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