Travel Regrets: Charles Dickens's House, London

I've been blessed to travel pretty widely for a man of my limited intelligence and means. Still, as I've mentioned before on this blog (here, here, and here), I have some regrets.

One regret is not having visited the only surviving London home of Charles Dickens (who lived in the above house at 48 Doughty Street from 1837 until 1839) when we visited London some years ago. This is the home where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. It is now the Charles Dickens Museum, containing manuscripts, rare editions, personal items, paintings, and period furnishings. It is a mere three miles from the Tower of London, which we visited. and just 2.5 miles from 221B Baker Street and Madame Tussaud's, which we also included in our itinerary.

Of course, a tourist can't do everything. Hard choices have to be made. And I may be able to correct the omission on a future visit. But still, if I had it to do over again, I would have liked to have found a way to pay homage to one of my favorite authors.

Joe Buck's Downtown

The lovely Robin joined me for a late lunch today at Joe Buck's Downtown, a restaurant named for the St. Louis sportscaster (and son of the venerated Jack Buck).

Robin ordered a hamburger and fries, but I opted for the signature rib meat sandwich. Oh my. Oh my. And oh my.

A more-than-pleasant repast. And an experience I wouldn't hesitate to repeat.

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Boone's Rock

One of the sights the lovely Robin and I were guided to on our visit in Fulton, Missouri, last weekend (and I'm glad we were) was "Boone's Rock," on the grounds of the Calloway County Courthouse.

The historical marker above reads, in part: Originally located on a bluff on Stinson Creek in northwest Fulton, about 300 yards north of the Boone's Lick Trail, this rock bears the name D. Boone with the date 1801 and an arrow pointing due west.

The photo above captures the carving , easily read by the naked eye despite obvious weathering over the years. While I'm sure experts differ as to whether this was actually carved by Daniel Boone (who, though his wife was from this county, is not conclusively shown by historical records ever to have visited the area), it is still an intriguing possibility.

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Landry's Seafood House, St. Louis

The lovely Robin and I had dinner today at Landry's Seafood House at the Union Station complex in St. Louis.

Our server (Brooke) was excellent.

Robin had the scampi-and-scallops pasta and enjoyed it but found it a bit too salty for her taste.

My Southern Fried Fish (with fries and honey straws) was quite good.

Oh, and the creme brûlée we had for dessert was excellent. A great meal and excellent service.

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St. Louis Union Station

Earlier today, the lovely Robin and I set out on a four block walk from our hotel to the St. Louis Union Station, once the largest and busiest passenger rail terminal in the world.

It first opened in 1894, but ceased operation as an active train terminal in 1978. Union Station then reopened in August 1985 as the largest adaptive re-use project in the United States.

Today it houses the 539-room St. Louis Union Station Hotel (a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel) as well as indoor shopping and dining, a lake, and a plaza for festivals, concerts and other special events.

It is a beautiful place with so much to see and do. We sampled fudge, marveled at the fish in the lake swarming near the food dispenser, and admired the design and artistry of the architecture.

Union Station (where, at the age of ten, I arrived on a train from Cincinnati to join my grandparents for a long trip to California and back) is located at 1820 Market Street in St. Louis.

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Sheraton St. Louis City Center

The lovely Robin and I arrived this afternoon at the historic Sheraton St. Louis City Center Hotel & Suites in the downtown historic area of St. Louis. The imposing brick structure dates to 1929, but lacks nothing in modern decor and amenities. It is just blocks from the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, and Union Station. Even closer are the Scottrade Center Sports Arena (home of the St. Louis Blues hockey team) and the beautiful Peabody Opera House.

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A Short Personal Heritage Tour

Before delivering the lovely Robin and me to our St. Louis hotel (where I'll be speaking later this week), my Uncle Walt and Aunt Shirley took us on a nostalgic tour of St. Louis (where I lived with my mom and dad in 1971 and 1972).

The Salvation Army's Harbor Light (called the Harbor House in 1971-1972) was my home for that period. We lived in a small apartment off the chapel.

The historic Fox Theater, just a few blocks from the Harbor House, was where I saw The Night of the Living Dead and Shaft.

The school I attended in eighth grade doesn't exist anymore (the area has been overtaken by St. Louis University), but we drove by Southwest High School (now a performing arts school, apparently), where I spent the first half of ninth grade. That is, the FIRST time I took ninth grade!

Our next stop was my grandparents' house on Alfred St., where I remember many visits and happy family times.

And just down the back alley (at left) from Grandma and Grandpa Foster's house, the corner building that in my childhood housed the all-important "confectionary" (as my cousins called it) still stands.

Along the way, Walt and Shirley pointed out many other sights--such as Tower Grove Park and Missouri Botanical Gardens--that have played a role in our family history. It was a wonderful coda to a blessed time with family.

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The Busy Corner Cafe

Our last morning in historic (no, really) Fulton, Missouri, the lovely Robin and I were hosted by Uncle Walt and Aunt Shirley at the Busy Corner Cafe for breakfast.

The service was attentive and the food was perfectly prepared. I love discovering the spots the locals swear by, and this was certainly one of those.

The Busy Corner Cafe is located at 208 St. Louis Ave. in Fulton, Missouri.

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The National Churchill Museum

This afternoon the lovely Robin and I visited the National Churchill Museum, a wonderful surprise on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

Its location commemorates the delivery of Churchill's momentous "Iron Curtain" so speech, given at Westminster in 1946.

The museum grounds include a section of the Berlin Wall, from 1963-1989 a symbol of the Iron Curtain. Two human-shaped cutouts in the wall are displayed at the FDR museum in Hyde Park, NY.

Part of the museum is the gorgeous reconstructed Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, which was destroyed in the London Blitz. The 17th century structure, designed by Christopher Wren, was painstakingly moved and lovingly reassembled (with a few improvements such as steel beams to strengthen it against tornadoes) in 1978 on the Westminster Campus.

More information about this inspiring museum is available at

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