We took advantage of Anne’s one-day “government school” shutdown, due to a boil order and the at least temporary end to the Federal government shutdown and the reopening of the national parks. We went downtown and visited the Arch. The last time that we visited the arch, it was a national monument. Since then it has undergone extensive renovations and is now a national park. The arch reopened as a park last July, but we are only now getting around for a visit.
The biggest change is the entrance to the arch grounds. Previously a sunken I-70 acted as a moat separating the national monument from the rest of city. Now a pedestrian walkway connects the two. A new circular entrance was added to the arch’s redesigned underground museum. One negative change is that due to Dutch Elm disease, all of the once beautiful trees that lined the park’s walkway have been replaced with younger, smaller ones.
Having only been reopened since the day before and it being a Monday, the place was empty. Staff easily outnumbered guests. We walked directly to the trams and ascended in our own personal pod. The visitors on the observation deck that we spoke to were from out-of-town and more northerly climes. They unabashedly admitted that they were fleeing this week’s arctic weather.
The museum displayed the same artifacts as before, but they were repackaged with new settings. The original museum’s layout was confusing. It used a polar coordinate system, with one axis representing time or the history of the West and the other one using the distance traveled by the Lewis and Clark expedition. The new layout is only slightly less confusing. A central walkway divides two parallel banks of galleries, with time hopscotching back-and-forth across the main walk, all the while moving towards the present and the arch itself. It’s still pretty easy to get lost in both time and space.
On the way out, we overheard some of the workers remark on how quiet it was, compared with the summer month’s normal traffic. We toured the grounds, but the encroaching cold front cut that short. Beating feet back to the car, we headed to the Central West End and snagged a hot Palestinian lunch at the Medina Grill.