My Bright Idea Goes Down in Flames – Meramec Caverns #128

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                                                                   Cake #128 at Meramec Caverns

Maybe it was the long drive, maybe it was the fact that we were only 2 cakes into a rather long hunt, or maybe it was something else all together, but one of the most memorable things about the first time I saw Cake #128 was giving no thought to what I was saying and blurting out, “But why does this cake have flames on the bottom?” To which Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban immediately responded, “Um, I’m pretty sure those are stalactites and stalagmites,” and Mercutio Krispytreats laughed uncontrollably.  Let’s be real though, those stalagmites at the bottom look A LOT like flames on first glance…right?? It’s also entirely possible that I had lost my mind at this point…but let’s not dwell on that possibility 😉

Fun Cake Fact: Cake #128 at Meramec Caverns happened to be the most southern as well as the western-most cake, located the farthest from downtown St. Louis. *End Fun Cake Fact*

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Cake #128 at Meramec Caverns

FB_IMG_1495062256916I’ve been to Meramec Caverns a few times over the years with family and friends since it’s not terribly far from where I grew up, but I was excited to explore at least part of the caverns with Mercutio and Palmetto, who had never been there before.

Quick history lesson: In 1720 Philipp Renault, a French dude, was taken on a excursion to the area that would become Meramec Caverns by an Osage Native American guide. At the entrance he was led to, he discovered a wealth of saltpeter which was used in gunpowder at the time. This discovery was both a blessing and a curse as it proved to be a profitable enterprise until the Civil War when Confederate troops destroyed a Union gunpowder stronghold inside the caves. As the years went on, the caves became a popular spot for locals to go dancing as there was a large naturally formed room in the caverns that was perfect for dancing especially in the hot summer months as the caverns are naturally cool year round. In 1933, Meramec Caverns was purchased by Lester Dill who turned the area into a tourist hot spot by promoting tours of the caves. Dill is credited with exploring much of the caverns and discovering such notable areas as where Jesse James and his gang supposedly hid out when they were on the run! Pretty sweet discovery! *End Quick history lesson*

Currently Meramec Caverns is the largest cave west of the Mississippi but, in my opinion, the most fun – you can take tours of the caves, zip line through different parts of the property and even camp there if you like.

We did not take a tour at the time of our cake hunt, but we did have fun exploring the open part of the cave that comes complete with fun house type mirrors which Mercutio and Palmetto particularly enjoyed.

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                                                                           Cake #128 at Meramec Caverns

Plus as we were walking back to the car, on our way to the next cake of the hunt, Palmetto and I began an impromptu tradition that would continue even into the years after the cake hunt – thinking of random song lyrics and singing them to each other thus creating a whole new mashed up song with roots in all different genres. It may not sound super exciting, but to us, it’s wonderful. And so to choruses of Purple Raiiiin and Americaaa, Mercutio, Palmetto and I left the caverns for the next part of our adventure!

 

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.

 

You Know We’re Gonna Have to Crash This Wedding Right? – Tower Grove Park #88

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2014-05-09 19.12.29Tower Grove Park is absolutely beautiful. With numerous tree lined trails, ponds and sculptures to admire, it’s definitely worth spending a few hours getting lost in.

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Mercutio approves! Festival of Nations 2015

Even before this cake trip, Mercutio Krispytreats and I had spent many an afternoon wandering the trails, taking pictures of interesting looking trees like the one above, and celebrating the diversity of the city during the Festival of Nations held each late summer/early fall in the park (they sell coconut water from actual coconuts – you have to try it!).

Tower Grove Park was given to the city of St. Louis as a gift from Henry Shaw in 1868. Currently the park is 289 acres and is the second largest park in St. Louis complete with a playground, wading pool, tennis courts and birding (you like birds? They got plenty of them over there!).

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Cake #88 at Tower Grove Park

But on the afternoon when Mercutio and I set out to find this cake, we ran into an unexpected obstacle of friendship-building proportions.

According to the master list of cakes, the Tower Grove cake was located outside of the Piper Palm House, which, quick history lesson, is the oldest standing greenhouse west of the Mississippi and was/is used to house the park’s palm trees that were on display during the summer and needed a refuge from the cold weather in the winter.

Anyway, apparently the Piper Palm House is a pretty sweet location for all kinds of special occasions, including, for example, a wedding, which was exactly what Mercutio and I ran into after we had parked the car and had romped joyfully through the park (ok, I did most of the romping, but it’s just so beautiful there!).

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Cake #88 at Tower Grove Park 

So as we neared the cake, we could see that the area around the Piper Palm House was sectioned off for some private event. Looking around at the people standing within the special section, we could tell right away this was a wedding party, and with a knowing look and a quick confirmation (“You know we have to crash this wedding, right?”) we hopped over the rope and stood in front of the cake. Sadly, even the most inquisitive wedding goers simply looked our way and shrugged our behavior off as if it was perfectly normal – not that I wanted something sketchy to happen, but I mean, come on, this situation ranked very high on the sketch-o-meter!

 

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I love when the top of the cake has sparkles! 

But we had another cake still to see that day, so we admired the cake, looked around to see if we could spy the bride to wish her well and then took the long way back to the car to soak in a little bit more time at an amazing St. Louis park.

 

 

The Myth, The Legend – #43 Carondelet Park

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Cake #43 at Carondelet Park

Cake #43 at Carondelet Park

Technically the last cake on our list for the day was right down the street from the Carondelet Historical Society at Carondelet Park.

Carondelet Park is the third biggest park in St. Louis which is definitely impressive. Included in the park are two lakes, a boathouse – where Mercutio and I stopped to watch some ducks play in the water – walking paths and even a rec center. Talk about a lot of space!

And to make the park even more impressive, it was dedicated on July 4th, 1876 on the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Yay history!

Top of the cake

Top of the cake

I can’t say for sure if that’s what the artist who designed and decorated the cake had in mind for the theme, but this cake was pretty fantastic to look at. With all the different bold colors and unique design, this cake was definitely one I enjoyed spending some time checking out.

Plus as I was researching the park to learn more about why it was chosen as home to a cake, I learned that from the time the city of Carondelet was founded, it held several names. Including a pretty interesting one I found out about on the City of St. Louis’ website, “In its early days it was referred to as Delor’s Village, and Vide Poche which means ’empty pocket.’ Judge Wilson Primm suggested this was due to the Carondelet citizens’ skill at gambling. They would send their Saint Louis neighbors home with empty pockets.” Pretty snazzy stuff, right?

Also, I’m not sure how I feel about this tidbit, especially because it came from Wikipedia, but, “According to resident historian Steven Strohmeyer, the park is home to the White Wall, a large concrete wall, white in color, where a local underground fight club met in the early 1980s.” All I have to say about that is apparently Steven Strohmeyer forgot the first rule of fight club…

No fight clubs were witnessed at the time of this picture.

No fight clubs were witnessed at the time of this picture.