Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Road Trip!

This summer was decidedly the time to visit Joplin, Missouri where Chad's two brothers (Mike and Jimmy) live. The last time we were there was five years ago, when Bree was Lincoln's age. And since we would now have to buy four airline tickets to get there...we drove! It's only an 18 hour drive. Each direction. Gritty details coming right up.

(*Disclaimer: the lack of photos during the first half of the trip does not in any way indicate that we did nothing fun or photo-worthy. I blame it on the post-18-hour road trip lethargy that had me in its clutches for three days after we arrived in Missouri.)

For more info and photos, see Jenn's post here

  • Drove for ten hours.
  • Stopped in Amarillo, checked into our hotel, and went swimming in the indoor pool before bedtime.
  • Met Sydney and Bob's family at Applebee's in Oklahoma City for lunch. Their kids are getting so big!
  • Arrived at Mike and Jenn's house in time for a delicious homemade pizza dinner.
  • Had breakfast with Mike and Jenn's ward for their Pioneer Day celebration, at a local community building that they rent because their church building was destroyed in last year's tornado.
  • Shopped at the Farmer's Market, ogled all the beautiful tomatoes (at least I did, anyway), and bought some delicious banana bread.
  • The men took the kids swimming at the YMCA while Lincoln napped and Jenn and I watched Food Network.
  • Mike and Jenn drove to the airport late at night to pick up Tucker, who was returning from a service trip to Tonga; they didn't get home until early morning.
  • Said hello to Tucker.
  • Went to church; Bree and Mason enjoyed having several other kids their age in their classes to make friends with.
  • Sat in when Henry received the Aaronic Priesthood.
  • Started the 1,000 piece puzzle that Chad bought me at Walmart.
  • Met Amy for the first time when she and Jimmy came over for a visit.
  • We went to a creek to swim, which the kids loved, even though Mason got a little crash-course in swimming when the creek bottom dropped out from under him. He did pretty well keeping his face out of the water until Mike picked him up. But I was paranoid the rest of the time, and I kept getting freaked out when he'd dunk his head under to "swim" even though the water would only be knee-deep. We mostly just sat in the water while the gentle current ran around us, watching Ilah and Henry jump off the rope swing and from the tree overhanging the creek.
  • For dinner we headed to Jimmy's house for some barbecue and games (I amazed myself at pool with my ability to execute a few shockingly-impressive shots, interspersed among really, really, really bad misses).
  • We all drove to Kansas City to pick up Taysom from the airport; she was just returning from college. While we were in town, we went to Hallmark's Kaleidoscope center, which is a free experience where you get to use lots of leftover art supplies to make neat projects. There is a fun black-light room where the markers and melted wax glow, which also has some neat photo exposure walls so you can "draw" designs with glowing wands. 

  • There was so much to see that I couldn't slow Mason down long enough to actually stop and make anything. Until I mentioned the puzzle-making machine. Mason loves puzzles. He made three puzzles, each with a different alien (his favorite thing to draw). After drawing on his cardboard square, he took it over to the machine, placed it in the slot, then turned the big wheel so the die cut mechanism would make puzzle shapes out of his picture.

  • We had spotted a Legoland sign right next to the Hallmark building, and since Mason and Henry LOVE Legos, we stopped in the store. They had a pretty big selection of Lego sets, including an Avengers Lego set, which Mason had been asking about recently. I had told him I didn't think it existed. That'll teach me.
  • And apparently, you can't go to Kansas City and not eat barbecue. So we made it to Oklahoma Joe's before the dinner rush. That was some good barbecue! Pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, BBQ chicken, beef brisket, and baked beans--everything was delicious. And I loved the sauce. I'm not gonna lie, we were skeptical when we pulled up and saw that the restaurant was inside a gas station. I'm glad we didn't let that scare us away.
  • We finished the evening with a late-night visit to Braum's for some delicious hand-scooped ice cream. I had never heard of the place, but it's a burger joint/ice cream parlor/food market all in one. The ice cream is divine and and amazingly priced.
  • Helped Ilah frost some cakes covered with roses for a youth activity at church that night, inspired by a very cool food blogger, i am baker. They turned out really pretty (maybe not quite as perfect as the blog photo, but still, really pretty!).

  • Met Jimmy and Amy at Cracker Barrel for lunch. We'd never been there before, but the food was good, and the little store was really cute. We bought the most delicious pecan roll, filled with this amazingly light white nougat. I'd go back just for that.

  • After lunch, Jimmy took us to the Neosho Fish Hatchery, where we saw all types of fish of all life stages. The fish food was free, and there was lots to see.
  • After the hatchery, we went back to Jimmy and Amy's place to cool off. I took a nap, and the kids got to visit Amy's parents' farm. Then we enjoyed some pizza before heading out to water Jimmy's cows.

  • I let Bree use my camera for the first time. The results were very nice, especially the close-up of the cows' water trough.

  • Then we at ice cream at Braum's. Yes, again. This time I got my chocolate toffee ice cream waffle cone dipped in chocolate. Oh. my.

  • We declared Thursday "Girls' Day," and Jenn, Taysom, and I started off with pedicures. The pedicure menu offered us the difficult choice between "The Good" and "The Best."

  • After pedicures, we met up with Ilah and Bree at the mall, and Bree showed off her obsession with shopping. She must have assumed vacationing meant unlimited spending ability, because she would walk into a store, start choosing things she wanted, then act surprised when I reminded her we could just maybe buy a couple of things. I let her get the boots and the sparkly purse, and she got to pick out whatever candy she wanted in the cool shop with all the colorful bins (she picked regular old Starburst and gummy worms). But as we left TJ Max, she said, "Wait! We haven't even bought anything here yet!"

(Bree modeling at Children's Place; from Jenn's blog)
  • For dinner I made my easy spaghetti and meatballs.
  • Since it had been overcast and a little rainy, we thought the weather might be cooler, and make for a nice evening at the neighborhood park. It was not cooler, and the humidity had me sweating buckets. But the kids had a blast.

  • We finished the 1,000 piece puzzle.
  • Mike helped Bree and Mason with an impromptu water balloon fight.

  • We shopped at Connie's Antiques, where they have an interesting assortment of a few actual antiques mixed in with overpriced swap-meet items. Chad is always on the lookout for baseball cards, but didn't find any at the right price.
  • Went swimming at the Pittsburg Aquatic Center in Kansas, which had some great water slides for the kids, a lazy river, and a couple zero entry pools that Lincoln had a blast playing in.

  • We watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. 
  • I made peanut-butter-cup cupcakes (devil's food cake with peanut butter frosting, dipped in chocolate and topped with a peanut butter cup). Everyone proclaimed them amazing.
  • We ate lunch with Jimmy, Amy, Shane, and Heather at a Mexican restaurant named Festival. I had some really delicious chicken and shrimp fajitas, and Chad had a chimichanga (it was a chimichanga in name only, since it was not deep fried).
  • Date night with Mike and Jenn. We went to see the new Batman movie, which was awesome. And I was made fun of for wanting a picture in the theater. Chad jokingly said it was because I couldn't remember the last date we had.
  • Then we ate at Tokyo Steak and Sushi (AKA the Japanese steak house), which serves dinner hibachi-style. Our chef was quite the comedian, even if we couldn't understand him half the time. 

  • We finished off the evening with a visit to the recently opened Cupcakes by Liz. This place was adorable! The cupcakes were pricey but quite large, and though some of the flavors were quite yummy, we decided that mine were better.

Sunday and Monday:
  • Made the drive back home, which was identical to the trip out except we stopped for ice cream both days. You know, for the sake of sanity. We definitely broke in the new minivan, which has fish crackers in places I didn't think possible, and milk stains down the back of Lincoln's seat. Sigh. But it was such a comfortable way to road trip; a vast improvement over the truck. Everyone has more room, there are tons of little convenient storage pockets, and we stowed one seat to make room for a huge cooler of snacks and drinks. The kids were great travelers, and were happy to watch movies the whole time. Even Lincoln made most of the trip without much fuss.
All in all, it was a great vacation, with a nice balance of activity and relaxation. Mike and Jenn were great hosts, and we were comfortable guests in their home. We don't know when we'll be able to go again, but we definitely will.

 July 19-30, 2012

1 comment:

The Wallace Family said...

Can you please photo shop me out of the picture!???!

We loved having all of you here. So much fun.

I'll get a blog post up one of these days (before school starts) and upload Bree modeling.

Love you guys so much!!

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