After what felt like the longest drive ever made by any human, I landed in Arizona. I was running low on funds as the GoFundMe donations peaked around $700 at this point and sales of my personal belongings were somewhat dismal. I decided the smart move was to speed up this endeavour and shoot straight to Arizona and bypass the snow storm decimating Denver.
I had plans to cut across the great northwest and land in Montana - where I would find incredible mountain ranges and more trails to explore. After chatting online with some folks in Montana who were willing to show me around and excited for this trip, I was dead set on getting out there and doing what few Puerto Ricans would ever dream of.
Have an asthma attack at 10,000 feet!
However, the realization that my fuel economy numbers were all sorts of off, I decided it best to not take my chances in Denver and cut straight from Kansas City, Missouri to Flagstaff, Arizona. The drive was strange. It got stranger and scarier as I kept going.
My trusty Kia Sorento, with one of the only 6-speed manual transmissions ever sold, started doing some funny things at higher elevations. The cruise control would randomly stop working and wouldn't kick back in unless I hit the brakes, then the "Cancel" cruise control button, then hit the "Set" button again. It didn't make sense but I was more worried that the stop in St. Louis took it's toll.
Now, I'll explain the reason I felt St. Louis was to blame for my car acting funny. That city has the road infrastructure of Baghdad after the invasion. The streets are absolutely destroyed, with potholes obviously the result of hand grenade juggling accidents and mortar attacks between rival microbreweries. At one point I hit this massive pothole and nearly severed my tongue while laughing after making a wrong turn near the parking lot to the Arch.
Oh, and by the way, whoever was in charge of lighting the Arch in remembrance of the attack on Paris decided to be a jerk and turn the whole damn thing off right when I got there. I swear I thought I was hallucinating! I'm rolling into the parking lot and wallah! I've got nothing.
I pull into a spot on a street that aims directly at the Arch and all I see is the dim silhouette of a masterpiece I had been wanting to see since I was a kid. Mind you, this was about 8pm. So I did what any man would do in this situation. I googled the nearest breweries to see which were still open. A beer was the only thing that would make this night better. After realizing most were done with their tours and tastings, I was bummed.
But, I didn't give up. On page 2 - and believe me, I know no one goes to page 2 of google for information, I found this awesome little brewery called Urban Chestnut on Manchester Avenue.
Jesus, I must have done 20mph there, and even that was pushing the limits of my SUV's suspension. I might as well have been driving over the aftermath of a building demolition. Then, after a few turns and being followed by the local PD for a couple of blocks - which I am sure they were baffled to see a Florida licence plate - I found the place!
It was a sight to behold. Located past the main downtown area of St. Louis is the up-and-coming area that everyone should check out. Full of hip restaurants and beer joints, this place looked like my kind of little town.
I walk in and noticed a small group of locals enjoying some seasonal brews they just concocted out back. I pulled up a barstool and immediately made friends with a guy named David. After noticing my monogrammed Steve Figueroa Photography polo, we got on the topic of photography. Turns out he taught photography at a local high school and did some copy and edit work for an agency. We had a long winded conversation about life, love, and everything in between over a fantastic German IPA they are known for (insert name and photo). He was blown away by my crazy road trip. He hopped on the website and was immediately jealous.
"The balls you have to just get up and go, man I wish I could do that!" he said. I replied "Hey...YOLO!"
We laughed, the bartender laughed, then he checked his watch and it was time to hit the road. So I cashed out as well and we parted ways, exchanging information. He offered me a couch to crash on next time I was in town and offered to take me fishing if I was so inclined. What an awesome dude. Hopefully we meet again.
So, back in the battered and bruised Kia I went. Poor thing. I decided I didn't want to take the same road out as I did getting there to reduce the chance of destroying one of my new tires or blowing a shock. So Google Maps to the rescue, I circumnavigated the path of destruction and was back on the highway and on my way to the Grand Canyon.
The moral of this chapter in my story is this: Will someone please tell the Mayor of St. Louis to apply for a damn grant and fix those streets?