Friday, July 19, 2013

Go West, Day 4: The View from Up Here

Now this is what I’m talking about! 70’s and sunny, baby! Let’s get our sitesee on!

One thing I am learning is that 5 people—or at least, the five of us—sharing a small space do not get up, get showered, get dressed, straighten up, and eat breakfast quickly. It is going to be a miracle if we leave this camper before 10 AM on this trip. Which could get dicey because our friends that we are meeting later are early-risers (and we are too, but rising early and being ready early do not seem to be the same thing).

One cool thing that is happening on this vacation... Roo is becoming more independent (in a good way). He now sits at the table with us for almost every meal, whether in the RV or in a restaurant. He thinks he's really hot stuff.


But we got out as quickly as we could, and headed back to St. Louis. Yay! Our day started at the Arch… or at least, trying to get to the Arch. We had forgotten that tomorrow is the 4th of July, and the entire area around the Arch was closed to traffic, because they were setting up for a big fair tomorrow. But hey, parking farther away just meant a little extra exercise, and who couldn’t use that?


I had read in our AAA guidebook to get there soon after it opened, and I’m glad we did. The line to get in was about 15 minutes long, and when we left a few hours later it had tripled or quadrupled in length. We got our tickets to go up, and our tram left just 3 minutes later! Wow! I am so glad we splurged for the tram ride to the top. It was a really neat experience for the kids… even if Monkey was a little on the unsure side about being up so high. (Sidenote: My kids never cease to amaze me. Lamb, who is so cautious about so many things, loves roller coasters and didn’t seem to mind being 630 feet in the air one bit. Monkey, the adventurous one, begged to go back down from the minute we stepped out of the tram at the top.)


After our beautiful view of the city, we decided to explore the museum at the base of—or more accurately, underneath—the Arch. Thanks to a tip from a friend, we first stopped at the information center to get workbooks for the kids. This gives them a series of age-based activities to complete while in the museum, then they can return them to the information center where they are deemed Junior Rangers! Mr. Fantastic was underwhelmed by the experience, but I thought it was a great way to get them more into the idea of the museum—and they were thrilled with their badges. (And everywhere we went for the rest of the day, locals commented on their Junior Ranger badges. Lamb and Monkey really thought they were hot stuff!)


By now it was lunchtime, and we headed right to the riverfront to eat. We had tickets for a riverboat ride later in the afternoon, so we ate at a café right by the dock. And we were in for a special treat! In preparation for the July 4th festivities, several planes were practicing for the upcoming air show. We basically got to watch the whole show from the front row with no crowds. It was so much fun!


And then… the real adventure.

For real, folks. Our whole family got on a quadricycle and went for a ride. Just let that sink in a little.

80 degrees.

2 overweight parents.

1 clueless 8-year-old.

1 curious 6-year-old.

1 not-to-be-contained 3-year-old… whose buckle wouldn’t stay fastened.

Yep, we are that kind of crazy.

Actually it was a lot of fun. And a lot of work. My favorite quote came when we got ready to turn around and head back, and Lamb (who wasn’t pedaling) said, “But I’m not even tired yet.”

We enjoyed the ride, though… right up until the moment that we didn’t any more. As soon as we climbed into the cycle, Mr. Fantastic and I instructed the big kids that they were NOT to help pedal, but that they WERE to keep their feet directly in front of them, AWAY from the pedals and gears. (It was set up so that four people could pedal.) This was tested once briefly when the toe of Monkey’s shoe got caught near one of the wheels, and we explained to them that this was exactly why we had this rule about sitting still and facing forward. Little did we know that this was just a foreshadowing of what was to come. Shortly—and I mean less than a minute—before we returned the quadricycle, Monkey turned to watch a helicopter take off… and his foot got caught between the wheel and the frame. While we were pedaling. Until we realized that it had suddenly gotten much harder to pedal. And Monkey was crying. Extracting his foot (my job) was no small feat (no pun intended). How we escaped with no major injuries or broken bones, I don’t know. But the scrapes are going to be around for a while. (I don’t have a picture of the incident, because I don’t think Monkey OR Mr. Fantastic would have been quick to forgive me if I had stopped for a photo op at that particular point.)

But then we got popsicles and life was much better.

The riverboat ride was a fun activity. Not something I would put on my must-do list, but we enjoyed it.



We learned some interesting facts about the city and enjoyed an air-conditioned ride.

Time to head back to home base! But first, just a couple more shots of the Arch. (I have about a hundred, so feel lucky that you're only seeing 2.)


Tonight was the night Monkey had been waiting for since he set foot in the RV: our first campfire! We made hot dogs for dinner, s’mores for dessert, and stayed outside watching for stars and fireflies. This is why I agreed to this camping trip. What great memories.

Gotta love a big sister who is willing to keep going after the ball. This poor kid is going to be spending a lot of time in that Pack 'n Play. :-)
And that about does it for today. Night, night all. See you tomorrow.

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