We were planning on heading down but everything depended on how my mom's minor surgery went and if she would feel up to hours in the van. Jordan called everyone we were planning on visiting to give them a heads up that we should be on our way there. Jordan cracks me up, when he called he asked if they had any plans for the next weekend, and said "oh, mind if we stop by for a visit?" as if we seen them all the time. Obviously they were over the moon. For about a week I received text messages multiple times a day asking when we were leaving, how the surgery went, and when would we be there. It was hard planning the trip, because we couldn't really plan anything until we knew how my mom's surgery was going to go and how she would feel afterwards.
My mom had her surgery and everything went well. She was feeling up to traveling and we ended up leaving a day earlier than we intended. We drove for about 5 hours the first day. We made it across the state of Michigan before deciding to find a room for the night in Michigan City, Indiana. The stays in the hotels was one of the highlights for Jacob. With an early start the following day we drove through Illinois and finally made it into Missouri. We made it to our destination (Great Grandma Betty's house) around 2:30. We were greeted by cousin Diana (who was Jordan's age the last time I saw her) and her two daughters, Great Grandma, and cousins Tiffany and Loyal. After tears and hugs we sent a message to Jordan's other Papa (Frank) so he could see us all too. Papa Frank use to live in Michigan only a couple miles down the road from us and use to see Jordan every other weekend. It had been harder on him not seeing Jordan in almost a decade. Cousin Tiffany and Loyal remembered Jordan from pictures we sent over the years.
|First hug in almost a decade. Great Grandma|
Betty and Jordan (cousin Diana in the background)
|All the kiddos|
All the kiddos got along as if they see each other all the time, but there wasn't much for my younger guys to do. Sitting and listening to the adults chit chat was going to make for a really boring visit for them. Papa and Grandma decided they would take the little guys to Kansas City to visit Legoland. Jordan and I stayed back and visited. This worked our really well, Jordan was able to be in the spotlight and not have to share any of the attention with his brothers. The boys, Papa and Grandma has an absolute blast in Legoland.
|Jordan taught Tiffany how to properly throw a football|
I love anything that makes people different from me, so I had the younger boys all excited about hearing the southern accents and how we'd still get to hear it on our way home because Jordan seems to pick it up rather quickly. I was disappointed that we couldn't really hear an accent from anyone down there, even family members. We were at a restaurant for breakfast and as the waitress left our table Jacob was all excited, because he heard her accent. We did however hear a different accent; we attended mass while there and our priest was Irish with a very thick Irish accent.
Jordan was totally hamming it up being the center of attention, and everyone was just eating it up. After spending the day catching up and recapping stories from years ago we were able to get a room at the hotel that was closer to Great Grandma's house. The next morning (our last day before heading home) we caught up with Aunt Angel (she seriously makes the best sweet tea I have ever tasted) and Uncle Justin. Poor Loyal and Tiffany were really bummed they had school and wouldn't get to see us off.
|Walking the zoo in a constant drizzle.|
After more hugs and tearful goodbyes we were back on the road. We left somewhat early so we could stop by the St. Louis Zoo on our way home. The zoo has free admittance (although they wanted $15 for parking) and as luck would have it, it was raining for the whole day. We walked the zoo in the rain anyways. Actually it was kind of nice walking around in the rain; we were one of like only three families in the zoo and it wasn't raining hard, just a sprinkle. We were able to see some of the animals we no longer have at our local zoo, like elephants and hippos. They had an awesome set up for the hippos where you could see them both in and outside of the water. I also really like that they had most of the animals indoors because of the all day rain.
|Crossing the Mississippi River|
After the zoo we head back to the expressway to start our journey home. That's when we noticed the "Gateway" and remembered that was one of the key stops I wanted to make. After driving in circles in downtown St. Louis during rush hour, while a baseball game was going on, and construction we finally found somewhere to park. We had to hoof it to the arch due to the construction, but it was so worth it in my opinion just to see the Arch. We had missed riding to the top by an hour, but hung around (in the rain) for a couple pictures. Jacob was fascinated by the Mississippi River and that we were right at the side of it.
|Back in the "Mitten"|
Then it was back on the road. We ended up taking a different route home and stay another night in a hotel in Illinois and complete our drive home the following day.
All-in-all it was a great vacation. We traveled through parts of five different states and crossed the Mississippi River twice, and stayed in a couple different hotels (all but one had a pool). Papa and Jacob visited Missouri for their first time, and we spend time with family we really need to see more often. Bonus was that we were home by Thursday and the boys don't need to be back at school until Monday, so we have break to recover from our vacation before having to get back in routine.