Monday, June 27, 2016

Family Roadtrip - Part 3

DAY 9: (Bremerton, WA - Pendleton, OR)

Today we left Jared's dad's house for our drive back towards Indiana. We planned a different route home going through Colorado with some cool stops in between. We had hoped to see Mt. Rainier again on our drive south towards Portland, but it was way too overcast. We did see a small glimpse of Mt. St. Helens but I would love to come back and see them both closer. 
After we came into Oregon we drove along the Columbia River Gorge and it might be the most beautiful place I've ever seen. We took some scenic paths and stopped at pull offs along the way. They have really nice paved walking trails that we'd love to take sometime. I definitely see Oregon being a future vacation spot for us.

For lunch we pulled into a little town called Arlington and had a picnic lunch. They had an old train set up for their visitor center and we talked to the lady their for awhile. She told us some history of the town and gave the kids some candy and coloring books. It was a fun random stop! This was also the exit that I decided to get on the interstate going west instead of east. Oops, at least it wasn't super far before we could turn around again. 
We finished off the night with dinner and pies at Shari's diner and swimming in the coldest pool so far this trip. I remember being that kid who would swim until my lips turned blue and apparently Oliver is the same way. It was freezing!

DAY 10: (Pendleton, OR - Salt Lake City, UT)

Today was another one of those long drive days with no big stops planned. We thought we would just stop here and there if we saw something fun. Once again, I love Oregon, it's beautiful  and everyone we met was super nice. It is crazy how the terrain is constantly changing on our drives. We truly live in a beautiful country! 

When driving through Idaho we stopped at Malad Gorge State Park. They had a nice bridge that went right over the gorge and a waterfall. It was a nice stop and the kids enjoyed getting out and walking a bit. We got to Salt Lake City in the evening so we didn't see too much but what we saw was beautiful. We grabbed dinner real quick and finished off the night with a swim.

DAY 11: ( Salt Lake City, UT - Grand Junction, CO )

Our drive wasn't too long today but we wanted to swing down to Moab and go to Arches National Park. What a drive! It was a shorter drive but it seemed to last forever driving through Utah. We stopped at a rest area on the top of a mountain for lunch and it seemed like you could see forever. 

Arches National Park was one of the busier attractions we went to. Traffic flowed nicely but it still felt full. The arches and rocks were beautiful and the kids seemed to enjoy hiking a bit. They were very tired after walking around and Ivy was asleep before we left the park. We got to Grand Junction at a decent time and the kids were thrilled to see they had a Chick Fil A. We ate dinner and went swimming again. The kids look forward to swimming all day!

DAY 12: (Grand Junction, CO - Frisco, CO)

Today was one of our shorter drive days because we knew there was a lot we wanted to do in this area. This was the first morning we woke up and physically felt exhausted. The kids even got back in bed after we had them dressed and ready. I really think the elevation had a lot to do with our lack of energy this morning. Thankfully it did get better as we got moving but we definitely noticed the air was thinner. Pretty interesting how that all works!
Our first stop along our drive was Glenwood Springs Canyon. It was right along the Colorado River and the kids enjoyed throwing rocks in. I think that's the first time I've actually seen legit rapids. It would definitely be fun to go white water rafting there!

We have friends who live in Dillon, CO and they recommended a few places to go. One of them was a local park next to Lake Dillon with beautiful views and a playground for the kids to play. It was amazing! This moment with the snow capped mountains all around had me browsing houses in the area. I've never thought of leaving Indiana but this vacation has definitely put some dreams in my head. 

Poor Oliver had a bloody nose but thankfully it didn't hold him down for long. 

After the park, we drove an extra hour to go see Mt. Evans.  It's the highest mountain in the US that you can drive up. It was spectacular and terrifying at the same time. There are no guard rails and nothing that would stop you from falling off the edge. I was freaking out initially but I got better as we went. There were mountain goats and other wildlife next to the road or on it in some cases. It may be our favorite part of the trip. Jared climbed to the top while the kids and I stayed below at the parking lot. He said he was knee deep in snow at some points. It was 67 degrees at the bottom of the mountain and 38 degrees at the top. It was a great experience and I would recommend it to everyone. 
Tonight was the first night we almost skipped swimming but the kids were so excited about it that we caved. We ordered pizza from a local place, Peppino's, and had a nice night in.

DAY 13: (Frisco, CO - Salina, KS)

We were told by friends that once you pass Denver you're pretty much heading home and it's so true. I was sad to say goodbye to the mountains and winding roads. 
I really didn't think I'd have anything to post today but we had the most delicious dinner. If you're ever passing through Kansas you have to try this place. It's this little hamburger shop that has been open for 94 years and they have the best little sliders. It's call Cozy Inn Hamburgers and it's officially my favorite burger. They have a super simple menu and you buy burgers by the sack and they come with chips and a can of pop. Loved it! We also stopped by DQ and then went swimming.

DAY 14: (Salina, KS - St. Louis, MO)

We really didn't do anything today besides drive to our destination. Jared grew up in St. Peters, MO so he took us by his old house and his old school. He really enjoyed showing us his old neighborhood and telling stories. After that we just headed to the hotel and stayed in for the night. We ate at the hotel restaurant and swam in our last pool. As usual, the kids loved it! Not sure why but I didn't take a single picture today. :(

DAY 15 (St. Louis, MO - Indianapolis, IN)

We had originally talked about going to the zoo today or the children's museum but we decided we'd rather get home at a decent time. It ended up raining pretty hard so I'm glad we opted to head home. Also, I just realized that today is the only day on our vacation that we encountered rain. We had mist in Seattle but nothing that hindered our plans. What a blessing!

All in all this was an amazing vacation with so many great memories made. It was great to just spend time together away from everyday life. The kids were champs in the car which we are super thankful for.  

15 days, 11 hotels, 13 states, and 5,658 miles.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Family Roadtrip - Part 2

Day 6: Adventures in Seattle
We got up early this morning to take the ferry boat to Seattle. It was so fun and something our family had never experienced. Our first stop was getting on the foot ferry at Port Orchard, and then taking that to the port at Bremerton to hop on the larger ferry to Seattle. It was about an hour and fifteen minutes for both ferry rides combined. The kids seemed to really enjoy it and we were able to see some harbor seals hanging out on a buoy as we rode by. 

After we arrived in Seattle we walked to the Pike Place Market, watched the fish guys do their thing, and tried some yummy samples from other vendors. It was amazing how huge this place was! We walked back to the water front, rode the big ferris wheel, and then had lunch at Red Robin. We then did the reverse trip back to Port Orchard. 

Gary and Jessie have a boat docked in Port Orchard and we took a ride out on that. It was so much fun and such a beautiful boat ride. The kids and Jared all had a turn driving the boat and Oliver even did a donut. Hopefully it's something they will remember for a long time.

DAY 7: Trip to Ocean Shores
Today was an exciting day for Oliver, we finally made it to the Angry Birds movie! He has been watching previews for this movie and talking about it ever since the first ad came out. He loved it! And the theater had super comfy seats so that's definitely a plus. 

After the movie we headed for a drive to Ocean Shores. The kids have never seen the Pacific Ocean (or any ocean) so since we were so close we figured we'd take the extra drive out there. So glad we did! It was chilly but the kids absolutely loved playing in the sand and building sand castles. 

We kept passing signs for Forks and Port Angeles and the Twilight fangirl in me was freaking out. We talked about driving up there but it would've been a long extra drive and it would've been dark by the time we got there. It was cool just to be in the same general area. I definitely feel a Twilight marathon coming on.

DAY 8: Ivy's Birthday
Today was a really laid back day. It was kind of a misty, chilly day so we didn't really plan much of anything besides just hanging out together. It was Ivy's birthday and she requested "pink cake, more cake, chocolate, and blueberries". We let her pick out some cupcakes at the store and she ended up picking some out with big sprinkles. We finished off the night with some pizza and watching Madagascar with grandpa and Jessie.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Family Roadtrip - Part 1

For those of you who didn't know, our family took a two week vacation driving out west to visit Jared's dad. This has been in the works for almost a year so it was exciting to finally be able to go. I knew we'd be taking a ton of pictures and experiencing so many things so I thought I'd write a little each day as we go. I'll probably do 3 posts, our trek to Seattle, our visit in Seattle, and then our drive home.

DAY 1: (Plainfield, IN - Mitchell, SD)
From the beginning we knew day 1 was going to be our big driving day. We figured the kids would be fresh and probably last the longest. It was about a 12 hour drive and they did amazing! The last hour was rough for Ivy but we broke out some oreos and all was well. We didn't have too much planned when we got there except for crashing at the hotel. We ended the day with swimming and Pizza. The kids were so excited to swim! Love being able to spend time with them and making these great memories!
The first of many rest area lunches. 

Finally made it to South Dakota! It was crazy windy there. 

We have several videos of the kids swimming but this is our only pool picture. 

DAY 2: (Mitchell, SD - Rapid City, SD)
We started out the morning by checking out the corn palace in Mitchell. It was a good photo op but aside from that there wasn't too much to check out. We collect magnets of states that we go to and we were able to pick those up at their gift shop, so that was cool. 

We came across 1880 Town on the way to our next destination so we pulled in there for a picnic. We had to watch our time a bit so we didn't actually get to go through it. They had a cute little train car diner as well. It all looked like a fun stop but maybe next time.

Our big plan for the day was checking out the Badlands and looking for prairie dogs. The Badlands did not disappoint!  We took the scenic route through the park and it was incredibly beautiful. We got out at a few viewpoints and then the kids were kind of over it. Jared stopped at several more and got some cool panoramic shots. He made me nervous on some of the ledges but then again it doesn't take much to make me nervous. The rattlesnake warning signs also made me hold the kids a little closer. We took a back road in the park that lead to a heavily populated prairie dog section. They were everywhere! Some even made holes in the gravel road. Super cute! Loved Ivy's "bye doggies" response as we were leaving them. 

On the way out of there we came into the town of Wall and checked out the famous Wall Drug Store. There were signs for this place for miles and miles and it was huge. We did a quick walk though and had some ice cream. It's one of those places that has history to it which I like. We finished off the night with Outback and more swimming. The kids LOVE to swim!

DAY 3: (Rapid City, SD - Billings, MT) 
Our main stop planned for today was Mount Rushmore. It was quite the site and the drive there was beautiful as well! It's amazing to me how they made that. We walked the presidential trail and the kids were champs. It had some cool informational things but with the kids we bypassed most of that. I'm so glad we were able to make the stop! Ivy said "Bye presidents" as we walked away.

The 1880 train was a possibility for our stop in Keystone but we were kind of running low on time. It looks so fun though!  Since we didn't do the train we were able to visit the Dinosaur Park in Rapid City. The kids seemed to really enjoy it and there was a nice gift shop and everything was reasonably priced. 

The rest of the day was pretty much driving to Billings. Montana is beautiful! Everything was so spread out and sometimes we'd go miles and miles without seeing anything except for cattle. At one point our gps said 90 miles to the next gas station and 250 miles to the next rest area. We stopped for a picnic lunch in a little town called Broadus (population 468) and the kids played at the park with another little boy. It was refreshing to be so far away from everything. 
We finished off the night with dinner at Mooyah's and more swimming. We like to stay away from restaurants that we have at home whenever we're on vacation. Mooyah's was delicious and had gluten free buns which is a definite win! I'd go back if we could.
Ivy's head was constantly falling forward when she napped so we came up with this jacket concoction. Worked pretty well! 

DAY 4 (Billings, MT - Spokane, WA)
Today was a longer drive day so we didn't really plan any big stops. We came into the west side of Montana/Idaho and the mountains were beautiful and unlike anything we'd ever driven through. We stopped for awhile in Butte, MT for lunch and a stroll through Walmart.  They had beautiful mountains with snow still on them. We briefly saw "Our Lady of the Rockies" but it was hard to see due to cloud cover. 
We drove through Coeur D'Alene , ID and they had the most beautiful views over the lake. We were going to stay there but the hotels were booked up. 
We arrived in Spokane and it was crazy busy. We hit rush hour traffic and decided we didn't want to go back out in it so we ordered pizza and stayed in. It was a relaxing night and it was lovely.
Our first glimpse of snow capped mountains. Beautiful!

DAY 5 (Spokane, WA - Bremerton, WA)
Today was one of our shorter drive days and we didn't have too much planned other than getting to Jessie and grandpa's. We stopped at some pretty pull offs along the way but we mainly drove through. It was super cloudy when we hit the mountains but it was still beautiful. 
We spent the evening at their house getting settled, going to the grocery store, playing at the park and just catching up.

This concludes our part one post! We had a very successful drive across the country. Stay tuned for time in Bremerton/Seattle! :)