It was chilly, but we got out. Tis the season—for eagle watching. A polar vortex swept into town, but we still got out and around. Eagle Days was being celebrated on the Chain of Rocks Bridge and really everywhere on the river. We saw three eagles and two eagle nests, confirming that Saint Louis is a great place to raise a family. More importantly, we got to hang out with some other birders and naturalists. We enjoyed their heated tents too.
I’m a sucker for the MSN slide shows that constantly appear on our home page. I especially enjoy their 50 states best of shows. Like what is the best restaurant, hotel or town in each state. It just so happened that that morning’s survey was all about the 50 best bridges. You guessed it, Missouri’s best bridge was the Chain of Rocks, beating out the much older Eads Bridge. Technically now, it’s the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, the new one is a half mile further north and is part of I-270. Built in 1935, it was how Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River.
It is now a pedestrian bridge. We walked its one-mile length to Illinois. The bridge now seems too narrow to support two lanes of traffic, but cars were smaller back then. I can only imagine the terror of crossing it at night. It was not very well-lit, so as not to blind river barge wheelmen. That plus its distinct mid-span kink, must have made for an interesting crossing. The bridge gets its name from a natural feature in the river, just downstream from the bridge. A chain of rocks spans the river, making it navigable only in high water. In very low water, the river can be crossed via these rocks. A canal now bypasses this feature.
Afterwards, we swung by Winslow’s Home for a late lunch. We ended up closing the place, which wasn’t as hard as you might think. It closed at three. Last time we were here, we were taking Dan to the airport and then we had a show to see later. This time we didn’t want to feel rushed. This was a good thing, because the place was slammed and it took forever to get our food. It was good though, when it finally arrived. Midway through our meal, a sudden snow squall appeared, dropping enough to coat the Prius and all the roads going home. It was about an inch that replaced last weekend’s dump, which had been washed away by Friday’s heavy rain. By closing Winslow (Its name is a send up to the painter Homer Winslow.), we snagged a couple of free donuts that were going to go unsold anyway.