Cake-hunting tips

If you're out to get all 250+ cakes, there will be without doubt some obstacles and challenges. I'm not saying its hard or anything, but you will want a set of rules and many things by your side.

Please allow me to dispense this advice:

-Keep your five senses open, especially your eyes and ears.

-Always refer to the list of locations

-Use common sense. Ex.: don't look for a cake and drive at the same time.

-Of course, you'll probably take pictures. Don't just take a picture of the cake. Most people either use their kids (or other family members), pets, or even themselves (selfie!) in the picture. Or use props, like me. Since I don't consider myself photogenic most of the time, I decided to pay tribute to my all-time favorite Cardinal player, Ozzie Smith. I used my old 1988 Ozzie figurine on all of them so far. There's a lady who put a gnome doll on her pics.

-Take the time to check out the cake itself. Ask yourself what is being represented on the cake. Take pictures of all sides of the cake, if you can. The artists have put in so much work, time and effort in all of the cakes, so check them out!

-And, if you have the time and money, be sure to check out the cake location. That is, if the place is open. Unfortunately, on days while I was cake hunting, it would be on days where certain places were closed. Whether it be a restaurant, sweet shop, museum, sure to visit. There would be times I'd talk to the employees/workers and most of the time I've found enthusiastic people who were willing to share the history of the place.

-You'll definitely need a map. What I do is, before I set to go on my hunt, I print out the area I'm checking out. For example, downtown. In some cases, you will need to 'zoom in' some areas. A perfect example would be the Belleville area and the Central West End area, where you may find the cakes tricky to get to.

-Which leads to my next tip: area-grouping. If a bunch of cakes are next to each other, or in the same area or neighborhood, definitely try to get all of them in one trip. There are several (as mentioned above) in downtown. Other areas include St. Charles, the Delmar Loop and Soulard. This will help save on gas and miles on your car.

-When you come around to indoor cakes, always make sure that the place is open! I have made this mistake numerous times. Personally I'm no fan of indoor cakes, but at the same time I understand that it was the place's decision to put it there for various reasons. The same goes for cakes that are locked behind a fence. Be sure to check the hours of the place before visiting them.

-You may have to pay to park in some places to get the cakes. According to the unofficial group for cake-hunters on Facebook, the only place that is considered high for parking is Grants Farm, where apparently it costs $8 (free for the farm). Unless you'd rather walk a mile, you can escape the fee. Parking meters are usually found downtown and other parts of the city.

-When getting 'farther away' cakes, like ones that are spread out all over towns on the western Missouri side. For all you Missourians, try to get the Carlyle and Greenville cakes in one trip since they are close to each other. Or if you're going north, plan a day on getting all the 'River Road' cakes including Alton, Pere Marquette, Hardin, and Piasa.

-Please do not let anyone (kids) climb and sit atop the cakes. Sure, you can touch them. The cake artists have put so much work and time into their masterpiece(s). Have some respect. I know; there is another side of this issue. Me and other cake enthusiasts are glad that kids are getting out of the house and exploring their city and these places. For the record, there are many things children can do outside the house. This is not an excuse for anyone to let the cake sit there and rot/decay. Sorry if this comes out as mean, but there have been people defending this whole 'cake-climbing' thing.

-Utilize other transportation, most notably the Metrolink. Several cake locations are right off the Metrolink. I've done it several times, including to the airport. I usually park at the Casino Queen. I'm not saying its the safest, but there's usually a security van riding around. However, there have been reports of vandalism and theft there.

*WARNING: Discouraging material below this point*

-And speaking of safety, be aware of your surroundings. Don't be afraid of foreign territory, or places you're not familiar with. Definitely be safe and keep an open mind. Yes, you will likely run into someone asking for spare change.

What is a bad neighborhood? 

I don't like to make discouraged comments about certain things. But it's no secret, St. Louis really does have some battered areas. First, this is no knock on any race and social class. When I worked at a restaurant several years ago, there was a sign that read: Dirty floors, Dirty restaurant. I feel the same way about certain areas: Bad roads, Bad neighborhood. There are places in East St. Louis and North City that have several bad roads that will likely damage your tires.

Sorry to step on anyone's toes, but people who know me very well know I will tell it like it is. I am not prejudiced in any way, but like it or not, we live in a society where anything can happen and hate and greed is in the air. I'm definitely not one of those people, as I always like to explore areas of all kinds.

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