Talk of the Nation's been scattered to the four corners of the U.S. lately (OK, not exactly, but it feels like it with trips to Tempe, St. Louis, Columbus and Athens, and Blacksburg, VA), and right now most of our crew's in Ohio. Tonight Neal hosts our third National Listening Party there, and tomorrow and Thursday he's hosting the show from Columbus, then Athens. But before tonight's event gets rolling, I just want to take a quick moment to sing St. Louis's praises. I arrived there late Wednesday night (note to future visitors: do not expect to find a bar serving food after 11pm in the outskirts of the city. You won't. Try sneaking Steak-n-Shake into Brewskeez instead.), and had a late call time on Thursday for the broadcast, so my engineer friends Chris Nelson and Sean Phillips picked me up and we made our way to the Gateway Arch. That, my friends, is an impressive monument. We had a perfectly gorgeous day, so we dashed around snapping photos outside, then headed underground to board the tram to the top. The tram is a total trip — 8 tiny little space pods hold 5 passengers each, and let me tell you, it's cozy. The pods lurch their way to the top*, after which you emerge onto a narrow stairwell. At the top — narrow and low-ceilinged as you'd expect — the view from the tiny windows stretches for miles. My boss warned us that on a windy day you can feel the structure sway, but mother nature spared us, offering a clear and steady view. Ten bucks and a morning off well spent. Thanks, St. Louis!
*This is hearsay, but a woman in our pod on the way down told us that when the National Parks folks renovated the system recently, they could have eliminated the lurching feeling and grinding sounds, but opted not to. It's all part of the experience!