Friday, July 18, 2008

Vacation blog post part 1

I'm at the hotel with Robin and we are about ready to head out to look for breakfast and then hit the CHA show. It was fun chatting with her last night in person :) I've been trying to keep track of what we've been doing every day since we left in a 'journal' on my computer, so here's just a copy and paste of what we've been up to so far on our trip. Sorry there aren't any photos to go with this right now, but there are lots to get through and I only had an opportunity finally last night to get them uploaded to my computer from the camera card.

July 12 Saturday
We finally got on the interstate out of town about 10:30. We had gone by the Family Christian store to pick up the newest Veggie Tales release that was available today since we had prepurchased it. Of course Sarah wanted to watch it right away, but that will have to wait until we get to MommyPat and Walt’s house.
We stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s in Ft. Morgan, CO.
We arrived in Ogallala, Nebraska about 3:30. We stopped at the Lake McConaughy visitor center to register and then we found a camping spot in the campground below the dam. It was a really nice area with lots of flat grassy areas and plenty of large shade trees. It was ‘primitive’ camping though as there was no running water anywhere near us. The closest ‘modern’ facilities were across the lake from us.
While Mark, Melinda and Bryce got the tent set up the girls explored the stream near out site from the small bridge that crossed it. We had asked them earlier to help clear a spot of ground for the tent by picking up some of the fallen branches and putting them in the firepit the previous occupants had left behind. It didn’t take the girls long to begin playing ‘Pooh Sticks’ with the branches they had picked up- each throwing a stick into the stream and watching to see which one would appear on the other side of the bridge first. Our camp ground was amazing clear of small sticks and twigs once this game begun.
After the tent was in place and cots, mattress, and sleeping bags put out we got out the bag of watermelon slices that we had brought from home for a snack. By the time we were done we were covered in sticky red watermelon juice. Carissa had it dripping off her chin, it was running down Beth’s arm and dripping off her elbow, Bryce’s cheeks were sticky, and Sarah’s shirt was wet with red juice all down the front. Brenna was the neatest of the bunch amazingly and just needed a quick swipe of a wet wipe to get cleaned up. It was delicious!
We drove back into Ogallala for dinner at the Livery Barn Café and Crystal Palace Revue show. We ate dinner and strolled through the western museum while we waited for the show to start. It was over an hour of songs and comedy- lots of fun that even Sarah enjoyed most of the time.
By the time we got back to camp it was dark and time for bed. We drove over to the bathroom to brush our teeth, and then turned in. It was a peaceful night for the most part. The wind was blowing, and trains went by blowing their whistles fairly regularly.

July 13, 2008 Sunday
We woke up before 6 to the chirping of many birds. We had a quick breakfast of milk, cereal and apples, then packed up the tent and headed down Interstate 80 to Omaha.
By the time we got to Omaha, we only had a few hours to spend at the zoo before it closed. It is a great zoo, we could have easily spent all day there, so I guess that means that we will have to go back again sometime when we aren’t in so much of a hurry. My favorite exhibit was the desert dome. The upper level of the exhibit features different desert environments and their plants and animals- you wander around a narrow path and many of the animals are in exhibits where you can see them without fences between you and them. The lower level of the desert dome is the night animals exhibit- bats, alligators, beavers, and cave systems. It was very dark and you really had to stop and be quiet to have a chance at seeing the animals.
After we were done at the zoo, we got back in the van and drover further down the road to spend the night at Lake Anita State Park in Iowa, just outside of Des Moines. It was a nice park with showers, which unfortunately became a blessing. We had eaten dinner at Golden Corral for dinner, and evidently Sarah had a little too much as in the middle of the night she climbed into my sleeping bag with me and promptly started throwing up. Once her stomach was empty she seemed OK with no other signs of illness.

July 14, 2008 Monday
We got up and all took showers, then we drove to Des Moines and spent a few hours at SCI, the Iowa state science center. They had a new exhibit on the big dinosaurs, with emphasis on the carnivorous ones. Have you ever heard of gigantosauraus? Me either. They only have a few bones from this giant. The one on exhibit was one of its neck vertebrae, and that was almost 6 feet tall. We spent most of our time in the ‘Get Moving’ exhibit room with its egg drop, domino, and rocket launcher exhibits among others. We had seem most of the other exhibits at other museums, or they were broken.
We had originally planned to drive to Indiana Dunes State Park , but we knew it was going to be an hour past sunset before we would arrive, so we opted to stop earlier. We got a spot at Illini State Park. It is right on the river with a beautiful view of the small dam they have there. The camp host was lacking in manners (or maybe we just didn’t appreciate his sense of humor), there were lots of trains going by blowing their whistles all night, and another camper felt the need to share their vintage Air Supply music with us at high volume at 5 in the morning before it was light, so the night was less than restful.

July 15 Tuesday
We changed our minds and decided to try and camp at the northwest side of Chicago instead of going the dunes. We thought that would save us some time this day at least. But, we quickly learned that the new map I bought is lacking too many details and we spent a while wandering around the outskirts of Chicago trying to figure out where we were. Finally, we found the county park we wanted to camp out only to discover that it was closed to camping due to the high level of the river. We had a picnic lunch and set off to find another option. The Paul Wolff Forest Preserve had their RV area open for camping. Given that there isn’t anything closer, we decided to stay. The campground doesn’t have any running water in the bathrooms- so no showers (my biggest complaint), but it is pretty quiet at night- only a few trains going by and the conductors don’t hang on the whistles when they go by.
We drove into Chicago for the evening after getting the tent set up. We found a parking spot and spent a little while walking along the shore. We drove back out of town and had dinner at IHOP, and then went back to camp to head to bed. The mosquitoes nearly ate us alive while we attempted to brush our teeth before getting into the tent, so I think we will do that before we go back to camp for the night from now on.

July 16 Wednesday
We are driving in to town to go to the Museum of Science of Industry. It’s only taken us an hour to get downtown and another 15 minutes to find a parking spot- not too bad. Driving in the big cities is always enough to remind us of why we don’t want to live in one.
We parked on the street and headed to the Museum of Science and Industry for the day. This science museum is impressive. We’ve been to a lot of them over the years around the country and I don’t think there are many that I would say compare. COSI in Ohio is probably the closest.
Favorite exhibits-
Toymaker, an exhibit about manufacturing and the role that robotics plays in the process. You see the different steps of the process to design and make a toy top called the Gravitron. Bryce seemed pretty fascinated with the robotics and spent a lot of time reading all of the different signs and watching the videos. We bought a personalized top for a Christmas tree ornament, which was made in front of us by a robotic assembly line.
Coal mine- an exhibit with a tour where you take an elevator down into the coal mine, ride a train in through the tunnels, and see real working coal mine machinery. It was very similar to the gold mine tour we took in Cripple Creek in June, only this tour was only in a mock-up of a mine.
Petroleum Planet- Sarah loved the bubbles in the front part of the exhibit, driving simulators

July 17 Thursday
Spent the morning at McDonald’s using their wifi connection while the kids played in the play area, well mainly Mark used the wifi, though I did get a few minutes to briefly look at my email. We had a hard time getting Sarah to leave she was having so much fun, even after two hours there.
We drove into the city and spent the afternoon at the zoo. It was a little more pleasant than we had thought it would be- clouds would occasionally give us a break from the direct sun and there was a nice breeze blowing inland from the lake.
After dinner, Mark drove me to the convention center hotel where I met Robin at visited with Connie and Jodi Lawrence for a while before we headed up to our room to chat and I could get cleaned up. We watched ‘Made of Honor’ before turning in.



Post a Comment

<< Home