Tag Archives: road trip

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, Part 2

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Day 2 of our trip to Red River Gorge was a bit less hiking, but even more to see. When we turned into the park, on day 1, we went right. On day 2 we went left.

The first thing we found was a tunnel in the mountain. Nada Tunnel. IMG_8929

The tunnel used to be a railroad tunnel. It is now a 900 foot, single lane, passage through the mountain for cars.

We came out the other side, to this.

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Pretty much, through out this whole portion of the drive, the road looks like this. It is beautiful, though I wish we had been able to go a couple weeks later to watch those leaves change!

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One thing I found interesting here was that we crossed a lot of bridges. Everyone was very different.

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That last bridge is called the Sky Bridge. It is a natural stone arch, that crosses over another path. The hike is easy, though you will want to be careful walking across the bridge, as you can see, there are no walls. And, the edges are worn down, so the very center is high and flat, and the close you get to the edge, the more sloped the rock becomes.

I found this little guy on our hike.

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I think this may be one of my best pictures!

On the route to the Sky Bridge hike, you will also find a sign that read’s “Devil’s Canyon Overlook” This is the view.

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Now, if you are anything like me, you will decide that standing by the fence is not good enough, and you will walk down a little side path, with no fence.  And the side path will lead you down here.

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Can you see, under that one pine tree, the bright green moss on the edge of the rock? If you are anything like me, you will decide you MUST sit there to get a picture. If you are married to anyone like my husband, you will keep inching over there while he shouts “Get back here!” I made it, and sat on that ledge, and enjoyed every second of my view, while my husband had a panic attack. (Ok, not really, but he was not happy with me and was very tempted to pick me up and move me back about 4 feet.) I took this picture though.

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Those are huge, fully grown trees under my feet.

We eventually had to make our way out of the park. Remember how I said it stormed on day one? This was how a good portion of the roads looked on day 2.

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Next, I’m working on the basic info post. Soon I will have posts from the Las Vegas trip we just got back from as well.

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.

Auctions America, Auburn Indiana

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This is my dream car. I go to this auction every year just to search out  Hemi ‘Cudas.

Every Labor Day weekend since 1971 there has been a collector car auction in a small town in Indiana called Auburn. If you have an interest in collector cars this is the place to be.

As usual, there is some interesting history to the auctions beginnings, and the town itself. But, that will be another post.

This is the largest collector car auction in the world. Though, I suppose we need to wait for this year’s numbers to come in before we claim that.

There is a $15 admission, parking is free. Kids 12 and under are free. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes, the activities cover 235 acres of land.

When you enter the gates, there are tents immediately in front of you. Those tents hold the cars that have already been auctioned.

In the first tent last night we saw a Maserati.

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And more than a handful of Mustangs from the 1960s

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My intent was to photograph the cars with the signs that told about them, but, apparently I wasn’t close enough to be able to see many of the words later, and the lighting kept messing me up.

After you’ve wandered the tents, you head indoors where there are more cars, waiting to be auctioned.

Cars like these

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As you keep walking through these giant rooms, you will notice it is getting louder. You are getting closer to the actual auction. In a giant room are two spinning displays, with a car on each. Bleachers surround the center, and big screens display photos of the cars, as well as the current bid. When the auctioneer calls “sold”, the spinning stops, and 3-5 people, all wearing white gloves, so they don’t put fingerprints on the car, rush up to push the car down the ramp so the sound of a 1,000hp engine doesn’t drown out all going on inside.

Just outside the auction arena is the food court with the types of food you expect at almost any outdoor event. Elephant ears, corn dogs, twisty fries.

Then, you are at the other vendors. Have you ever felt you needed a giant, neon, Pontiac sign? Do you have $2000 spare to spend on it? You came to the right place. What about an old gas pump?

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You can venture out of the first set gates on the far side, this is where you will find the car corral. This is basically a 900 parking spot, used car lot for really cool cars. If you want to pic up a ’79 Trans Am (great choice, I used to have one) you can probably find one here.

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Maybe you’ve had your eye on a Roadrunner? Or a Duesenburg. You can find those here too. The cars in the car corral won’t be going up for auction. You bring enough cash and you can leave with the car you’ve wanted for years.

There is also a car parts swap meet outside the car corral, in case you leave with a project.

This year they also have helicopter rides for $30. And, on Saturday and Sunday they are having a monster truck show, free with the price of admission, as well as free monster truck rides for the kids.

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As you can see from the pictures I’ve chosen, my heart is with American muscle, from the last 60s, early 70s. But, there is a lot more to see here. And, learn, because many of these owners are very proud of their cars and know the history, from the factory until they put the last mile on last week. I’ll leave you with some more pictures.

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Important Info:

  • $15 admission, kids 12 and under and free. There is a $50 pass that gets you in all weekend.
  • It only goes on over Labor Day weekend. There is another, somewhat smaller auction in the spring.
  • Kids are welcome, but they need to know not to touch the cars. The owners will flip out if they see it.
  • Gates open at 8am, auction starts at 10am.
  • Plan on spending 3 or 4 hours, and that is just to walk the entire grounds. If you want to watch the auction or browse the swap meet, you’ll be there longer.
  • Parking isn’t too bad, but it is in a field. So, if it’s been raining you might want to be careful where you park.

Auctions America, Auburn Fall Auction

Visit Fort Wayne

Just a side note, Auburn is not a very big town. It has a population of about  13,000.  An estimated 300,000 people come into town to buy, sell, and look at the cars. Traffic can be a pain. Usually there is NO traffic, unless you count the cars lining up behind the tractor waiting for a place to pass, and this is a weekend where you can count on traffic jams.

Squire’s Castle, History and a Ghost Story

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In northern Ohio, in the North Chagrin Reservation, part of Cleveland’s Metro Parks District, is a castle. Or what looks like a castle. In reality, it is the shell of what was to be the caretaker’s house for a mansion that was never built.

Feargus B. Squire was one of the founders of the Standard Oil company, so he was very wealthy. (At one point, after the castle was built, Squire served a term as mayor of a nearby town.) He owned a home in Cleveland in the late 1800s, but wanted to live in the country. (Which is funny when you think about how it, how much of a city was Cleveland in 1890, especially compared to now?)  Squire bought himself 525 acres of land in a forest, and planned to build a giant estate, intending to live at this estate with his wife and daughter. The home was built from stone, quarried from the property itself.

Before construction on the mansion began, the caretaker’s home was built. It was 2 stories, though there is some speculation there was a basement as well, though you can’t find it now. Squire was going to live there, while the mansion was being built.

The home was supposedly quite beautiful designed after castle is Europe, with Tiffany glass in the windows, carved moldings, and European finishings.

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Mrs Squire, however, hated the country. She had been raised in the city and that was where she wanted to stay.

Legend says that Rebecca Squire would be unable to sleep at night, and would wander the home, holding her lantern. One night, she was startled by one of her husband’s hunting trophies hanging on the wall, she tripped and fell down the stairs to the basement, breaking her neck in the fall that killed her.

Mr Squire was so distraught, he abandoned the property and moved away. But, you can sometimes see a woman in the upstairs window, or a red glow, as is coming from a lantern, moving through the house at night.

The real story is not as interesting, or as tragic.  Mrs. Squire did hate the country, and Mr Squire abandoned the dream of a country estate.  Squire sold the property in 1922, and Cleveland Parks got the property in 1925.

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This is the fireplace that stands in what was once the library.

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When you stand in the library and look out, this is the view of the rest of the castle. There are 2 large rooms you can’t see from the photo, and once there was a second floor, but, the castle had been left to the elements and the 2nd floor deteriorated to the point the parks department removed everything except the shell; there is no roof either. If you believe the legend, Squire had the basement filled in after his wife died. But, others say there never was a basement.

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Can you see it? This castle as it once stood? Perhaps the window was stained glass, blocking the beautiful view. Or perhaps this window by the fireplace was one you could sit by on a winter day, watching the snow pile up around the home. Maybe the floor had furs as coverings, since Squire loved to hunt and show off his skill.

The park is actually open until 11pm, and as the sun goes down, I’m sure you can also see why this abandoned castle has also lent itself to a ghost story.

More Information

Squire’s Castle, Cleveland Metroparks

Squire’s Castle, Travel Cleveland

Squire’s Castle, Wikipedia

Ghosts of the Prairie

Exploring the Cleveland Area, Part 2

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Trying to fit a lot into 2 days, made a busy day 2.

I went to see the submarine the U.S.S. Cod. It is a World War II era submarine. It was actually hard to find. I know you are thinking “How can this giant thing be hard to find”. Well, water doesn’t have much of an address. So, if you want to visit, make your way over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and if you come in off 9th, the Hall of Fame will be in front of you, turn right. You’ll head towards the Burke Lakefront Airport. It will be on your left, there is a small, gravel parking lot. Parking is free. You will pay your $10 admission at a small booth that looks like the kind you’d find in a carnival to buy tickets to the tilt-a-whirl. Across that sidewalk is the “gift shop” which is a bulletin board with examples of things you can buy. I don’t know where they keep those things though.

You walk up a ramp, and then you are on the submarine. To get into the sub, you go down a hole, with a ladder on the side. So,needless to say, it is not handicap accessible.
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The sub is interesting, there are a lot of signs to tell you about the areas in the sub. There are 4 or 5 audio “tours”. You push the button, and hear about the area you are in. You can sit at a table or lay in a bunk.
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Or, you can pretend to enjoy a cup of coffee.

I really found the kitchen the most interesting part. Just to think about having to cook for that many people in such a tiny space.
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I began to write you out a history of the sub, but it’s really interesting and deserves its own post. So, upcoming is a U.S.S. Cod history post.

After the sub, I decided to go to the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art.

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So, I will admit it, but it’s embarrassing. I walked past this museum several times, trying to find it. The GPS was clear, the building LOOKED like a contemporary art museum. But, the only sign is the one on the door. That says “Mocha a la Carte” the hours talk about lunch time. And, there is a small script on the door that says something like “healthy, nourishing” So, I saw this and thought “what a strange restaurant.” and kept walking. Like, 10 minutes later I decided to go in and ask, and wound up in the gift shop.

It was a bit disappointing in my opinion. There were only 2 exhibits. One was by a nun. The Art of Corita Kent. That will be on display until August 31, 2014. Her art is very pop art inspired.

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The next exhibit was Staging Silence by Hans Op De Beeck. There were only 3 photos, but there was a room where a video was shown, and he slowly moved pieces to create beautiful landscapes. This is also on display until the end of August, 2014.

The admission is $8.

Finally, I ended up at Euclid Creek Reservation. I had read there was once an amusement park there, and some parts remained, such as the entrance, and the beach walkway. I drove through the whole park and found several playgrounds and picnic shelters. Also, there were many places to pull of and view the creek. IMG_7525This pretty flowered area is a monarch stop station, designed to draw the butterflies in on their migration.

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There are a lot of beautiful views of the creek, and the park is just as nice as the one previously mentioned.

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There are signs warning you to stay out of the creek. The creek is only a few inches deep, but many people have drown in it because it is really bad about flash flooding because it is surrounded by all the rock, and the creek bed is rock, so when there is a heavy rain, the water has no place to go, except to flood the creek.

I never found the old amusement park markers, and left very disappointed. Once I got home and could do some more research, and not just look on my phone, I found that this particular park has 2 sections. That are oddly far away from each other. I was in the wrong section. Now I know for next time.

Information

U.S.S. Cod- General information about the submarine

Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art 

Euclid Creek Reservation

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I just thought this was cute, it is the bike rack outside Starbucks.

Summer Time Exploring in Cleveland

This trip was a perfect example of my accidental tourism. I was in Cleveland because my husband was working there. I had no plans and no agenda, so, armed with a full tank of gas, and a charged GPS I set out to see what I could find.

Let me say a couple things about Cleveland. Their Metropark system is AWESOME. Their roads are crap. It is almost like they built a city, and as the number of people outgrew their infrastructure, they just added more. No real rhyme or reason. You end up with two traffic lights, that aren’t timed to each other, within a block. I was trying to get to my hotel, and I got off the interstate, where to get onto my road, I had to make an immediate U-turn, but there was a light halfway through the u-turn. It was weird. I can’t even explain it well. And, because they just randomly add roads, they seem to have run out of names, so Broadway splits and one direction is Broadway and one is Broadway Ave. Another street is Miles Park, the next road is Miles Park Ave. So, if you are not familiar with the area, you will make a lot of wrong turns. A lot. Like, oh, say, 87 in two days.

Day 1, I used Scout Maps, an app on my phone, to look for interesting things to do around there. I found a castle. I tried to find the castle on my regular GPS and I couldn’t. So, I decided to use their GPS. Which delivered me to a very nice neighborhood where a family of 4 was doing landscaping around their ranch home. I suppose on the plus side, instead of an arrow to represent me, it’s a picture of a ’67 Mustang. Which is kind of cool. But not worth getting lost over.

Eventually, I find out that Squire’s Castle is in the North Chagrin Reservation. This is part of Cleveland Metroparks. I was, admittedly, a bit disappointed to find that the castle is right by a parking lot. I had visions of Disney princesses, roaming the dark woods, only to see a dilapidated building peaking through the brush. That was not the case here.

The castle will be it’s own post, because the story is interesting. But, here it is. IMG_7291

I began to go into the woods, but, didn’t go very far. There was a waterfall I was intent on finding as well. The trails are clearly trails, but, wear good shoes. Because, the trails are muddy and in one spot a tree had fallen across, so you will have to climb over. So, while the trails are obvious, they have also been left to nature a bit.

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I continued on, to look for the waterfall. Again, I will praise the parks department. The signs are clear.
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Each trail is color coded, and represented by an animal, so, the waterfall trail is a blue dragonfly.
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The map told of cascading waterfalls and a scenic overlook at Buttermilk Falls. But, I think they perhaps over promised and under-delivered.
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The dragonfly path though was well worth taking, it was only half a mile long but had very pretty views of the creek that lead to Buttermilk Falls.

I then decided to head for Mill Creek Falls, which is it’s own “park”. There is a history center as well. This drive was where I got lost, over and over again. I drove and drove. I finally thought I was getting close, but, I felt I was in a slightly bad area, and a bit nervous. So, my GPS took me down a road that was a dead end. Down a hill, down to some woods. I find a few driveways, but they all say “private, no trespassing” and only seem to lead deeper into the woods. I see the history center. It is a house, and it is closed, in the middle of the afternoon. There is a small parking lot that belongs to some apartment buildings, but I pull in anyway. I can HEAR something, but, surely this can’t be the waterfall. I mean, that tiny trickle had a hundred signs directing you. This has NOTHING. So, I begin to head toward the noise, and begin to realize how much this sounds like the beginning of a horror movie. I continue on anyway. There is a path in the trees that I take, when I find this sign
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I continue toward the noise, and all of a sudden a really nice staircase is in front of me. Just call me Alice (In Wonderland), because it said “take me” so I did. I walked down the stairs. To find this
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A 48 foot tall waterfall. There is no one around, at all. There are benches to sit on and enjoy the spot though, so I did.

and that is the end of day 1.

Information
North Chagrin Reservation- This park houses Squire’s Castle. It also has a nature center, and a gold course. There are trails for horseback riding and even a place to park and truck with a trailer to unload your horses. They allow fishing. And, you can download a PDF of the trails before you go, from the website.

Squire’s Castle-This is a short little blurb about the castle.

Cleveland Metroparks- This is all the information for all the parks. There is no way I could make it to all of them on my limited time!

Mill Creek Falls- The information on this site is about as sparse as the how to get there info! It is located near Garfield park Reservation.

Road Trips With Kids

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My first road trip with the kids was 3 years ago. We drove from Indiana to West Virginia. Brad was working out there and we decided to go see him.

It was about a 6 hour drive, according to the GPS. The boys were 7 and 5. Brad had flown to work, so it would just be me driving. I was nervous. Especially since I had never really gone anywhere on my own before, and I had certainly never had to figure it out with two little boys in tow.

I am going to share with you today the two biggest things we’ve done, that we still do. It will sound crazy. Hear me out.

1. Establish the “shut up” rule.

and

2. Stop, everywhere.

I have always been tense when I drive through cities. Almost on the verge of tears, when we started this. The bigger the city, the worse I was. I explained, simply, to the kids before that trip we now had a “shut up” rule. If I shouted “shut up” that meant EVERYTHING ceased. The talking, the giggling, the fighting, the crunching chips, the kicking the back of the seat. I was not mad, I wasn’t upset. I was stressed, and trying to get though the city as quickly and as safely as possible.They were not in any trouble. I just needed silence. And, I would let them know when they could make noise again.

When we approach a big city, I say “the shut up rule is in effect” and they are on notice, I may, at any point, yell at them. This will only work if you a. don’t say shut up and b.rarely raise your voice. But, it works. They’ve never made me come up with a punishment for breaking the rule. If you don’t like it, don’t think it will work, or don’t use that phrase in your family, that is fine. Find another thing, that you don’t often say, that will get the message across, that as of this moment the car is silent.

And, actually the rule was used on me last week! The GPS was messed up, there was a lot of traffic, debris in a road from a shredded tire, etc. I was talking to Brad, and he finally shouted “shut up!”. And, I didn’t say another word until he had things under control, several minute later.

Next, make all the stops.

I told the boys this was a 6 hour drive. We had 12 to get there. We could stop EVERY TIME they asked, as long as they never fought, whined, or asked if we were there yet. They also couldn’t abuse the privilege. They might not be long stops, but we would stop. Everybody has to get out at a stop, and everyone has to attempt to use the bathroom. I explained, if they drove me crazy in the car, I would need to get where we were going as quickly as possible and there would be no more stops.

After thousands of miles and more hours than I care to count in the car, I have realized, they naturally ask to stop every 2 hours. But, they have never complained about the trip, or asked if we were there yet.

Where do we stop?

We’ve stopped and ran through Toys R Us.

We’ve spent a bit of time wandering Game Stop.

We’ve gotten drinks at McDonalds. I stand in line, they rush to the play place and play for 5 minutes while I order and pay.

We’ve stopped at rest stop playgrounds.

Once we stopped at a musical distribution center, that happens to have a free arcade in it, and they played pinball for 5 minutes.

Sometimes they say things like “We are good, but we’d really like to stop at the next Starbucks.” (Yes, they are a bit spoiled, but, for no complaints for an 11 hour drive, they can have a frappachino.)

We’ve packed bubbles and jump rope and spent 10 minutes in the Walmart parking lot.

We’ve stopped in parking lots with grassy areas and they’ve ran for a few minutes.

We almost never use the drive thru when we get food. That 5-10 minutes out of the car, and to throw out any trash, makes them happy for another couple hours.

There will be more tips soon, but these are the two big ones.