American Queen - St. Louis, MO
Early this morning, American Queen landed in St. Louis, Missouri. From our landing on the west bank[end] of the Mississippi, the Gateway Arch looks as though you can reach out and grab it! Today is the 4th of July and American Queen is center stage for a day filled with celebration.

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Gateway Arch in St. Louis


Our day begins with breakfast in the J.M. White Dining Room, after which we depart American Queen to board the Steamcoach for the drive to Forest Park. American Queen guests have been offered free transportation to Forest Park to spend the morning at the various museums, attractions and the St. Louis Zoo. Forest Park was the site of the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis and the pavilions have been converted to permanent museums and attractions. It is a beautiful place. American Queen provided all of us with complimentary trolley tickets so that we could move from one venue to the next within the Forest Park complex. Entry into all venues in Forest Park is free.

Rickee and I decided to visit the St. Louis Zoo. Bad idea. It was just too dang hot. Even in the morning, it reached near 100 degrees and the humidity is climbing as well. Even the animals in the zoo were seeking refuge from the heat. After about 45 minutes of suffering, we decided to head back to the meeting point and take the Steamcoach back to the boat. A nice air-conditioned museum would have been a much better choice.


This Orangutan exemplifies how hot it was today!


We arrived back at American Queen just as the air show was getting underway. An air show right over the river finds American Queen in the middle of the action. We had the best seat in St. Louis. With plenty of shaded deck space, American Queen was the perfect location to take in the aerobatics!


4th of July Air Show


After the air show, we attended a very entertaining lecture by Bodine Balasco, the resident Riverboat Gambler and sleight-of-hand magician. We learned about the history of Riverboat gamblers in the 1800s and how several amassed great wealth cheating at card games during the height of the steamboat era.


Bodine Balasco, Riverboat Gambler and Magician


After the lecture, Rickee and I decided to take a short walk from American Queen to a street fair being held at the base of The Arch. In addition to corporate sponsorship booths, there was a cool pole vault exhibition where we watched college athletes attempt vaulting runs. I fell prey to a food truck shish-kebob ruining any appetite for dinner.


Pole Vault Exhibit At Street Fair


We walked back to American Queen and boarded in time for the 6:45pm show. Tonight's show was a patriotic salute to music from World War II. The Steamboat Syncopators (the boat's band) and the cast of singers put on a stirring and emotional performance ending with everyone in the audience joining in on God Bless America.


The American Queen Ensemble


After the show, we went to The Front Porch to get a soda and guess who we run into? Linda Garrison from About.com! Linda is another cruise journalist with whom we have sailed a few times in the past. She is coming on board American Queen to prepare a story for her website, cruises.about.com. We spent an hour or so catching up on gossip. Soon, it was getting dark and time for the day's grand finale. American Queen is front and center for the city's amazing 4th of July fireworks show. The barge shooting off the fireworks was anchored in the middle of the river just a few hundred yards from our bow! From the Front Porch of America we (and all American Queen guests) were treated to the most amazing fireworks show I have ever witnessed. It was spectacular!


4th of July Fireworks


It has been a long and eventful day on American Queen. And, it was the perfect way to end a 7-night river cruise. This was a 4th of July we will not soon forget.

Read our full review of American Queen


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