September 2021

Several years ago, while I was attending a conference in Palm Desert, CA, I had the afternoon off and decided to visit nearby Joshua Tree National Park.  When I arrived at the gate I asked the park ranger what the admission charge was.  “Twenty-five dollars for an individual for the day.  Thirty-five dollars for an automobile for the day.  Or for seniors ten dollars for a lifetime pass good at every national park in America.”  Even a liberal arts major like me could figure out the best option.  For those alert readers (ARs) who qualify, I can’t recommend the senior lifetime pass highly enough.  Even though the cost has gone up, this is still an incredibly good deal.

Thanks to my ten dollar purchase back then, my wife and I were able to visit a half dozen national parks during our recent four week road trip through ten states.  We actually made several visits to  Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, where one of our hikes was on the Jenny Lake Trail.  On the way from the trailhead to our parked car we saw eight consecutive cars  with license plates from eight different states.  Among the 50 or so cars between the trailhead and where we had parked we saw license plates from over 30 different states.  We saw plates from states in five different time zones; states on the Canadian and Mexican borders;  states on the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico; as well as states on all five Great Lakes.  In the parking area for one trailhead in one national park we saw license plates from states representing nearly 400 electoral votes, enough for a landslide in any presidential election.  We came to the realization that, whatever the divisions in the nation might be, our national parks truly are a precious resource for all of us.

Prior to hiking in Grand Teton National Park we visited Yellowstone National Park, which is mostly in Wyoming but also extends into Montana and Idaho. There we watched the eruption of the iconic Old Faithful geyser, whose flow was unfortunately reduced by low water levels throughout the West.  We saw Badlands National Park in South Dakota, and Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, both of which we would recommend.  We also witnessed an activity we would definitely not recommend when we visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado.  For the benefit of those ARs who may not be familiar with the Black Canyon, at both the north and south rims there are sheer drops of 2,600 feet.  To put that in perspective, that’s almost a half mile, or more than four times the height of The Gateway Arch.  The activity we witnessed that we would not recommend involved a climber scaling the south wall…with lightning in the background.  Not that I would have been even remotely tempted to try this in any kind of weather.

Not as old as Mike Love or Charlie Watts

One of the early stops on our trip was Mount Rushmore National Monument just outside Rapid City, SD.  As most ARs probably know, the monument consists of 60-foot high images of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt carved from a granite mountain. The carving was accomplished first with dynamite, refined with jackhammers, and completed with chisels.  It was begun on October 4, 1927 and completed 14 years later on October 31, 1941. It represents the work of over 400 craftsmen, not one of whom died in the course of the project.

Shortly after returning from our trip my wife and I attended The Beach Boys concert at The Factory in Chesterfield,  an experience that was enhanced by the availability of Schlafly Pale Ale on draft.  At one point in the evening Mike Love, the lead singer of the group, announced that he had been born under the sign of Pisces in March of 1941.  In other words, the lead singer of a group long identified with youth culture in California is actually older than Mount Rushmore.  Who would have guessed?

Another band that became popular when I was in high school is also supposed to perform in St. Louis.  The Rolling Stones, whose concert of June 27, 2020 was postponed, are now scheduled to play at America’s Center on Sunday, September 26th.  Like others who purchased tickets for the original show, I was recently informed that my tickets will be valid for the rescheduled concert.   Drummer Charlie Watts, a founding member of the band who died on August 24th, will be replaced by a somewhat younger Steve Jordan. (Charlie, who was born under the sign of Gemini in June of 1941,  was also older than Mount Rushmore.)  Mick Jagger and Keith Richards,  founding members who are not quite as old as Mount Rushmore, are expected to perform.  My expectation, not confirmed at this time, is that The Stones will be dedicating this concert in particular as well as the rest of their No Filter Tour to Charlie’s memory.

One weekend before Rolling Stones Concert, on Saturday, September 18th, Hop In The City will return to the parking lot at The Schlafly Tap Room. Unlike previous festivals, there will be no admission charge.  Fourteen styles of beer will be available for purchase, including some brewed exclusively for the event.  Like The Rolling Stones, we want to dedicate this this year’s festival to an individual who played a crucial role in the formative years of our organization.  As many ARs already know, Mark Naski, who died in July, was an early and loyal customer at The Schlafly Tap Room.  He was a superb connoisseur of beer and an even better friend.  I know I speak for many in saying  he truly was our “Old Faithful.”

Tom Schlafly
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery