Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Missouri Family Vacation

In June, we decided to take a family vacation.  This was the biggest excursion our family had taken except for our Make-A-Wish trip.   On the MAW trip, a lot was handled for us so for this trip, we had a lot more planning to do and it took a bit of courage.  Our MAW did teach us that we can, in fact, do things "healthy" families get to do so we went for it. 

We decided on Missouri as it was close enough if things went badly but far enough away to get to experience some fun and new adventures.  We started off our adventure with something familiar...we went to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun in Kansas City.  Paul and I hadn't been to this park in quite awhile but it was a favorite for both of us when we were younger.

It was SUPER hot the day we went but that meant it wasn't too busy which was really nice.  We didn't have to worry about long lines and the kids got to go on some rides back to back. 

Parker did rub sunscreen into his eyes rather early on so his eyes got super red and bothered.  That was no fun.  A couple of hours later we noticed his pupils were different sizes and they weren't reacting how they should be.   We ended up calling the 24-hour nurse line which directed us to poison control.   It's always fun to make those calls on vacation, right?

We were asked to just keep an eye on Parker and it all turned out OK.   His pupils did continue doing funny things for a couple of months which was odd.  Different doctors had different theories...could have been seizure related, may have been over-stimulation, the shaking from the roller coasters could have had an effect, a sunscreen reaction afterall or maybe that's just another odd thing Parker does that no one can explain?   Who knows but all turned out OK. 

This was Parker's favorite ride of the day.   He could've continued going on this over and over!

We were getting pretty hot by this time

So we decided to check out Ocean's of Fun to cool down.

 It was just what we needed.

One of Alexa's favorites was the wave pool.  

It tuckered Parker and I out just watching her and Paul go!

We ended our day on some water slides.  What a fun day.

 The next day we headed towards Branson.   All the way there we kept seeing signs for Fantastic Caverns.  The signs got ridiculous really but they were very effective as we decided to stop there on our way.   And I'm so glad we did.

Fantastic Caverns is near Springfield, MO and is the only cave in the U.S. that you can actually ride through.  

The kids both liked our tour but Parker thought it was awesome!   He giggled the whole time.  I'm not sure if it was the bumpy ride, the dark/cool environment or the lighting.  I had so much fun just watching the kids experience this!

The cavern was really big and had a really neat history. 

After our tour was done, Alexa asked if she could buy souvenirs for family members.  They had a whole gift shop full of rocks and Alexa wanted one of every color to give away.  We thought we hit the jackpot when we found a pre-filled bag with several different colored rocks for $3.99.   This was a much better deal than if we bought all of those rocks separately.   So we let Alexa get the bag of rocks and all was good.   However, we found out once we got home and Alexa declared that "These rocks smell sweet" that we actually bought a bag of candy that they shaped to look like rocks.   Oops. 

After we bought the bag of rocks, we went on some walking trails they have in the park.

It was definitely pretty and very relaxing but we forgot bug spray so we didn't last too long before running back to the car.

This is a horrible family photo but I realized I didn't get any good pictures of all of us on this trip.

After leaving, we continued towards Branson.   Our GPS took us to a river instead of our hotel but it was a pretty drive and we got to see a lot of beautiful hills, rocks and wildlife.   Alexa wanted to go to every show we saw on all the signs that are all over Branson.   It was not easy to narrow down our choices but we decided to start with Silver Dollar City.

The next day we made it to Silver Dollar City.  The weather was questionable but it was supposed to rain every day we were there so we took a chance.  We lucked out for several hours but did end up getting rained out that afternoon. 

Silver Dollar City was really cute and very clean and nice.  They had a lot of rides for young kids which was fun.   

Parker loved this ride.  It was the same type of ride as the one at Worlds of Fun.   Something about the up and down rides that Parker enjoys. 

You may not be able to tell, but it started raining while they were on this ride.   And then shortly after it started coming down really hard!  We headed for the exit along with what seemed like everyone else in the park.  If we would've waited it out, I'm sure the park wouldn't have been very busy.  Oh well.

The next day we decided to start off the day with a hike in the woods.  There was a large wooded area/park near our hotel that had a lot of hiking trails.  We thought that sounded like fun.   Keep in mind that going on a hike with two kids, one of whom has special needs with medical equipment and a stroller isn't quite the same.   Apparently we were unable to navigate the trail markers very well because before we knew it we were on a very steep and rocky path instead of a easy, flat path like we had intended.  Parker thought the bumps were hilarious though. 

We figured we should just keep going because maybe it would even out soon.   Well, we were wrong.  We did end up finding a little cave-like structure.   We didn't go very close as we were afraid to see what we may find in there.

Then we came to the top of a cliff that had a stream running over it and would probably have a nice waterfall at some times during the year.   We saw this on the park map before we started so that confirmed that we were, in fact, on the wrong path. 


At this point it started to sprinkle so we decided we better turn around.  This is where things got interesting.   The sprinkle very quickly turned into a complete down pour...I'm talking the cats and dogs kind.  So we now had to trek back up the steep, rocky path that was now slippery and the stroller wheels were slippery too.  Alexa thought it was super fun to walk in the woods in the rain and Parker was laughing hysterically.  Seriously, my kids sometimes.  This must have been quite the sight.   We all made it back to the car safe and sound and WET (except for Parker as we did all we could to keep him covered).

It may sound crazy but this little adventure was my favorite part of the trip and I think I'll always remember this. 

After we dried off at the hotel, we decided to go to Ripley's Believe it or Not.  It was still raining and we had free tickets.   Our expectations weren't too high to start but we all had fun there.  I learned that I can twist my tongue in a special way that is very rare.  Paul liked the super-hero stuff and Alexa and Parker both loved the light up tunnel that made you disoriented and was really difficult to walk through (I seriously couldn't). 

 That evening, we went to Dixie Stampede.  This is probably not a show that Paul and I would've picked if it was just the two of us but it is a fun family show and the kids liked it.  Parker didn't have glasses yet so I'm not sure how much of the show he could really see but he liked the music and the lights.  Alexa thought the show itself was great - she liked the animals and the trick riders and the girls with the fancy dresses.   To be honest, the food was pretty great too.  

The next morning before leaving Branson, we went go-kart racing.  Alexa saw mini-golf courses and go-kart tracks all over the place and really wanted to do one or the other before leaving.  Paul, of course, picked go-kart racing.  

Fun fact: Paul took me speed go-kart racing  on our second date.   He had heard that if you take a girl on an exciting/adventurous date that she would like you more.   I guess it worked; although, at the time I was totally mortified that I had to put on a helmet and ruin my hair on our second date.   Geesh!

Anyhoo...Alexa went go-kart racing for the first time.  Go big or go home, right?  This track was huge and high.  But, she loved every minute of it.   Just like her Daddy!


On our way home, we had one last adventure.  We needed to have a potty break and stretch our legs so we stopped at a Home Depot.   Who knew riding on the big carts would be so much fun?  

All in all this was a great time and a successful family vacation.   Not everything went smoothly but that would be boring I suppose.   Wondering where our next family vacation will take us?

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