Day 20 – 3rd and Final Stop – St Louis Arch

Today was a very big and busy day …. the kids (and I) loved all 3 stops we made … and we were able to put some miles behind us …. we will not be stopping tonight … want to have time with our family tomorrow … so we will drive as much as the Captain can thru the night …

The Gateway Arch was very cool … I had no idea all that stuff was under the Arch … the kids headed straight for the Jr Ranger station … and Jikkal grabbed our hiking medallions from the gift shop …. it was already after 8:00 but I was excited to find out that the Arch stayed open till 10PM … so we had plenty of time to check out the museum and complete our workbooks …

Day 20 – Stop #2 – T REX Cafe in Kansas City


There are only 2 T Rex Cafes …. the one in Orlando … and this one in Kansas …. it’s kind of like a Rain Forest Cafe …. the older 2 have been to the Rain Forest Cafe in Orlando … but the little guys have never seen anything like this …. Dancing Mermaid says she didn’t remember Rain Forest Cafe …. so … this was a huge treat for them … they were so excited when we walked inside … and went crazy when we told them that this was were we were eating lunch … I love surprises!!!!

Day 20 – Wed, July 29th – 1st Stop – Moon Marble Company and Demo

My family loves marbles …. so when I saw this place … we had to stop … It’s in Bonner Spring, Kansas … just west of Kansas City, Kansas … www.moonmarble.com … they were super nice … and the store was packed … they had soooo many toys … it was ridiculous … the kids went crazy … but we stuck to picking out marbles for our souvenir … the huge “marble ring” gave me some ideas for when we get home … and we loved the marble making demo … thanks Mr. Bruce …

Day 18 – Landing the Dutchman at DeerCreek RV

We landed tonight shortly after visiting Truckhenge …. about 8:00 PM … we found a Good Sam’s campground only a few miles away and decided to call it a day …. we had 2 more stops planned for today … and I really didn’t want to skip them … so we will stop here for today … and try to make our next 2 stops before we start the big big push towards Ohio tomorrow …

This campground is really nice and only cost $28 … WOW!!! … They have a nice pool and playground … concrete pads to park the RV and the parking pads are level … The kids head straight for the pool and the playground … they are right beside each other so they can all play at the same time … they can play in the pool or the playground and I can see both …. Jikkal grabs his bike for a few spins around the park and then heads for his computer … they also have free wifi … wooohooo!!! Everyone is happy!!!

After some playtime outside … I make a quick dinner of tacos and then its not long before bed … of course, I head straight for the laundry (once everyone is settled) … I have 2 loads I would like to get done … I think this will be the last of the laundry …. I can do some at Papaw’s or when I get home … since we only have a a few more days … there are plenty of clothes in here to get us home …. although I’m starting to get a good rhythm going with the laundry and updating the web site after the kids go to bed ..LOL!!!

Day 18 – Tuesday, July 28th … Crossing Kansas – Stop # 1

Todays post will be different … because today is different …. we have decided to meet my mom and dad in Ohio to see my grandad – Papaw Fred … he was recently diaganosised with brain cancer … and we thought it would be a perfect end to our trip to stop and see him and our family in Ohio … we have never been to see Papaw Fred’s before … so this is very exciting .. plus the kids are ready to see mamaw and papaw …. so we plan to see them on Thursday … then Friday will start the trek back towards SC (with mom and ’em) …. there are rumors of a stop in Pigeon Forge at Dollywood … what a great way to end our trip … the kids can hardly wait …. FUN!!!

So … today we need to make some good time and get some miles behind us … this calls for a new plan … I’m calling it … Crossing Roadside America …. a combo of web sites and tourist junk picked up along the way … and we are back on the road … covering miles … with quick stops to get out the camper and take pics, stretch our legs, and/or grab snacks … the kids seem to enjoy this … mainly because it’s different … and it’s easy …

Here is stop number 1!

Buffalo Bill Statue in Oakley, Kansas (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/13920)

Day 18 … Monday, July 27th .. Goodland, Kansas

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It’s Day 19 and we got on the road bright and early … The Captain woke early and started driving again … while the rest of us slept …. once again … we make really good time when we don’t actually “camp”.

We didn’t stop till late night. We finally crashed in a Wal*Mart Parking lot but the Captain was up early and couldn’t sleep so we were “hammer down and east bound” by 4:30 AM … my honey is crazy.
It was COLD last night … so I was happy when the Captain started driving and turned the heat on … we were at 12,000 ft …. I would call that “on top of a mountain” …. and it was much warmer with the heater on and the evaluation dropping.

Once everyone started rousing from sleep, the Captain said we could pick a campground to crash at for the day as soon as we crossed into Kansas … and that was harder than you would think … well … I wanted something family friendly … maybe a pool for the kids to swim … and full hooks up so we could shower and dump the tanks … since we had been “dry-camping” for the past 2 nights …

So … we crashed at KOA campground in Goodland early in the morning …at this point I was confused about what time it actually was … I think we crossed another time zone and it took my phone a few hours to catch up … so I’m not sure what time we actually landed at the KOA … but they were nice enough to let us check in early (and that’s were the niceness ended … I’ll explain more later) … I was thinking … Ok… KOA is everywhere … would be a good place to try … we haven’t really tried any “chain campgrounds” … and thought this would be a good time to check one out ….

They had a pool but we couldn’t swim until after 11:00 … so we got breakfast at the camper … the kids played on the playground … they were enjoying being able to run and play … and I worked on laundry … just 2 loads this morning … but great to get it done while we had a chance … this was a more exspensive laundry … $1.50 per washer … and $0.25 for every 10 minutes in the dryer … but everything worked and I was glad to have the 2 loads completed and put away … (fyi … I store the dirty clothes under the bed … so they are out of the way … but I just like knowing that everything is clean … you never know when we may need something that is dirty 🙂

SO … after breakfast, laundry and the playground … it was time to go swimming … we headed to the pool for some R&R … we played at the pool for a bit and Dancing Mermaid decided she wanted to play putt-putt … she had mentioned this earlier at the camper … but the manger was there … and acted like he didn’t want to do that right now … made some comment that he was hoping to get some breakfast … so I told him not to worry about us … we were fine .. we had plenty to do for now ….(I felt like he was busy and we were trying not to be bother-some) ….. I was shocked to learn that it cost $2 each to play … and there was really nothing to the course …. keep in mind that we have great mini-golf courses at the beach and you can play $5 to play all day … but I knew she really wanted to play when she offered to pay with her money … so … she headed to the office to pay and get our clubs … and the Captain went to put the little guys down for a nap … he also needed a nap after driving most of the night …

OK … so here is were things start to get stressful for me … people have been nice to us at every campground, Wal*Mart, rest area that we have stopped at or been too … the Park Rangers and bus drivers have all been very patient with the kids … other vacationers chatting with us … but you know … there is alway one sour-puss somewhere who just has to make things difficult … and today was that day … and the KOA manger/owner was the “one” ….

I really don’t know where to start … except to say that the manager seemed very busy and stressed …so we tried to stay out of his way … and now … back to putt-putting …. Dancing Mermaid said the lady in the office (his wife) told her not to play hole number 10 until she was done because it would take her ball) ….there were only 10 holes … so we played only the first 9 … and let me say that the putt-putt course was not well maintained … and was pretty sad but she and I were having some great one-on-one time … so I wasn’t focusing on any of that … just us having fun … so … we got to the end of the first 9 and decided to play again … around this time the guy comes by on his bike (which he was always doing … riding here and there .. unlocking the store then locking the store back … again … we felt like he was way busy so we just stayed out of his way) … and said that when we were done, could we leave the clubs at the front door of the store … again … I’m not thinking anything “bad” about his comment … just thinking they must have problems with the kids keeping the clubs … or taking them back to their campgrounds … or that they don’t have a lot of clubs and need to have them nearby when others want to play .. anyway .. I just let it go … later I realize that this was his way of hinting to me that we should put the clubs back …

We kept playing … and around this time a storm comes up … you know, we are in Kansas and we were keeping our eye out for a twister to touch down …. that would be a great story to add to our adventure … we almost saw one when we left Arches … anyway … it’s starting to rain and I don’t want to get struck by lightening while putt-putting … so we grabbed a game from the camper and head to the table in the laundry room to play a game or 2 of Sequence … again … she and I were enjoying our time while everyone else was resting in the camper ….

Shortly after finishing our second game of Sequence … the rain stopped and the storm seemed far enough way to go back and play again … since Dancing Mermaid had paid and gotten the clubs … I really didn’t have anything to do with the actually money transaction .. and was not aware that the putt-putt course had to be “turned on” … so … we realized that it had been turned off …and HONESTLY not thinking anything about it … I reached over and turned it back on … since I had felt like the manager was so stressed .. in my mind .. I was thinking …”why bother him with something so simple as turning the putt-putt back on” .. well … that didn’t go over so well … (oh … I guess now would be a good time to point out that he was foreign … and so he had a think accent and the broken english added a bit of humor to the situation …. but at the time … I didn’t think it funny) … so .. the owner comes out of the store saying … “you guys are just all over the place … I guess I need to put a pad-lock on everything” … so … in my mind …I’m thinking … “all over the place” … what is that suppose to mean … I paid to stay here … I’ve dropped at least $5 in the laundry so far … paid $4 t o play putt-putt … it’s not like we have bothered him … we have only giving him business … and I guess I should add … that at this point during the day … we were one of only a few campers in the park … so … I’m thinking … it’s probably no wise to talk to customers like this … especially when it doesn’t look like your business is flourishing … BUT … I say nothing … and he continues to talk and walks over and turns the putt-putt OFF … I am astonished .. but still try to keep the smile on my face and I say … “So … we can’t play?” … and he says … “play … it’s nice out” … not sure what all that was suppose to mean …

Well .. I’m trying to keep my cool and not let this mess up our day … and … we move to some holes that don’t require the electricity to be running …. and after a few minutes .. I say to Dancing Mermaid … “You know what … let’s start back at the beginning … we can work around this .. not going to let this bother us … we still have the World Championship of Putt-Putt to complete” … and we headed back to hole number one ….

Hole number one required electricity to turn one of the flaps (an obstacle …. I guess that’s what it would be called) …. Dancing Mermaid holds up the flap that won’t spin … and out he comes again … wanting to know what we are doing …. at this point … I’m starting to feel like we are being watched … I say that it stopped working after he came out the last time … not wanting to be confrontational or cause any more problems … I figure it is best not to argue with the obvious fact that he turned it off on us …. maybe he is psycho or split personality or something … but you know what is going on when you turn it off on someone … and now he says “next time … let me know you need help and I will help you .. I don’t like for people to do things themselves” … Ok .. I have several thoughts about that but I will let it go … I smile and say Thank YOU … and Dancing Mermaid and I start playing again ….

I’ll remind you at this point … that this is all happening pretty fast … everyone is still asleep in the camper …. so not a lot of time has past because naps don’t last more then 2 hours or some (give or take) …. and we are still having a great time and trying to let all this other stuff roll off our backs ….

So … we finish our game (remember … only 9 little holes … nothing much … just some little wooden boxes with fake grass on top … only takes a few minutes to play all 9) … the sun has come out again .. and it is hot!!! … we decide to go take a dip in the pool … I ask DM if she is done playing and she says maybe one more game after we swim … and I think that should work out just about right (time-wise) … and I was also thinking the little guys would probably like to play when they get up … so we head to the pool to cool off …. a fellow camper comes out to join us at the pool too … I don’t think Mr Happy realized other campers were at the pool or he probably wouldn’t have been so openly rude … but then again … you just never know ….

So … we are sitting at the pool … I’m sitting on the steps because the water is really cold and each time I have to work my nerve up to get back in … I’m chatting with the lady who has come to the pool … and Mr Happy starts heading towards the pool … already I know he is coming for us .. not sure what we have done this time … but I can feel it … the phone rings and he stops to answer it … and I continue talking with DM and the lady … Jikkal has actually wandered out of the camper and has come to see what we were up to … but has decided to head back to the camper … (but he could hear Mr Happy yelling at me on his way back to the camper)

And here is comes …. he says he can’t find the clubs we were using … and I say ….” oh! There right here … she wanted to play some more … just cooling off for a minute” … and he starts yelling at me … and I quote …

“You are being ridiculous .. you only pay $2 …. you take advantage” …. so with the smile plastered to my face … which is now red … because he is yelling and this lady is watching … I said … “if you want the clubs back … I will give them to you but your wife told her she could play as much as she wanted” ,… and he didn’t like that … he continues to tell me about how I am ridiculous and taking advantage … (I’m guessing he is still working on his English vocab … being a homeschool teacher … I was thinking I should give him a list of resources he could use to improve his “word bank” … and place for him to put them) …. He very rudely informed that YES! He wanted the clubs back, NOW! … So I handed them to him …. and he continues to fuss … and I very calmly said .. .OK … I gave you the clubs .. that’s enough … at which point … I just turned my back and walked back to my seat …. I’m thinking … he better be glad that he met this Tabitha because “BC Tabitha” would not have been sooo nice … maybe left a few flat tires when we broke camp …. but ???? …. thankfully he started back to the office … mumbling as he went … but at least he went (after living with a teen in such close quarters for the past few weeks … I can overlook mumbling 🙂

Of course, the lady at the pool was astonished … and when I sat down … she said she could not believe how rude he was … I was just glad someone else was there … 1) to witness it and 2) to keep me from saying or doing something I should not … I plan to inform KOA that their GoodLand Ambassador needs some lessons in “Southern Hospitality” …. not good for their name … needless to say … we will not be frequenting another KOA on this trip … maybe ever … but we were the hot topic at the pool that afternoon …

After all this excitement … we headed to the camper … everyone was waking up …. and we took showers and got ready to head into town …. we took our picture with the World’s Largest Easel … you can read about it http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/9183 …. and attempted to go to the local museum but it was closed … our bad! … new time zone and we still didn’t have all the clocks right … next we headed to Pizza Hut for dinner … once again … not very happy people in these parts … but we got our bellies full and moved on … we made a pit-sop at Wal*Mat … and back to the campground …. the Captain thinks everyone here is mad because they are here and can’t figure out how to get out … I don’t know … just love laughing at his point of view …

The kids played on the playground again … met some friends … enjoyed the cool evening weather … could see a cloud forming in the distance … the wind is right brisk coming across these plains … we kept watching to see if a tornado formed … not that we wished that on anyone … just thought that would be fun to film … maybe end up on the weather channel with the Storm Chasers ….BUT … no such luck!!! I sat at the picnic table and worked on typing up all the details of the past days while the kids played … and enjoyed the cooler weather … I bit later … we got everyone in the camper and got everyone settled down for a good nights rest … the Captain plans to drive all the way across Kansas tomorrow ….

I took a few mnutes to look up some totally cheesy spots to stop and take photos .. trying to give the kids a break from educational stuff … I think this will be a fun drive tomorrow.

I think the Captain is as excited about getting out of Goodland as he was about getting out of California 🙂

Day 17 – Sunday July 25 – Arches National Park

Today in July 26th … Sunday … and we are on day 17 of the big adventure …. we are wearing orange shirts today …

However, the early morning pics will show us still in our electric blue shirts from yesterday … because we drove until about 2:00 AM this morning …. we stopped at a rest area and slept till around 6:30AM … then we were back on the road again …. the rest area was only 1 mile from the exit we needed to take to get to Arches National Park …. we headed there first … The Captain did stop to grab he and I a cup of coffee at a station along the way … must have my morning caffeine … especially with less than 5 hours of sleep ….

When we got the Arches NP, we ate breakfast and got dressed … yep! right there in the camper … we can move so much faster when we don’t have to worry about showers or breaking camp … LOL!!!!

The big man upstairs blessed us BIG again today …. it was cloudy and started raining about the time we made it out of the camper and started heading towards the visitor center … you would think that was bad … but the temperature started dropping dramatically … and the air was soooo much cooler … and after a hot day yesterday and a hot night without A/C …. it was wonderful … I can handle walking in a drizzle … much better than hiking in 104 degree weather …. and when you see the pics of us climbing around at double arches … remember how cool and breezy I said it was … Range Bill told us that the temp in the double arches in normally 104-112 degrees …. I had even considered taking a jacket with me … that’s how cool it was … I love knowing He likes to bless us … even out here on the road .. when we have thought of throwing a few kids from the ship ….

Quick refresher … when we started out …. the odometer read 23802 …. this morning it was at 28405 …. that’s over 4600 miles … wow!!! Burning up some road!!!!

Ok … here is what we were able to accomplish at Arches :
* We drove the scenic route … not all the way but a over half
* We hiked out to and climbed around on Double Arches
* We also hiked out to and explored South Window, North Window, and Turret Arch
* Then we walked around the Wolfe Ranch area
* We also stopped at many view points to take photos (like Balanced Rock and Delicate Arch)

After this, the kids were getting tired, hungry, and everything was starting to look alike … so we ate lunch in the camper at one of the parking lots, and headed back to the visitors center.

EVERYONE completed their Jr Ranger badges and Ranger Bill was great with the kids. He checked all their books and Jikkal was even able to stump him with a question from his book … Jikkal was in a very corporative mood and finished the entire book …. not just his section … way to go !!!!… he also tried to debate “the flood” with the Ranger but …. secretly the ranger was on Jikkal’s side and gave him some great web sites to look into … (I’ll add this later once I have a chance to glance over them)

Dancing Mermaid and Stormy Cloud have completed lots of Jr Ranger programs: Petrified Forest/Painter Desert, Grand Canyon, Sequoia/Kings Cannon, Zion, Arches
Sea Monkey has all these except Zion …. we were running way behind and I didn’t have time to help him complete his book … Jikkal has Petrified Forest/Painter Desert, Grand Canyon, Arches

After Arches … our plan was to make some good time and find a place to camp for the evening… well .. thank goodness we are flexible because things never seem to go the way we are thinking or planning … we got the little guys down for naps and headed out on the road … we had heard that the scenery was beautiful on I-70 and what we saw was very pretty indeed …. mountains … rivers … trains…. farms …etc …. however …. around mile marker 165 … we ran into grid lock … I mean total lock down for over 3 hours … I couldn’t believer this … they were not re-routing traffic … or detouring … nothing … everyone was just stuck … it was terrible … I can’t stand doing nothing … it drives me crazy … I cooked mac and cheese on the stove while we waited …. I also cleaned up a bit …. we watched a movie … but it didn’t help make up for all the lost time on the road … so the Captain drove late into the evening … I’m not even sure what time we stopped … but I do know we left Arches NP that afternoon … and made it close to Veil Colorado before we crashed at a Wal*Mart again!!! We had planned on staying at a campground since we crashed at a rest area the night before … but since it was so late and the kids were already asleep … there was no need to spend the money to just sleep somewhere … The Captain had other plans ….