Thursday, July 30, 2015

Days 13 & 14

Ok. So, I was very bad and didn't take one single photo on the day we went to Mall of America in Minnesota. We finally had a day with only a little driving and I just wanted to enjoy it. I could have taken photos of the super yummy Japanese food we had for lunch. I could have taken photos of us on all the fun rides we rode. I could have taken photos of all the shopping we did. BUT, we were just having a great day and I didn't even think about it. Sorry folks. I will tell you that G rented a motorized wheel chair and that made his day. He thoroughly enjoyed riding around the mall at full speed and leaving us to catch up. Then putting it in reverse, as it made a beeping noise like a truck backing up, causing people to scatter before he ran them over. He may have had more fun than the rest of us. But not by much, because all the rides were great!

Romy did get a photo of her cookie when I got them all a macaroon.

Then, when we went to the Lego store, Jack wanted a picture with the Lego storm trooper. He ended up getting a lego set, but we mailed it home. We ended up mailing several things home because our car is so small, that our souveniers were beginning to take up too much space. 

If you ever find yourself at the Mall of America, I highly recommend you just spend the nine bucks on the coupon book. After doing the research, I decided to go ahead and buy it, even though the very strange man at the counter didn't seem to want to sell it to me. It has hundreds of great coupons and even though there was no way we could use them all, it saved us over a hundred dollars for the day. We were able to use a coupon for nearly every purchase we made. Pretty awesome if you ask me! Another thing that saved a lot of money was waiting until after 5pm to buy tickets to the Nickelodeon Park. That also saved us another hundred dollars.

We got the kids some travel pillows on one of our supply stops. They were complaining of neck pains from sleeping in the car so much on the nights when we were driving late. As you can see, they are very happy with them.

After leaving Minnesota, we went to Chicago. Here is where we started having a difficult time getting the photos of us in front of the state welcoms signs. In the first half of the trip, they were very east to get to and many of them were on smaller roads, because of where we crossed over. As we have gone further North East, they tend to be on bridges, or set off from the road, where you can't get close to them.  Oh well.

Once we got to Chicago, we met up with Chris LaBlanc, one of G's old Navy buddies. They served on the USS Groton together. We had a nice time. As it just so happened, it was National Hot Dog Day when we were in Chicago. We got to have a Chicago dog, in Chicago on the perfect day! 

After lunch, we headed to downtown Chicago. Much driving through traffic later, we made it! There is a lot to see and do in Chicago, but we just didn't have time for much. Our Chicago day was more about visiting with old friends. For dinner, we met up with Ryan & Anna Johnson and their two adorable kids. 

We had pizza at Giordano's. We are told it is the best in Chicago. As far as we are concerned it was the best we've ever had! I think we all preferd the cheese.

Once we were all stuffed with pizza, we headed out towards our hotel for the night in Indiana.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mount Rushmore for Day 12

After a short night's rest in Wyoming, we were quickly on our way to South Dakota. It was lucky that when we found the South Dakota state sign, the Wyoming sign was just across a two lane highway. We make a U-turn and got the shot with the Wyoming sign. Still have every state sign at this point!

Mount Rushmore is on top of a mountain, as many of our other stops have been. So many visitors here, too! 

When we first arrived, we were all saying how much small it was than we expected. Once you get a lot closer, you realize it just seems small. It is not small at all! 

G got to visit when he was a kid. He told us he didn't remember being able to get as close as we did. 

Such an amazing work of art! 

I didn't get a pic of it, but we had ice cream that was made with a recipe that was created by Thomas Jefferson. The kids were all about the Thomas Jefferson ice cream. Not exactly your every day kid of treat!

They had a great gift shop where we were able to get some patches, magnets and pins for states we traveled through too quickly to find souvenirs. Our cashier was from the DFW area! That was pretty cool!

Further down the road, we found this giant tourist trap called Wall Drug. It was huge! Each of the kids sat on the giant jackalope for photos.

Another amazing sight seen! 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yellowstone Park for the Eleventh Day

One of the first things we got to see upon our arrival at Yellowstone Park was a female elk resting on the grass. If you look closely, you can see her near the water in the center of the photo. She was very large!

Lots of waterfalls and rivers running through the park.

One of the coolest things we got to see were the geysers, boiling mud pots, pools of boiling water that stink of sulphuric acid.

This was one of the pools of boiling water. It was so clear and blue! 

Romy said it looks as if someone had painted the ground orange, it was so bright.

Jack and I were very impressed.

Here, Noah stands in front of a vat of boiling mud. I believe it was called Paint Pot, because the mud is an off white color and looks to be the consistency of paint. It just slowly bubbles as it boils.

This next photo is of a sort of vent, that is very loud. It sounds like the air is under pressure, and being pushed out. You can hear water boiling just under the surface of the earth.

This is a geyser much like Old Faithful. Just smaller and constant.

We did get to see a bison laying near the road. This crazy, stupid woman got out of her car and stood right in front of it, where the road meets earth in this photo. She had to get a better photo. Not worth the risk. I real online a couple of days after we had been there that another woman had been gored by a bison while turning her back to it, trying to get a selfie with it. We stayed in the car to get the photos of the animals.

Old Faithful! We arrived just in time to see it go off. 

Here we are with Old Faithful in the back ground.

On the way out of the park we got to drive around the lake. It was beautiful! There were small geysers on the edges of the lake in random spots. I think the only other animals we saw were a few birds and a couple of squirrels. While in the park, we crossed over the Wyoming state line. So, we had a long drive in Wyoming that night to get to our hotel. Along the way, we went over a mountain pass in Big Horn National Park. The road was long and winding, and it was dark so I was forced to drive slowly. Good thing I did!  There were several heard of deer, rabbits, goats, free range cows, and even a rattle snake coiled in the middle of the road. Even after we came down from the mountain, we continued to see deer next to the highway for the rest of our journey. I have never seen so many deer in my entire life. G and I figured there were probably at least 50 that we actually saw.

Seattle, Washington for Day Ten

What a great view to wake up to in Washington. We stayed the night at a hotel called the 
Flag Ship Inn. A very nice, but interesting place. It seemed to be trapped in time. The decor was all straight out of the 1990's. They even had a VCR in the room and a sign that boasted a VCR library with all the latest titles, and a Fax machine! Wow! 

Jack was thrilled to learn that we would be taking a ferry ride over to Seattle. It was the largest ferry that any of us had ever been on. The ride lasted for about an hour and Jack had to stand as far forward at the rail as he could get, for the entire ride. Later in the day, he thanked us again for taking him on the ferry. Love that he loved it so much.

It was very cold and windy but he didn't care.

Our view coming into Seattle.

I got this great shot of downtown just before driving off the boat.

Naturally, our first stop of the morning was the original Starbucks. We happily waited for our coffee and souvenir mug to add to our Starbucks mug collection back home.

This dude was keeping us entertained while we waited in line. Starbucks is located in the Pike Place Market. There is so much to see there, and yummy smelling food everywhere!

This Barista was the real deal. Quite entertaining!

Next for the day was a visit to the Space Needle. 

It was very windy up there.

A view from the top.

Here, they boys were checking out a display of real parts used in the making of the Space Needle.

A view of the Chihuly garden from above.

The Space Needle was very nice, but to be honest, not much different from Reunion Tower in Dallas. Pretty much the same bang for your buck. 

After leaving we crossed over into Idaho.

We crossed over into Montana just as the sun was beginning to set. If you look closely, you can see the Welcome to Montana sign on the bridge behind us.