Cake Monster, Pumpkin Hunter, All Around Scavenger Hunter – COCA #51

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Cake #51 at COCA

Cake #51 at COCA

For the next cake on the list, Mercutio and I had just finished seeing a movie at the Tivoli Theater in the Delmar Loop when I slyly suggested that before we go our separate ways, we take a quick moment to see the cake at COCA (the Center Of Creative Arts). And being the Mercutio Krispytreats that he is, he decided this was an excellent idea!

The Center for the Creative Arts is a nonprofit organization that helps to bring art to the community through educational classes, performances and other programs that bring people together through art.

Cake #51 at COCA

Cake #51 at COCA

Plus the building that is now COCA started out as a synagogue built by famous architect Eric Mendelsohn. In 1985 the owners of the congregation using the synagogue sold it to Richard Baron who took advantage of its already incredible design and created an accessible space for fostering and creating art. The building is also on the National Register of Historic Places, which seems to be a theme for several of the cake locations (yay St. Louis history!).

While I’ve never been to a performance at COCA, the Center does hold a special place in my heart because in October 2014 the Regional Arts Commission had a carved pumpkin scavenger hunt across St. Louis and one of the pumpkins on their hunt was at COCA. So for a little while in October, this cake monster became a pumpkin hunter and spent her lunch breaks driving around hunting pumpkins.

Regional Arts Commission Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt

Regional Arts Commission Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt

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Cake Monster Tries to Get Haunted – Payne Gentry House #50

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Cake #50 at the Payne Gentry House

Cake #50 at the Payne Gentry House

Ah, here we are at cake #50! It’s been a crazy journey so far to say the least, and with about 200 cakes to go, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all the sketchy things I’ve seen!

The cake that will forever have the honor of being #50 was at the Payne Gentry House in Bridgeton.

You may remember that the Payne Gentry House was a previous cake fail on an earlier cake-venture (read about it here). And even though it hadn’t been that long since Miles and I had experienced that cake-failure, we still decided to head out (or rather, I decided, and he can’t resist a car ride) to try to see this cake.

2014-04-08 18.37.30Now I knew a little bit about the Payne Gentry House before we began our adventure…mainly just the fact that it’s one of the most haunted locations in Missouri. And on a previous cake hunt when Mercutio and I had seen the cake at the Lemp Mansion – also known to be highly haunted – I made the declaration that of all the things I wanted to see over the course of my cake hunt, the thing I wanted to see the most was a ghost (dare to dream, right? It’s ok, Mercutio didn’t take my declaration seriously either).

So when I set out to see the cake at the Payne Gentry House, I was pretty excited to get to go to a second location where seeing a ghost was a possibility.

Back of the cake

Back of the cake

Ok, ghosts aside, let’s talk history: The Payne Gentry House is on the National Register of Historic Places which is a pretty big deal. Originally it was the summer home of Elbridge Payne and his family until they eventually moved into it full time. William Payne, Elbridge’s son, became the town doctor and had his office in the basement of the house. Personally I don’t know if I’d go to a Dr. Payne…but anyway…

Apparently some of William’s original tools and office furnishings are still in the house, which may contribute to the rumors that it is haunted.

Cake #50 at the Payne Gentry House

Cake #50 at the Payne Gentry House

But sadly, although Miles and I walked around the property a few times,and cautiously looked in a few windows – you have no idea how many times I’ve looked in historic buildings’ windows and seen a mannequin or two, so I only advise doing this with extreme caution! – we didn’t see any unusual activity or movements, but I did take lots of pictures just to be sure.

And even though it was a failed ghost hunt, it was still a successful cake hunt and the Payne Gentry House – as the 50th cake – could finally be crossed off the list!

Here's the sign in front of the house letting you know you're in the right place

Here’s the sign in front of the house letting you know you’re in the right place

This was in the yard?

This was in the yard?

Lessons on Where Not to Park at a Park – #49 Shaw Park

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Cake #49 at Shaw Park

Cake #49 at Shaw Park

Q: What is Clayton’s oldest and largest park that is down the street from the St. Louis County Courthouse and also happens to be Cake #49 on this Cake Monster’s cake hunt?

A: Shaw Park! (*Ten points*)

Ok, quick history lesson: the area that is now Shaw Park was originally owned by Charles Gratiot who also happened to be  Auguste Chauteau’s brother-in-law (remember those dudes from the previous post?). So after owning this land for a while, he sells it to Ralph Clayton who is named after the city of Clayton….just kidding! Had to make sure you were still with me! The city is named after Ralph, obviously, and he lived on the grounds that are now Shaw Park with his wife Rosanna McCausland – recognize that last name? He eventually sold the land to someone else, who eventually sold the land to a big company, but it’s just so interesting to me to learn about the individuals who influenced so much of the history of St. Louis.

Shaw Park is named for Charles A. Shaw. He was the mayor of Clayton from 1933 to 1940 and really helped the city climb out of the Great Depression by investing in areas like Shaw Park to make the statement that it was safe to invest in land again.

The land for the park was acquired in 1935 but officially dedicated in 1937 and has since gone under several renovations to make the park more accessible, patron friendly and basically more fun!

I had been to the park a few times prior to this cake hunt, and each visit was pretty solid. However wherever I go cake hunting, sketchiness is sure to follow.

Cake #49 at Shaw Park

Cake #49 at Shaw Park

The cake itself was not actually in the park, but near a trail that frames the park. And it just so happens that right next to where this cake was located was a little inlet off the street where you’re instructed not to park, but you know, I was just planning to get out for a minute, so that makes it ok, right?

So I park my car (illegally probably) in the inlet and jump out with Miles. We run up to the cake, and there are already cake hunters there snapping pictures. I nod to them in my customary hello and wait for them to move on as I could tell they had been there for a while. But they just stand there, taking picture after picture – some close up, some far away – and then they begin talking to each other about the idiot who parked in the inlet aka me even though they didn’t know I was the culprit.

So now I’m uncomfortable and feeling judged, Miles is getting restless because there are so many other dogs around that he wants to play with, and I feel like I’m seconds away from my car getting towed. So I did what any good Cake Monster would do, I gathered up my courage, let Miles lead the way because people generally like him and asked them if they would kindly allow us to snap a few pictures as we were in a hurry.

I did get a look or two from them, but they eventually stepped out of frame enough for me to get a few quick pictures of the cake and Miles (who refused to look at the camera) and then jump back in the car and drive away un-ticketed. *Whew*

While certainly not the most sketchy of all the cake-ventures we’ve had, I was definitely not expecting to encounter so much sketch on what should have been a quick cake stop. Regardless of that, Miles was happy to have been on a cake adventure that included a stop with so many new smells, and I was happy to be one cake closer to 250!

Cake Monster Goes to Court – St. Louis County Courthouse #48

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Cake #48 at the St. Louis County Courthouse

Cake #48 at the St. Louis County Courthouse

The next stop on our cake hunting list for the day was at the St. Louis County Courthouse and what a beast that cake was to find!

Unfortunately at the time of our cake hunt, there was some intense construction going on in Clayton specifically in front of the Courthouse.

So Miles and I walked back and forth, back and forth trying to find the cake. This part of the adventure was made even more sketchy by the fact that at one point, I was using the GPS on my phone to find the cake, and it kept yelling, “You have reached your destination!” when clearly we hadn’t because we were in the middle of a parking lot and everyone around us who heard that must have thought we were on a really lame parking lot adventure.

After what felt like forever though, I finally saw a small opening in the construction equipment and thought to myself, “Why not?” Miles was less than sure about the decision to scurry past the Do Not Enter signs, but once I pulled him through, the construction gave way to the back of the courthouse and the cake!

Cake #48 at the St. Louis County Courthouse

Cake #48 at the St. Louis County Courthouse

While the layout of the back of the courthouse was itself pretty interesting – yes, there were mannequins, no I did not get close enough to take pictures of them – the history of the county was definitely worth looking into as well.

Apparently St. Louis County is the largest county in Missouri – pretty sweet! I also learned that one of the first governing bodies of St. Louis County included Charles Gratiot, Auguste Chouteau, Jacques Clamorgan, and David Delauney – some pretty big names in St. Louis history.

So after Miles and I had a short rest on the back steps of the courthouse, we made our way to the last cake of the day, but not before stopping to take a picture of a sweet man on a horse statue we saw on the way back to the car.

So majestic!

So majestic!

Cake Hunting in Clayton – Centene Corporation #47

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Cake #47 at the Centene Corporation

Cake #47 at the Centene Corporation

As the weather started to warm up and stay that way, Miles and I began what would become our usual weekly routine of cake hunting. As part of this routine, I would pick an area that had more than a few cakes within a short driving distance of each other, and then Miles and I would go on our quest, not coming home until that day’s cake mission was accomplished -or some other sketchy situation prevented us from seeing what we had set out to see, which was a pretty usual occurrence actually.

The first cake on this trip was at the Centene Corporation in Clayton. I learned that the Centene Corporation was celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2014 and what better way to celebrate than with a Stl250 cake?

Cake #47 at the Centene Corporation

Cake #47 at the Centene Corporation

I also learned that the Centene Corporation is a health care services organization that specializes in serving those who are uninsured or under-insured. Plus the Corporation is one of the leaders in their field. Pretty neat stuff!

And after we saw the cake, Miles and I did a little walking around the landing of the building, and if you look at the pictures closely, you’ll see a beautiful walkway in the background that’s covered by a ceiling made of different colored pieces of stained glass (or at least they looked like stained glass, could be a neat trick of architecture that I don’t know about…).

Miles especially enjoyed this part of the trip because after we saw the walkway and started to explore the area a little bit more, we found a pet store nearby that lets dogs inside to walk around and enjoy some delicious treats, which he thought was pretty fantastic.

United We Cake – United Hebrew Congregation #46

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Cake #46 at the United Hebrew Congregation

Cake #46 at the United Hebrew Congregation

Most people spend their April Fool’s Day playing pranks on their loved ones and friends, but on April 1st, 2014, Miles and I went cake hunting.

On that day we only had one cake on our list as the weather was a lovely mix of rain and sleet and not ideal for cake hunting (or life really at that time of year). So we set off for the United Hebrew Congregation.

I’ll be honest when I say that at the time that Miles and I saw the cake, I had no idea the significance of the location or why it was chosen to be home to a cake. But after some research, I found out that the United Hebrew Congregation has some pretty interesting historical significance.

Over the congregation’s history, it has had many different locations. The first location was established in 1837 on the grounds where the Arch now stands – so crazy to think about the area where the Arch is located being something other than the Arch!

In 1841 the group took the name United Hebrew Congregation and became the first synagogue west of the Mississippi River.

The congregation moved around a little until settling in the 1920s in the building that is now the Missouri Historical Society. And as an added twist, the architecture firm that designed the building was none other than Maritz and Young (remember him?).

Cake #46 at the United Hebrew Congregation

Cake #46 at the United Hebrew Congregation

Finally in the late 1980s, the congregation moved to it’s current location in Chesterfield. Here they have a beautiful building as well as an artist-in-residence AND (this is pretty cool) the world’s first Torah scroll completely written by a woman scribe.

After learning all of this, I was more than impressed with just how connected this congregation is to so many pieces of St. Louis history. And the cake itself was pretty impressive as well. I absolutely love the eye on the bottom tier; it really jumps out at you and tells its own story.

Just When Miles Thought the Cake Hunt Was Over, He Found a Trail of Peanuts – #45 The Butterfly House

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Cake #45 at the Butterfly House

Cake #45 at the Butterfly House

Cake #45 – almost a fifth of the way through my cake hunting adventure. Let’s take a moment and reflect on what cake hunting was like back then. At that time, the full list of where all the cakes were going to be placed was not yet released, so I was working from a partial list of less than a hundred cakes, with, at times, super questionable addresses and sketchy notes about where the cake could be found at that location.

I appreciated this list because it was bringing me adventure, but at the same time it made me a little sad/uneasy because I knew that there were bound to be places that would eventually have a cake that I had already visited or that I wanted to visit but decided to hold off on because I wanted to wait until they were officially ‘caked.’

However sometimes in these early stages of cake hunting, I would just get a feeling that because a museum or a location was so exciting and unique, it was going to be a cake location, even if it hadn’t been announced as a cake home yet.

wpid-wp-1426812079634.jpegSo one evening after work, Miles and I took a gamble and drove over to the Butterfly House in Faust Park because I JUST KNEW it was going to have a cake. And thankfully – and I don’t get to say this often –  I was right!!  2014-03-31 19.26.46

The Butterfly House opened in 1998 with the mission of promoting education and awareness of the natural habitats and life cycles of butterflies. Currently around 80 species of butterflies can be found inside the Butterfly House at any one time, which is pretty incredible to experience.

wpid-20150329_134731.jpgRecently my Mama and I were fortunate enough to visit the Butterfly House during one of their featured events called Morpho Mania. For this event, the Butterfly House was home to literally hundreds of blue morpho butterflies like the one pictured here. There were so many of these gorgeous butterflies flying around that it kind of felt like surreal dream right out of Alice in Wonderland. :) (To see a short video of the morphos in action, click here to see my video on Instagram).

wpid-20150329_134833.jpgIn addition to exhibits like Morpho Mania, the Butterfly House, which is a division of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, hosts educational events, private events, concerts and is active in several organizations dedicated to insect conservation and study.

wpid-20150329_134027.jpgIf you haven’t been to the Butterfly House, I highly recommend it! wpid-20150329_132217.jpg

Miles was also a pretty big fan of the location as well because when we went there to see the cake, someone had left a mysterious trail of peanuts from the edge of the sidewalk leading all the way to the cake. And so he was more than happy to follow his own special trail of ‘clues’ leading right to the cake. One more cake crossed off the list for this cake monster, one sketchy trail of excitement for Miles James.

Peanut hunting

Peanut hunting

Proud peanut hunter

Proud peanut hunter