Hungry Like the Wolf – Endangered Wolf Center #133

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Cake #133 at the Endangered Wolf Center

Looking back on my favorite parts of cake hunting, right up there with tons of incredible adventures is finding out about crazy awesome places in Missouri (and even Illinois) that I had no idea were so close (for the most part) and so wonderful. And so it probably goes without saying that the Endangered Wolf Center is one of those crazy awesome places that I’m so thankful I was able to find out about through cake hunting.

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                                                                             Cake #133 at the Endangered Wolf Center

Background information time: In the 1960s and 70s Marlin Perkins was a TV personality who hosted “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” Along with his wife, Carol, Marlin turned his attention in the early 70s to helping the endangered wolf population and founded the Endangered Wolf Center on 63 acres of wooded land in Eureka, MO. Today the Center is still thriving and inviting the community to become educated about the plight of endangered wolves and what everyone can do to help out.

While all of this is super wonderful, the only sad thing about the Endangered Wolf Center, at least from a cake hunting perspective, is that the cake for this location was placed at the entrance to the Center which is barred from the rest of the actual wolf sanctuary by an electric fence that you can only go through with a pass and a reservation.

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                                                                                     Cake #133 at the Endangered Wolf Center

Understandably the center probably has it’s reasons for keeping security beefed up like this, but it was a little bit of a let down to come so far on our cake hunt only to be met with a sign for the Center and a fence but no actual wolves.

However, as we had already had a pretty prolific cake hunting day so far, Mercutio, Palmetto and I simply admired the cake, took our customary pictures with it and put our sadness behind us as we got ready for the last cake of the hunt, and our bellies reminded us that it had been a long time since lunch.

Highway to the Amusement Park Zone – Six Flags #132

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                                                                          Cake #132 at Six Flags

For this Cake Monster, there is nothing more reminiscent of childhood and early adolescence than summers and early falls spent at Six Flags. From getting a season pass from the Easter Bunny, to waiting until the first day the park opened, to doing my best to battle the summer humidity to look presentable for my season pass photo, so many summer memories started with Six Flags. And going to see Cake #132 at the entrance to the Park grounds with Palmetto and Mercutio somehow seemed to bring all of them back at once.

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                                                                          Cake #132 detail

Even though this Cake Monster wouldn’t be a patron until many years later, Six Flags St. Louis opened in 1971. In case you’re wondering, the six flags commemorated by the name of the theme park are the six nations that have governed the state of Texas (the birthplace of the theme park) including Spain, France, the Republic of Texas, Mexico, the United States and the Confederate States of America.

Six Flags St. Louis was one of the original three theme parks built and the only one of the three that still is around today.

Over the years the park has put new rides in (hello, Hurricane Harbor!) and taken old rides out, but the heart of the park has remained the same – and I still love me some Log Flume!

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                                                                 Palmetto, Cake Monster and Mercutio at Cake #132 

At the time of the cake hunt, the park was allowing cake hunters to access the Six Flags parking lot through a special lane used only for checking out the cake and moving along, so even without season passes, Mercutio, Palmetto and I were able to live a little bit of that summer life by spending time with the cake in front of the fountains that lead the way into the park.

 

 

As an interesting side note: once 2014 ended, the fates of the cakes were pretty uncertain. Some of the cakes remained at their locations while some were auctioned off to the highest bidder (usually a hardcore cake hunter who wanted a real piece of the action to add to their collection), and some, like the Six Flags cake, were refurbished and oftentimes given a new location.

The fate of the Six Flags cake fell into the last category as it was in need of a pretty much full scale repair by the time the year of the cake hunt was over. So it was re-imagined and repainted and given to none other than one of my favorite independent bookstores – the Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves! The interesting thing about this discovery was that the first time I stopped by the Novel Neighbor in 2015, I noticed the cake out front and took a picture because I thought I had never seen it before, but it was only when doing research on the Six Flags cake did I discover that the cake that stands outside my favorite place to go for local art and good books is none other than the Six Flags cake with a face lift! Small cake hunting world indeed! 🙂

Who Let the Dogs out? – Purina Farms #131

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IMG_2600Right, so when you think of Purina Farms, what probably comes to mind is a glorious sanctuary where all day long dogs run around obstacle courses and eat dog food and generally star in dog food commercials…..it’s not just me who has this fantasy, right?

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                                                                    Cake #131 at Purina Farms

Well regardless of the image you conjure in your own mind, this Cake Monster, (along with Mercutio Krispytreats and Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban, I’m sure), pictured our trip to Purina Farms to be, well, at least a little more filled with animals than it was on the day we visited. In fact, the day we were there, we didn’t even see many other people outside of another possible cake hunter or two – not gonna lie, eeriness on top of disappointment is the beginning of the recipe for disaster.

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                                                                 Cake #131 at Purina Farms

But let’s back up a little bit: Purina has a long history, stretching all the way back to 1894 when it was founded by William H Danforth. Back then it was called the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company. The name changed in 1902 to Ralston Purina. In 1926 Purina Farms was founded to begin the process of testing both the nutrition level and taste-good-ness of the dog food the company was producing. Over the years Purina has continued to do research into the most nutritious and delicious food for all types of pets.

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                                                                      Cake #131 at Purina Farms

And now back to the story: so even though we didn’t get to check out any cool dog obstacle courses with dogs actually running on them, we did get to walk around the farm a bit and check out a few things without having to worry about dodging a crowd. Plus the cake for this location was especially cool and incorporated a pretty epic theme, so overall, I think we can count this adventure as a win – I will be back to see some dogs jumping over hurdles though!

 

Frankly, The Cake Hunting Mannequin Count Is Too Dang High! – Franklin County Courthouse #129

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Cake #129 at the Franklin County Courthouse

I like to think that with cake hunting there were cake locations along the way that were super interesting and were places that I’d likely never visit if it wasn’t for the opportunity to see a cake. And then…there were cake locations that just made me scratch my head and cross them off the list never really to be thought of again. Cake #129 at the Franklin County Courthouse falls into that second category.

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                                                                                           Cake #129 at the Franklin County Courthouse

Now don’t get me wrong, seeing a life size statue of Ben Franklin posed oh so sweetly on a park bench is fairly noteworthy, but other than that, the courthouse itself was unremarkable and not to mention closed when we arrived to see the cake.

Franklin County, if you couldn’t guess, was named for Benjamin Franklin and thus why his likeness sits outside the courthouse for all of eternity, just waiting to scare generations of cake hunters for the rest of time.

The county itself was founded in 1818 but the courthouse that now stands at the cake location was built in 1923 to replace the log cabin that had been used for the courthouse until then.

So, since none of the courthouse’s history seems all that different from the histories of other courthouses I’ve seen on the cake hunt, I’m assuming that the main reason for the cake placement was the statue, and despite my well documented fear of mannequins, Mercutio, Palmetto and I had a pretty good time taking some pictures with the statue version of Mr. Franklin – after lots of coaxing on their part to actually get me close to the mannequin long enough to take a picture with it.

Time to Get Our Babler On – Babler State Park #126

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IMG_2570It was the best of the cake hunting times; it was the worst of the cake hunting times…nah, not really, it had been pretty good up until this point! But with the middle milestone cake out of the way and a new cake hunting companion along for the ride, it just felt right to go with something dramatic and so here we are. 🙂

For this series of cakes, I decided to switch it up a bit and instead of heading into the city and beyond, I would plan our trip around the cakes in West County and beyond, adding some spice to the hunt but mostly keeping it in my old stomping grounds.

And so for this trip, I was once again joined by my trusty cake-venture companion Mercutio Krispytreats and his fantastic boyfriend Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban who not only comes up with amazing nicknames but also shares my love for impromptu song creation, but more on that later.

The first location on the list was Babler State Park, which is located in Chesterfield and *woah* is it beautiful.

The cake was placed near the information center which also happened to be near a cute fountain which of course we had to document. Once sufficient fountain photos had been taken, we headed into the information center to poke around.

Ok, so while there were no real human-like mannequins in this information center, there were enough animal type mannequins to render me a little uneasy of the place.

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                                                                        Really no need to go sticking your hand in a mysterious shadow box in my opinion 

Mercutio and Palmetto seemed to have much more of an adventurous spirit at this point and were even reaching their hands into dark crevices to check out “surprises” that helped them learn about nature – yeah, that’s a no thanks from me!

After we had exhausted all that the information center had to offer, we headed back out into the park to check out a large statue we had seen on the drive in. Walking all around it and reading the signs, we learned that the statue was of Dr. Edmund A Babler.

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                                                               Dr. Edmund Babler statue

Babler was a well known surgeon in the area with a deep sense of compassion and drive to help the less fortunate. Upon his death in the 1930s, the land for the state park was donated by his brother who was a huge proponent of the state park system and wanted to contribute land and resources to honor his brother. Currently the park has 13 miles of trails, numerous campsites and recreation areas and impressive natural attractions such as century old trees in some parts of the grounds. Plus all of the stone used to build the buildings and bridges were quarried locally which is just incredible.

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                                                                    Cake #126 at Babler State Park

 

And so, with some new knowledge, some exciting(?) animal mannequins and a few breaths of state park fresh air, Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban had conquered his first cake of the hunt, and Mercutio and I could both agree that it really was the beginning of the best of our cake hunting times.

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.

 

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head – Robert Wadlow Statue #119

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Robert Wadlow 

Besides being an applicable title for this blog post about rainy day cake hunting and just some great lyrics to hum along to whenever it’s stormy out, this song has the perfect couple of lines for Cake #119: And just like the guy whose feet / Are too big for his bed / Nothing seems to fit…well you know how the rest goes. But the reason those lyrics are so significant for this cake is because it is in honor of Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in the world!

Robert only lived to the age of 22 but when he died he was 8 feet 11.1 inches tall! He was born in Alton, IL in 1918 and by the time he was 9 years old he was already over 6 feet.

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Cake #119 at the Robert Wadlow Statue 

His impressive stature was due to a pituitary anomaly that caused his body to continually make the growth hormone, so if he had not died so young of a foot infection, there is no telling how tall he may have grown to be.

Robert had planned to become an attorney but because of his size and brittle bones, attending classes was difficult for him, and so he joined the circus at age 19 before taking to the road at age 20 with his father as a spokesperson for the International Shoe Company.

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A Replica of Robert Wadlow’s Chair

When Robert died in 1940 most businesses in Alton shut down for the day so that the whole town could honor their favorite giant. Then in 1985 a bronze statue of Robert was erected and placed across from the SIUE Dental School.

While all of this history is incredibly fascinating, I do have to say that dragging a waterlogged pup through a space that is mostly occupied by a literally giant mannequin is not an ideal situation to admire a cake! However seeing the statue/mannequin was admittedly pretty amazing and by this point we were already as drenched as we were going to get, so we carried on even amidst strange looks from passersby with umbrellas who pretty much just shook their heads as they watched us frolic, and I can’t say I blame them.