Sunday, June 28, 2015

summer road trip {stop 1: st. louis}

It's time to start my summer vacation update series!  There's so many pictures and stories to tell from our trip, and our first day deserves a post all on it's own because it was such a FUN place!  Last year we took a similar trip, and this year I wanted to take a different route so that we could enjoy some stops along the way and shorten a couple of driving days.  
The kids have their maps ready to color in as we drive through each state!
So my niece, Mary, lives in Charleston SC with her adorable little guy Nash.  We miss them so much and only get to see her a couple times a year.  So last summer when Nash was born, my mom and I decided to drive to Charleston to meet him and stay with them for a few days.  We hit it hard and drove straight through, 2 days of driving 10 hours straight.  I wanted to do it different this time!  Craig was busy working again so mom and I took the kids and had a great time!
We only drove 5 hours on day 1, and made it to St. Louis just in time for lunch and a fun afternoon at the City Museum!  I can't say enough about this place!  It was so wonderfully....weird!!!  And fun!!  And crazy!!
There was a lot of this!  Kids climbing in tunnels and tons of slides and caves and nooks and crannies... I read the reviews online ahead of time and I will admit I was VERY nervous to take the kids here for fear I'd never see them again!  Ha!
The reviews said that the second you walk in and your kids run off... they disappear into holes and tunnels and slides and you might not see them again for 30 minutes!  It said if you have any kind of anxiety at all, then this wasn't the place for you.  Well...if anyone knows me at all (or my mother!) you know that our middle name is anxiety!  Ha!
Yet still... here we are!  Don't get me wrong, it had great reviews, but just lots of advice and things to expect, like, you know, losing your kids for a while.
So.  That being said, I felt prepared.  I had done my research and I decided that if it was as scary and crazy as they said, we would just leave (once we located both children and hopefully none of them had lost a finger.  Seriously!  That happened to someone!)
I'm glad I followed the tip about wearing jeans.  The kids would have been totally beat up had they been wearing shorts.  There was just a lot of climbing around on your hands and knees.  Someone had suggested knee pads so I also bought those and had them ready, but the kids never needed them.  When we arrived they could literally not wait another second to run and play.  Let me tell you it is not a "museum" at all.  More like a giant 3 story jungle gym made of wrought iron!
But.  I MADE us all sit down for lunch and we talked.  I explained how serious it was that they could not get far away from us and we did not want to lose them.  Everyone gets wristbands and there's a place on them for a phone number (yeah, it's that likey to get lost!)  I showed them my number on their bands and I think I scared them just enough to still have fun, but to be conscious of where we were at all times.
The atmosphere was just so incredible.  We have been a lot of places and on a lot of trips, and I have to say, this place is like nothing we had ever seen!
I could barely even get him to stop for any pictures!  The tough part is, they would climb in a hole somewhere, and there could be a slide, or tunnel that either goes up or down, and sometimes they even end up on a different level of the place!  It is definitely one of those places where you have to just "let go" and let them be kids.  Anxiety has to be knocked down a few notches or one could go crazy.
Mom and I liked the train ride.  We could sit and let them go around and around and knew they would eventually come back to us!

This was an awesome huge slide!  The kids had a blast!

I didn't get a lot of pictures inside, because I was going through these tunnels too.  The ones adults couldn't fit in, I was rushing to where I thought they came out the other side, only to find a dead end, or another tunnel or slide leading somewhere else.  It was quite an adventure.
I have to say Andrew was really good about telling me where he was going and coming back to check in.  He would look in a tunnel, and come back out to tell me where it went and what direction.  We worked as a good team!  My mom kept close eyes on Kerigan and she didn't stray too far.
So it all worked out well!  Much better than I thought.  I think because my expectations were that this was a super dangerous, scary place full of opportunities to lose your children!  It wasn't that bad at all.  At least not for us!
Then this guy and I attempted this.  He's giving a thumbs up because he's tall enough (see his head just above the line?)  And I don't have any more pictures of this slide because what you see above is exactly what it was.  A 10 story slide.  So yes, we walked up 10 stories.  I was sweating bullets and exhausted on about story 4... ha!  Andrew loved it and went twice.  I sat the last one out and waited for him at the bottom since I knew where he would come out!
As if this place wasn't big enough, they have a whole different roof top section.  More of the same stuff but outside, 10 stories high!
They have more huge slides and even a ferris wheel!
My girl and I on the ferris wheel.  She loved it!
Then my mom took our picture going down this super fast slide- it was insane!  I'm pretty sure I was screaming the entire time!
You could walk across these stones in the water... I'm not sure what they do if kids fall in!  I'm sure they have!  Another thing the reviews I read about said that you never see any people working here, and there are no maps.  They want to encourage you to "explore."  Ha!  Their plan works, since there's never anyone around you just sort of do your own thing and go where the kids lead!
There's an old school bus on the roof top where the kids can go in and play!
Then in the front of the "museum" they have even more slides and play areas outside.
It was seriously never-ending.
There's Andrew on a giant slide above the parking lot!
Behind him is an old airplane you could also walk up and go inside it.  It was very, very high off the ground!
You could crawl in basically every single spot you could find, they had everything caged in and the kids all just went everywhere.  Andrew said it was the coolest place he's ever been!  I tend to agree!  It was definitely unique.  I would say it's a St. Louis "must see."  We can't wait to go back and take daddy!
We were pretty exhausted (and hot!) after that adventure so we picked up dinner on our way to the hotel and ate at the hotel and went swimming!  It was so nice to cool off and enjoy our evening and relax after a fun day!  I was so glad we hadn't driven for 10 hours!  It was great to stop halfway and make time for St. Louis.  

Up next... stop 2... another fun adventure!

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