Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Even Last-Minute Can Be Romantic

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Even Last-Minute Can Be Romantic

Article excerpt

KIDNAPPING can be mutual.

At least it was in that long-ago time before my husband and I were married, in the early, impulsive, heady throes of passion.

I went to pick him up at the airport on his return from Indianapolis and noted as he came through the gate that the flight was continuing to San Diego.

I told him he should get back on the plane; he said he would if I would.

We ran off for two days of sun and warm breezes and the thrill of having absolutely no one know we weren't where we were supposed to be. We returned with those grins and wore them for weeks.

Another time, I returned home from work about 11 p.m. to find him sitting in the car.

"Get in," he said.

We drove in the darkness, in silence, for two hours. He stopped the car at a place called the Bordello, in Hannibal.

The temperature outside was in the single digits, but we warmed ourselves with an enormous breakfast and spent the day in the cold, climbing hills, watching ice floes crash into the bridge, warming up at the Rockliffe Mansion and Becky Thatcher's House, doing little else that mattered. The only tourists in town, we were treated as royalty.

I cried when I heard the Bordello had closed.

After eight years of marriage, the kidnappings have stopped, but the memories remain. And he has never sunk so low as to slink out of the house at 7 p.m. on Valentine's Day, run to Walgreen's and slip old Russell Stover into my hands 10 minutes later.

But if you have, you need help. You need to stage your own kidnapping. So with the help of some of Cupid's other slaves, we've come up with a few suggestions:

Pere Marquette State Park

A consensus choice. We love the great room, with its leather sofas and gigantic fireplaces. The place also has Jacuzzis and saunas, but most memorable is the trail leading up to the bluffs with a spectacular view of the river.

A surprising number of us agree that it's best in the winter - something about the muted grays.

The 72 rooms are booked the weekend before and after Valentine's Day. Working in your favor is that they don't carry a waiting list. If there's a cancellation and you're the first to ask for a room, it's yours.

So, it's booked. So what? Here's what you do:

Ride up to the lodge for lunch. Before entering the dining room, stop at the front desk. With controlled bravado, inform the clerk that you want to make a reservation for the first available weekend - or for next Valentine's Day.

Then you can enjoy lunch in the dining room, a game of chess with life-sized pieces in front of the roaring fire, a walk on one of the trails, or a guided eagle-watching session.

Pere Marquette Lodge: 72 rooms; $65 for two adults, plus tax. Riding stables open, weather permitting. (618) 786-2331.

Okawville, Ill.

Funky - some would say just this side of seedy - the Original Springs Hotel is a great place to rejuvenate the spirit for the day or overnight. Day visitors can use the mineral baths, have a massage and lunch in the restaurant. The day pass is $10 without massage, $25 with.

The hotel also offers overnight stays and three-night packages that include wine, dinner, baths and massage. It's booked the weekend before Valentine's Day but had rooms available the next weekend.

If you're less romantic, check out the Super 8, also in town.

Original Springs Hotel: 46 rooms; $75 a night. Call for overnight accommodations or massage appointments. (618) 243-5458. Ste. Genevieve

The Southern Hotel popped into more than one person's mind. The rooms were booked, however, the weekend before Valentine's Day.

That's too bad because the area is a great place to spend a weekend. Stay in Ste. Genevieve, browse through the shops and historic homes and the five downtown restaurants. Take the bridge - better yet, the ferry - to Fort Chartres, near Prairie du Rocher, Ill. …

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