Chris travels some with his job, and was scheduled to go to St. Louis during the first week of September. He had invited us to go with him since he would be driving up there, but I initially said no thanks. I mean, it's really not that fun to pack for all of us and be in the car for 6 hours just to sit in the hotel room while he works. However, after some thought, I changed my mind. I kept thinking that I should take the opportunity to go with him while we still can. Brianna will start school next year which will really tie us down. Plus, with the twinbies joining our family in about 4 months, I think that I need to soak up all the spontaneity I can right now!
We left the Tuesday after Labor Day (September 4th) with the intention of making really good time and getting to St. Louis in plenty of time to do something that evening. Well, my number one rule for traveling with kids is to be FLEXIBLE, and this certainly came into play on this trip. The morning didn't go so smoothly as I wasn't feeling great, so we left almost an hour later than we wanted to. Then, it poured rain on us for the first hour so we couldn't drive as fast as we normally do. After we finally got out of the rain, Bren had to go potty. Then I needed a snack. Then, Bren had to potty again, only this time he didn't make it so we had to do a clothes change. Overall, our travel was just SLOW compared to what we had in mind.
However, we were driving right through the city where my parents live, so we were able to stop and have lunch with my dad. That was really nice except that our lunch got cut short due to us running behind. After lunch, we gave the kiddos their blankets, turned the music down low, and prayed they would fall asleep. They did :-).
This allowed us to really make some good time, and we rolled into St. Louis at about 5:00pm. We found our hotel, got checked in, went to dinner at Texas Roadhouse, then got a few groceries for the kids and I to have in our room during the day. I hadn't really felt well all day, but after all that? I was TIRED. So, our exciting evening of sightseeing ended early after dinner when we crashed at the hotel before 10pm, ha!
The next two days (Wednesday and Thursday), Chris had to work. That left us hanging out at the hotel all day, but it really wasn't bad at all. We got the chance to relax and swim and just have down time. It was nice for me especially because I didn't have housework to do and I got to just enjoy relaxing!
Cuties right before a morning swim!
A dear friend of mine and Chris's from high school lives in the area. His name is Nic, and we met up for dinner on Wednesday night. After dinner, we went to Bible study with him, which was really great! It was wonderful getting to meet his church family and see his life up there. I wish I would have taken a photo of us with him, but it completely slipped my mind! Boooo!
Chris got home from work on Thursday in plenty of time for us to do a little sight-seeing, so we loaded up the kids and headed to Illinois for dinner. I know that sounds random, but they had never been to Illinois and we weren't far at all from the border. It was a gorgeous evening with a beautiful sunset, so well worth the drive!
We ate in a small town called Collinsville. There weren't too many food options, but the point was really that we were in Illinois and not what we were eating.
Brenson, before dinner:
We ate at the St. Louis Bread Company . . . we don't have those in our neck of the woods, but we do have Panera Bread which is the same thing.
Brianna, showing me her water cup that says St. Louis Bread Company on it:
Another neat thing about going to Illinois was that we crossed both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The bridges (especially the one going over the Mississippi) were quite impressive. Excuse these photos, they were all taken on my iPhone.
The Mississippi River:
The kids also got their first view of downtown St. Louis and the Arch. See what a beautiful night it was?!?
It was a little after 8pm when we got back to our suite. Generally, the kids go to bed at about that time, but Chris really wanted to take them swimming. We don't have many opportunities to swim at home, and Chris especially rarely gets to swim with them. So, we decided to break bedtime and go swimming instead! It was super fun and WELL worth it! We still had them bathed and in bed by 9:30, so we obviously didn't spend much time swimming, but it was great family time.
The next morning, we packed up all of our stuff, checked out of the hotel, and headed to the Arch. Chris and I have both spent quite a lot of time in St. Louis, so we've done and seen much of what there is to do and see there. However, since this was the kids' first trip, we wanted to do something we knew they'd love and that was classic St. Louis. So, the Arch it was!
After a bit of trouble navigating downtown, we finally found a place to park and walked quite a ways to the Arch. It was about 100 degrees this day, and I was feeling it for sure! Much of our walk was uphill, so I was huffing and puffing like I had never walked in my life.
Brenson and Brianna in front of the Mississippi River:
Getting closer to the Arch!
Love this photo! They were super excited to get there!
I haven't been to the Arch in about 12 years and had forgotten how big it really is! These stairs were killer for me, by the way. Breathing for three is no small feat!
Once in the Arch, we bought tickets to go to the top and only had to wait about 15 minutes. After Labor Day is their off-peak time, so it wasn't busy at all.
To get to the top, you ride in these little pod-like cars that snuggly seat 5 people. Since it wasn't busy, our family had a pod to itself (thankfully). The ride up is only 4 minutes long (and 3 minutes down), but it is a small space.
In our pod, ready to go!
Can you tell by the look on Bren's face that he was a little unsure? He was fine after we got going.
Our family (taken with the iPhone so not great quality).
We didn't spend much time at the top. The only thing to do is to look out the windows, and once you've seen out of them all, there's really no point in staying up there. Surprisingly, Brianna was a little scared when she looked out the windows, but Bren was soaking it up. I would have thought for sure it would the opposite of that!
Looking at the Mississippi River:
See Brianna's face? She was very unsure about being up there!
Bren loved it, though.
At the bottom, they have this replica of the little pod cars that go to the top. I wasn't interested in sitting in it again, but the kiddos were!
We got some water, hit up the gift shop, and headed back to our car. The entire outing lasted maybe 3 hours, but I'm so glad we did it!
Standing in front of the giant Arch.
Funny angle, but cute photo :-).
After leaving the Arch, we hit the road for home. We ended up driving through my parents' town at dinner time, so we stopped and ate pizza with them before heading on home. This put us home pretty late (like 10pm), and both kiddos had fallen asleep in the car. They did transfer right to their beds, so I guess they were really worn out!
It was a short trip, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to travel with Chris sometimes. It's so fun to watch Brianna and Brenson discover new things!