bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Posts tagged ‘st. louis’

Hungry, but Broke?

Today I’m going to feature a couple of web sites that will help you save some money if you are wanting to eat out, but the wallet is a little light.

First, one of my favorites is www.restaurant.com.  This site is of benefit all across the country!  You just type in your zip code and voila! you’ve got a list of restaurants that offer some sweet deals.  At first, you get a $25 gift certificate to the restaurant of your choice for $10.  Register on the site, and you will get emails so that if you wait a little longer, and you get the same $25 for only $3.  Wait even longer, $2!  Some come with stipulations such as “with $40 purchase” or “Monday-Thursday.”  But, do the math, and you are still getting a $40 meal for $17!  There are expiration dates, but they give you at least a month, so you can buy them well in advance.  Or, do like I do, and buy them just a few minutes before you decide to go!  You just print the certificate on your printer!

A few things to keep in mind, though.  Certain restaurants sell out quickly, and may be gone before you get the $2 deal.  Be sure to read the fine print to see what restrictions are in place.  Also, an 18% tip is usually included, but then your $25 coupon often is used for deducting part of the tip.  Some restaurants make it easier to see than others.

The next web site is for St. Louisans only.  It’s St. Louis Meal Deals.  Here you’ll find a week’s worth of deals around town.  From free food (thanks to the Cardinals’ Home Opener, there are several today) to special dinner deals or tastings.  It updates weekly, and sometimes there are daily updates as well.  I have this one on my RSS feed, and sometimes it gets a little much.  But, really, that’s more because we aren’t going out to eat as much as we used to, and it covers the entire St. Louis area, so often the deals aren’t necessarily convenient.

So, if you are watching your budget, but still want a night out, check these sites out.  Tonight we’re having spaghetti.  At home.  Now that’s a deal!  (Especially since Tom is making it!)

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The Little Engine that Could

“I think I can.  I think I can,” was what I was saying in my mind today as I was trying to find the Amtrak station downtown.  Then, I started saying other things that should not be printed here.  But, again, in my mind, because my children were in the car.

First of all, let me explain that our family is going on a train trip to Dallas later this week.  Everyone is very excited to visit family and friends and to take the Texas Eagle, one of Amtrak’s nicest trains.

We would be able to just go to the train station and pick up our tickets on the same day, but my husband suggested that we get them beforehand, just in case there were mistakes or something like that.  I agreed with him, and said I would go and get them.

Another point that needs to be made is that I just don’t drive downtown.  Heck, I don’t drive inside 270!  I’m a West County girl and do well to get around here.  I don’t need to go downtown except for Cardinal games and Tom is almost always going with me, so I don’t even have to drive there.  I have driven to the stadium, however.  But, I only know how to get there.  I know I’m exiting on the correct ramp when I see that guy with the weird eye selling peanuts at the corner.  Oh, and when Tom used to work for Famous Barr, I knew how to get to his building to pick him up.  (One time I dropped him off in the morning, and could NOT find my way back home.  I had no idea how to get to the highway, so I just kept driving west, hoping I’d hit something I’d recognize or a sign for the highway.  Yeah.  That didn’t happen.  I finally called Tom and asked him where I was.  Pathetic, I know.  I think I was taking Clayton in all the way.  I’m trying to block that day out.)

So, I hit Mapquest and charted out my route.  Now before any of you start rolling your eyes about Mapquest, let me just say that the address was on Market Street, so I figured Mapquest could get that right.  I put Mark in charge of reading the directions to me.  The S. Kingshighway exit was closed, but it gave us a detour via the Jefferson exit.  We handled that just fine.

Then we got on Market and the rest of it went downhill quickly.  The address was 800 Market.  We found Union Station, the shopping area, very quickly.  It was in the 1200 range, I think.  So we kept driving east.  Could NOT find 800.  Circled a couple of blocks.  Still no 800.

Finally, we were on Clark and saw an Amtrak sign with an arrow pointing straight ahead.  Yeah!  Well, that was the last sign we saw and we ended up at Union Station again.  We circled again, thinking we missed another sign.  Nope.  We finally pulled over on Market and I called Amtrak’s number.  No answer.  Nice.

We have now been in the car for over an hour and a half.  My patience is wearing thin.  I mean we are taking as thin as Kate Moss.  I said, “You know, you’d think we be close to the train tracks.”  Karen says, “I have an idea.”  At this point, I’m thinking a 10-year-old would probably have as good as or a better chance at finding this place as anyone, certainly better than me. 

So, Karen says, “Take a right as soon as you can.”  This young lady has already figured out, from her mother’s frustrations, that there are one-way streets that we can not use to go south.  I’m already impressed.  Then we turn right and pass Clark.  This is the first time we’ve been south of Clark.  We keep going.  Sure enough, there’s an Amtrak sign telling us to go straight.  Cool.  Then we cross over the train tracks and Mark notes that there is an Amtrak train sitting there.  Sweet!  Then, another sign telling us to turn right.  I want to stop the car and hug Karen so tight she bursts.  But, I resist that urge and keep driving.  We saw a stained glass looking thing crossing over the tracks.  Mark and Karen agree to keep looking at it so that we can find the station.  I explain that I have to watch for one-way streets.  They agree.  Sure enough, ANOTHER Amtrak sign telling us to turn right again!  The kids see the trains!  Another sign telling us to turn right again, and there we are.  WAHOOO! 

This station is so small.  (How small is it?)  It is so small that when you are sitting in the waiting area, your elbow is in the Ladies Room.  But, that aside, we are elated!  We entered the small building (which, by the way, has little parking because of construction), and printed our tickets and left.

I had Karen write down how to get out of there, so we could tell my dad how to actually take us there when we leave.  Turns out that if we had continued down Poplar (on the east side of Union Station) just past the parking lots, we would have seen it.  Oh well.

Then, once I got home, I decided to check what the Amtrak page had to say about the station.  Heh.  Address?  551 S. 16th Street.  No mention of Market.  Not even 800 16th Street.  Thanks a lot, Mapquest. 

So, Pollyanna is playing the glad game now.  I’m glad that Karen was the one to help us find the station.  It really boosted her confidence.  I’m glad that Mark went along because he helped me get to the right part of downtown.  And, I’m glad that it’s finally over.

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