Epic Road Trip (Day 2, August 25, 2016)

President Andrew Johnson's Home in Greenville, TN
(click here for pictures)
Robby woke up this morning to use the bathroom and I sat up to see what time it was.  It was 6 and I was so relieved that we had made it through the night successfully with everyone sleeping soundly.  I didn’t feel that rested but really I never do! I went back to sleep and the next thing I knew, Whitman was walking around the room.  He was sound asleep when we went into the hotel last night so he had no clue where we were.  

 Graham saw Whitman first and told him to go to me and I guess that is what woke me up.  I coaxed him in bed with me and we stayed there for a bit. When he was in bed with us, he told me that he wanted to go back to Josh and Zach’s house.  I tried my best to explain to him that we were on a vacation-he didn’t really care about what I was talking about.  He just wanted to know if we were going to a restaurant.  

 Graham was the first one awake, awake and he volunteered to take a shower before Whitman.  Whitman needed one from his yesterday’s episode (he is feeling just fine today-knock on wood.)  Then the rest of us started getting ready and loading up.  A hotel, is not a hotel unless it has a breakfast is a firm belief of the Dennie kids and even though the breakfast this morning was light, it was still plenty-waffles, muffins, sausage biscuits along with cereal, fruit and toast.  

 After we all ate and ate some more, we headed to the car.  Reagan was carrying with her two slices of toast and I had my toasted and cream cheese filled bagel with me.  The kids had asked us about 20 zillion times about opening the present from Grannymom that she had packed for them.  We told them that they could open them after they did their school work so before I could even buckle my seatbelt and get everything settled in the car, they were asking for that work.

 I am certainly glad that they want to do their school work but I am afraid that they will have no motivation tomorrow to do it then.  The boys were finished within 10 minutes but Reagan had math and her grammar (10 sentences where she has to label all of the nouns, proper nouns, adjectives, articles and pronouns) and it just takes her a while-takes me a while to grade it.  Speaking of, I am not really sure where that paper got off to.

 Robby did a bit of work so I drove and drove and drove.  I don’t mind it as long as I have something to eat so I don’t get bored.  At one time I said that I felt like a race car driver-driving fast around crazy turns and hills. Robby passed out the kids gifts from Grannymom and they acted like it was Christmas time.  Shortly after that, Robby started Anderson’s first movie pick-Star Wars.  Now, I am not too much of a Star Wars fan, nor is Reagan, but Whitman found something very funny about the beginning of the movie.  He would laugh and laugh and at one point, he shouted over and over “that’s an ugly girl.”  We don’t really ever say “ugly” but I guess he knows the term since Robby looked back and said that the girl was indeed ugly.

 Since we were so close to a Russell Stover store, we did think that we needed to run in since we always need more food.  Robby let everyone spend a dollar and soon the entire back of this van was covered with chocolate.  It was worth it though because that chocolate was delicious!  Then we pressed onwards for just a bit longer and made it to Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.

 We grabbed our passport books (each kid has one and Robby and I share one-but we, Reagan, Andersosn and Graham all have 2 books since some spaces are already filled up) and headed inside.  The ranger asked if the kids would like to do a Jr. Ranger book.  They are always very neat and sometimes we have even been able to print them at home and work on them but they just take some time and time is something we don’t really have today.  But we said, “sure.”  So everyone sat down and started to work on their Jr. Ranger badges.  When they had finished their books, the ranger swore them in and passed them out 2 badges-one from the park but also one from the National Parks Centennial.  Today was the actual day of their 100th birthday. That is why we also left Johnson’s place with birthday hats (which will come in handy though in a few weeks.)

 Inside of one building, they had Johnson’s tailor shop.  He was a tailor before he became president and is also known as the Constitution President, I am not really sure why that is but he did add many amendments to the constitution. Then we walked down the road to his home.  From Andrew’s tailor shop to his home is quite the little hill even though it is just 2 blocks.  And it is hot here in Tennessee today-now it is not as hot as it was last year at Andrew Jackson’s house but goodness, when does it cool off?

 We looked around Andrew’s grounds and then Robby and Graham volunteered to walk down the hill to go and get the car.  They had it cooled off by the time they picked us up.  We then went over to a park and had our picnic.  It was oddly deserted but did have a little trail that we played on a bit.  The kids threw around the football while I made sandwiches and tortillas for everyone.  The lunch choices were plentiful today-chips, apples, grapes, cheese, meat, peanut butter and nutella.  We didn’t even open the dip, salsa, pimento cheese or meat sticks since we need to save some favorites back for another day.  The picnic spot was perfect for us-even though the men’s restroom’s water was off so they couldn’t use that one and the women’s restroom had no light so you had to leave the door open.  We ate, played and then all pottied and headed back on the road.

 This day was originally supposed to begin at 5 this morning at home and end today in Salem, Virginia.  Since we left yesterday, we were able to take it a little bit easier today but we did drive further which will help us out tomorrow.  You do forget how beautiful the drive through Tennessee and Virginia is.  We finished the Star Wars movie and then passed out ipads and I am sure that the grandpas both began getting a ton of texts.

 We drove for another good little bit and then we pulled off the road to see a big pencil.  Yep, a big pencil!  It was pretty large but not gigantic.  The kids obediently climbed out of the car to take a picture even though they weren’t too impressed.  After all, they have seen a huge rocking chair, huge ball of twine, huge baseball bat, huge buffalo, huge Tulsa driller, huge praying hands, huge Paul Bunyan, huge ox and a huge doughnut so seeing a medium sized pencil was probably not that exciting!  It was a good little stop for us to stretch our legs and would have been a cute little town to walk around in but we drove on down the road and walked around at the gas station to potty while Robby was topping off the gas tank.

 Next stop was Roanoke and it also seemed like a cute little town.  I had found a neat little place online for us to eat, the Texas Tavern.  They can serve a thousand people.....10 at a time!  Ha!  So seating 8 people at the 10 person bar would be a bit difficult so we just ordered from the window and then took our burgers and hot dogs down a block and ate on the steps of a pretty little Methodist church. The kids had regular hot dogs and hamburgers but Robby and I had their cheeseburgers that had a fried egg on top.  They were pretty good-but Anderson tried a bite of Robby’s burger, which didn’t even have mustard, and spit it out!  My kids are weird.

 Then it was back on the road for another hour and a half.  Robby called his folks and I called mine and then we turned on Graham’s first movie pick, The Lego Movie.  The kids watched that the entire time and even though we had a bit of road construction we were soon in our hotel room.  As soon as we came in, Robby shoved some kids in the shower and I yanked clothes off of others, so we could start our load of laundry.  We could have waited a night or two but we were in early enough tonight (10) that we felt like we could stand to do a load of laundry-and really, isn’t a bag of clean clothes really nice?  Oddly enough, we stayed at this same hotel last year.  Robby didn't remember whenhe booked it this morning but as soon as we opened the door, he remembered (Yep, there must be a stockyard nearby because outside has quite the odor.  But we stayed  here last year near the end of trip so guess it's appropriate to begin our trip here.)

The kids all took their showers and then had a bit of time to play on the ipads before bedtime.  We are all snug in our spots tonight and this room is like a palace compared to last nights.  My kids are pretty pumped because this is a Holiday Inn Express which means cinnamon rolls in the morning!

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