Meet me in St. Louis

Meet me in St Louis is one of my all time favorite movies. I love the look at this time period and the celebration of the worlds fair. Despite all of the news reports around St Louis, I really wanted to visit and have been looking forward to this stop for a while.

After a late night, we woke up mid morning and were on the road by 1030. The drive was fairly entertaining – never have I seen such a wide variety of billboards, covering almost all topics. My favorite was counting the number of billboards for the a candy store – 30 signs in 39 miles.

We chose to stay at a state park just outside of the city – absolutely beautiful park and in a pretty safe area (didn’t want to take any chances). After finishing our usual setup, we headed out to pick up some stuff that we needed.

First stop – Goodwill, of course. We found some great stuff – a new Bluetooth keyboard for my tablet (which makes writing a lot easier), a new swimsuit for me for $1.50, and a toy car for little-dude. He was so cute when he found it – like a moth to a flame. He saw it and was just drawn to it. I couldn’t leave without it

Next we hit up Walmart and Sam’s club to stock up on more fruits and vegetables. The car was definitely full when we were done. At this point, mini-man discovered the car that I bought for little-dude and he claimed it as his own.

Although I didn’t sleep at all, I wanted to go out. With just three days in St. Louis, I didn’t want to waste anytime. I heard a lot about a local place called City Museum – a large museum in a warehouse that is built large enough for adults to have fun. I was worried if the boys would enjoy it, but Damon and I both really wanted to go, so we took a shot.

OMG, I’m glad that we went. This place was amazing. Unlike other places that have defined spaces, everything here flowed together and intertwined. The amount of detail was amazing – anything that could be something to inter act with, including the balustrade on the staircase. Damon loved seeing how everything worked together.

He’s always been a fan of small spaces and details, so this truly spoke to his heart. Both boys loved being able to climb and touch everything. I loved being able to relax and watch them having fun

We started our second day a bit late thanks to another sleepless night. Which is unfortunately because there was a lot we wanted to do. After two hours in the car, running errands, the boys were getting figity and I was low on patience.

To help, we stopped at a local playground that had elements both boys loved – climbing. for mini-man and water play for little-dude.

After some playing, we headed to a different area of the park that was the central hub of the 1904 World’s Fair. As a huge fan of Meet Me In St Louis, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit this place that was essential in the movie. It was neat to see how similar the area was to the movie.

On our last day, we got no sleep, again. But I was determined to get out. It was our final day and there was so much we wanted to do. First stop – City Museum.

Mini-man was excited when we went inside the building and lead is straight to the toddler area. It’s amazing how much there is to do in just this area.

We discovered how the museum got it’s name when we made it to the fourth floor – where they had lots of exhibits and displays with St. Louis statues and building exteriors from all eras. It was amazing to see the detail up close.

By the end of our visit, it stopped raining and the outdoor area opened. Knowing Damon loved stuff like that I let him go play while I took the boys.

Instead of going back to the toddler room, mini-man found the skateless skate park and had a blast climbing up and down while little-dude slept. When they closed, I had to, quite literally, drag mini-man out of the exhibit while carrying a fast asleep little-dude. Luckily, Damon caught up with us just as we left the exhibit and was able to help me.

I guess it was a good day, as both boys were fast asleep in the car. This gave Damon time to get some errands done.

In retrospect, I don’t think we gave ourselves enough time to enjoy St. Louis. As we drove past the infamous arch, we saw so much more we’d like to see – like a riverboat ride, or a baseball game, or more thrifting, or a trolley ride. It feels like there is so much more left for us to do. But alas, we have a schedule to keep and an amazing amount of things to see in our next stop – Indianapolis.

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Branson, Missouri

To say this was a rough trip is an understatement. Mini-man didn’t go to bed until 2a and little-dude was up most of the night, which didn’t help with my cold. You’d think that this would mean a late start for us. But sadly, the boys were up fairly early.

Leaving early is usually a plus, but when your sick and tired, it makes for a stressful journey. All I wanted was a nap but that wasn’t happening. On the plus side, we did manage to stop at a Sams Club along the way to stock up on fruit and other supplies.

Once we parked and set up, I was in bed and fell fast asleep. It seems when illness hits this family, I get it the worst.

I spent the next few days in bed trying to get over this cold. It seemed to travel to my sinuses, which gave me a migraine that lasted for days. Damon was amazing during this time – he took mini-man out for shopping and lunch many times so I could try and rest. It also gave him a chance to complete a lot of projects we had going on – such as setting up our new entertainment systems.

By our last day I was feeling better but still nursing my headache. It was beautiful out and we wanted to take advantage. Fortunately Damon made a reservation for a boat out on Table Rock Lake.

To ensure maximum comfort, I made a lot of food and packed a lot of beverages. Nothing worse for a migraine than getting dehydrated, which is easy to do on the water.

I was also worried about the boys – would they have fun? Would they be scared? Would I be nervous the whole time worried they fall overboard?

That last fear was put to rest when we got on the boat, which was a pontoon with lots of seats and high sides. The boys tentatively took their seats but quickly started to cry once we got underway. About 10 minutes in, they both fell asleep. This gave Damon and me the chance to enjoy the ride. The wind and water were perfect and made me feel a lot better.

Once we got down one on of the side coves, we parked the boat and both boys woke up. I’ve never jumped into the water from a boat before and had a lot of fun dipping into the cool water. Little-dude became intrigued and followed me in. He liked swimming around as long as I was with him. To my surprise, mini-man wanted nothing to do with water and chose to stay onboard and eat.

The one thing missing from our boat was an anchor, so we so found our boat drifting toward the shore. Not wanting to keep moving the boat, we moved further down the river. Apparently this is just what mini-man needed. Shortly after we stopped mini-man got into the water. He spent the rest of our time in the water.

As for me, my food efforts paid off. I managed to keep my migraine at bay and actually enjoy myself. The young man who helped us quoted “lake days are nap days for kids”. He was partly right – the kids relaxed on the way back, which kept them wide awake until midnight. Just what we needed the night before we drive.

But at least we’re going someplace I’ve always wanted to go – St. Louis

Oooooooh-klahoma

Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. That’s really all I know about Oklahoma; that and Chandler got transferred there. I felt like Chandler in that meeting where he got assigned to Tulsa – after three days of no sleep, I was feeling edgy and tired.

No exactly our best travel day

As we left Kansas City, we needed gas. Unfortunately, we were driving though small towns that all had height limits shorter than our RV. We barely made it to a truck stop to get gas. This search added some extra time to our drive, which I didn’t like. Then, about an hour before our lunch stop, we were detoured off the highway and onto a dirt road. We found out later that we were forced off the highway because there was no highway.

A much needed rest stop

When we finally arrived, we saw the effects of the detour- our back hatches and the engine of our car were full of dirt. Damon spent some time rinsing off our furniture and toys.

After another night of bad sleep, we decided to take the boys out in hopes of engaging them enough to sleep well the next night. After some prep, we loaded the boys into the car and … they both fell asleep. Yup.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

After a good nap, we headed into the Oklahoma Aquarium. This place is adorable. Very similar to the Oregon Aquarium in terms of cuteness. The boys liked seeing the turtle and the rays, but seems to get bored pretty quickly and asked to leave.

This exhibit was awesome and very different from the rest of the aquarium

We decided to hit a Goodwill close by, which was situated on historic Route 66! Looks like we hit this road in every state it crossed.

He hasn’t put his baby doll down since (he’s so cute with it)

We wrapped up our outing at Walmart. Once we got food into the boys, they suddenly wanted to play with everything. I guess we should’ve tried to feed them fresh food before the aquarium (we tried McDonald’s, but it was quickly rejected)

We arrived back to the RV in 101 degree weather and no power! The heat + our AC units was too much for the breaker and tripped. So while we waited for the RV to cool back down, we hung out in the kiddie pool. Did just the trick!

And I thought Florida was hot

The next day we were hit with even higher temps – 105+! After yet another night of no sleep, I was in no mood to go anywhere. However, I knew from our previous day that the RV was going to get hot. To combat that, Damon went to Walmart and came home with space blankets, which he taped to the front of the RV. It helped, but we still popped the breaker and could only run one AC unit at a time.

New shades for our girl

So we spent part of the afternoon back in the kiddie pool. I just wish there was a way to enjoy being outside at this campground without getting swarmed by bugs (we’ve already had two wasps and countless flies get into the RV). It took us til about midnight to finally get things cooled down.

How’d it get even hotter!?!

We took the kids to the Discovery Children’s Museum the next day. Although small, it’s perfectly tailored to little kids. They had a toddler area away from the other kids filled with hands on toys and activities. To my surprise, both boys loved climbing the two story tower, that was connected using clear packing tape. I had to go with them several times and it definitely tested my fear of heights.

A place where the kids could climb, in air conditioning, was reasonably priced and wasn’t crowded… am I missing something here?

When we returned to the RV, we were happy to find that the space blankets did their job and kept the unit cool. The breaker still popped, but not as often and when it did, the RV didn’t heat up nearly as fast. A great, and cheap, solution to this problem.

I woke up our last day feeling horrible. Turns out, despite all the fruit I’d been consuming the past few weeks, I caught a cold from the boys. I ended up spending all day in bed trying to get better while Damon handled the boys. At least it was cool for the most part.

Kiddie pools are the best

Unfortunately, I felt worse the next day as we headed to our next stop – Branson, MO.

To the Little Town of Pay-Ola, Kan-sas

Damon’s been quoting this line from Rock of Ages ever since he realized that our next stop was Payola, Kansas (near Kansas City) – the home town of main character Sherry.

The trip from Iowa to Kansas was frustrating to say the least – I guess it was just a sheet coincidence that it was Friday the 13th (suuurre). After a short night sleep, we started early but it meant that three of the four of us were very cranky. Add in an accident that stopped traffic for thirty minutes and an angry bureaucrat who yelled at us for no reason and we were all pretty defeated by our lunch stop.

It took an hour to get past this – and we were next to it!

Glad we stopped. Stopping almost always helps us regroup. The rest of the drive was better but still stressful. Damon was driving fast to try and get us to the post office before it closed – otherwise we’d have to wait until Monday to get them. I was dealing with two little boys who kept screaming at each other for no reason. This resulted in a pretty frazzled evening for the Damon and myself.

I can see why these are the plain states

The next day was productive but equally stressful. During lunch, Damon and I were trying to figure out our internet situation. We currently have unlimited internet with Cricket wireless and use our phones as mobile hotspots to stream movies and use our laptops. But after a text from Cricket we learned that we needed to upgrade our plan to keep streaming. Ok, no problem, except, according to Cricket, our phones don’t work with mobile hotspot (even though we’ve been using them like this for a year). So it looked like we needed to get a new phone to use as a mobile hotspot. We thought about switching to Verizon as they have better coverage but we quickly learned that wouldn’t work as we’d have to buy new phones and pay more per month for a plan.

At an impasse, we decided to go to the aquarium with the boys. We’d been to a SeaLife Aquarium in Orlando and quite enjoyed it, so we expected something similar I’m Kansas City. However, this is an aquarium that squished into a tight space that’s shared with another attraction. Just trying to pick up my tickets was a hassle. The staff was friendly and helpful in getting me to the right place but definitely took too long to get the passes.

I’m glad there were fish in the lobby to entertain the boys while we got the tickets

The inside was very detailed and offers a lot to see. However, the walkways were small and an adult stopping basically blocked the whole path. It was worse in the shark tunnel, which had no ventilation, and every person had to stop to take pictures. The boys liked the fish but were not interested in staying.

Very detailed and lots of variety

To top off the experience, for me, I destroyed my phone when it fell out of my pocket and into a toilette when I went to the bathroom. Not the end of the world, as we were talking about new phones anyways, but still aggravating as I couldn’t use it at all until I got something new.

This guy would lay on the tubes for a while then swim to another tube and lay on it

Since we were out, and it was still early, we decided to go to Ikea to get a new table top for our living room table (we were looking for something more stable). The boys seem to have more fun here – there’s lots to see and touch. And we successfully walked away with something, plus more (cause it’s IKEA – there’s always more).

Really neat to see the original Walt Disney Studios

We stopped for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, which has a 40 minute wait. To pass the time, we hit a nearby thrift store and got gas. We literally got back to the restaurant as our pager was goin off. Good sign, right?

Food!

I wish, it took almost an hour for our food to arrive. Our waitress was wonderful but was hindered by a severely backed up kitchen and a food runner who was completely lost. She addressed our issues as best she could, so we talked to her manager and made sure that she didn’t have to split her tip with anyone – it didn’t seem fair after she did a good job and others didn’t. On the plus side, little-dude discovered ketchup and loved it.

This stuff is awesome!

After a quick trip to Walmart, we headed home tired and frustrated. After two frustrating days in a row, Damon and I were kinda stuck on how to move forward. We wound up staying in the RV and it turned out to be the best thing we could’ve done. I discovered that my iPad used my SIM card, so I could use that as my phone until we got a replacement phone. We cleaned, we relaxed, we played with the boys – it was just what we needed. Which helped us find a solution to our phone issue – Damon is going to get a cheaper, cricket approved phone to use as a mobile hotspot and I’m getting his phone, which is the same as my old one, since I love that phone so much. All issues addressed for the smallest amount of money (hopefully).

These geese swarmed the campground after the rain.

After another long night (seeing a pattern here?) we set out to get a table top, phone, and groceries. After stopping at a great pawnshop and several cricket stores Damon walked away with his new phone and I had a new iPad. It was a very productive trip, but I was very tired.

We spent the next day relaxing at home to recover from our busy yesterday. Got lots done – laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking. All ready to head to Tulsa.

Even rough days can end with a rainbow

Omaha

After a wonderful time in Iowa, we headed to Omaha, Nebraska. Although it was supposed to be a short, two-hour drive, it stretched out due to a few pit stops.

Follow the red paved road??

The first was a much needed stop at a truck wash to give the RV a bath. We’ve owned her for seven months and have never washed her. It was desperately needed, especially after our last stop when we drove down the dusty roads. Now she looked so shiny!!

She’s never looked better

Our next stop was our customary stop for lunch and grocery shopping. Now that I’m trying to eat healthier, it seems like I’m speeding through fruit, vegetables, and chicken much faster so it was great to stock up on more food.

Lake front property for only $30 a night!

All this meant that you we didn’t get to the campsite until 6p. When we saw our site, we were very excited to get set up to enjoy the scenery.

After we set up, we noticed that we were in a great spot for the sunset and decided to break out the drone – something we hadn’t done in a while. I’m glad we did because we got some great video.

A wonderful way to end the day

After we all got a lousy night sleep, I woke pretty groggy. Some turn to coffee to get started after a bad night’s sleep. Me? I clean. I hadn’t even changed out of my PJs and I was putting laundry away. I don’t know why but cleaning energizes me.

Since all parties were tired we decided to keep it low-key and just do a little shopping. Found an amazing Goodwill where Damon found some fun stuff for the boys.

I love that he’s finally getting into stuffed animals

After striking out at the next few stops, we stopped at a playground so the boys could play. This particular playground included a splash pad that little-dude adored. His water loving older brother, however, wasn’t a fan and he wouldn’t go anywhere near it.

I may have gotten a little wet

Usually after a long day the boys konk out early. But for some reason they didn’t go to bed until really late, which late to some serious sleeping in. So much so that we didn’t get out of the RV until after lunch.

I make this look good

Which was unfortunate because we found an amazing Children’s Museum that the boys loved. It had a lot of activities that they both enjoyed – climbing, water play, and balls, to name a few. I was such a shame that we got there so late and only had a few hours to play.

Lots of stuff to do

After another difficult night, the boys woke up early this time. Even though we were all tired, I was glad that we could get to the Children’s Museum early.

I have to constantly remind myself that he’s only one

However, we didn’t get there until early afternoon, earlier than the day before, due to the boys falling asleep in the car. I’d hoped we would spend the afternoon there but it was soon clear that neither boys wanted to stay for very long.

My little monkeys

On our final day, we decided to take the boys to the lake that’s attached to the park we were staying in. To our surprise, this lake was filled with the friendliest fish you’d ever see. Mini-man was thrilled! He was able to walk around and see the fish close up.

Nothing better than swimming with sish

We got up early the next day and hit the road to our next stop – Kansas City.

Aren’t we adorable?

Des Moines, Iowa

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Oh boy. The drive to our campsite was an adventure. We left early as we had a five hour drive ahead of us. To shorten the drive, a bit, we decided not stop at Walmart. Instead, we found a McDonald’s at a truck has station to make lunch for ourselves and get McDonald’s for the kids. During this stop, Damon decided to start the van to charge the battery. Somehow, the doors locked and the keys got stuck inside while the car was running. Everything seemed okay, so we continued on to our campsite.

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This is the first time Google directions has failed us. Our first attempt to find our campsite led us to a road that was closed for construction. Then it left is to a camp that looked like it connected to our campground but we couldn’t be sure the roads were public so we turned back. We talked to some construction guys who were able to point us in the right direction, which, of course, is when we see the detour signs to our campground. During this time, we’d been driving down very dusty, dirt roads – our RV and car looked great. It’s only after we find the camp that we discovered that the very first road we came upon an hour before led directly to the campground. Google was sending us down the “shortest/fastest route”, not the easiest route. I really wish Google maps would get an RV option.

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We arrived at a beautiful state park, with no cell service – of course. Since we couldn’t turn the car off, we couldn’t detatch it which meant we couldn’t park the RV. So we headed to the local Walmart – they have lots of parking where we could leave the RV while we waited for help, plus we could go shopping.

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After we got the car unlocked (which took the guy about 15 seconds to accomplish), we headed back to our campsite to set up – which took a couple of trys. The signs at our site were confusing, so we pulled in one direction. Then after conferring with out neighbors we realized we weren’t parked in the right direction, so Damon had to turn us around. Needless to say, it was a long day.

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The next day was the Fourth of July and we didn’t have anything planned. We spent the morning plotting our next several stops, including adding a stop in Indianapolis. We got excited, and wanted to plan more, but this is difficult without cell service – so we headed to McDonald’s. The kids got to eat while Damon and I planned our leg after Chicago.

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We drove around a bit afterwards to run some errands. No thrifting, as all the stores were closed. But we did get the car washed (which was desperately needed after our drive down a dusty, dirt road) and picked up stuff for a cookout.

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We spent the evening enjoying our outdoor campsite. Damon hung the festoon lights, set up chairs, and put out the rug, making the whole area feel very cozy. The boys had fun playing outside. We even roasted marshmallows and had s’mores (little-dude loved that).

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The next day we took the boys to the Blank Park Zoo – Mini-man loves his animal books and was very excited to go inside. Despite being the day after a holiday, it was pretty empty and they had a lot of animals out. We got very close to a tiger, giraffe, and penguins – all of which Mini-man adored seeing. Little-dude enjoyed walking around and climbing on anything he could. As for me and Damon, we had our first real experience in parenting in the summer – enduring the heat so our kids could have a fun day at the zoo.

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Afterwards, we hit a few thrift stores and scored some awesome toys for the boys – including a stuffed horse that mini-man is in love with.

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One advantage to being in an area with few attractions and no cell service, is you eventually run out of attractions and start to tackle the little projects that have been put on the back burner for months. Damon fixed several drawers, reattached some fallen trim, installed a new bathroom faucet, and reinstalled our digital picture frames. These small projects didn’t take long and it felt amazing to have them complete.

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Out last day in Des Moines was beautiful. We were outside when mini-man kept asking to ‘wis’ (his word for swim). Knowing there was a lake next to our campground, we thought we would try to have the kids swim in a lake for the first time (we tend to avoid lakes in Florida thanks to alligators).

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It took some coaxing, but once we got the kids into the water they were sold. The both ran around, splashing and playing to their hearts content.

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Afterwards, we took the boys to get something to eat when it became apparent that they still needed to play. Fortunately, there was a playground next to the McDonald’s and the boys had a blast running around. It was a wonderful way to spend out last day.

This stop very satisfying – we had a cook-out, went swimming, went to the zoo, and completed a bunch of projects. Now onto our thirtieth state – Nebraska.

The Road to I-oh-way

“Funny, I thought it was pronounced ‘I-OH-Wah'”

“Oh it is, but we just don’t like anyone else to say like that”

The Music Man is one of my favorite movies. And every time I hear Iowa, I think of this line when Professor Harold Hill first gets off the train in Iowa.

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But before we actually get to Iowa, we had a few stops to make.

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After having some fun at Mt. Rushmore, we headed east, across South Dakota, and stopped in Chamberlain. Along the way, we passed a time zone and got pushed back an hour – which sucked since we had to adjust our schedules (from driving to sleeping). 😑

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Although we only stayed one night, the campground was nice and have us a good place to play outside.

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We started just before noon the next day for Sioux Falls and arrived fairly quickly.

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This proved wonderful as it gave us time to go run errands. The boys were thrilled to get out of the RV. We even scored a cute power wheels for little-dude for just $3!

After a long night, we spent the next day relaxing and enjoying

We spent our last day exploring Sioux Falls. First stop was the butterfly garden and aquarium. This place was adorable. The first room had cute aquariums fill with fish and a touch tank with the friendliest rays I’ve ever seen (truthfully – they liked attention and interacting with people).

The next room was the butterfly room and it was filled with butterfly’s. Little-dude loved it. Mini-man didn’t mind them but didn’t like them coming near him.

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The butterfly garden and aquarium were in a park with an incredible playground – comprised of several climbing towers, suited to kids of all ages. Mini-man had a blast checking out each tower.

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After a quick stop at a thrift store (where I found these awesome Disney record books), we headed back to the RV for some pool time.

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I’m super proud of little-dude, who is getting used to the water and even had fun in his float.

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Afterwards we stopped by the camps playground for some more fun. It was an interesting playground as it was completely surrounded by tents. When your camping, it’s considered a common courtesy to not walk through other people’s sites. So we were confused as to how we were supposed to get to the playground with walking through a site. We have up and just walked through an empty site.

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You’d think that after all that the kids would go to be on time – nope. Midnight bedtimes and both woke up at 7a. At least we got an early start for our five hour journey to our 28th state, and our stop for the Fourth of July – Des Moines, Iowa.

Visiting Mt. Rushmore

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Now you might be thinking – why are you visiting My. Rushmore in the summer!?! It’s hot, it’s crowded – doesn’t sound like fun. And I agree and we experienced the heat and crowds, but we managed to have a lot of fun visiting Mt. Rushmore.

We liked how quickly our trips become when we left early, so we started to make an effort to leave as early as possible. To make things even faster this time around, we did not Walmart like we usually do – we had plenty of food and snacks, so why waste time and money of you don’t have to.

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And while we arrived early, the drawback is the kids don’t get as much exercise. However, arriving early meant plenty of time to play after we set up. First stop + the pool, of course.

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After some fun pool time, mini-man noticed there was a playground AND golf course, so, of course, we had to visit.

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The boys and I enjoyed playing while Damon grabbed dinner. This turned out great because they boys crashed pretty early that night.

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This set us up perfectly for Mt. Rushmore. A lot of people warned us that the monument would be busy and to arrive as early as possible. Boy am I glad we listened.

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We got to the monument a little after nine, got a great parking spot and had the monument pretty much to ourselves. Which have us the person opportunity to take some fun pictures 😁

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As it got closer to 10, it definitely picked up, so we left the main monument. But instead of leaving, we headed to Iron Mountain Pass which provides an amazing view of the mountain.

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Then we head to the city of Hill View, via Needles Highway, which takes past some gorgeous needle shaped mountains.

The route is not only gorgeous, but it’s fun – lots of wooden bridge’s and cave tunnels to drive through.

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We hit Hill View right at lunch time and we’re starving. We had the option of eating local or going 20 minutes to Keystone to get fast food. A little research led us to Desperados.

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This awesome restaurant is located inside an old Western saloon from the 1880s! The atmosphere was adorable, the staff was friendly, and the food was delicious. I highly recommend it if you get the chance to visit.

At this point, it was getting hot, so we headed back to the resort for some more pool time. We spent two hours there! Mini-man did not want to leave. We finally persuaded him to leave so we could go shopping.

He wasn’t thrilled but once he realized we were going grocery shopping, he perked up. Both boys know grocery shopping = food. They love picking out their favorite stuff and eating it right away. I think this trip they at 5 or 6 things before we left the store (I can’t imagine what they’ll be like as teenagers).

We spent the rest of the evening cleaning and prepping for the next days trip to Chamberlain, South Dakota. We’re crossing the state to get to the Missouri River – what we intend to follow for our next several stops.

The Road to Mt. Rushmore

Over the span of a week, we visited three states, on our way to Mt. Rushmore from Denver. The journey started off rocky, mini-man had been sick with the stomach flu. I thought he was past the worst of it, but he woke up that morning throwing up.

Unfortunately, this made our drive pretty difficult. On top of being sick, he hasn’t eaten in days and was really hungry – which made him very cranky. We tried to make him as comfortable as possible but it was hard since we were driving.

When we finally arrived at our first stop, Caspar, Wyoming, we we’re eager to get the kids outside. Luckily, there was a playground. They both enjoyed playing and getting out. Me – I ended up bruising my tailbone when I took little-dude down the slide.

The next morning was hectic. Normally, our one nighters mean a quick getaway. Ya, not this time. I felt like every time we put something away, the boys took out more stuff.

Then the kicker, I was making some breakfast, in an attempt to eat healthier, when I sliced my pinkie. It smart and took me out of action for a while, but no lasting harm done.

Our drive to Billings, Montana was stressful thanks to all of our hiccup. But our new campsite turned out to be our saving grace. Not only did our campsite come with a patio and swing, the resort itself offered a playground, pool, and mini-golf! Just what we needed – some fun, outdoor time. We spent the rest of the day enjoying our patio area and a bunch of the kids outdoor toys.

The next morning we ran a few quick errands in Billings (Goodwill, Toys R Us, Walmart, and Costco), we came back to enjoy the amenities of our campground. I kid you not, we spent the next few days just swimming and playing golf – it was wonderful.

I’m am so proud of both boys – little-dude is getting used to swimming and enjoying himself!; While mini-man took to golf and had a blast hitting the ball around.

Our last stop before Mt. Rushmore was a national park in Dickenson, North Dakota – $6 and absolutely gorgeous and peaceful. It was a wonderful place to visit (minus the lack of cell service and electricity).

The boys had fun playing out in the field. I, unfortunately, caught some version of mini-mans illness and felt horrible. But, like any mom, I didn’t let it stop me from playing outside with the boys.

And, with that, we made it through THREE! states in less than a week. Now on to a national treasure – Mt. Rushmore.

Denver

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The journey to stop #52 started earlier than we expected. The boys fell asleep unusually early, which always means one thing – they get up early. However, this time early meant 4a! We took advantage and were on the road by 8a.

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About an hour into the drive, both boys had fallen back asleep when we hit a big rain storm. We hoped to drive through it but our windshield wipers got stuck, which made it difficult to drive. Thank goodness for two things – 1. this happened just as we were coming back into cell phone service! 2. There was a covered service station where Damon could pull in and try to fix the wipers. Added bonus, we needed gas anyways, so we filled up while fixing the wipers.

Back on the road, the boys being asleep gave Damon the chance to travel further than we usually do and I got the chance to play with my birthday present – Donkey Kong Frozen Jungle :D.

We arrived at our campsite around 3p and were excited to explore, so we piled into our van. Unfortunately, it was deader than dead. How could this be… we just put in a new battery and got a new alternator. What’s wrong with it this time!?! Lots of discussions between Damon and I didn’t really lead anywhere, so we called for roadside assistance. While we were waiting, Damon remembered our old battery was still in the car, so he used it to jump the car. It worked! Turns out, Damon left the dome light on in the van while we were towing it and it ran the battery down. At least we didn’t have to take it to a mechanic, again.

Still wanting to explore, we got into the van and headed into Aurora, CO (and driving helped to recharge the battery too!). We hit a couple of thrift stores, which were kind of a bust, but mini-man did walk away with a Stitch pillowpet, which he adores. We then hit our closest Walmart and hit the jackpot – it’s big, has sish, and I got a Lego Dimensions Harry Potter for $6!

The next day we had planned for just enjoying the nice weather at our campground when an unexpected thing happened – our living room TV fell down. I was reaching behind it when it popped off its mount. I freaked out – I barely touched it and it came down. After Damon looked at it, we discovered that the TV was only held on my four very small screws. Super glad this happened now and not while we were driving.

Since we needed a new mount anyways, we decided to treat ourselves to a new TV as well. After a bit of driving, and a very frustrating trip to Walmart (it was being reorganized and the place was a mess!), we found an awesome deal on a TLC 55″ TV at Costco. Along the way, we stumbled across a closing Toys-R-Us and scored some toys for the kids – some cute trains (including a sish train) and another Lego Dimension for me (and, yes, there’s still a few sets I don’t have).

After a long day of driving around, we made it back to the RV. I was not in a good mood – Damon and I had a miscommunication on where to meet at our last stop, which left me wondering around the store looking for him. But I wanted the TV up, so I watched the boys while he installed the new system.

It was worth the long day, though. The TV is up and looks great. We even put some fish on for mini-man and he loved it.

The next day we ventured into Denver to visit the Downtown Aquarium. The drive became intense when we got caught in a hail storm! The noise was very scary. We later learned that several tornados touched down in the Denver area. Super glad that we suffered no damage.

Mini-man was very excited to get to the aquarium. However, we instantly got off on the wrong foot. When I visited their website, it only promoted their restaurant. You had to hunt for the aquarium part and had no place to buy tickets. When we arrived, it to half an hour to buy tickets. Not acceptable for a place like this. We’ve been to smaller aquariums that we’re set up better.

Which is sad to have such a bad first impression because when we finally got inside, it was pretty cool.

Each room had theme park level theming and rock work. Tons of fish and lots of things to see. However, it felt rushed and there weren’t a lot of places to just sit and enjoy the fish. I also didn’t enjoy the exit area, which was filled with IAAPA cheap carnival games, making it hard to walk through.

It was a lot of fun, and the boys enjoyed themselves, but it’s not a place I feel the need to visit again.

Our original plan for the following day was to take the boys to the Children’s Museum. Unfortunately, mini-man woke up and starting throwing up. We hoped it was one and done, but he continued to get sick through the morning, so we chose to keep him home. One thing I love about RV living is how flexible our plans are.

I also love our playroom area. It’s been the perfect place for mini-man to relax and try to get better.

While I watched the boys, Damon ran some errands and came back, not only with lunch, but a treasure trove of toys for all of us. He found the boys numerous train sets and got me some coin sheets to organize my Lego Dimensions coins.

The next day mini-man woke up with a fever and felt sluggish, so we made it another home day – we were driving the next day and wanted to make sure that he got the rest he needed.

Fortunately, there was plenty to do in the RV, so I cleaned and prepped for our drive the next day while Damon ran some more errands. Since it’s our last stop with a Costco for a while, he went and stocked up on some items for us.

So while we didn’t get to do everything we wanted in Denver, it was still a wonderful stop. I’m so glad that we’ve gotten the RV to the point that we can enjoy and relax when we need to. Especially now that we have the dedicated play space for the boys. Now back to Wyoming – our first stop on our way to Mt. Rushmore.