Road Trip 2015, Day 7: June 30 2015 (Dearborn, MI to Niagara Falls, Ontario)

Touring the Rogue Factory!
(click here for today's pictures)

Reagan slept in Grannymom's room last night and the rest of us spread out in our room.  It was nice to have one last night of being spread out since I am sure that will be our largest hotel room.  Everyone wanted to go to breakfast with Grannymom and Grandpa and Reagan was not too pleased with this. We had already told the others that they could go when Reagan came in our room in tears saying that it was her turn.  I told her that she could come with Whitman and us to eat breakfast after she went with Grannymom and that made her some happier. 

This morning when I pulled Whitman out of his bed, he was sound asleep and laid pretty still and quiet on my bed for a while before Robby put today's clothes on him.  Then it was our breakfast time.  Robby saw that the elevators might be a problem (one broken) so he skipped breakfast with us go get a cart and take our bags to the van.  Whitman devoured a banana and cup after cup of juice while I feasted on the scones.  Reagan was going to get some toast as her second breakfast but we let it burn and she decided that she didn't really want anything else after all.

We went back to the Henry Ford complex for one more day.  Today's outing included the Ford Rogue Factory Tour.  I thought that the Rogue was the actual name of a Ford car (that I just how much I know my cars) instead it is the name of the factory.  When we had planned for the trip, the factory was in production but since then things changed and they were not producing F150s today.  

That was fine though and this meant there was a lot fewer people on the tour (almost like none other than us!)  We caught the first but to the factory (Whitman's favorite part of the day) and then watched a short film about Henry Ford and the factory through time-union, WWII, depression and recession.    

After the first movie, there was a second-it had plenty of special effects-enough so that Keaton decided that she needed to go to the bathroom so she could leave the movie (we waited until it was over though).  Then we went to the observatory so we could see the factory.  They had a green roof (a roof with a grass type substance) which lowered the temperature in the factory by 10 degree and helped prevent water leaks in the roof.  

Then we walked along a catwalk above the factory floor.  It was pretty interesting.  The workers were on a break for a week or two and the factory floor was left just like in was when the whistle blew at quitting time.   We were able to see varying degrees of trucks on the line and could almost imagine what it would be like-but I would still love to see it all during production time.  I have a feeling we will get back to the Henry Ford some time or another and I can do it again.

At the gift shop, they had a kiddie ride on F150.  Whitman and Keaton were inside of it in a flash-it didn't move but the steering wheel did turn and they loved this.  Keaton pointed to the logo on the streering and said "Whitman, this says Kroger."  I guess the blue and white Ford logo looked somialar to the blue and white kroger logo.  

Our next stop was Ford's Estate.  The grounds were so nice that we decided to have a picnic.  We all spread out on a brick retaining wall and had a big feast.  After our picnic was over, the kids played frisbee and football.  Then we walked across the field to see a tiny little farmhouse.  While we were over there, we noticed the trees-where they cherries or plums.  No one was sure so we picked sme to see and that is when we saw the security gaurd walking towards Tony-we all got into trouble. 

Of course the lady was really nice and asked us to not play on the field or pick the fruit.  We laughed about this and made a big deal out of getting into trouble.  But my Campbell thought none of this was funny at all.  She just burst into tears and told me that she was ready to go home.  We had scared that baby to death.  Since we couldn't play anymore we took a walk near Henry's house and his power plant but Campbell was so upset all she could do was hang on to me.  No matter how much I explained that we were teasing and the security lady was nice (she answered questions for us as we were looking at Ford's power plant), Campbell was just plain upset!

The grounds were pretty but at some point had been given to the University but have recently given it back to the Ford foundation.  Apparently, the university did not take the best of care of the house and grounds and even opened a restaurant in the house.  Currently, they are restoring the house to the original condition.  As we were walking back to the car, we did see a rat scurry across the side walk and that pretty much sums up how Campbell feels about this stop on our trip.  Once we climbed into the car and pulled out of the parking lot, she let out a huge sigh of relief and that child will probably never buy a Ford car because of her bad memories from this place.  

After this, it was time to drop Grannmom and grandpa off at the airport.  Right before we stopped there, we ran and bought gas and ice.  Then we said bye to Grannymom and Granpda-well, those of us who were awake told them bye (Witman and Keaton were sleeping)  They have a few hours to wait in the airport before their plane takes off but will still probably beat us to tonight's hotel.

Next up was drive through detroit and a pass by a stadium and the GM building.  By this time we had already started pulling out the snacks.  And then the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel was upon us and we were in Canada.  It took us a bit to cross the border becuase the man had to enter all of the kids birth certificates and then he came to the door to see the kids.

By the time that we had left the border, the Wilsons were ahead of us and Keaton had to potty.  We pulled off at McDonalds and tried to reach them.  Robby didn't pay for an international plan on his phone so getting a hold of them was a bit difficult.  At McDonalds he was able to get on their for a few minutes.  

The drive into Canada had lots of windmills and it is always pretty amazing to think that you are in a new country yet you aren't that far away from home.  After awhile Robby got a bit tired, so I took over at the wheel.  I kept myself entertained by the signs on the road-most were writting in English and then Frence.  One sign that I found particularly interesting was the one that said "retards possibles"-apparently that means delays possible.  

I tried to go the speed limit-80 kmh but that is crawling but the police were everywhere.  So I tried to compromise and drive slower than the other cars but faster than the trucks.  After quite a long stretch we finally caught up with the Wilsons at McDonalds.  We all pottied and then were back on the road with our hamburgers in hand.

We then took a detour off the main road and drove down some beautiful Canadian countryside-even saw some skydivers.  The goal was to see the Eerie Canal with this little diversion but we did not.  So we continued down the road and arrived at our hotel.  We are back in a Comfort Inn and tonight it is a motel!  Whoop, whoop!  No cart-just walk out the door and into the car!  It doesn't even matter that our room is 1/4th the size of last nights room.

We all unpacked and then the Wilsons hopped into our car and we headed out again.  This time we made it to the Eerie Canal and saw a boat in the lock.  Then the boat left just as we did and we hurried to make it across the canal before the draw bridge had to be raised-we missed that but we did get to see the bridge being raised so that was neat.  Unfortunately, the boat was going to slowly for us to wait and see it go under the bridge.  

Then we were off to see Niagara Falls.  We found parking and then walked towards the falls.  Whitman was buckled in his stroller for this leg of the journey and he did not like that but I did not care!  That little wall that separates you and the zillions of gallons of rushing water is about waist high to me so he could be over that thing in an instant!  The falls are impressive-even at night.  But it is still hard to see them at night despite the huge spotlights on them.  

We saw horseshoe falls and the American falls.  We even walked through some mist from the falls as we walked down the sidewalk.  The kids had a great time tonight and Tony even suggested skipping tomorrow and just heading on to DC.  He was only kidding and I know that my crew can not wait to get on that boat tomorrow.  

It is 11:48 right now and we put laundry in the washer about 10 minutes ago so it is going to be a pretty late night.  And since Walmart was closed tonight (everywhere so far on this trip has closed early) Robby will run over there before time to load up in the morning.  And our leave time is 8:15 in the morning-our earliest yet!  Eeek, I better take a nap while the laundry is in the dryer or I won't be able to make it!

Road Trip 2015, Day 6: June 29 2015 (Dearborn, MI)

We built this Model T (with a little help!)
(click here for today's pictures)

(click here for video of kids working an assembly line)

Another night of resting well in our huge hotel room.  Campbell and Anderson slept in Grannymom's room and had already eaten before we really started stirring this morning.  I didn't fold any of our laundry last night since we laid a few things out to dry overnight so this morning, my first task was folding lots and lots of laundry.  Basically, it was like I was having to repack all of our clothes this morning and Robby was on the other side of the room repacking all of our ice chests since the fridge was left open yesterday and then didn't work well after that.  We managed to get everything done and to have time to eat breakfast (I opted for the bagel topper and the turkey sausage links since I knew we would be close to a bathroom-I know it is too early in our day to be giving out all of that information.)

The Henry Ford Museum is huge-12 acres!  The museum began as Henry Ford's personal collection of history objects that he began collecting as far back as 1906.  We all loaded up into the van again and were there before 9:30.  Once the gates opened we walked right in and headed to the Model T area.

They have a section where you can come and help assemble a model T.  We missed this last year because a group had come through before us.  But today, we were some of the first ones in line.  Of course everyone in the group wanted to help assemble the car.  Anderson and Graham assembled part of the engine, Grannymom and Grandpa worked on the muffler, Reagan and Campbell screwed something in and even Keaton had job dropping some bolts in.  

The next stop was tons of fun too.  The kids had to work on a miniature assembly line to put together some tiny model Ts.  Keaton and Whitman laid down the base, Campbell put down the wheel shaft, Layne and Brett put the wheels on, Graham put the seats in, Reagan put the engine on, Anderson added the top and Grannymom turned the assembly line.  We completed 10 cars but it was tough-the kids had a blast and that is the part of the day that they will remember forever!

When we left the Model T area we walked past the line of presidential limos-Kennedys, Reagans, Eisenhowers and a few more.  Then we came to the model trains and this of course was Whitman's favorite part.  He could have stayed there all day long and we probably should have let him-we could have just come and picked him up at the end of the day.  

We were able to pull him away from the trains by telling him that we would be able to go into a train and we went inside the Allegheny Steam Locomotive which was so huge that Whitman probably couldn't even tell that it was a train.  Then we walked by train after train followed by car after car.  This place is impressive and my mom could spend days in here reading every sign.  How I wished that this was a thousand miles closer to my house.

We toured the area on airplanes and of course the kids loved making their own paper airplanes to see how far and how accurate they flew.  Then it was on to lunch near the Weinermobile - hot dogs no less! We took pictures with all of the kids laying on the bun covered up with relish, mustard, ketchup and mayo (who eats mayo on a hot dog anyway?)

For lunch, we all had hot dogs-Robby did have a sausage one and I had one with pineapple salsa and bbq sauce.  The toppings and all were great but the bun was a little dry.  What else was good was the package of hobo bread that Robby bought for me.  I wanted to buy some last year but never did so this year we tried some out.  It was pretty good-baked in a can and full of walnuts and raisins.  I should have pulled some out for supper tonight but forgot about it. 

Of course the Model T is a big hit here so at one place we were able to take pictures inside it.  We then toured the Dymaxion house-a round house kit that was to be produced after WWII which was very modern for the time but only 2 were ever actually built.  The house was different but full of windows and maybe the simpler life style (including air conditioner and high speed internet) would be perfect for us.    

Spending the entire day in a museum is probably not the most exciting thing for the kids to do today but I do think they enjoyed it.  Some of the exhibits were just really cool to actually see in real life.  The Rosa Parks bus was found and restored and now you can sit in it.  And seeing the actual chair that Lincoln was shot in is amazing.  

During the day, Graham and Anderson would take every chance they got to go back to the Model T that was being put together by museum guests.  They wanted to go and take a look to see how far they had come.  We all went back right before we left to take a look and that thing was almost completed.  Robby took a turn and before too many more steps, they were letting you sit in the car that you made.  That is just one of those things that the kids will never forget.

Again today the weather was perfect but we didn't even need good weather because this day was spent all inside.  Well, most of it was inside.  We did venture about 30 minutes away for ice cream.   Yes, you read that right-we drove that far for a scoop of ice cream.  (First ice cream stop choice was an actual dairy farm but it was an hour there and an hour back so we had to skip it.)  

Les had suggested Ray's Ice Cream and it was worth the drive.  The kiddie scoops were huge (and expensive).  We thought about buying a half gallon or two to save a few bucks but the kids couldn't understand that so we just went with cups and cones for everyone.   The Wilsons did buy a large bucket of ice cream and we used it for Whitman's picture since I thought he was going to sleep through ice cream.  But as we were leaving, he woke up and they just let him finish their ice cream-he ate a few bites and then stumbled on a piece of cookie dough and then he was done.  

Keaton had peppermint, Campbell ate mint chocolate chip, Graham had vanilla, Anderson had rainbow sherbet and Reagan's was orange sherbet.  In protest, I ate Mackinaw Island.  (In protest because this is our second year in a row to come to Michigan (and at least my 4th visit to this state) and Robby has still not gotten me to Mackinaw Island)  And I ate Mackinaw Island because it was vanilla ice cream filled with chocolate syrup and fudge (real fudge!).  Robby had blueberry pie ice cream-he must have liked it because he ate it all (this is the first time that I ever remember him getting a fruity flavored ice cream.)

After our ride back into town, we had a few minutes of down time before supper.  You can't just have supper right after eating a gallon of ice cream.  So we all went to our room and the kids played on their kindles and colored.  Robby ran to vacuum out the car and when he returned, it was picnic time.  We had sandwiches, grapes, tortillas, pepper jack cheese, bologna sausage, crackers, fudge, chips, brownies and man, if I didn't forget the cheese dip and salsa.  Oh, well there will be a picnic tomorrow and we can dig into those things.  My salsa came with my aunt from Arizona to Arkansas and now has traveled to Michigan-it has been more places than many people!

While we cleaned up the picnic and then Robby and I reloaded the initial load of stuff into the car, Tony played football with the kids.  Then it was pool time-oh, you should have seen people rolling their eyes and hurring out of the pool area when we arrived with all of our kiddos.  The kids swam for about 30 minutes and this gave them enough pool time and still gave us enough time tonight to repack and get to bed at a decent time.  

We are on day 6 of our trip and not yet halfway finished so the kids definitely need all of the sleep that they can get.  Tomorrow is the factory tour which should be interesting, a picnic at Henry Fords house and then a drive through Canada with the final destination of Niagara Falls.  Tomorrow is a big day so I better get some extra sleep tonight! (currently we will be in bed 2 hours earlier than the previous night!)

Road Trip 2015, Day 5: June 28 2015 (Dearborn, MI)

Return Trip to Greenfield Village!
(click here for today's pictures)

Everyone slept well again tonight.  It did help that our room is huge and we are crazy spread out-2 kids stayed with Grannymom, 1 one the couch, 2 in the other bed and poor Whitman crammed in the bathroom.  Every morning the kids wake up a bit slower and Robby and I probably wake up a bit slower too but we still managed to get to breakfast and in the car on time. 

It was just about a 20 minute ride to the Ford complex and we all piled into our van-14 folks just about fill up our little ole van.  When we arrived, Robby and Tony went to buy tickets which seemed to take forever.  We have passes from last year (we bought a membership so we could come back this year and bring Grannymom and Grandpa) but Robby still had to buy tickets for our tour on Tuesday.  

When we had stepped out of the car, the blessed sun was shining but the breeze was blowing.  We opted to not bring our coats and after waiting on Robby and Tony for so long, Grandpa said that he might want his jacket and I used that as a good excuse to get my own and a few of the kids.  To me the weather was was a bit cool and then a bit warm-it was too cool to not have a jacket and too warm to have on.  I have been watching today's weather for months (it seems) and we could not have had a better weather day.  

Today had probably been the most anticipated day by Robby and me.  Last year when we went to Greenfield Village in Dearborn we absolutely loved it.  It really could not have been more perfect and Robby and I were pretty worried about it not meeting our expectations this year.  I am so glad that this day did not disappoint! (I don't know about the others but I sure had a good day.)

When you walk into the village, you hear the puffs of the steam train.  The engine was sitting on the track waiting for us to board.  We took a train ride around the village: Henry Ford created the Village as a school which operated until 1969.  He felt that the best way to learn history was to be immersed in history.  So Ford, having plenty of money, bought historical buildings and when it was time to learn about science you went to Edison’s lab, or when if was time to learn about flight you went to the Wright Brothers home and bicycle shop.  Eventually, the school closed but is now a charter school for local children on the grounds.  But for the public, Greenfield Village has become almost like a historical Disney World.  The Henry Ford is the largest indoor-outdoor museum complex in America and the village contains nearly 100 historic buildings from the 17th century to the present.  It is just really cool and from the moment you cross the gates, you feel as if you are in the different time.

After riding the train, we walked to the Model Ts.  It took 4 car loads for our gaggle of folks.  The kids had read a book about Henry and his model Ts and this was one of the things that they remembered most from last year.  There wasn't a line for the Model Ts so it didn't take long for our ride around.  Once we were off, we walked through Ford's shop.  

From there, we headed to the train roundhouse.  We walked through the workshop and then stopped out front.  They have a huge train turntable that they let the kids turn.  You ha to be 6 and older to do this so Campbell was not too happy about it.  But Layne, Brett, Reagan, Anderson and Graham were able to push the turntable.  They were able to turn the quite heave turntable with ease.  

Next up was the Liberty Craftsworks area and we spent a few minutes there.  The first place we stopped was where they were blowing glass.  We watched them twice-the second time they broke what they were working on.  It was pretty neat-they stretched this long candy cane like piece of glass across the room and then will make a bowl out of many peices of that glass. 

Then it was through the place where they make yard, the tin works, the saw mill and then we skipped a few places-there is so much to see that you can not see it all unless you hurry and that is what we had to do. 

We stumbled upon Katherine Wright (remember Keaton giving her oral report about Katherine Wright a few months ago-click here for that video) and then along came Orville and Wilbur.  The kids listened intently and while Whitman and I ran across the street to pick up some custard.  I guess becuase it was in a cone, Whitman thought that it was al his-so I had to work pretty hard to sneak bites form him.  

After the Wrights were finished talking, we had our pictures made with them.  Then we told Katherine about Keaton doing a report about her.  Keaton even told Katherine a part of it ("I had 2 brothers, Wilbur and Orville and they made their first flight in 1903")  She probably doesn't have a ton of little 3 year olds doing reports about her life so she was pretty thrilled to see and hear Keaton.  They even had their pictures taken together. 

When we left, Katherine everyone walked through the Wright home and then it was off to lunch.  We might have stopped in a few places on the way.  Lunch was at a place called Taste of America and we had mac and cheese, pizza, a suasage hot dog and bbq.  After our little break, we pressed on down the road.

There was the McGuffey school house, the Mary Martha church and then we took the sidewalk down to the baseball field.  They have a baseball team that plays in the summer and the team is from 1867. So it was pretty interesting to watch and it was also interesting to see the local folks that came bringing their chairs and blankets there to watch the ball game.  We just stayed for one inning of the game and then we were off to see more houses.  (Though most of us could have stretched out on the grass and taken a nap.)

We saw plenty of other things including walking over a covered bridge when we stopped to listen to Edison.  He told all about his accomplishments with the lightbulb and we toured his boarding house, his workshop and office.  After Edison, we saw a courthouse that Honest Abe practiced law in and then we moved on to see a sharecroppers house where the kids were given cornbread to feed the chickens.  

Down the road a ways, we caught the Omnibus (horse drawn carriage) and road it to the front of the place.  There we looked through the Ford family home before walking back towards the carousel.  Tony and Shannon went to ride the Model Ts again while we rode the carousel with everyone.  Afterwards, I took all the kids to the playground and then Whitman rode the carousel one more time with Grannymom.  

It seems like everything in this area has closed at 5 and Greenfield Village is no exception.  We could have stayed until at least 9 tonight-all these early closing places are causing us to have to hurry!  A big before 5, we headed towards the gate but made one last stop in the line to ride a Model T-really how many Model T rides do you get in a lifetime?!

Then it was out the gates and to the gift shop.  Grannymom was the only one to buy anything today but I love gift shops like that and I just want to buy everything.  I did write down lots of names of books that I want for the kids to read soon but didn't buy anythikng.  Maybe tomorrow!

After leaving The Henry Ford complex, we headed to IKEA for supper.  We had the chicken meatballs and they were pretty good and then we started out jog around the store.  We are contemplating buying beds for the kids from IKEA so we were happy to get to see those in real life before buying 6 beds and hauling them home.  

Campbell, Keaton and Graham were happy that Robby let them go in the play area for a few minutes.  They couldn't have been in there for 30 minutes but they loved it.  Graham even wanted to go so Robby sure let him-I bet he enjoyed taking care of his little sisters.  And as soon as we had met back up, we found what we had come for: ice cream.  We have missed one day of ice cream but hopefully there is still time to make it up  :)

The kids had ice cream but since I had already had mine for the day, I had a cinnamon roll and it was very, very good.  Robby bought a bag of mini cinnamon rolls for us to snack on.  We even had some tonight as the kids were going to bed.  Reagan saw me and asked what I was eating so I just pulled oen out of the bag and handed it to her.  She kept saying "but I have already brushed my teeth" but I assured her that this was vacation and you only once.  

When we made it home from IKEA, Robby did our laundry and the kids swam.  It seemed to take a while to get everyone showered when we came in but soon everyone was sound asleep.  Now I love our hotel room but big hotel rooms are just not always good-it is so big that we have spread everything out.  I am already getting short of breath just thinking about having to pack everything back up in the right spot and refilled correctly.  

Thankfully the kids were able to get to sleep a bit earlier than the past few nights.  They are getting more and more tired and that is eveident my their behavior (or I am getting more and more tired and that is evident in my patient's level.)  Tomorrow is the Henry Ford Museum so that should be interesting.  

Road Trip 2015, Day 4: June 27 2015 (Canton, OH to Dearborn, MI)

Horse & Buggy Ride in Ohio Amish Country!
(click here for today's pictures)
It is probably not the wisest idea to keep your kiddos up until midnight but our extra drive today was well worth it.  When we walked into the hotel, the kids did really great-everyone whispered and changed as quickly as they could.  Graham and Campbell were almost asleep when I finally put Whitman into his bed.  He was happily playing with his trains on the floor while we were trying to squeeze his pack n play into the bathroom.

Robby did have to potty this morning so he wedged Whitman out of bed and brought him to me.  Whitman laid there for a bit and then put his head up and asked "Daddy go?"  I told him that he just went to the bathroom and he said "oh" and laid back down  We didn't lay around too long because my crew was going to need quite a bit of time to all get ready for the day.

The kids did good getting up and even though they are tired, no one complained too much.  It did help that our first stop was just right down the road.  We had planned on going to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this morning but had seen that they did not open until noon today.  We had planned a different route but then Robby found out that they were having a special even today.

They were having a Day out with Dad where a dad and 4 kids could attend a football camp type thing this morning that included parking, lunch with chickfila vouchers and admission to the Hall of Fame.  So Robby bought us tickets to that along with an additional adult ticket and that saved us about 40 dollars.

The even was supposed to be outside in their stadium which would have been really neat but it had to be inside the high school gym due to the rain.  We were divided into groups and rotated around to different stations.  Each station had high school coaches and players leading drills.  Most of the drills the dads participated in-catching, back peddling (running backwards-new term for me), an obstacle course and many, many others.

The kids enjoyed it-some more than others.  The boys all took it very seriously while the girls not so much.  Keaton was sticking with us really well until some high schooler brought her back to us with tears in her eyes.  I guess she got separated from us somehow though we never really noticed.  She had followed Graham and had gotten into the wrong group along with him.  We didn't notice that either until Graham came up to us and said "I was in the wrong group."  Graham didn't seem to mind as much as Keaton since he knew that we weren't leaving him!

We did skip the last rotation and drove to the Hall of Fame so we could get in right on time.  There was already a crazy long line out front but the doors weren't open yet so we made lunches and had ourselves a picnic (if you can really call it a picnic since we ate in the cars).  When we finished, we headed towards the line and found out that we were able to bypass the  line due to our wristbands.  Skipping that line was worth at least 10 dollars since it was pretty long.

Inside of the Hall of Fame it was pretty crowded but we seemed to move fairly quickly through it and even stopped to watch the movie.  Whitman was already asleep when the movie started, I dozed during the movie and Keaton fell so sound asleep that Tony had to carry her out.  She was on the other end of the row than me and I was pretty sure that she would come and find me but she never did.  Whitman eventually woke up due to the loudness of the film!  It was only about 10 minutes long and Robby said that it told a really good story-but those chairs were really comfy!

After the gift shop, the kids played a bit on the field out front and then it was back in the car.  We went to Chick Fil A to pick up our free meals-one for everyone so we sure couldn't pass that up even though it was the other way.  Robby came back to the car with 2 bag fulls of food for just our car.  

After picking up our lunch, we raced through the Amish countryside of Ohio to make it to Troyer's Bologna before they closed.  Robby said that he felt like we were on Amazing Race.  Then we also started discussing the many, many places that we have ventured to like this that have been wonderful stops and then we discussed the stops which have been few and far between that were complete busts.

Even if this stop was a bust, it would have been worth it because of the drive.  We passed Amish buggy after buggy and so many shops that I would love to have stopped at-quilts, honey, jelly, Amish toys and baskets.  But our bologna stop was a win-ish, actually Tony gave his big hunk of bologna a so-so but we really liked our bologna like sausage that we bought.  The stop was a typical road trip stop in an old building but we didn't sample the bologna or pepper jack cheese so we don't know yet if it is really good.  But I sure am glad I brought my box of crackers and we didn't have to buy any at the gas station as we did with our spam last year.

A few miles down the road, we went to Yoder's Amish farm.  They had tours of a house and school but we opted for just the buggy ride.  It was a 10 minute ride around a field but it was good taste of the Amish lifestyle and the kids really enjoyed it.  As we walked in to buy our tickets, Graham lost a tooth on a rice krispy treat.  The kids had a few minutes to play on a playset before we boarded our buggies.  

We crammed all of our kids in our buggy and we now know that we could never be Amish-we wouldn't all fit in the buggy.  Ha!  Actually, if Robby had been the driver we would have been fine until we had 6 teenagers.  Our horse was named Charlie and Campbell asked that Charlie go fast so the driver made him trot and everyone was delighted.  Whitman could lean out a bit while sitting on my lap and was able to watch the buggy wheels go through the water-he loved that.

I really have never seen as many Amish people as we saw on this drive.  Last year we did see a few Amish people working in the fields which was interesting but this was an Amish buggy traffic jam.  We even saw some Amish children playing a game of volleyball.  It was a really beautiful drive as we headed to the Smucker's store.

I had no idea that the Smuckers was such a large cooperation.  The store was neat and full of fun stuff and all of their different brands of products.  It could have only been better if the ice cream place was still open-we believe that Shannon will be disappointed if we do not eat ice cream every single day of this trip.  We did buy a jar of jelly to hang on the tree and some ice cream topping-just to have ready in case we have to resort to store bought ice cream!  

Then we settled in for another drive.  Today the weather was pouring this morning but the afternoon has been cloudy and breezy this afternoon-as in, we will be wearing our jackets for the next few days.  I do believe that this rainy weather has cooled these areas down from the temps that they were last week.  Anything except rain is fine with me though (well, snow wouldn't be great!)

We just had a bit further to drive to Mansfield-home of the Ohio State Reformatory featured in the Shawshank Redemption movie.  The prison was closed but after a drive around it, we went to another movie stop downtown.  That took a bit longer to get to since many streets were closed-they had box car races there this morning (so much to see and so little time).  

We made so many blocks looking for the one last movie picture stop that we almost didn't have enough gas to make it to the gas station.  The Wilson's gas level stays about the same as ours so they were starting to sweat it too.  At that gas station we all pottied and then decided that a car picnic was in order for the evening.

So as we drove along a country highway with fields and farmhouses everywhere, I passed out our supper-cheese sticks, crackers, squirt cheese, pepper jack cheese (for Robby and me) and our bologna sausage.  There were brownies for dessert and a movie playing as Grannymom and Grandpa wrote to say that they had landed and were in Detroit.  

Currently, we have one and a half hours until we arrive in Dearborn and Grannymom and Grandpa will already be there thanks to the hotel shuttle.  We hope that the rain clears out and we have lots of sun tomorrow (or the next day but one of the next two days we need sun).  Tomorrow is the much anticipated day of Greenfield Village or the Henry Ford Museum.  

Our drive included butt clenching rain, miles of construction and concrete barriars, flooded roads, missed exits and even a detour which we then didn't follow correctly and added 15 minutes to our travel time.  Memories!  It was all fine and dandy when we made it to the hotel safe and sound (the Wilsons beat us because of our detour mess up) and when we got to the hotel Grannymom and Grandpa were waiting for us at the front door.  

Everyone unloaded and Grannymom took the 3 little ones upstairs then the boys went up with Grandpa.  Reagan helped us finish unloading the car and then we found our room (connecting to Grannymom and Grandpa and across the hall from the Wilsons).  The room is huge and but the bathroom is ordinary-which means that Whitman didn't first.  But with a bit of work and Robby having to climb in the bathtub, we were able to get him in his bed.  This will probably be his last road trip with a pack n play since tonight he wanted to lay on the bed and almost refused getting in his tiny bedroom!

Laryn tells me it is time to publish this blog so she can go to bed so I guess I better close-looks like the rain is ending soon and tomorrow will be cool and dry (we hope!)  I'm excited about trip day number 5 and hope the kids sleep well tonight (second night to stay up to midnight for them!)

Road Trip 2015, Day 3: June 26 2015 (Cave City, KY to Canton, OH)

More bats from Louisville Slugger!
(click here for today's pictures)

Again we slept well last night with only some loud thunder waking us up briefly.  Robby opened the curtains and the kids started slowly waking up.  Everyone was in a good mood and quickly put on their blue clothes.  While we were getting dressed, Robby asked Anderson if he was excited about going to Louisville Slugger today.  Anderson said "well, I have been there like 4 times."  He hasn't been there 4 times-this will be his 4th.  But I do think that boy we have spoiled the boy with travel.  

I took the boys down for breakfast while the girls went with Robby to load the car. Breakfast was a little less serious this morning-there was not breakfast monitors, many bananas and we were aloud to touch the waffle machine.  After breakfast we went back up to the room where Whitman had his first fit about not pushing the elevator buttons (I told you I would jinx him). 

Our primary mission this morning was to beat the Wilsons into the car.  We didn't care if we had to sit in the car for an hour, we were going to win.  Actually, by the time we had loaded and straightened everything, they were coming out.  

We had quite a bit of driving today along with a plethora of stops.  On our first trip, the kids worked on their pictures from yesterday.  Campbell took a little longer to finish hers since she was asking us how to spell words and meanwhile, Reagan and Graham were playing battleship across from each other.  So our car sounded a little bit like this "C, A12, A, B6, VE, D2"-needless to say, it was a bit confusing but we managed.

On the road to Lincoln's house, we saw an Amish horse and buggy.  After we passed it, Graham said "I don't think I need my license plate game right now."  Just a bit down the road, we arrived at Lincoln's Birthplace National Historic Park.

We arrived there just in time because Keaton was already needing to go to the bathroom-that girl, I believe that she is on a mission to stop at least every hour.  Some of my friends have potties that they keep in their cars and I always make fun of them-guess that might not be such a bad idea.

The Lincoln's stop was interesting.  We watched the short film (Whitman sat perfectly and then clapped when it was over.)  Then we walked toward Lincoln's birthplace.  They created a monument around his birthplace and when Campbell saw it she said "we were here yesterday" (She was confusing the Parthenon columns)  After the enclosed the log cabin with the monument, they discovered that it was not actually Lincoln's log cabin.  I am sure that his was very similar though!

Then we went down a little trail to see the natural spring (the reason the Lincoln's bought the land).  After we all pottied again, we climbed back in the cars.  This time Reagan is in the Wilson's car and Brett is with us.  They have finished a movie and then played on their kindles as we entered Louisville.

Our first stop in Louisville was the Dairy Kastle for some ice cream.  Anderson, Graham and Reagan had chocolate dipped cones, Campbell and Keaton had vanilla shakes and Whitman took over our chocolate peanut butter shake. It was a quaint stop-we ate our goodies sitting in front of the place.  Right down the road was the University of Louisville so we drove around to check it out.  Then it was off to Churchill Downs.  

We had thought about taking a potty stop at Churchill Downs but they must have been running the Kentucky Derby or something because parking was a bit crazy (and costly).  I am not sure what was happening there but it was a change from when we have been by before and we parked right at the front door.  

We decided to pass on the long walk and head straight to the Louisville Slugger in downtown Louisville.  When we passed the Slugger museum we saw a huge line of people standing outside.  My goodness, I don't know what is happening in Louisville this weekend but everyone and their mother is here.  Tony dropped Shannon off and I jumped out and we found out what the line was for (to buy tickets) and we jumped in line to get our tickets.

I then ran back to the car to collect this kids and by this time the line had moved a great deal.  Then I ran back out to the car to picked up my camera from my van as it rolled away.  Robby was taking himself and his phone to the store while we did the bat tour.  He didn't have much luck because the wait there was an hour and a half.  So he made an appointment for the apple store in Dearborn.  He said that if he makes his appointment then great and if not, then that is fine too.  Grannymom is bringing his old phone when they fly in tomorrow so he can switch things over and will then feel much better about like (though his work email will not work as well.)

I was shocked when I bought our tickets when they said "your tour time will be at 1:50"-that was just in 20 minutes.  We barely had time to run in to the restroom and then see the museum before they called us back for our tour.  The tour was packed out and each station that you stopped at was full of people-but they did it right, getting our large crowd in and out in not too much time.  The kids stayed in the front and I hardly saw them until the end since I was in the back with Whitman in his stroller.  The poor baby was sound asleep and missed the entire tour (oh, well, he has seen it before).

When the tour was finished we ran back through the museum part and by this time Robby was back.  We all pottied and had one last picture stop by the big bat before hitting the road again.  We hadn't really had lunch so the kids were a bit hungry and thirsty.  As we were trying to decide what to pass out, Robby asked Graham if Keaton was asleep.  A second later, we heard a voice from the back saying "I am awake.:  Whitman wanted to make sure that we knew he was not sleeping and needed his snack. 

We eventually needed a gas and potty stop and pulled off at a decent rest gas station.  My Anderson said "this looks like the nicest gas station ever."  I am not really sure why he thought that since it was fine but not by any standards the nicest gas station ever.

As the kids climbed back in the car, Robby and I stood outside to discuss the winners of the clean row competition.  Anderson and Campbell's row and Reagan and Keaton's row were perfect.  Graham's row was neat but had stuff sitting on top of his box.  We had to pick a winner so Anderson's row won with a 10.0.  We said that Reagan's row had a 9.8 and Graham's a 9.5.  That still didn't sit well with my losers-Reagan immediately began lecturing Keaton about helping more to keep the row clean and Graham just keeps glaring at me!  The prize was the the winners were able to pick the box of candy that everyone would share (Sweettarts were picked) and then they received 4 more than everyone else.  

We were a bit worried about the rain messing up our walk across the Roebling suspension bridge between Covington, KY and Cincinnati but it didn't bother us at all-the skies were cloudy but the breeze was refreshing.  We climbed out of the car and walked over the bridge.  Whitman wasn't so sure about all of the noise from the cars zooming by us but once we were at the bottom of the bridge and into Cincinnati he was delighted.  

Last time we were here they were working on a playground and this time (about a year later) it was completed.  It was really, really neat-once side had a water area, some odd pig contraption that you could climb into and then it would bounce, a giant piano that you could walk on that played chimes and on the other side there were slides and rocks to climb on.  It was pretty cool and the kids could have stayed there much longer except we still had quite a ways to go before our day was over.

So we then walked back across the bridge and back into the cars.  Next up was a quick drive over the bridge we had just walked on and then drove past the building that is financing the trip for the Wilsons: Kroger headquarters.  Campbell rode in the Wilson's car on that leg of the journey and Brett rode with us.  We heard nothing from our people the entire time-possibly because they all were playing on their devices.

Supper tonight was at Blue Ash Chili in Blue Ash, Ohio.  We usually eat at Skyline Chilis when we are in this neck of the woods but the kids have started watching Diners, Drive Ins and Dives so we thought a local favorite would be a great stop.  The Wilsons, us and Whitman crammed into a booth and the kids spread out at another table.  

The kids ate hot dogs covered in cheese so mostly they just ate cheese-lots and lots of shredded cheese.  Whitman was pretty happy about his cheese too but he was also quite intrigued by the book of Thomas the Train pictures that Robby printed out.  That little book of pictures was my brainstorm in the middle of church one Sunday (yes, I listen in church but sometimes sitting still and quiet I have the best ideas and I can make the longest mental list of things to do!)

Anyway, Robby had the 4 Way-Spaghetti, Chili, Beans and Cheese.  I had the 3 way which was just like Robby's except minus the beans.  Now the Wilsons, who are thankfully in their own car, had the 6 Way-Spaghetti, Chili, Beans, Onions, Cheese and Jalapeno Poppers.  We all ate as I wrestled with Whitman.  Supper was good and I am sure that we caused a scene with Graham spilling his drink and then later falling out of his chair knocking his chair over and then stumbling to pick up his chair and falling again (like the child was drunk).  I just turned my head and tried to act like he was Shannon's kid after all she had on blue like the rest of us.

Before we left town we changed hotels and moved tonight's hotel about 2 hours past where it was originally.  We are planning on being in Canton at the Football Hall of Fame pretty early in the morning because of a special event they have (hopefully the rain doesn't cancel it) so we are getting in late tonight.  

After supper, Robby worked on his computer for a bit while I drove through the pouring rain.  Thankfully, Tony slowed down a bit so I could follow him a comfortable pace.  The weather to the left of us looked almost sunny but on all of the other sides it was nastiness.  After a much needed pit stop, Robby started to drive and then rainbows started appearing everywhere and there was no longer any rain...well, no rainbows but no rain either!  We did discover that I am out of windshield wiper fluid and we need to change my wiper blades...maybe if he does that in the next few days, we will ward off any future rain!

Right now it looked like we will pull into the hotel around 11:30 which will still 10:30 to us since we lost an hour this morning.  Today was another good day (even though it has been and will be a late night for all of us)

Road Trip 2015, Day 2: June 25 2015 (Jackson, TN to Cave City, KY)

Living the Dream!
(click here for today's pictures)

We slept incredibly well last night and managed to get about 2 more hours of sleep than the night before even with doing some laundry last night.  It was sure nice for Robby to bring just a bit of laundry back to the room which I quickly folded, put away and then promptly fell asleep.

Robby said that he woke up once in the middle of the night and I did too-I am not used to sleeping in a room with so many other people.  I couldn't fall back asleep until the air conditioner came on.  When we woke up, everyone was still happily snoozing away and they were all covered up.  
I hated to wake them up but we had to load up and head to breakfast.  Robby had already gotten the vibe that this hotel was a bit more controlled than in when he checked in, they asked "you have 2 adults and 2 children right?"  Robby quickly replied "yes" which is the truth-he does have 2 adults and 2 children in his 4 more children.

Back to breakfast: So we split up with Robby taking the boys and Keaton to load the car and Campbell, Reagan and Whitman went with me to start on breakfast.  There was a man standing there to make the self serve waffles for you.  I personally think that is a bit odd since the waffle machines are meant for the guests to make but okay, I will play along.  Campbell asked for a waffle and the man wanted to make her a half but I assured him that someone would eat the rest...I was wrong, we didn't eat the rest or much of it-they weren't that great.

Keaton wanted a banana and then the man handed her a bruised one.  I was going to get another one but it was empty...until a minute later when they replaced Keaton's banana with one more.  They were bringing out the bananas one by one.  

And I am sure that we are a bit paranoid but all Robby could notice in the ceiling were cameras.  When we went to get ice carrying his bag, the lady jumped out of the office door and said "do you need an ice bucket?"  He said sure and filled it to the brim and then sent me back to get more ice.  I thought about changing my shirt so they wouldn't know that we were together (this is orange and yellow day).

We pulled out pretty much right at 8:30 and the kids started on their license plate games and drew their pictures of yesterday.  Robby turned on a song about Casey Jones and we listened to it a few times before turning on a movie.  I picked the movie this morning (Dora) so I could distract Keaton, who had already said that she needed to potty!

We did then stumble upon a rest stop and I made sure that everyone pottied.  I let Whitman out and we looked at a butterfly and then tried to touch a sign before getting back into the car.  Since we were approaching Nashville, the kids had their own songwriting competition.  We had a song about leaving the prairie, driving down the highway and about shapes (circle, circle, square, circle, square, triangle).

The first real stop of the morning was the Parthenon.  It was a good little stop for everyone-plenty of room to walk around, climb up steps and run off some energy.  This is my second time to see this site (other time was in high school) and I still don't know much about the Parthenon except that is a replica of the real thing in Greece.  It probably would help if we were to go into the museum but maybe another time.  

Just a block down the road we stopped at Elliston's Place.  It was a nifty little soda shop that is the oldest continuously operated restaurant in Nashville (I think that is right).  With the 12 of us, we pretty much filled that place up.  Some sat on stools, some at a table and others in a booth.  Whitman sucked down half of a shake before coming up for air.  Robby and I split a chocolate peanut butter shake and it was very good.  

After leaving there, we had about 20 minutes in the car before we arrived at the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson our 7th president.  I never learned the names of all of the presidents in school (or I have forgotten that I did) but since the kids have been in school, I can sing them all (mostly).  

Old Hickory was interesting.  It was cheaper for Robby to become a member so I guess we can stop back by this house another time-preferably in the winter.  It was hot, hot, hot there-like sweating rolling down your face and into your eyes hot.  I had just finished telling Shannon that I did not like audio tours when we walked into the next room and the lady started passing those blasted things out to all of my kids.  I guess that I might have been a bit wrong: though I never really ended up using one, the kids sure did enjoy it.  And this place did it right because they had a kid number to push so they could hear a kiddie version from the player.

There was also a house tour and usually I feel like once you have been in one old house, then you have been in them all (I sound like a fuddy duddy, don't I?)  This house tour was my favorite type-short and sweet.  I did learn that Andrew Jackson balanced the budget and left it with a surplus (I think the only President to do so), didn't like the idea of paper money though he is now on the 20 dollar bill and was the last president to have known all of the presidents before him.  Jackson's bedroom was downstairs which was unheard of at the time and at times the house would have 20 house guests a night with not nearly enough beds for them all-so glad I live in the time of air conditioning.  

After our walk around the grounds, we wrung the sweat out of our shirts and climbed into the car.  The original plan had been to have a picnic on the grounds but the tables were way too far from the cars and not shaded.  And did I mention that it was hot!  We decided to drive down the road a bit until we found something a bit better for our first picnic!

We did stumble upon a perfect picnic spot at a town hall-a pavilion (like I want in my backyard) and a few gazebos.  Also it had plenty of area for the boys to play a bit of football which greatly delighted my Graham (he has known that we had a football in the car and has been dying to get out and play since we left home)  We had our peanut butter and jelly and our turkey and cheese sandwiches along with chips and brownie while the Wilsons had their sandwiches, chips and rice krispy treats.  

After lunch was over, we ran to a nearby gas station so we could potty and buy a bag of ice.  There was just one bathroom there so that stop took a while.  I finally let the kids play on their kindles after lunch-they had been asking for a long while.  I thought about turning on Whitman's Thomas movie on the tv for him but I was afraid that he wouldn't go to sleep on this leg of the trip.

We arrived at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green around 4:20.  Their last ticket sales is at 4:30 and they close at 5.  The entrance had quite a few corvettes in it and we could have been fine without doing the entire museum.  But Tony and Robby batted their eyes to the front desks people and they managed to get us in for just a donation.  That was really great and we didn't need that long to see all of the Corvettes.  I am sure that some folks would enjoy reading all of the signs but we were able to zoom through the museum until we made it to the main event....the sinkhole.  

If you remember, the Corvette museum had a sinkhole inside of it last year and it swallowed at least 6 Corvettes.  That was the most interesting part-one car has been restored and others were sitting near the where the covered sinkhole was and those cars were completely crushed and destroyed.  That was really the most interesting part-apparently the roof of a cave had fallen through and that caused the sinkhole to form.  Sinkholes are common in this area....eeek!  

We scurried through the museum and even finished in time for the kids to play in their play area for a few minutes.  While they were doing that, I ran into the gift shop and bought our second Christmas ornament of the trip (a convertible, of course).  Then it was back into the car for a short hop to Mammoth Cave.

The visitor's center was closing soon but we still had time to stamp our passport books (all of them: my 6 kids, our book, Shannon's book, Brett and Layne's books as well)  After we came through and stamped 10 stamps they were practically out of ink.  We walked through the exhibits and then headed towards the natural entrance of the cave.  We never even thought about calling ahead a reserving a tour a week or even a day or two ago which we should have.  But even without a tour, we still saw the mammoth cave!

Robby and I were here with a little Reagan and a baby Anderson in 2007 (click here for pictures from that trip).  We did some type of tour though we can't remember what it was at all.  I do remember that Anderson was in the carrier and he started crying because of the change in temperature and Reagan fell and bumped her lip on a rail so both little babies were crying and we turned right around and headed out of the cave.  That is about all that we saw of the cave today-just a bit!  

Mammoth Cave is the largest cave system in the US (possibly world-didn't read it that well) and is over 400 miles long.  Pretty impressive-we have read that it doesn't have as many cave decorations (stalactites and stalagmites) as other caves.  We did find a pretty, shaded trail to the entrance and man was there a temperature difference in the cave.  As we approached the cave, we were immediately able to feel the cool air!  

The entrance into the cave was a steep set of stairs that we all climbed down.  Once at the bottom, Whitman decided that he wasn't too excited about the dark and windy cave but he may have gotten that idea from his sisters (Campbell and Keaton-not Reagan) because they were acting skittish too. We then climbed out and Robby and Whitman went one way to return to our stroller and we went another way and met at the top.  

Our hotel was about 20 minutes away through some neat little towns and on the way I blogged while the kids played on their kindles.  Robby has been plagued with problems today and that is what he started trying to deal with once at the hotel: 1. his phone isn't keeping a charge and one minute is fully charged and the next powers off  2. our house electricity has been off since last night (he wasn't really sure that it was off but couldn't see our alarm and thermostats)-the lights are now back on thanks to Entergys speediness  3. and to top it all off, he broke a sippy cup. 

I do guess breaking a sippy cup is the least of his worries and I have a second one, along with a backup followed by 5 other backups (though they are not as good)-really, I should have been a Boy Scout (you know, always be prepared).  I know that I am jinxing Whitman and all the rest of the kids when I say that kid-wise things have gone surprisingly well.  Whitman has done great-relatively few 2 year old meltdowns.  He is almost to the point where you can reason with him, almost like he gets what we are saying.  He only had about a 5 minute nap today so when Robby asked him if he wanted to go to bed, he didn't hesitate at all.  And tonight's bathroom is wonderful-I will be able to go to the bathroom in a minute after her is sound asleep!

Today's route was pretty perfect and we were able to do everything we wanted (except the hot dog place in Nashville since it wasn't yet lunch time but we will hit it on the way back home.)  Really our timing worked out pretty good and hopefully it will tomorrow-we do have time change to deal with pretty early in the morning.  

After checking in, we unloaded and then met the Wilsons at the pool.  Tony picked up pizza and we all devoured it.  What was left, we put in our ziplock bags and will snack on another day.  The kids swam and swam and it was pretty noisy in that little room especially when they started playing Marco Polo-my Campbell and Graham have no volume control at all! Whitman was happy on the steps or sitting on the edge of the pool splashing his feet.  He did float around when Robby was in the pool but likes his feet to be planted on solid ground (like his momma!)

I came upstairs first with Graham and Keaton so they could start showers first and I could call Nonna and Pops and fill them in on the day.  Then the others came up to shower.  Right now, everyone is almost asleep and Robby is returning from moving the laundry into the dryer (it is 10:40).  I do feel like we are more settled into the hotel room today than yesterday-possibly because this room is bigger or maybe because we are getting more into the hotel staying routine.  

It has been a good day today but we are tired!  Laundry will hopefully be done within the hour and we can all sleep well again tonight.  Tomorrow is another big day-Lincoln, Baseball Bats, Cincinnati and hopefully Bologna.