I have a gajillion pictures to share so I'm sure this will have to be broken down into several posts. We drove up to Arkansas, then on to Missouri, back down a different route through Arkansas, and detoured to Dallas before coming back home to Houston. We broke up the trip a lot and visited several different towns. When it was all said and done, we ended up staying in 5 different hotels/cabins. This is what I would do differently next time. We thought it would be a good idea to break up the drive as much as possible, but loading and unloading all our crap into and out of that many places was a lot of work!
Day 1 - Houston, TX to Hot Springs, AR
We left the first Saturday of our spring break. I of course waited until the night before to pack, because I am a Very Smart Woman. I have this weird OCD tendency to need every single piece of laundry folded and put away before I can start packing before a trip. Even just an overnight trip. I'm a weirdo. Anyway, having every single piece of laundry folded and put away is not an easy feat in this house these days. I actually enjoy doing laundry and typically wash at least 1 or 2 loads every day, but even doing that I still never seem to catch up with Pukey McPukerson living here and doing her thang all over all of us all day long. I also had this great idea to make fun travel binders for the kids with maps and fun activities for them to work on while we were on the road. Because like I said, I am a Very Smart Woman and love to volunteer for projects I have absolutely no time or energy to complete. But I did it! I pulled an allnighter and GOT 'ER DONE. I had to pack for 5 of us for 9 days plus all the other crap a baby requires so it felt like I was packing to move into a new house. I finally finished up at 3am and unsuccessfully attempted to get a couple hours of sleep...but my mind wouldn't stop racing because I had about 8 lists running through my head. Oh well, sleep is overrated sometimes. Nothing like a little adrenaline to start off a road trip!
|proof that they loved each other before we left|
We loaded up the van and rolled out at 6am...and then didn't even make it 10 minutes before our first pit stop for a potty break. Because my HUSBAND forgot to go before we left the house. Even the kids were rolling their eyes. ha! What was just supposed to be just a quick stop so he could use the restroom and grab a coffee turned into all of us going inside to eat breakfast at Chickfila at 6am because the kids were upset he was going inside and they couldn't. And I didn't really feel like starting our vacation with tears. I figured it was their vacation too and I wanted them to hear a few more yeses and a few less no's. We let them play on the playground while we waited for our food and they thought it was the coolest thing ever since it was "midnight" and they had the place to themselves. This set us back 30 minutes and before we were even out of the parking lot Harper was already asking "why didn't we just fly in an airplane again?" lol. Such a diva.
But once we got back on the road we made it 4 hours before stopping again. Not too shabby considering our start. We stopped at what I'm certain is the nastiest gas station with the nastiest restrooms in all of America. The kind of place where you feel like you need to shower after leaving, even though you made sure not to touch any surface with your bare hands so you wouldn't have to cut them off and leave them behind. Even Harrison commented on how disgusting they were, and that says a lot! Hahaha! They actually had a handmade sign on the wall with a printout of a person standing/squatting on top of the toilet seat with a line drawn through it and next to it was written, "poop inside the toilet, not outside of the toilet." I mean, really. Nasty, nasty people. ANYWAY, I fed Hadley in the car and she barfed all over the parking lot and then laughed about it as if she knew she was redeeming our gross bathroom experience.
|don't worry mom, I've got your back|
The travel binders were a big hit so I'm glad I didn't feel like I wasted my time. I wanted us to embrace the road trip wholeheartedly and do all the cheesy car games and jam out to the radio...mission accomplished! They didn't even ask to watch a movie the entire first day in the car, which is a pretty big deal with those two. We headed on to Texarkana before stopping for lunch and stretching our legs.
We found the cutest little bakery and cafe to have lunch at. Thank goodness for smart phones. What a vacation game-changer. GPS, Yelp, & Trip Advisor were our best friends since we had a very loose itinerary and wanted to stay flexible since we were traveling with a baby. I didn't even have any kind of agenda or itinerary planned out until the day before we left (Very Smart Woman) so a lot of travel decisions were made on the go. We had our doubts about how much we'd actually get to do, but honestly, Hadley was probably easier than the bigs! It's so nice when they can't argue or complain yet ;)
|Harrison's brunch that he was very excited about. "Mom, I get to have TWO breakfastses!"|
|star-shaped sandwich excitement|
After eating lunch, we crossed the state border and had to stop at the welcome center for a picture. We've taken the kids' pictures at every state border they've been to and hopefully I can continue the tradition until they're grown. This was obviously Hadley's first trip out of Texas, but the other two have been to Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Florida, and now Arkansas & Missouri. 7 states in under 5 years...not too bad! Growing up, my family wasn't able to travel much so I'm thankful that we've had the opportunity to do so. We just got their passports in the mail for our upcoming Mexico trip and they were so excited open the envelopes and see their photos.
We drove on to our first adventure. We kept it a surprise since we weren't sure if the weather was going to cooperate and we didn't want any disappointment if we had to skip it. It's no secret that our Harpie Harp is such a girly girl. She loves anything and everything shiny and sparkly. She once circled 90% of a jewelry catalog to give us Christmas gift ideas. So when I saw that there was a place you could mine for diamonds I knew we had to make it happen. She squealed when we got there...however I'm pretty sure a giant muddy field wasn't exactly what she had pictured in her mind when I said we were going to a diamond crater. HA! Either way, they both had fun digging through the mud and finding little treasures. We didn't find any diamonds, but we did discover an indian arrowhead and some lava rock which was pretty neat.
|seriously? THIS is your idea of diamonds??|
|this one couldn't wait to dive into the mud|
|never too young to be introduced to diamonds|
|it didn't take her long to embrace it and get to work digging for jewels|
|Hadley and I found an arrowhead|
|she was so focused...|
|....and he was not :)|
After hosing down and cleaning up and feeling reeeeally thankful I packed our rubber boots, we continued our drive to Hot Springs. Kirby is the nickname Rick gave me when we got married since my initials became KRB. It's also the name of our company. So along the way we had to stop and take a picture in front of this city limit sign:
The drive through Arkansas was really beautiful. It was nice to be among the hills since we don't have those in South Texas. The kids threw up their arms and laughed like we were on a roller coaster every time we got to the top of a hill.
It was already dark by the time we made it to Hot Springs. We found a hotel and lugged up all our stuff, and then walked next door to a restaurant called Bleu Monkey Grill for dinner. After 12+ hours on the road, a refreshing adult beverage sounded pretty lovely so I ordered the signature drink that the server suggested. And then they brought this gigantic blue margarita out. It was seriously the size of a a fish bowl. There was no way I could drink all of it so I did what any other smart person would do...discreetly poured the rest into a to-go cup to drink back at the hotel :)
We headed back to the hotel and I had to laugh at my kids. If a TV is on in the near vicinity, you can pretty much guarantee that they will be zoned out to it with their mouth hanging open. They are just like their dad, ha! (but for real). Apparently Hadley got the gene as well. :)
A long but successful day.