The kids were both super good the entire way down. They both woke up each time we stopped for gas. They were delighted to go into a gas station bathroom and a Walmart in the middle of the night--I guess they felt like they were really breaking the rules.
At about 6 a.m. we stopped for gas, breakfast, and bathrooms at McDonald's. This one had a playland, so that was a nice way for them to stretch their legs and let out some energy. (Little did we know that this would be the first of a million McDonald's playlands in our future this trip.)
Back on the road with a DVD to entertain them for the last few hours of the drive.
Once we arrived, the kids wasted no time checking out the pile of cozy blankets and new sleeping bags that Grammy had prepared for them. They slept on the floor in our room the first few nights, but then made their way onto the bed midweek. Poor dad ended up on the couch. Here the kids are pretending to sleep. (I guess Liv forgot that you close your eyes when sleeping).
I was not the best photographer on this vacation, so here are just random moments.
The kids REALLY wanted to swim in the lake, but it was too cold. We took them to the dock just to check things out one day. I had no idea this dock visit was such a hit, until, on our last day as we were preparing to leave, we asked the kids what their favorite part of the trip was.Ben said this trip to the docks. Had I known, we could have easily taken him back here a time or two. Live and learn.
The carnival just happened to be in town the weekend that we were there, so we hit that up on Saturday and Sunday. We managed to spend the most money possible in our attempts to get a good deal--it's a skill. :-) See, we planned to buy the kids wrist bands, but then Saturday by the time we got there the wrist band deal was only good for another hour. So we decided to do wrist bands the next day. But of course the kids wanted to ride a few rides after seeing the carnival in full swing.
$40 later...we headed out only to return the next day, when we did buy wristbands. But then Mike and I bought a pack of solo tickets to ride the Kamikaze. Then the kids had to have a parent for a bunch of rides, so Mike just ended up buying a wristband anyway. Then there were the treats and games and... you get the picture. Seriously, we spent twice what we should have had we thought things through. But a good time was had by all, so it was worth it.
Mike and I ditched the kids with Grammy and Grampy and drove South about 45 minutes for date night. We didn't really care where we went, as long as it did not involve kids.
We saw a movie (Life, pretty good). Took a short nap at the hotel. Had dinner at a steak joint. Perused Target and The Container Store with no crying or whining. (Mike was tempted but kept it together.)
We even had dessert at the bar in The Cheesecake Factory at 9:30 p.m. on a school night. :-)
The next day we had a leisurely breakfast, popped into the local outlet mall, then headed back and met the kids and Grammy and Grampy for lunch. It might not sound like a wild and crazy night, but for us it was heaven just to have 24 hours in which we didn't have to take care of anyone but ourselves and could be on our own schedule.
Friday evening we loaded back up and headed out. We stopped in Joplin at a nice, clean truck stop with a huge store where the kids can climb on the huge trucks. (We'd stopped here once before and remembered that it was a good spot.)