Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Weekend In St. Louis

The last stop on our nine day vacation was St. Louis, MO. We left Louisville Saturday morning and had an easy 4 hour drive into St. Louis. St. Louis wasn't on our itinerary to begin with, but mid-week, we decided to add an extra day onto our trip because the minis were doing really well with all of the traveling. I'm surprised we weren't completely burned out with traveling by the time we got to St. Louis but we weren't. In fact, St. Louis was the perfect way to end our vacation (we could have done without the hot weather however).

We made it into St. Louis by early afternoon and went straight to the St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park. The Park is gorgeous, but parking was insane. We bit the bullet and parked in the zoo pay lot so we didn't have to walk far.

I love the views of the Arch coming into the city.

So I've got to admit, I wasn't impressed with the zoo until about halfway through. It was an incredibly hot day (I believe high 90's and I'm sure the 'feels like temp' a whole lot hotter) and we were sweaty messes. A ton of the animals weren't even on display and there was a ton of walking. Props to the St. Louis Zoo for having so many animals and plenty of space. That gets big kudos in my book. The walking usually wouldn't bother any one of us if it hadn't been so hot out. 

We watched a seal show and then Max showed off his "seal skills" despite complaining that he was going to die if he didn't find air conditioning soon.

Two out of three kids happy isn't bad in my book!

This is when I started to enjoy the Zoo. We saw zebras and camels, then we made a stop at the Teddy Bear Connection inside the Zoo (how cool is that??!!?). Hubs noticed that we had yet to do one last part of the zoo that included some of our favorite animals. This is when things got really fascinating. We saw hippos. Up close, swimming, fighting, and even out of the water too. I don't recall seeing hippos up close before. They were very cool to watch! 

Then we came to the elephants. Tons of them! Even a few baby elephants. The hippos and elephants made the Zoo trip more than worth it.

Harrison was excited to his favorite bear: the sun bear.

After a stop in the zoo gift shop, we made a stop for dinner (at a little place called McDonald's), and went to the Arch. We new from the city's website that the Arch was under construction, but we wanted to see it anyway.

We ran into Slide The City as we left the zoo.

I had never seen the Arch up close. We had hoped to maybe go up into the Arch, but we didn't purchase tickets ahead of time and we would have had to wait an hour for the next ride. Currently, everything in and around the Arch is under construction. The museum isn't open, only the gift shop or a ride to the top.....but you have to pay $3 per adult (kids are free) to go into the gift shop. We chose to wait until the project is complete before we go for a ride. 

The boys tried to climb the Arch.....

Anything to do to get that one special shot (of at least one kid crying).

We attempted to explain the importance of the Arch to the minis. It went over their heads but they enjoyed "this really cool statue with people drowning so they could go West." This is another thing we'll re-explain when we come back to St. Louis when they're older.

The walk along the river front was actually nice once the sun went down a bit. The views were great and we got to wave at tour boats on the river.

When we were done with the Arch, we checked into our hotel. Hubs made the call to stay outside the city so we wouldn't have to drive through the city to get on the highway to head north in the morning (towards home). At first I was disappointed to not be staying downtown, but I appreciated it because not only was our hotel not crowded in the least (we stayed at another Comfort Suites) but we got to enjoy a typical Sunday morning brunching and shopping at Target before heading home.

We had the entire pool to ourselves. We took advantage and swam for nearly two hours.

Perfecting his crawl stroke before swimming starts.

The massively deep tub in our hotel suite.

We had a very comfortable night at Comfort Suites. We were very impressed with this hotel chain during our trip. I loved that our Sunday morning was a typical morning for us, despite being 5 hours from home. I failed to remember that we still had a ways to go before home and I kind of over shopped at Target. The drive home was rather cramped because of the random Target shopping bags propped around the van. The drive home was easy although we did run into a storm/down pour of rain that caused us to pull over and seek refuge in a gas station. The minis didn't seem to mind one bit because they got car treats...and by car treats I mean candy bars (something I rarely let them have).

This was the first vacation/trip that I didn't feel exhausted when we returned. I didn't feel refreshed, but I was happy and ready to be back, yet I also felt (and still feel) something different. I feel vacation sickness. It's akin to home sickness but I'm really missing the freshness of the mountain. The feel of clean air, clean water (I never once felt gross after swimming in any one of the fishing holes in the mountains), the constant hikes and walking that didn't make me feel lazy, and of course the gorgeous views.

As I've said throughout my vacation posts, we plan on going back to several of these places in a few years when the minis have grown and undoubtedly their abilities changed. We'd love to do some of the longer trails (especially the waterfall trails) in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, explore Pisgah more, and of course, go in the Arch and do the City Museum in St. Louis. There are no words to describe how much we all loved this trip. It was a fabulous experience and priceless memories were made.

To read about our trip, visit:

Vacation Videos

Summer Road Trip To Tennessee

4th of July In Tennessee

Our White Water Rafting Adventure

A Day In Western North Carolina

Louisville Fun

Now that our 2016 Summer Vacation Road Trip is in the books, we'll be spending the next year planning our next big adventure:

Black Hills, SD, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and maybe, just maybe, Glacier National Park.