The weather has been exceptionally springlike for the past few weeks, so summer will no doubt bludgeon the life out of the metro area with her big hot hammer at any moment. For the un-air-conditioned in St. Louis, now's a good time to go kiddie-pool shopping. Nothing mitigates the wet-horse-blanket heat of a city summer like lounging in an inflatable SpongeBob SquarePants pool while listening to another Redbird victory on the radio. The wise pool-dipper sets up camp near -- not under -- the tree. You want the cooler to be shaded and within reaching distance (never get out if you don't have to), but you don't want leaves, bugs and bird droppings raining down on your head -- or making your ice cream taste funny. -- Paul Friswold
Camp It Up
Historic re-creation without recreational vehicles
With the advent of automotive and recreational-vehicle technology, today's camper has all the amenities of home: DVD players, microwave ovens, dishwashers, flush toilets, air conditioning and virtual-reality bear attacks are all standard features on most RVs. Doesn't anyone miss the old days when "roughing it" meant sleeping bags and suspending your food from a tree, not watching SportsCenter on an HDTV instead of the plasma screen? The folks at Jefferson Barracks Park (533 Grant Road) do. They're offering a Civil War Experience Saturday, May 31, through Sunday, June 1, that brings back old-school camping in a big way. For $25 a person, they'll provide food and shelter and a historically accurate re-creation of a Civil War-era army camp, only without the nighttime attack by Quantrill's Raiders. Call 314-544-5714 for reservations, and bring your own blankets. -- Paul Friswold
Down With the Minors
The sports franchise that shows St. Louisans how the minor leagues can trump the pros is back and goofier than ever. The River City Rascals and their inexpensive hot dogs, never-a-bad-view seating and promotional gimmicks return to T.R. Hughes Stadium (Ozzie Smith Drive at Tom Ginnever Avenue in O'Fallon, Missouri, 636-240-BATS, $4-$8) with their 7 p.m. home opener against Columbia's Mid-Missouri Mavericks. In a memorable off-season promotion, the Frontier League baseball squad offered a pair of lifetime season tickets and -- get this -- a bobblehead doll made in his likeness to the first fan to get a Rascals-logo tattoo. Come back on August 23 for Wendell Folks Bobblehead Night. -- Byron Kerman
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