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Old 09-17-2008, 10:57 AM   #16
bethbuchall
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Day 3: St. Louis, MO (technically Fairview Heights, IL) to Salina, KS (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives)



This will be a pretty short day, because most of it was spent on the road. I don’t have many photos either.

We awoke early to a grey, drizzly day. We were all glad that we had gone to the top of the Arch the evening before, because visibility would not have been good that morning.

As had become our routine, we had a simple (free) breakfast in the hotel’s breakfast room before packing up and heading out. I remember the outside of this hotel and surrounding area, and I remember our room in the hotel. The website advertised Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches at the Fairfields. Much to Boy’s disappointment, he would not get to try a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich here, because they had run out. He knows he’ll never get to eat something like that at home. We eat some pretty unhealthy stuff (remember the Pop Tarts, Nutrigrain bars, and granola bars), but there are some foods I just can’t get past the nutrition label on, and that is one of them. Oh, well…he still had a Fairfield to look forward to in Colorado Springs.


Good-bye, St. Louis...




We learned today that those Western states are huge (and we don’t come from one of the petite Eastern states, either). We also learned that we love 70 mph speed limits and having Daniel read “Harry Potter” to us in Jim Dale’s voice.

Another new love from this day…SONIC! See, I told you that I don’t have a problem with most unhealthy foods. We don’t have Sonic or any drive-ins at home. In fact, the closest Sonic to us is about 123.42 miles away in PA. (Yes, I looked it up after we came home. And, yes, I seriously considered another road trip just to go to Sonic.) The lemon and lime real fruit slushes are practically to die for. The cranberry juice one is also quite yummy. I think I need to go back and try one of every flavor. The only problem with drive-ins is the weather. It was HOT! It felt way too wasteful to keep the van running to have A/C. We probably should have driven while eating, but I had the grilled chicken salad with no dressing. Even with no dressing, it’s kind of messy to eat a salad while driving. The salad was really good, but those slushes are what I really dream about. We had the lemon slush this time and continued to refill the cup with water after it was gone. Yummy lemon water! The only thing that we really didn’t like was the order of onion rings. There was just something missing in the batter, but I don’t know what.

We continued to drive through Kansas…

Here is Kansas City from a van moving along at rapid speeds on the highway. Notice that the weather is already improving! We really did have great luck with the weather on this trip. The only times it really rained, we were in the car driving between places. (I sure wish that luck would have held on our WDW trip, but Fay had to come in and have it her way instead.)







While we were still in the planning stages of the trip, the kids saw an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives that featured Bobo’s Drive-in in Topeka, KS. Of course, as soon as they heard that we were going through Topeka, they wanted to go to Bobo’s. Actually, the initial planning had us staying in Topeka at a Holiday Inn with a pool slide. This would have put us in a position to drive to Bobo’s at dinnertime. We were warned that the pool area at that Holiday Inn wasn’t particularly clean and could get very crowded, and we also realized that the next day would be much better if we could get a few more Kansas miles behind us. That led us to spending the night in Salina, KS. It also led us to arrive at Bobo’s much too soon after the meal at Sonic. It was HOT (and the kids kept saying, “It is hot in Topeka!” which is apparently something they picked up from an episode of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends or whatever that silly show is called.) We decided that as much fun as the drive-in was, we were going to go for some A/C and eat inside. As we begin to walk through the door of this incredibly tiny restaurant, we realized that we would be eating in the car. It was about the size of a refrigerator box (ok, slight hyperbole) and completely packed (no hyperbole here). I traded the environment and a bit of dh’s wallet for my sanity. I told them that they could have A/C in the van while we ate, if I never had to hear, “It’s hot in Topeka!” again. The burgers looked delicious, but we really weren’t that hungry. We split an order of onion rings, a piece of “homemade” apple pie, a corn dog, and a chocolate malt. The onion rings tasted almost exactly the same as Sonic’s, so I guess Sonic got those right (even if they weren’t my taste). I didn’t try the apple pie, but my family told me that mine was much better. The chocolate malt, however, was sooooo good that we ordered a second one when it was time to leave. The only problem with it was that it was too thick for the straw. That did slow us down a little, though, so maybe it’s a good thing. We had fun, and it was neat to go to someplace that had been on TV. I thought I took a few pictures, but I don’t see them anywhere. Here is a little more information about Bobo’s. Bob's Drive In Topeka KS
This site Bobo's on Diners, Drive ins, and Dives also has the clip from Diners, Drive ins, and Dives.

Finally, we arrived at our hotel in Salina. It was another Country Inns and Suites. Once again it was clean and comfortable.




It was dinner time, and we briefly considered looking for the Cozy Inn that was mentioned on the above website about Bobo’s. No one really wanted to look at a burger, though, so we decided to head to the Wal-Mart that we could see from our hotel for sandwich fixings. We also needed a new stylus for SmallBoy’s Nintendo DS. The one that he had no longer stored neatly in the DS. It kept falling out and hiding under seats, in luggage, and sometimes even tried to escape the van altogether. By the time we priced out lunch meat, bread, etc., we decided that we’d actually be better off buying one of the large subs that they had and splitting it. We all were able to finally agree on turkey. Thank goodness they don’t put any mayonnaise on those things… We also picked up some baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and dried mango. We didn’t get a new stylus for the DS. They were out. But there was a Target right across the street. We decided to take a quick run in and look for a new stylus there. Hmmm…they were also out. Girl started feeling a little sick while we were in Target, so we cut the trip short and headed back to the hotel room. Everyone except Girl had a little dinner. Fortunately, she started feeling better before long. I think that the heat, a full day in the car, greasy food, and being tired just caught up to her all at once. After an hour or so, she managed to eat a little bit, too.

I guess it wasn’t so short a day after all. We went to bed relatively early, because we had a LONG day ahead of us the next day.

Next up: Day 4 (On top of Pike’s Peak)
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:16 PM   #17
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Day 4: Salina, KS to Colorado Springs, CO (On Top of Pike's Peak)

This day won't have many words, because the pictures tell most of the story. It is also so heavy on photos, that I need to spread it over several posts (silly 25 image limit!).

The day started early, because we had a lot that we wanted to do in Colorado Springs, but first we had over 6-1/2 hours on the road. We were going to get an extra hour to add to our day again, but you saw how well that worked for me last time. So, we had our usual "free" breakfast and headed on our way.

Nothing too eventful happened until we stopped for gas in Colby, KS. We found a Sonic at the same exit! With all due respect to my DDA friends, in a match between Chick-Fil-A and Sonic, Sonic would win every time. And that's even if all they had on their menu were the real fruit slushes. YUM!

We drove and drove and drove some more until finally I could say, "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

I’m kind of teasing about driving through Kansas, because I really did enjoy the scenery. The wind farms were amazing to me! We have windmills like this around home (though not too close), but we don’t have so many all together.











For some reason, these little guys also really appealed to me. I have no idea why.



All of a sudden, the flat, treeless vistas had mountains popping up the background. We were really taken by the mountains. Now, we have mountains in NYS, but we don't have MOUNTAINS. We must have about 30 shots of our first MOUNTAINS from the moving car. I'll spare you most of them...







We had a few minutes to stop by and check into the hotel. I wanted to get it done then, because I knew that it was going to be late by the time we returned. The hotel had a lot of construction going on in the lobby, but overall it was very clean and very comfortable. The Fairfields are definitely a step up from the Country Inns and Suites (not that I had any complaints about any of the Country Inns and Suites that we visited). This room even had a roll-away bed included in the price. No air mattress to inflate! Our room was ready, so we quickly unpacked the car and filled the hotel room with our junk.







We had a reservation at the Pike's Peak Cog Railway for 5:20 pm, but it wasn't paid for yet, and we were supposed to arrive 30 minutes prior. My family needed to eat before that. They are so picky about actually being fed several times a day. I was trying to keep us on ET, because I thought that would make our return to home a little easier to handle. Dh put it more truthfully, though: I started our day on ET; ended it late on MT; meals were not right for any time zone.

Besides needing to find a little food, I was hoping to spend some time at the Garden of the Gods and see a little of Manitou Springs. We had a free travel video sent to us, and all SmallBoy could think about was trying water from the natural springs around town. Well, that extra hour eluded me once again.

We did get to drive a little bit through the Garden of the Gods. Wow! That was beautiful!











We also managed to get a little dinner at the Café in the Garden of the Gods Trading Post. FYI, Buffalo burgers are just more expensive hamburgers. We really didn’t notice much difference between the two. The café was crowded, because apparently there were coupons for the “locals” that weekend. This all took much longer than we expected, so we needed to drive straight to the Cog Railway. Do not stop; do not pass Go; do not go any further into the Garden of the Gods; do not even glance at the village of Manitou Springs.

We debated back and forth for a long while during the planning phase about driving up Pike’s Peak highway vs. taking the Cog Railway. In interest of accuracy, “we” didn’t debate about anything. “I” went back and forth trying to make the decision amidst the murmurings of “whatever you decide will be great” and “that’s nice, dear.” Our decision was finally made for us when I discovered that the day we needed (yes, our schedule was that tight) to go to the top of Pike’s Peak was the same day as the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. This is a vehicle race up Pike’s Peak, and it closes the highway for the day. Fortunately, dh was still yawning from me going back and forth on the decision, and he didn’t notice me slip the money for the Cog Railway out of his wallet. (Well, he did eventually notice, but it was way too late by then.)

Ok, I lied about not having many words for today. I guess I’m just really wordy. But from here on out, it’s primarily pictures.
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:22 PM   #18
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:52 PM   #19
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We definitely saw the inspiration for America the Beautiful! One warning, though, don't try to run up there. Don't even jog a couple hundred feet like we did. It's probably best to not even walk too quickly. We did start to feel the altitude. It was also chilly. Girl was starting to feel very queasy and cold, so we went inside the gift shop to warm up a little and find a seat. We (except Girl) couldn't resist the "world famous high altitude doughnuts." We should have resisted. I'm sorry to say, we weren't impressed. Those definitely weren't worth the fat, calories, or money. Maybe they just weren't fresh enough, since we were the last group up that day. I'm not really much of a doughnut person anyway. A lot of the world famous doughnut ended up in the trash.

The round-trip takes about 3-1/2 hours with the stop at the top. By the time we got back to our van, it was about 9:00 pm (11:00 pm "our" time). The village of Manitou Springs was still crowded from the race, and things were also all shutting down. SmallBoy really wanted to try out the 10 natural springs that he saw on the planning video. The planning video showed happy people getting drinks from attractive springs and talked about the great taste that differed by spring because of the unique mineral composition of each. We managed to find a parking spot in town (I don't do "parallel park" very well, so it was a bit of an ordeal for me and everyone in the van that had to listen to me). We wandered dark streets using a "not to scale" (read: "doesn't resemble the area at all") tourist map that listed all the springs. We finally found one! Everyone filled a water bottle and took a sip... Oh, I wish I had the camera out for this. Think Beverly. No, it doesn't taste anything like Beverly, but the faces, the sputtering, and the UGH! were all about the same. (Admission time: I actually like a little Beverly.) We all quickly decided that bed held much more appeal than finding any more of the springs.

During the 20-minute drive back to the hotel, Girl decided that she was hungry for ice cream. Hey, this is vacation, why not have ice cream at 10:00 pm (midnight "our time"). Well, because Target isn't open at 10:00 pm on Sunday, that's why. Girl had to settle for something that we already had. A pop tart just isn't the same when you want ice cream, trust me.

While we were out, everyone else was coming in. There were no parking spaces left! We ended up parking at the hotel next door and hoping that we didn't get towed. We all practically fell into bed, but what a glorious day it had been.

Coming next: Day 5 (Lions and Tigers and Giraffes, Oh My!)
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:11 PM   #20
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Hey, I know those roads and those mountains!!

You should have asked about the springs...some of them are in very cool spots but as a native, unless you are really, really thirsty they aren't for drinking from

Manitou is a favorite spot (I could have also pointed you to a yummy homemade ice cream shop that would have been on your way back to the hotel. Tell Girl I know the feeling and next time she comes out this way I'll show her the best ice cream in the state!!
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Old 09-21-2008, 09:49 AM   #21
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Beautiful.
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Old 09-21-2008, 02:29 PM   #22
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Beautiful.
Thanks! We live in a gorgeous country, don't we?
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Old 09-21-2008, 05:14 PM   #23
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Thanks! We live in a gorgeous country, don't we?
You never realize how beautiful the country is.
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Old 09-22-2008, 11:56 AM   #24
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Day 5: Colorado Springs, CO to Casper, WY (Lions and Tigers and Giraffes, Oh My!)

In her trip report, 4300 Miles of Love: Yellowstone Tetons Style with LOTS of Photos, estherhead wrote, “There comes a point in every vacation where things start to blend together and you completely lose track of time. That point came yesterday. It is a lovely point in a vacation. But often it is things going wrong that force you to enter that mode. The point where the plan must be adjusted, where you finally give up the control that makes your life at home work and go with flow of vacation.” She hit it on Day 7, and we hit it on Day 5.

This is a day that I had really been looking forward to. Not only was I going to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, I was also going to meet my DIS board friend, babytrees! I didn’t give the rest of my family the information that I should have, though, and looking back, it was pretty stupid of me. To me, I was meeting someone that I had already “known” for a couple of years. To my family, we were meeting a group of strangers. My family doesn’t like surprises. Dh can be uncomfortable around new people. Most importantly, Girl never really outgrew stranger anxiety. I should have “introduced” my family to babytrees and her family before we even left home. But my family doesn’t really understand this whole DIS board thing, so maybe they wouldn’t have been any better anyway. Also, I’m much better in writing than I am in person. I’m not sure exactly how to say that, but I do have a little social anxiety myself, so it’s sometimes hard for me to say everything that I am thinking when I’m actually talking to someone. This is getting to be rambling, so I’ll wrap it up. I’m going to gloss over the parts where my daughter was much ruder than she meant to be. I know, she knows, and babytrees knows, but overall it didn’t spoil our day. Thank goodness, babytrees is intuitive and sensitive. I think we did a pretty good job of balancing my place between wanting to get to know her and her family better and helping Girl feel comfortable. We had a great day! I really hope she feels the same way.

One of my other mistakes that morning was thinking that I didn’t need Daniel (our GPS). It was a pretty straight shot to the zoo from our hotel, so I decided to navigate and drive. The only problem was that the road was closed. So, trusty Daniel was pulled from the glove box and came to our rescue.

This is Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. We didn’t drive up there (lack of time), but I am sure that the views are phenomenal. Look at that blue, blue sky!


If anyone is going near Colorado Springs, definitely carve out some time for the Cheyenne Mountain zoo. It was spectacular! We had spent the past month watching the giraffes and meerkats via the webcam at the zoo’s website (www.cmzoo.org). We had already fallen in love with those giraffes. What is even better is that you can feed them! They are right there next to you and have such sweet faces, and it definitely was an experience that we will cherish.










I could have spent the entire day with the giraffes, but there was so much more to the zoo, that I eventually tore myself away.

The chipmunks were so much larger than any we had at home!


Ironically, the squirrels were much smaller, though I don't have a photo of those for you.

We wandered through the rest of "Africa"...














The elephants were inside that day, so we didn’t get any really good photos of them. Girl loves elephants, though, and she was happy to get to see them.

This zoo is absolutely beautiful, and the views are stunning.







We continued to walk around the zoo and marvel at the exhibits, the scenery, and the animals. Girl continued to warm up to the “strangers,” and I was able to talk to babytrees more.



The wallabies were great. They were just hopping around out in the open. We were able to pet a baby wallaby that one of the docents was holding, too.


Another place that I could have spent the whole day was “Rocky Mountain Wild.” The grizzly bears had a terrific exhibit, and they were busy playing in their pool. They came right up to the windows and were so much fun to watch.



I didn’t get any pictures of the river otters, but they were great fun to watch, too.

The mountain lions were easy to see.


The porcupine was so close that you could probably touch him if you didn’t have any common sense.






We passed by the pony rides that Girl insisted that she wanted to do, but they weren’t operating. I think she was only half-joking. She never would have done the pony rides, but I know that there was part of her that wanted to.

It was nearing 11:30 am (MT), which was the time I was originally planning to leave. We just couldn’t go without seeing the rest of the zoo, though. I realized that we didn’t really need to see the Olympic Training center or the Air Force Academy. (If you ever go to Colorado Springs, please give yourself more than 30 hours!) I did need to find some food and shade for my rapidly melting family, though. It was way past their standard lunchtime, and it was hot that day. The heat wasn’t as bad as it could have been, because the humidity was so low. I love low humidity! It was still taking its toll, and a quick break was in order. Babytrees and her family were also ready for a little break, so we went to the little restaurant and had some lunch/snacks. Girl really wanted ice cream, but she was too full after eating lunch. We told her that we’d get some later.

To be continued (since I hit my image limit)...
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Old 09-22-2008, 11:58 AM   #25
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The zoo has an area called My Big Backyard (or something like that) that is an interactive area mostly for younger children. SmallBoy really wanted to go play in there for a while. Being child-like ourselves, we had a good time there. You can see that Girl is starting to warm up by this point, too.


We passed the hippo pool on the way to the primate house. The hippos were just chillin' in the water that day.


The primate house was terrific! We loved all the primates, especially the gorillas (though I didn't get any good photos). And also this mother and her baby.




After enjoying the rest of the zoo, it was time to say goodbye to babytrees and her family. We headed to the gift shop as they headed home. Girl and Smallboy picked out stuffed giraffes, since the giraffes were such a big part of our experience. Girl was also set to get some ice cream. Her luck was holding about the same, though, because the ice cream machines at the gift shop were out of order. No one wanted to hike back up to the other restaurant to get ice cream, so once again she did without. (Don’t feel too bad for her, though, she was able to have plenty of ice cream while we were Yellowstone.)

On the road again! We were heading to Denver and the famous Casa Bonita and then on to Casper, WY.





We made it through Denver traffic, which was a little at times, and arrived at Casa Bonita only to find ourselves really not in the mood to be there. No one was really hungry or wanting to eat. No one was really up for all the noise and confusion. Everyone was tired and pretty much hit the wall at the same time. We made it in the front doors and stood there trying to decide what to do. Another thing about my family is that we really aren’t great decision makers. I think everyone is too afraid of disappointing someone to just say what is on their mind and make a decision. Dh’s wallet had caught sight of the prices and was starting to tremble. Girl was ok with staying but really didn’t want anything to eat. SmallBoy felt the same as Girl. I was trying to get Boy to say what he wanted to do. He was the one who was looking forward to trying Casa Bonita the most. He also is the one who is most sensitive to what others want, and he inherited (or learned well) his father’s thriftiness. It really wasn’t all about the money. We would have gladly dropped the $70-$80 if it would have been a good experience. Boy was overwhelmed by this time and didn’t want to be the one to make the decision. It wasn’t looking like good time for this particular adventure, so we decided to leave. I still don’t know if that was the right decision. It wasn’t the best moment in our trip as I am driving out of Denver sobbing, because I’m not sure if I’ve completely disappointed Boy or not. Boy was in the back seat looking very sullen and as if he were ready to cry himself. Dh was telling me that I should just turn the car around and head back if I thought that we should go there. I think it was just too many late nights and early mornings catching up with us. Too many emotions, even good ones, also left us a little more sensitive. In the end, I just kept driving. Boy told me later that he wasn’t upset that we didn’t stay at Casa Bonita. He said that he was just overwhelmed and overtired. I don’t know if that is entirely true, but I can’t go back and change it. In the grand scheme of things, it was a blip.

Here is our first jackalope sighting.




We did finally get hungry and stopped at a truck stop with an A&W. We broke the rule about not eating where we could eat at home. It was a big mistake, too. It was not a particularly clean, inviting A&W. We took our food and ate in the car.

All was better when we arrived at our hotel, the C’mon Inn in Casper, WY. This hotel is gorgeous! It was so relaxing, too, and just what we needed at that point. We had a third floor room that had a king bed in a separate room and a queen-size pullout sofa bed. Instead of using the sofa bed, though, we inflated the air mattresses. We had two large TVs and a recliner, too. It was great to have a little extra space this night. All of the second floor rooms had private balconies overlooking the interior courtyard. The third floor had sitting areas outside the rooms overlooking the interior courtyard. They weren’t private, but there was enough seating that you never felt crowded. There were four hot tubs in the courtyard itself plus another in the pool area. The courtyard had an open, outdoorsy feel, and I think it would be a great place to spend a weekend in the winter when cabin fever sets in. This hotel was a little more expensive than the Fairfields and Country Inns and Suites that we had been staying in, but the extra space was worth it at that point in our trip. Actually, the double rooms with private balconies may not have been more expensive. We probably would have been fine in one of those rooms, too, because the balcony would have given us some extra space. It was nice to have a door to our bedroom and also to have the second TV, though we didn’t use it. SmallBoy, Girl, and I enjoyed the pool and hot tubs. Dh and Boy enjoyed having some space of their own for a little while. It really started to feel like vacation, and everyone was smiling again!






Babytrees, I’m sorry that you saw us at our (almost) worst, but we still wouldn’t trade that day away. We loved the zoo and meeting you and (most of) your family. I’m sorry that we didn’t get to meet your other dd.

Coming next: Day 6 Dinosaurs, Hot Springs, and Ice Cream (finally!)
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:58 PM   #26
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Great read & great photos! Sorry for your bummer day. I'll resume & finish soon as I'm home from Disney!
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Old 09-23-2008, 01:41 PM   #27
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Great read & great photos! Sorry for your bummer day. I'll resume & finish soon as I'm home from Disney!
Thanks! It really wasn't a bad day, but it was the day that we learned to let go and just vacation.

I can't wait to read more of yours, but I hope that your Disney trip doesn't end too quickly!
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:11 AM   #28
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Day 6: Casper, WY to Grand Teton National Park (Dinosaurs, Hot Springs, and Ice Cream (finally!))

Oh my, it’s been a while since I’ve written. I think I need a quick re-cap to remember where I am.

We started in Central NYS bright and early one Thursday morning on our long awaited adventure. We traveled through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado before ending up here at the C’mon Inn in Casper, WY.

In summary to this point:
Most of us loved the St. Louis Arch.
Sonic is GOOD!
Kansas is a long state.
Windmills excited me more than they probably should have.
Sonic is GOOD!
Colorado is a beautiful state, and we should have had at least one more day there.
The fates were conspiring against poor Girl in her quest for ice cream.
Sonic is GOOD!
We have finally arrived at that magical point in our vacation where everyone is truly in “vacation mode.” The hurry to rush through states is gone. We are all slowing down a bit.

Day 6 is going to be photo heavy again, so I’ll have to split it into a couple of posts.

A little “real life” did creep up on us this morning. It was laundry day. That’s bad! No, that’s good! (My apologies to Margery Cuyler…if you haven’t read That’s Good! That’s Bad!, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a picture book, so it won’t take you long…go read it.) Anyway, laundry may sound bad, but really it gave us time to just relax and enjoy the pool and hot tubs. There was no mad rush to get into the car early and hit the road. We had breakfast from the free breakfast area and then a little more for brunch. We were able to read the local newspaper and people watch from our sitting area. The kids all had a chance to sleep in. There were four washers and four dryers in the hotel, so the laundry was done pretty quickly.










The drive from Casper to Grand Teton National Park is relatively short…about 5 hours. BUT someone (that would be me) decided that it might be fun to head to Thermopolis, WY to see the hot springs there. That would add around an hour of driving time to the trip plus the time spent there. We were leaving late because of the laundry and relaxation. Decisions, decisions, decisions… Did I ever mention that my family is horrible at actually voicing their opinions and making decision (in case that decision inadvertently disappoints someone else)? So we made a non-decision at that point. We’d see which way I turned the car when we arrived in Shoshoni.

Before leaving Casper, we headed over to Wal-Mart to see if we could find a stylus for SmallBoy’s Nintendo DS. We had one, but it kept sliding out and getting lost. No luck with the stylus, but we did end up getting another big sub to split and some baby carrots for a little lunch in the car.
At the crucial point, I made the decision. We headed to Thermopolis. It ended up being the right decision. In keeping with the theme running through this trip, though, we wished that we had even more time to spend there than we did. We still didn’t really have a good feel for what we were going to do when we got to Thermopolis except for a fuzzy “go to Hot Springs State Park.” I did so much planning for this trip, but then we ended up just throwing a few things in along the way without any planning at all. Often those were the best parts, because there were no expectations. The drive to Thermopolis was beautiful! We marveled at the walls of rock and gorgeous blue sky and the lake along the way.

















I don’t even know who first saw the sign for the Wyoming Dinosaur Center or who suggested that we go. None of my kids went through the dinosaur craze that many preschoolers do, though each of them had an interest at one stage or another. By following signs and a slightly confused Daniel, we found our way to this little building practically in the middle of nowhere. The Dinosaur Center contains a small museum and also offers bus trips out to their current dig site. The sun and heat were brutal that day, and we were more than 3.5 hours from our destination, so we decided not to go out to the dig site. Everyone agreed that we should spend the time and money to go into the museum. This ended up being one of Boy’s favorite stops on our vacation. Everyone else had a great time, too.











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Old 10-08-2008, 09:21 AM   #29
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We next headed to Hot Springs State Park. We couldn’t very well go all that way and not see the famous hot springs, right? There is a free bathhouse in the park as well as several commercial water slide places. There are boardwalks along beautiful terraces and plenty of places to explore. I did mention the brutal heat and sun, though, right? And the fact that the clock just kept on ticking off the minutes and hours? We would have loved to spend more time exploring if we could have done so without melting. No one had any desire to go soak in 104 degree water either. It was a fun place to spend a little time despite the sun and the heat and the time. I highly recommend the side trip to Thermopolis, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, and Hot Springs State Park. If you head that way on a cooler day with more time to spend, though, you can do even more.



























Guess what we found heading out of Thermopolis!


Yeah! Girl (and the rest of us) finally had some ice cream!

Here is some of the beautiful scenery from our drive back towards Shoshoni. I have hundreds more, but I'm trying for a little moderation here.






As we approached the Grand Tetons, the skies turned greyer and it started raining.


The drive was getting a little tricky on narrow roads that were under construction and in the diminishing light, so the rain wasn’t particularly welcomed. However, we were in the car and not getting wet, so the rain wasn’t really affecting our trip. Also, we were rewarded with this!






We had a little wait to get into the park, and the kids were getting antsy.


A couple of them really needed a restroom, too! We finally arrived at Jackson Lake Lodge. I went to check in while Girl and SmallBoy made a restroom dash. Dh and Boy headed to the restrooms, too, but at a more laid back pace. The kids were all surprised that we had an actual key to our room. I guess keycards have been around at least as long as they have. I was worried about the room, because even though it was costing me a fortune, I had heard that the National Parks lodging wasn’t the best. This worry turned into a bit of a panic when we smelled pee outside our room (We eventually decided that it was really just some of the vegetation that had an unpleasant smell). Fortunately, the room was plenty big, clean, and comfortable (if a bit dated and dim…)

We headed back up to the main building to get some dinner. It was already past 8:00 pm. (Yes, dh, I do realize that’s 10:00 pm “our time”…he could be so picky about actually being fed, sheesh!) We didn’t have reservations for the Mural Room nor did we have the desire for a big, fancy meal. We went to the Pioneer Grill and enjoyed burgers, chili, and chicken fingers. It had been a long day, and we were all ready for bed.

Up Next: Who Stole the Mountains?
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:24 AM   #30
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Thanks for the TR! This is the trip I have been planning in my head for some time.
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