Thursday, June 28, 2012

day 18: sunshine and summertime

just another lovely lazy day. it was a hot one! 
i got to try out the moped and check that off my list! 1 down, 24 to go! 

we stayed inside to stay cool and dad needed the computer to do email. however he hasn't been on there in a very long time because he uses his fancy phone to do everything, so he didn't know how to operate the trackpad. after watching him struggle for awhile derek finally came over and helped out. 

after lunch everyone loaded up the cars and headed over to the van ginkel house to play for the afternoon. jordan managed to get tonka upstairs and a little while later he came down dressed like this...

so precious! 
we played plenty of card games and enjoyed tacos for dinner. we played outside while the fireflies came out and until the bats scared mom inside. 

then all the kids settled down to watch cinderella until it was time to head home. 
only a little bit longer until we have to leave 

day 17: water fight!

what a crazy day! 
brooke and i took the opportunity to head into town to drop some postcards off at the post office and then stop by the library. hehe. when we came back we were ambushed by nick and tonka with water guns!! we threw on our swim suits and all chaos broke out! what started with just a few kids and buckets of water being thrown around quickly moved to the dads joining in and unhooking the sprinkler to use the hose and then the moms joined in after a mastermind attack from emery on onita. it was parents versus kids and it was fun! the kids were constantly running back to the side of the house to fill up buckets and ambush the parents as the moms stood guard around the edges of the lawn trying {and failing} not to get wet while the dad used their hoses to get anyone within reach. 
it was fun and certainly helped to cool off the hot day. after everyone was tired out we left the sprinkler under the trampoline and just lounged and dried off before getting ready to go to derek's baseball game. 
he played a great game! 

ignore tonka - he still doesn't understand how to smile

after cheering for him we went home and a fun game of bs all around the dining room table. 
so far it's been a perfect vacation :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

day 16: take me out to the ball game

it's odd to spend a whole day relaxing without needing to drive anywhere. 
brooke and dad tried out the moped... 

neither of them crashed! we enjoyed a relaxing day and the Van Ginkel girls came over to play for awhile and had dinner before going to cheer at nick's baseball game. he certainly had the loudest cheering section when they announced his name! 

they did a great job and ended early because of the 10 run mercy rule. way to go nick! 
after the game the whole gang headed back and enjoyed sitting around the campfire again.
great way to end a great day.

day 15: we are family

we all bounced out of bed and took off the last few hour across illinois and then the 7 hours across iowa to get to Rock Valley to see family! 

it was a lot of driving and *lots* of cornfields. we were having withdrawals from being tourists so we had to take a few photos by the cornfields. 

then as we were kept driving we found this! 

of course we stopped :) we had to satisfy our tourists needs but they were closed so we just looked around and then hit the road.

we finally made it by 7pm to the Elgersma campground! they made a yummy hot dog dinner and the Van Ginkel family came over too! we all had a blast of a time playing, talking, and sitting around the campfire. it's so great to see family again!

day 14: chicago is my kinda town

last day of route 66! 
we spent part of the morning trying to find the memorials to President Lincoln including his tomb. but we didn't have good maps or even an idea where things were so we found a couple and then got out of town. we drove for awhile until we came to McLean the home of the Pig Hip Restaurant. unfortunately it burned down in 2009 so we took a photo of the house that was right next to the restaurant that the owners have lived in for years and years and years. 
the E is on the chimney because the owners name was  Ernie Edwards
after we saw the empty lot of what we wanted to see we drove past the Dixie Truck Stop that has been a stop for motorists since the early days of the route and we found this truck! 

this was our favorite gum as kids so we were pretty excited to see a whole semi truck of it! 
after a quick stop here we continued down the orignal route to Funks Grove where they make real maple sirup. in this case sirup is spelled with an i because it is made from pure sap from the tree rather than juice with added flavors like syrup. 
when we pulled into this farm we were snapping a photo with this barn when a group of people came out and offered to take our photo. they were doing route 66 just from chicago to springfield. it was a whole group of adults taking their parents on this trip for a christmas gift. we enjoyed talking with them and they loved our shirts :) brooke did such a great job with them! 
after talking with them we went into the shop and sampled some pure maple sirup. it was delicious! so we got some and then hit the road again. 

we continued past Normal and Bloomington into Pontiac which the group we just met told us had a great museum. it was a two story museum with the bottom floor dedicated to the route 66 hall of fame which included many of the key places along the route. it also included a whole section of Bob Waldmire complete with his vw van and his remodeled bus. the second floor had a war museum and a whole section with actual items from the 1940's. 

a small car covered in drawings from all over the route

Bob Waldmire's van he took on the route for years

his remodeled school bus - it was a cute little home complete with kitchen and sauna
after spending time in the museum we continued to O'Dell where we found an old underpass that had to be made because the road was too busy to cross. 

just down the road was a restored gas station. we stopped by but there wasn't much there and so we figured we just had a little bit left to go so lets get it done! 

we had to stop by Wilmington to see the Gemini Giant. we weren't hungry so we didn't eat at the Launching Pad Drive-In and left to head the last few miles to Chicago. 

we tried to stop in Joliet but we took a wrong exit and ended up in the wrong part of the town. we finally figured out how to get out of there and ended up at a gas station a little further east. dad talked to some guys and they gave him good directions to get back on route 66. with those good directions we got on the right roads and we quickly passed through the right roads of Joliet and then into Chicago! we had a good map of Chicago that pointed out where the route was. we passed the bakery restaurant 
 Lou Mitchell's where a lot of people would eat before leaving to travel the route but they were closed for the day so we kept going to find the begin route 66 sign. 

we couldn't be on the road that was indicated on the map because it was a one way street going to the opposite way we needed to. but there were signs that indicated the route on the next street over so we kept following those and surprise surprise we found an end route sign! we stopped at the stop light and put on our hazards while the kids and mom jumped out and snapped a photo before the light turned green. 

there were no places to stop out that were talked about in the book or in the map so we thought we might just head over to Iowa but we thought we would just turn down the street that was originally marked on our map. and *ta da* we found the begin sign! once again there was no where to stop so we just pulled over and all jumped out. there were a bunch of people trying to take their photo with the sign and it was finally our turn. surprisingly we didn't even get in trouble for stopping in the street!

we finished route 66

from there it was time to start driving across illinois to get to iowa. we kept ourselves entertained in the back with chips. 

when we finally stopped for the night about an hour from the border of Iowa the kids played settlers of catan {i bet tonka} and then we thought we would take some funny photos. here's just one good one :) 

a cute normal family right?
still loving each other after two weeks stuck together in the box!

Monday, June 25, 2012

day 13: sweet dreams are made of these who am i to disagree

we woke up from our KOA and rolled down the road to Meramec Caverns just to check it out. after looking around we headed down the road and stopped by the Jesse James Wax Museum because the Meramec Caverns had been Jesse James hideout at one point. we wandered in but didn’t go into the actually exhibit part because wax people are a little freaky to dad. so we hit the road to head up to St. Louis where the bulk of our day would be spent. 

we absolutely had to stop by Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. They have served frozen “concretes” to travelers since the prime days of the route. so we each got a different concrete, for those of you that don’t know {like we ddin’t} a concrete is like a blizzard but with a custard base {I think} so when its container is flipped upside down it doesn’t even budge. it was so good! as we were standing there and enjoying our treat a lady and her son came up and starting asking us about our trip and giving us advice on where we should go in St. Louis. it’s rather amazing how friendly and talkative complete strangers can be! 

after we finished our yummy treat we moved just a couple blocks down the road and found the old Donuts Drive In! we couldn’t just leave without having a donut so we bought a dozen to enjoy as snacks and breakfast the next day. the people there had more than enough suggestions of good eats that would have kept us there a week! 

one place was called Googy Louie which was just on the next block so we did stop by there and picked up one of their famous butter cakes. in that short span of time we picked up so much sugar! 

after that influx of sugary goods into our pantry it was time to navigate our way to the Gateway Arch! we made it successfully down to the water area but then we had to figure out where to park! we managed to get down by the water and find the free rv parking. it was a nice walk past the park and then up the steps to the arch. we walked across the lovely green lawn and saw a ramp to go beneath. 

so we went through security and found a whole underground area. we got tickets to ride the tram to the top but we had to wait about an hour and a half to ride it so we walked through the really big museum that covered from 1800 to 1900. there was also a shop with delicious bread and pepperoni sticks that we munched on for a late snack. finally it was our turn to go to the top! we had to wait for our turn to go onto the trams and when they finally said we could go we were at the front of our grouping. mom was the first to attempt to go through the turnstile ... attempt is definitely the right word! she managed to get her leg stuck somehow in the machine and couldn't get moving! the rest of us were cracking up because there was no way to help her. i don't think any of us stopped laughing for a couple of minutes. 

we finally made it to the top after a 4 minute, 630 feet tram ride up and this was the view we had. 

that is a long way down

we were at 630 feet up. that is 25 feet taller than the top spike of the space needle. 

looking out over st. louis on one side and illinois on the other.
it was amazing to be up there and see so far out! i usually hate heights but i was pretty good! until i would realize just how incredibly high up we were and how far over you had to lean to look out the window. suddenly there was a feeling that the whole structure was swaying but we just didn't think about that :) 

back down at the base we walked along the mississippi river to get back to our rv. 

another view of the arch
we hit the road and crossed over the bridge into illinois! 

we had a long ways to drive until we got up into springfield just before 8pm. in springfield there was the home of the Cozy Dog Drive In. brooke couldn't wait to try a cozy dog so we ordered a bunch for dinner. as we were getting our food there were about 3 different groups that tried to come in but they had just closed. we got in just minutes before they closed! 

we enjoyed our food and then left to head to our KOA for the night. the trip was almost over!