St. Louis Missouri and the U.S. Grant National Historic Site…

We still had 2 days left until we could spend a day with Greg at Basic, and then pick him up at graduation the day after.  We pulled in to St. Louis and spent the night at a Walmart on the southwest side.  We won’t talk about the homeless man that kept asking us for money and Vaughn finally giving him a ride to his ‘brother’s’ house (which was a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood…) just because then he wouldn’t be coming over to chat with Vaughn all night… it was that or we were going to move as we had visions of waking up to slashed tires in the morning…
A storm was moving in, so we got out the weather radio to find that the area was under tornado watch until the wee hours of the morning.  We decided that from now on, (after this watch and Alabama warnings) that we wouldn’t be caught in tornado country without a SAME weather radio.  If there is a tornado in the area that you have the radio programed for, an alarm will sound so that you have some warning that they really are there.  Next day, it was Radio Shack first thing in the morning.  Surprise, surprise, they were sold out.
That day we pulled in slides (yep, we put them out at Walmart, say what you will… ;), and hauled the RV to the Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site just a few miles away.  I had called ahead, and they had room for the RV, and since we weren’t terribly fond of the Walmart that we had spent the previous night in, we didn’t want to leave the RV there while we were at the park.
The kids were stoked to go the the U.S. Grant park…

(for the record, I didn’t have the camera, or Jake wouldn’t have made the face – I figure putting it on the blog will cure his camera attitude…  😉   and you can tell Eli was SO excited!!!   :)  actually, we were all pretty tired between the bum and the storm and the not-so-great parking lot camping the night before.

The park is a beautiful, tho small National Park, and the rangers there were super!
The ranger that gave us our grounds tour told the kids about the kids that lived here when U.S. Grant first visited the farm; the farm belonged to the parent’s of a military friend of Grants – when the friend, who was to be stationed elsewhere, found out that Grant was going to be stationed close, he made Grant promise to visit his family.  (Grant would later marry his friend’s sister)
The very first person to greet Grant on his very first visit to the farm, was 6 yr. old Emma, little sister of his soldier friend.   The ranger really got into telling our 6 y.o. Emma about that 6 y.o. Emma, and from then on, Emma was quite vested in this particular Jr. Ranger program! LOL!

We got a tour of the house (quite personalized I might add!).  The park was very quiet this day, so we got the red carpet treatment!

Inside ‘White Haven’, which is what they called the home on the Dent farm, there are several rooms on the main floor that are open to the public.  In one of the rooms, there is a picture frame hanging on the wall above the fireplace – the frame is really a tv, and it’s where you watch a short little film about life in White Haven during the time that Grant, and Mr. Dent both lived there.  Mr. Dent was a slaveholder, and Grant was, of course, against slavery.  The ‘magic mirror’ showed a lively dinnertime conversation that might have taken place in the home at the time.

We were given insight into the running of the farm, and the work that Grant might have done in the farm office… the park has an original blotter used by Grant, and you can even distinguish part of his signature on it.

This is the winter kitchen.  Located under the house, the heat produced while the slaves cooked the day’s meals, would have risen and helped to heat the house during the daytime.

We also checked out the laundry, the summer kitchen, the ice house, and the chicken coop…  the little girls checked out the nesting boxes, but really were enamored with the little access door.  Made me miss having chickens! LOL!
The park service took the barn that used to be located in what is now the parking lot, and moved it over a few feet, rebuilt the parts of the barn that needed it, and it now houses a beautiful museum.
When you first walk into the barn, it looks like an ordinary barn, with stalls and tack room…
and then, behind glass doors, is a beautiful museum.  I thought that it must be very new, and asked one of the rangers.   He said that while the museum is several years old, it’s a small park and the rangers don’t have a lot else to do but to take care of the buildings.   Well, they do an incredible job – the museum is spotless, everything is in great shape, and every display, touch screen, activity worked! (that’s unusual! LOL!)

Molly liked this activity in the kids area – it’s right next to a bunch of dress-up clothes – clothes that the Grants (Pres. U.S. Grant and his wife Julia) would have seen on their around the world trip.

Well, of course we did the Jr. Ranger program!!!
We had a lovely visit to this beautiful farm, and were super impressed by the professionalism and the friendliness of the rangers.
Across the road from the National Park, is an attraction called Grants Farm.  This time of year, it is only open on Saturday and Sunday, and we didn’t get to St. Louis on Sunday early enough to come out here.  Since we were now visiting ULSG park on Monday (a day later than we had planned), Grant’s Farm was closed, but I hear that it is a must see.  And it’s cheap!  Run by a beer company, admission is free, but there is an $12/vehicle parking fee (which is a screaming deal for our family! LOL!).  Buses are $30, so not sure what they would charge for an RV.
Aptly named Grant’s Farm, it is the location of the house that Grant built for his wife Julia, named Hardscrabble.
Grant’s Farm is now a 281 acre wildlife preserve, home to over 100 different kinds of animals, including the A-B Clydesdales.  It is supposed to be a wonderful family-friendly attraction.
After a day at the U.S. Grant NHS, we pulled the 5er to yet another Walmart.   A very nice one that was located on a bluff, and in a much nicer part of town.  It was also surrounded by other stores (including a Radio Shack where Vaughn and the boys found the radio that we had decided on based on internet research).
Bethy (and Caleb) and I told the kids they were on their own, and we left them in dad’s care and went shopping!  It was fun – don’t remember that either of us found anything worth buying (funny how living in the limited space of an RV squelches any desire to buy stuff we don’t need), but we had a good time together eating at Sonic (not a lot of food choices), visiting Beth’s fav store Cato, my fav store TJ Maxx, and a few others there.  We found our way back to the RV once all the stores had closed for the night.
And we all slept peacefully and happily that night in the side parking lot of the Walmart on the bluff.  :)

Lilla Rose

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  1. So glad to hear you guys are okay. That was quite a storm that went through that area. Any hail at your house?

    • Hi Sandie!
      no hail at our house, and it really didn’t end up being nearly as bad a storm as it sounded like it was going to be. :)
      But, we are glad to be heading west and out of tornado country!

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