UranusMaybe I should add the subtitle “a twist on making lemonade out of lemons.” That sounds a little less questionable, don’t you think? But stick with me for a bit, and my title will make perfect sense. Or at least I hope it does, because that’s kind of my whole point.

A while ago my husband, son, and I were able to get away for a few days. Living in the Chicago area, we wanted to pick something close enough that we weren’t in the car for too much of our getaway, yet far enough away to…well, get away. After a lifetime of treating St. Louis as merely a stopover for a bite to eat, we decided that maybe we should really check it out.

On the way, we discovered the wonderful little city of Pontiac. More than just home to Pontiac Prison (for some reason, they don’t offer tours…), it also has numerous museums (free!), interesting restaurants, and a lovely old town feel. We will return.

When we finally made it to St. Louis, we had a hard time narrowing down what we wanted to see. Of course, we had to “do” the Gateway Arch, and then there’s the Riverfront and a crazy, fun place called City Museum (I’m thinking the designer is familiar with herbal refreshment and/or various pharmaceuticals), and a fun, nostalgic day trip to go to the Meramec Caverns (the light show was…wow…I’ve never quite seen anyone flip old school circuits with such passion).

Beyond that, though, there were other choices to make. One that turned out to be a far cry from our expectations was the Planet Walk in the Delmar Loop. In our tourist info, there was a brief blurb about it being a scale model of the solar system. You don’t need to know much more for a nine-year-old boy to be jazzed.

Well, but, you kinda do.

After driving the twenty minutes it took to get there, we should have known something was up when we parked and asked the attendant which way to the Planet Walk and he said, “The what??” And then when we stopped in Starbucks to ask there and they said, “The what???Uranus

It was a rather blustery day, and walking around like lost puppies was quickly losing its luster. Just as I was Googling for more info, my husband asked a guy on the street, and he pointed to a sign on the sidewalk. It said “Uranus.” It also gave some other facts about the planet…and…there you have it, my friends. Turns out that the Planet Walk is…a walk…as in on the sideWALK. As in, “Look, there is a sign that says ‘Uranus.’ Several blocks down the street, there will be another one labeled ‘Neptune.’ Please keep walking.” Uh, yeah…While it is a nice little (stress on little) supplement to window shopping, it sure as hell didn’t qualify as a destination site.

As our 9yo stood there slack-jawed at the letdown of reality, a gleaming light shone through the gloom. Across the street, there was a little restaurant called Cheese-ology. We were hungry. We love cheese. We decided to check it out.

cheese-ologyIt’s kind of like Heaven smiled and out popped Cheese-ology. The restaurant offered several delicious variations of the beloved comfort food. Dishes had choices that included Gruyere, Goat, Bleu…steak, bacon, sausage…artichoke, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes…you get the idea. They even had breadsticks fresh out of the oven in case you needed more carbs. And…here’s the clincher: they served beer. Now, people. Really. It was indeed heavenly.

We warmed up, refueled our bodies, giggled a bit, and then were able to check out a little more of what the Delmar Loop had to offer. And here’s where it all comes together, people. Had we really known what the Planet Walk is, we would have never trucked out to the Delmar Loop for it. And if we didn’t do that, then we would have never had the supremely awesome cheeseilicous experience at Cheese-ology. Turns out there was a cheese lining to our solar system of gloom.

So you see, we did indeed make mac and cheese out of Uranus.

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