Category Archives: Travel

Climbing all Day in St. Louis.

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On Monday night my oldest son said “You know where I’d really like to go again? City Museum.” City Museum is in St. Louis, Brad just happened to be working in St. Louis this week. So, I called Brad, we did some juggling. He changed hotels to one that allows pets, I started packing, and we told our son that we could go to City Museum. It is about a 6 hour drive from home, we got started late afternoon Tuesday and drove.

Wednesday morning I decided we probably couldn’t spend the whole day at City Museum. I remembered passing some signs on the highway for Cahokia Mounds, Historic Site. We decided to go there first thing in the morning.

There is an interpretive center on the grounds, that gives the history of the mounds. There is a short, 15 minute video that you can watch. (The people that work there are all very happy to tell you that it is an award winning video.) It is really interesting. The rest of the building is a museum. There is a LOT of information there too. Toward the end of the museum they talk about how they excavate the area without damaging things.

From November to April the center is closed Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the year is is open 7 days a week. 8am to dusk. The center is free to enter, but has a suggested donation of $7 for adults and $2 for children, or $15 for families. I think it is worth it, they really try to make it a nice experience, with guided tours if you like groups, or iPod tours if you prefer to do your own thing.

Around the Center are a lot of hills, in various sizes. Theses are the Mounds. I’ll write another post about the history (those have become my favorite to write.) The mounds were build around 1100A.D., using stone tools to dig the dirt out of the ground, and woven baskets to haul it to the site of the mounds. Some mounds were the town’s barriers. Some were to build houses on top of. And, most were burial mounds.

Monks Mound is the largest one, that is the one in the picture above. The Chief’s home was built on top of it. Monks Mound is the largest prehistoric earth work in North America. There are a couple hundred steps to the top, and the view from the top is pretty cool.

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Weaving in and out of the mounds are several trails. Some, just a mile or so, up to 10 miles long. There is a play ground and a picnic area as well. There is also a spot named Woodhenge. It is a large circle made from pillars. They believe it was a sort of calendar.

I don’t think small children would be very interested in going here. My kids are 9 and 11, and they only pretended to be interested because I told them I knew where a Barnes and Noble was, and I was more than happy to go buy them a history book instead. But, once we got into the museum area, I had a hard time getting them out! I thought it was really interesting too.

After the Cahokia Mounds, we headed to City Museum. We’d been here once before. When you pull up, odds are good you will consider leaving right away again. It looks very strange. I sent my husband some photos last time and he replied with “Are you playing in a construction zone or a junk yard?”

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The best way I can describe City Museum is an Art Museum/Play ground. It is $5 to park, and $12/person to get in. Right now, they are closed Monday and Tuesday, they go back to open 7 days a week on March 14. They have a coat check inside, $1/coat. Or you can leave your coat in your car.

Wear real shoes, not flip flops, not ballet flats, wear gym shoes and make sure they are tied on tight. Wear pants. Jeans. I will have to take a picture of what my jeans looked like when we got done yesterday, I got caught, somewhere, and my back pocket is destroyed. Next time, I will use a carabiner and hook my camera to my belt loop. I learned that the hard way, after my camera fell 20 feet.

There is a small snack station down stairs and a pizza/deli type place upstairs. It’s really expensive, that is why we went after lunch. Down stairs by the snack station in a pool. Filled with turtles. Off the side of the eating area is a bathroom. The door doesn’t lock, and the water is iffy. IMG_0446

Yes, the bathroom gets it’s own photo, because it amuses me that this is considered perfectly fine. There are more modern bathrooms, like you’d expect to find in a museum as well, but, that isn’t interesting.

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This is a 3 story slide, right by the entrance. There are SO many slides here. There are random stairs, and ramps. Take them. There are holes in the floor, that lead to tunnels, that take you to different areas. Some stairs take you to a slide. Some take you to the ceiling, where you can slither your way around the first floor, above the other guests. There are wire cages that make their way up around fake trees, climb through the cages. There is a giant hamster wheel to run on. There is a stateless park to run on. It looks like a skate park, but you can’t skate.  There is a fish tank with piranhas and a 35 pound catfish. The gift shop sells knee pads, if that tells you anything about this place.

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They are laying on the floor, under a giant whale. Behind them is a hole in the floor, that leads to a pitch black tunnel, that leads you to a set of stairs, that will then take you to the ceiling tunnels.

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This is me, in one of the ceiling tunnels. I’m laying flat on my stomach, my head is touching the top of the tunnel. So, it does get a bit tight in some spots.

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But, most of the tight areas aren’t much worse than this. I’m still in the ceiling. There was enough room for me and two boys to move around each other.

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This is the view up, from the bottom, of the 10-Story slide.

When you are done inside you can head out to MonstoCity. It is the outdoor area. There is also a rooftop play area, with a ferris wheel, but we are never there when that is open. It is only open in the warmer months. MonstroCity has a giant ball pit.

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I took the photo with my son for scale. If you get bored in the ball pit, you can climb it.

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I would just like to say, that child is afraid of heights. That is a real fire truck on the ground behind him. But, the rest of the play area was too irresistible.

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I’m pretty sure, almost everything in that picture can be climbed or walked across. That blue, cone-shaped thing? It has rebar steps to the top, where you can squeeze out a small opening, then down a crane boom, to another slide.

We spent about 4 hours there. The last hour I just sat and stared at the ceiling to watch my kids climb across. I don’t have a lot of pictures of my oldest, because he has no fear and runs off before I can even give him a warning of what to be afraid of. My younger son is in the pictures, because he stays near me most the time.

I had grand plans for today, and woke up to an 11 yr old, puking and crying. He’s napping, and I’m writing.

Maybe we just enjoy the nice hotel room today, before heading home tomorrow.

 

A Walk in the Park in Kentucky

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On a rare week off for my husband, we decided to go on a road trip to Kentucky for some hiking. The trip was off to a rough start. We wanted to go Wed-Thurs. But, on Sunday night we got word my uncle had passed away and we had no details about arrangements. Not wanting to miss his funeral, we bumped the trip up. It poured the whole drive. All 6 hours of it.

And, I had/have a pinched nerve in my back, so my leg is killing me. And, I’m all wobbly. We kept on anyway. I thought, how hard could this be? Thinking of Indiana’s vast corn fields, not of Kentucky’s mountain ranges.

We wanted to go to Red River Gorge, deep in Daniel Boone National Forest.  The website for the forest proudly boasts that this park “embraces some of the most rugged terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains.” It would seem I should have done some more research before we left.

We got to the park, it had actually stopped raining at that point. Which was nice, especially since the “Dangerous Cliffs” sign above was the first sign that greeted us.

We started down the Gray’s Arch trail. The sign said it was just a .25 mile hike. Not a problem. So, we began. Above Gray’s Arch the sign read “Rough Trail” we thought it was a warning about trail conditions. We were mistaken. The arch trail was another trail, off the main trail. The main trail was perfectly named, Rough Trail. It was 7 miles long. A fact we did not know until we finished hiking.

The scenery is stunning, the trees turning all different colors. The temperature was perfect, mid-sixties. There are rock formations almost everywhere you look. My kids enjoyed hunting for mushrooms. We know nothing about mushrooms though, so we just looked and took pictures.

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It was definitely a rough trail, but not undoable. All 4 of us did fine. We were about 1.5 miles in when we found the first of several rock shelters.

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It was around this point we also found Gray’s Arch.

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This photo was taken with a filter. I took several pictures, and this is the one that shows the arch best. I just wanted to get to the arch, so we continued. It didn’t seem that far away.

We continued down the trail, and found another rock shelter, and a cave. IMG_8887

This cave is at the top of three very long, very narrow, and very steep sets of stairs. We finally reached the bottom of the stairs, and the trail forked. It seemed if we went right it would head to the arch. Left would head down another trail. As we discussed it, the sky broke open and the rain began. We rushed to the left, to get under cover of yet another rock shelter.  We thought we’d wait it out for a bit. After 30 minutes, it was still pouring, and a bad storm was heading in. It was getting late, we certainly didn’t want to hike in the dark.  And we’d already walked a mile into our “short hike” to the arch. It was another .50 mile to the arch. So, we decided to turn around and go back. The hike back was all uphill.

We realized we had made the right choice when we got up the stairs and saw the path.

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And this was one of the best parts of the path. Wide, and no cliff immediately to one side. We vary carefully headed back to the car.

And that was the end of day one.

More to come soon, but I’m heading out of town again in the morning and I won’t be taking the computer. The next post will probably be next week.

Photo Friday- Boston Chipotle

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Photo Friday, where the picture makes the story. This was supposed to be a quick post, but as I began trying to find the information to give you, it became very interesting. And, really, this is one of the reasons for the blog. So enjoy reading about a restaurant and history.

We were in Boston last month. That is going to require a few posts on its own. It seems every turn you take, you see something historical, but miss 2 things for the turn you didn’t take.

For example, one evening Brad and I decided to go to Chipotle. The restaurant is in an old building.
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Once you order, you can go upstairs. That section was added later, so the stairway is on the outside of the old building. The wall you see in the first photo was built in 1718. The United States didn’t even exist yet!

This building was once known as the Old Corner Bookstore. It was also once home of a printing press, where the first editions of The Scarlett Letter, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Walden were printed.

It was the first building to be saved by Historic Boston, it had been scheduled for demolition in the 1960s.

Repurposing these building is called “adaptive reuse”. It has been used multiple times in Boston with great success.

If you are ever in Boston, go have lunch in a 300 yr old bookstore. It’s pretty cool.

Chipotle Moving to Historic Boston Building

I found this in my search, which while not about travel, is about adaptive reuse and how it may be facing opponents.
Saving the Plant, One Old Building at a Time

The sign on the outside of the building, giving a brief history.
The sign on the outside of the building, giving a brief history.

The First Post!

Let me start off with a bit about me.

I’m Katie. I travel a lot. But, I don’t really “vacation”.  My husband, Brad, has a job that affords us a lot of travel perks, because he is away from home Monday-Friday. Sometimes we, meaning the kids and I, get to go with Brad to work. Sometimes that is awesome, and we go to the beach. Sometimes, it isn’t so awesome and we go to the middle of nowhere, Missouri. Sometimes it’s just me, sometimes it’s all of us. And, we always find ways to stay busy.

Home base is northeastern Indiana. The family consists of Brad and I. Both about 30, and our sons, who are 10 and 8. We home school the kids, and so we end up being able to go to work with Brad a lot.

I realized as I went through the photos, mementos, scrapbooks, and journal entries, I’m gaining a lot of information about HOW to travel, and how to enjoy it no matter where you are. I thought I would share the knowledge I gain, along with information about specific places, and I can share photos without annoying my Facebook friends anymore. ;)

Join me on my travels. Enjoy.

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