drama, and sadness for the cake hunters who never got to witness the cake in all its glory, I am super thankful that I did get to see it when I did and with my family no less.

"Back" of the cake

“Back” of the cake

Plus I can’t even count how many baseball games I’ve been to at Busch Stadium with my family. So seeing the cake with Papa Monster in particular reminded me of all the days we spent sitting in the highest seats at the very top of the stadium in the ridiculously hot St. Louis summer weather eating nachos with jalapenos (maybe not the best choice?)  and enjoying a baseball game together. *memories*

History? More Like Her-Story – Lindenwood University #61

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Cake #61 at Lindenwood University

Cake #61 at Lindenwood University

Finally, with aching feet and paws, a distinct rumbling in both our bellies, a phone that was about to die, and eight cakes under our figurative cake hunting belt, Miles and I pulled into a familiar parking lot to see the last cake of the day at my alma mater Lindenwood University.

It was only fitting for an adventure of such historic proportions to end at a place that has both real and personal historical value for me.

The real history is pretty impressive – Lindenwood is the 2nd oldest school of higher-education west of the Mississippi River. It was originally founded in 1827 by George and Mary Easton Sibley – a pretty recognizable name around campus.

Cake Monster and friends  circa 2006

Cake Monster and friends circa 2006

And the personal history is not too shabby either. I attended Lindenwood University during my junior year of college and then again while I completed my Master’s of Fine Arts. During both stays on LU’s campus, I was also involved with the university’s Writing Center – first as a consultant and then as a grad student.

Cake Monster getting her Master's circa 2010

Cake Monster getting her Master’s circa 2010

I definitely had some real adventures back then both at the Writing Center and through the opportunities I had (study aboard in Peru, for the win!), so getting to end our historical cake hunting journey at LU’s cake was extra special.

As the sun began to sink behind the clouds and several students started to loudly whisper about the cute dog on campus, Miles and I took one long look around to take in and savor the very last minutes of the historical trek we had just completed through St. Charles. And as we walked back to the car, all we could think about were the new adventures ahead us – specifically the delicious food that was to be consumed immediately upon arriving home.

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

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