Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
Well, we have been gone about two weeks and it still feels like we are just on a normal vacation…it hasn’t really hit me that we won’t be back for more than a year. Sorry that it has taken me a while to get this first blog post out there. I’m still figuring out this whole “writing a blog” thing. We have packed a lot into the past 17 days, including three states and their capitols. We’ve also been busy getting to know our new home. Moving from our house in Zeeland to a 400 square foot house that moves is quite an adjustment! Finding places for things and figuring out what we need and don’t need is still a process, but we are almost there and it is starting to feel like home. So here’s what we’ve been up to so far…..
Our first state was Indiana. We stopped in Indianapolis to see the capitol building and also explored the motor speedway (Indianapolis 500) the best we could from the outside. Then we kept on moving to our first campground…a Jellystone Park near Bloomington. We didn’t mean to, but we set the bar pretty high for our kids when it comes to any campground we stay at in the future. This Jellystone had a great pool area with three separate pools including one with a great water playground. The kind with spray things, buckets that tip over and fountains shooting up at random times. If they were sick of swimming, there was also a giant jumping pillow to jump on, pedal go-karts and a different activity going on almost all of the time. The kids had a ball! Joe made a new friend pretty quickly and was soon off playing basketball with him whenever he could. He also took Ben on the jumping pillow and soon had quite a fan club of 8 year old girls who loved it that he could jump so high that they bounced up off of the pillow from a sitting position! Abby, Sam and Elise kept very busy alternating between riding their bikes and swimming. Elise also loved the glow stick dance party one of the evenings and was out there boogying until we made her come home. Ben never made it too far away from us in his exploring, we still know where the little bugger is! He loved going to the pool, but was not impressed with all of the squirting, spraying, and unpredictable water so he stayed in one of the calmer pools. He did LOVE Yogi Bear and gave him a hug whenever he could. We went to a small and very friendly church (Smithville Christian Church) on Sunday. We really enjoyed it and were quite impressed that, for such a small church, they were very involved in their community and outreach projects. After church we went to Big Bub’s Burgers and Elise tried the footlong hot dog. We went to pick up a few groceries after lunch and were all surprised when four police cars came speeding to a stop in front of the store. Turns out they were there to arrest a lady who was sitting on a bench outside the store flashing people driving by….that was our excitement for the day!
Elise and Abby on the pedal karts
Ben, Elise & Yogi Bear
Even Rose went swimming!
A very rainy day was in the forecast for Monday so we decided to pack up a little early and start out towards St. Louis. We had our first night of sleeping in a rest stop parking lot that night and survived just fine. The next day we made it to another Jellystone park near Eureka, Missouri. We ended up only staying there one night because it wasn’t nearly as nice as we had hoped. Our next stop was to explore St. Louis. We stayed a couple of nights at a casino RV park right across the Mississippi river from St. Louis. We saw the Arch, the courthouse, drove around the city just to explore and had frozen custard at the famous Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. We also took a day trip from St. Louis to Hannibal, MO to see where Mark Twain grew up and based much of Tom Sawyer on. The kids really enjoyed the cave tour! Then we went to Springfield, Illinois to see the capitol building there and to see Abraham Lincoln’s tomb.
Joe “grabbing” the Arch
All of the kids by the Arch…Rose is in there, she’s sleeping!
The Courthouse in St. Louis. If you look closely, you can see Abby and Elise right near the cluster of flags.
Ben approves of Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard!
Cave tour in Hannibal, Missouri
Abby and Ben
Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb
From St. Louis we drove across Missouri to Kansas City with a stop in Jefferson City to see the capitol building. The friendly man who took our picture by the capitol recommended we try a locally famous pizza place….and we do love pizza….so we picked up a couple pizzas from Arri’s Pizza Palace to enjoy while driving and they were pretty good (not as good as Fricano’s though!) We arrived at Lake Paradise Campground and Resort very late that night. Lance has a customer here in Kansas City so we were hoping to find a place to “live” for the next week so that he could get some work done. We didn’t know much about this resort, but in the morning realized that it was a big answer to prayer. When we got here the camp office was closed, but Lance had spoken with the manager on the phone and he told us to just camp wherever we wanted to for the night. (When a campground has plenty of availability on 4th of July weekend you get a little worried!) What we woke up to the next morning (Friday) was a beautiful and peaceful setting. We were camped right next to a small lake with woods all around it and Canadian geese floating across it. We did end up moving to a different site that day just to be closer to the rest of the camp, but it was off to a good start! Lance could work this week knowing that we were safe and had plenty to do to keep us busy!
The beautiful spot we camped for the first night at Lake Paradise Resort.
The kids have had a good week here and made friends who they love to catch frogs and go fishing with. The pool here is pretty neat, it’s the largest pool in the whole state of Missouri! On the 4th they had some fun activities planned like a water balloon toss, watermelon hunt (picture an Easter egg hunt, but with watermelons hidden around the entire campground!), bingo games and a great fireworks show that night. On Sunday we found another church (First Baptist of Grain Valley) to go to and they were so friendly! You know it’s a small church when your kids double the nursery population! After church we went to a fun restaurant downtown Kansas City called Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant. You order your meal by telephone from your table and then a train delivers the food. Sam said he loved it there and Ben was pretty amazed at the trains and everyone had plenty to watch. It was a fun day!
Joe, Sam and Elise enjoying the biggest swimming pool in Missouri!
Brothers frog hunting together
Elise and Sam found this nice toad right in our campsite and Ben had to check him out!
We all have our own journal for this trip and this was the first night of writing. Some wrote pages and some wrote a few sentences (and even that was like pulling teeth!!)
Elise loved picking flowers to decorate the camper and even to decorate us!
Abby, Elise and I played some Bingo on the 4th of July at the campground
Ordering lunch by telephone was fun at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant and the hats were a pretty cool too!
Monday (the 6th) I took the kids to the Crown center which I had heard had a lot to do and they sure do! Hallmark Cards has a place there called Kaleidescope which is great for kids. It’s free and you get 40 minutes to create things at many different stations using leftover Hallmark card supplies. You get a bag when you go in to put all of your creations in and the kids had a lot of fun there. We left with crown headbands, crazy painted paper sunglasses and our very own drawings turned into puzzles just to name a few. Lance joined us that afternoon for Sea Life Aquarium that is also in the Crown Center. It was especially popular with Ben who loves the “shish” and “meemo” which means Nemo.
Ben loved the fish!
Wednesday (the 8th) we went to see Fort Osage and the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, Missouri. It was a rainy day so we were the only ones at the Fort, but the kids had fun checking out the guard towers, barracks and trading post. The museum was small, but had the perfect amount of exhibits for small children without a lot of patience left for the day. Lance and I really enjoyed learning more about the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails that both began in Independence, Missouri. What a difficult and dangerous journey those pioneers went on. Abby and Elise got to pack and unpack a wagon with supplies and had to make hard choices with what they “needed” and what they “wanted” for the long trip. Sam liked the gold miner’s section where they had a wheel to spin and see what section it landed on. The pie shapes said things like “found gold and struck it rich” and “found gold, but spent it all on women and booze”. Somehow Sam is often the one who brings up the hard questions! “Mom? What does it mean to buy women and booze?” We had quite a conversation about that. I told him that sometimes men pay money to have women kiss them. He thinks kissing is gross so he’s pretty astounded that someone would pay for that, what a waste of money!!!
Sam and Elise exploring the fort.
Packing the “wagon” at the museum for the wagon train.
The wheel that prompted an unexpected conversation with Sam.
Thursday (the 9th) I took the kids to the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. It is also free and we would highly recommend it. They had a milking barn where you could pet calves and practice milking water out of gallon buckets. You could go in a teepee and also learn about the Indians who lived in this area. There was a mining area (which did cost a little bit for the material they were sifting through) where the kids got to use sifters in some water to find “rare gems”. This was Sam’s favorite, that boy loves rocks! There were pony rides, fishing (I’m not thrilled with putting worms on the fishing hook, but I did it just for Sam…. much to the amusement of Joe), and many nice playgrounds along with all of the usual farm animals that you could pet. It was a good day.
Joe and Ben surrounded by goats
Sam, Joe, Abby and Elise sifting for gems
Ben and Sam practicing their milking skills
Elise got to ride Lucy the pony
Tractor rides for Ben and Elise
Sunday (the 12th), was Ben’s 2nd birthday. We celebrated with lunch at the T-Rex Café in Kansas City. He was both amazed and afraid of all the big dinosaurs. When we got back home we went swimming and then had cupcakes and presents. I think he had a pretty good birthday!
Dessert at the T-Rex Café
Elise and Ben playing with one of his birthday presents, a felt play mat for his cars and trains.
We left Lake Paradise Resort on Monday and headed into Kansas. Our time at the resort was great, it felt good to stay in one place for so long and we all were a little sad to leave.
The sunset on our last night at Lake Paradise Resort
Well, that’s what our first 2 1/2 weeks have been like…very busy and lots of fun! We are excited to see what’s next!