September 8, 2009 - Crayola Factory, Albany and Home

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

Typically, our last day of vacation is a travel day and we don't get to do much. But our flight out of Albany wasn't until 7:00 p.m. so we had a full day ahead of us. Thankfully, Robby recovered from his "24-hour" bug and was up checking a few work emails before everyone got up. Graham was the first awake - ready to escape the bathroom - and soon Anderson and Reagan followed. Everyone was dressed and headed to breakfast by 8:15 a.m. The hotel had a light breakfast consisting of muffins, bagels (Anderson devoured his blueberry bagel) cereal, and of course, lots of orange juice!

Robby loaded the car, as we finished our breakfast, and we were on the road by 9:00 headed to the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA where they make all the Crayolas. It was only about 20 miles from our hotel so we were there at 9:30 when they opened. We were the first through the doors - kind of nice to have the building to yourself plus when we were leaving the place was filling up. The 'factory' is not the actual factory (it's about 5 miles away but they don't have tours) but an interactive place with all things Crayola. Reagan could have stayed for days with all the different art activities. We got to see how they make crayons and the markers (who knew there was cotton stuffed up in those markers!). They had all sorts of activities from chalk walk, melted crayon art, finger painting and play areas. The big hit for Graham was the play area where you took a ball from a box and placed in another box and wound it's way up a spiral thing and through a maze and dropped back into the box. Plus they gave you tokens to use throughout the center to retrieve boxes of crayons and markers. Reagan loved filling her bag up with the goodies.

Included in the admission was a visit to the National Canal Museum (in the same building) where the kids could pilot their boats through the locks, operate a model train layout and play construction worker. After a quick potty stop, it was time to hit the road towards Albany.

All the creative energy must have worn Anderson and Graham out - they were fast asleep soon after we got on the road. It was probably a good thing since we did have 200 miles ahead of us to reach Albany. Reagan was entertained that Anderson was having trouble keeping his head up and tried to help hold his head up but that didn't last long. About 80 miles outside of Albany, everyone was up and ready for a potty stop. Robby filled up the gas tank and we were ready to make the last leg of the trip.

We wanted to squeeze in a quick stop by the New York Capitol. We almost didn't recognize it because it looked like an over sized mansion instead of the typical domed capitols. Robby took his traditional capitol picture (3 on this trip) and then it was time to head to the airport.

We always talk about how we couldn't live without the the GPS, and this holds true most of this time, but Helga did let us down a bit today. Robby was trying to hurry to get the car back because were already going to be an hour past time. Well, Helga took us to the airport but straight to the back gate of the runway. Anderson couldn't understand why we couldn't just drive thru but Reagan explained the runway was only for airplanes. We circled the airport and made it to the car rental return - just 1 hour and 15 minutes late!. They only charged us for the one extra hour though and Robby was glad. Hertz may have not taken into account and would take us another hour to unload (well, maybe just 30 minutes).

Have you ever had a picnic in the airport? We hadn't until today but we still had leftovers from our picnic food and had plenty of time to spare before our plane took off. So we found a little spot out of the way and had us a good 'ole airport picnic. We only got a few strange looks with our ice chest, bag of chips plus our luggage cart. We finished up and checked in. Heading home we were able to check our car seat bags along with a couple of suitcases so that made it easier maneuvering through the airport. We still had a couple of hours before departure but the Albany airport had a great observation area where you could watch the planes land and take off plus an art gallery with some cool art. There were only a few people up there and away from the hustle and bustle of the airport (fairly quiet too until you take 3 kids up there!) Everyone enjoyed hanging out there and had a last snack before heading through security.

Our plane to Charlotte, NC was on time and were soon on board and taking off right at 7:00 p.m. Plane was quite empty and everyone could have had a row to themselves and slep the 2 hour ride but everyone was wired including Graham. Snacks and a couple of airplane bathroom trips and were landing in Charlotte fifteen minutes early. We had to make our way across the airport for our last leg home. Robby picked up some Uno Express and we had quick snack before boarding our Little Rock flights. Unlike the last flight, it was packed and lots of kids. We boarded and in front of our family was another family with a screaming child. We are sympathetic but this kid was going crazy and sitting right behind us. Most of the passengers were staring (which doesn't help!) but it did go on for 10 minutes. The flight attendant asked if they would like to step off for a minute before we took off but the mother explained the boy had lost a little car and he probably wouldn't stop. Uh oh! Robby quickly found a car in Anderson's bag and gladly offered it to the parents. They accepted and soon all was quiet! And none sooner than all 3 of ours were asleep. They slept the entire flight home and we had to shake them to wake up since they needed to walk to their buggies. A little zombie-like but they did manage to make the walk. Grandpa was waiting for us, and by this time the kids were wide eyed and ready to Grandpa all about their vacation. We were home by midnight and soon asleep. It was fun time had by all. Final driving tally was 1,582 miles in 8 days and lots of places seen!

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