Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Way Back Home (ana)

after driving through Maryland, and parts of Pennsylvania, we came into Harrisburg, the capital of PA.
it was dark, and we were all tired, and it was raining, but my mom had found a place called Neato Burrito, a burrito place.
the burritos were huge, so two of us shared one, and in twenty minutes we were in and out of there, our stomachs full.
us, not looking so hot
the rest of the drive was kind of scary.
my mom drove the rest of the way home, in the dark rain. there were points where you could barely see the car next to you.
she had forgot to put the headlights on, it turns out. but it's okay! she wasn't being stupid. they usually turn on with our automatic key, but since we lost that back in Utah, we had to use the other one, which doesn't automatically turn on the headlights.
there was also this point, where two huge trucks came speeding by us, one on either side which was terrifying. they were shaking and it was dark and raining. lets just say, not the best experience.
when we got home, it was around 11:00 pm.
we were all really happy to be home, but we loved this trip, and i hope that you liked reading about our adventures.
the odometer at the end of the trip- 7,347.9 miles
now allana is already back in school, my mom's teaching already, and mary, mei, and i all start school in a week. my dad's becoming a spin teacher, and he's foot's pretty much all healed.
we would just like to say thank you to all the people who read our blog, loaned us movies, recommended places to eat, loaned us supplies, and just gave us support.
thank you for reading!

-ana, allana, mary, mei, eliza, & andrew

Berkeley Springs, WV (ana)

my parents always celebrate their wedding anniversary by going away for a weekend to somewhere that has an old movie theater. don't know why, it's just always been that way.
so for the first year, my dad wanted to surprise my mom, and someone told him about the springs. so he blindfolded my mom and brought her to the baths. the baths is really the only destination of Berkeley Springs. they are healing waters, and it was perfect timing for my dad. us kids weren't allowed to do it, which stinks, but it all turned out fine.
when we got to Berkeley Springs, we drove around, trying to find the creepy bed & breakfast my parents stayed at, and then went to the baths.
when my parents set up, we messed around in this weird river thing, saw George Washington's bathtub (he visited a lot), which wasn't very big. the water was freezing, but it was nice.
after my parents started their baths, we went to this ice cream place.
the guy was kind of scary. mei and mary liked him, and allana thought he was funny, i just thought he was a creep. i barely understood a word he said, too.
we walked around the block, looking at the old theater where we were going to see Mr Popper's Penguins that night, which is the same theater my parents went to.
the theater
when we got back to the baths, we put our feet in some of the outside springs, but it was freezing cold, and there were tons of bugs that were trying to bite us, and give us bug bites, so we went back to the car.
in the car we watched The Partridge Family, an old TV show. it was actually pretty good, but the clothes they wore were terrible. it did take place in the 70's, so i guess...
(susan dey looks exactly like vanessa hudgens)
so we sat their, in a hot car watching The Partridge Family, until my parents came back, all refreshed.
some of us wanted to just head straight home, while others wanted to watch the movie and have dinner.
but the movie was in another 2 hours, and all the restaurants didn't look so good, so we headed back home.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stonewall Jackson Campground, West Virginia (ana)

we missed the real West Virginia welcome sign, but i took a picture of a miniature one at a rest stop.
you can see the picnic table in the backround
my mom found some place called Stonewall Jackson Campground (the civil war general), and decided we were going to camp there.
we had no idea what would just happen there.
when we got to the check in station, the nice lady there, who's name Becca, came up to our car. after telling my parents what we can't do, my mom turns around and goes, "Girls, did you hear that? that mean no alcohol, and no pot."
she was joking of course. but mei, being 7, took it literally.
so she decides to scream, "NO POT!!!!" loud enough for both Becca and the next car to hear. she of course means no pots, for cooking.
but we all find this hilarious, and bust out laughing. ohhh, mei.
no pot, hehe.
after we calm down, we drive down this road, trying to find the on for the campsite. this is a nice campground, and i know there's also a golf course, marina, two lodges, and cabins, along with the campground. it's a pretty nice place.
but the issue is, we cannot find the campsite. it's campsite 2. but when we get there, there's already some family with a bunch of little kids in it. they're staring at us, on account of both us staring at them, and the flames on our minivan. we continue around the loop, thinking there must be another section. there isn't
we drive around a few more times. we still cannot find it.
now we decide to see if there's another place to camp. so we drive around part of resort, looking for more. which we can't find.
we go back to Becca. she tells us it's right next to the parking lot in the campground. we go back. still can't find it. we go back to Becca. she explains in detail on the map where it is.
we go back to the campground. and we finally find it.
but hey, it's not our fault we couldn't. this campsite goes down this hill, where the only access is by a foot path. but we like this campsite. it has a big platform to put the tent on (where it barely fits. is that saying something?), and it has a small inlet jutting out into the lake, which we can walk down to the small beach and play with the sand, and don't go swimming in because walking in it you can tell there's more duck poop on the floor than sand. but all in all, this is one of the best campsites yet. that is, until later.
our site
after trudging up and down the path to get all the stuff down there, we set up camp, and then just hang out. my dad goes in the minivan to check the restaurants out at the lodge, and we all just mess around, almost swinging mary into the water, and losing her shoe in the process, and me having to climb down into the duck poop water and get it.
my dad gets back, and tells us that we're going to have to get a little cleaned up before we got to dinner. so we drive to the bathrooms, get cleaned up, and head over to the lodge.
the restaurant we ate at Stillwaters, or something like that. we had a nice dinner, where we met this nice family who had a very cute baby.
and we also became like best friends with the waitress, who was also really nice.
good food
we went back to the bathrooms, to pee and brush our teeth and such, and then got into the tent.
i pretended to be asleep, and eventually did fall asleep, but was awoken in the middle of the night.
so my dad had decided he really needed to pee in the middle of the night (all boys seem to have to a lot), and he got out of the tent.
but the issue is, when my dad wakes up in the middle of the night, he's really never really awake. so for some reason, my dad decided to get out the side next to my mother, where no one ever gets out.
it was also the side on the high side of the platform.
it was also that platform my dad fell off of.
it's about 3 ft off the ground
he grabbed the tent when he fell, shaking it so much, we all woke up.
my mom and mary were first. when i woke up, saying "what is going on?' over and over again, they were both sitting up, asking my dad if he was okay.
allana never opened her eyes, but in the morning, she told us she was awake the whole time. i don't think mei talked at all, but she was awake. i think.
anyway, my dad's foot got pretty busted up. he had huge cuts on it in the morning.
after he went to the bathroom, he got back in the same way.
and here's the funniest part. not that this whole situation should be funny, but this was.
he could not figure out where he was sleeping.
so he was crawling around the tent, going "where am i sleeping" and my mom and i screaming "right here!" pointing in between us, while he was on the complete opposite side of the tent. (the order for that night was mei, allana, mary, me, my dad, my mom. try to imagine it)
he eventually got in the right spot. we were all a little pissed about being woken up, so when he took out his iPhone, we both got mad. he told me later he was trying to see his foot. sorry for that.
the next morning, we saw it, and it was not flattering. i'm not going to post a picture of it, because it is disgusting.
no offense to my dad's foot or anything.
then we went to the pool and went swimming for an hour or so, where my dad iced his foot, and my mom worked out.
then we left for a place my parents had been looking forward to this entire trip, especially my mom.
Berkeley Springs, WV.

Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky (ana)

so this whole trip i really wanted to go to Kentucky. i don't know why, maybe because i like the way Kentuckians (?) talk. or maybe because of the history. or maybe because the shape of the state. i really have no idea. but i wanted to go there, and so my mom found this place in Lexington called the Kentucky Horse Park.
mei is obsessed with horses. as is mary. like, freakishly obsessed. like when they found out where we were going one of my eardrums burst obsessed. it's annoying.
we kept it a surprise, until we got there.
on the way though, we stopped at this healthy grocery store. we each got to get a treat, and i got this to die for raspberry-chocolate scone. it was yummy.
so we left there with some nice, healthy food, and mary with her yoga cat calendar (i still don't get why she bought that), en route to Kentucky Horse Park.
we drove for another hour or so, and when we got there we went to check in.
this campground wasn't like the other ones we had been to. for starters, there were way more people. people and horses and golf carts and trailers the size of small houses.
it was also more expensive, and nicer. it had a pool, and the bathrooms were actually not all that disgusting.
so we got our site, which was nice, and we didn't have any neighbors on one side (the biggest side) so that was good (more space).
we set up camp, then allana and i went the longest way to the bathrooms. it took like 10 minutes to walk there (i may be exaggerating), which is way too long in my opinion. like seriously? you want us to walk that long to a bathroom? it might make us not happy (i have also been known to be impatient though).
so we came back (the short way, i might add) in our bathing suits, and for some reason we didn't go to the swimming pool for the longest time (again, impatience), but when we got there it was worth the wait.
the swimming pool was really nice. it got really deep though on one side, and some of the people in the car could not go there.
after messing around with us a bit, my parents went inside to take showers. yours truly got left in charge. (even though allana is a grade above me, i'm the better swimmer. not to be cocky or anything, but it's true).
it was really funny when one of the lifeguards asked us where we were from, casue our voices sounded different. when we told her we were from jersey, she goes, "oh joisey. like the jersey shore, right?"
nice to know we have a good reputation. and just for the record, we do NOT talk like that. thank you very much.
anywho, we sadly had to leave the lifeguard (hey, she had a weird voice to us too.), and we went back to  camp. we roasted marsh mallows (sorry for spelling it wrong until now, some of our followers care (you know who you are)). unfortunately, we ran out of chocolate somewhere in the black hills or one of those places (they're all the same to us now. kidding), and the graham crackers got finished in utah. so it was just marsh mallows. i got sick of it after the first one.
it was yet another hot night in the tent (ugh), so we were all grumpy. it's not fun when you have a tent full of annoying, sweaty people, for future reference.
the next morning, we had to get up at like, 8:30! for god's sake, it's summer! let us sleep. but we had to got to this horse thing in the actual horse park (well, duh) at either nine or nine thirty, so waking up early was required.
when we got to the horse park, we were grateful for the air conditioning.
does it really have to be so HOT in the summer? like really, why can't it be pleasant weather. like spring. that would be nice instead of scorching hot days.
we paid for admission, then went back outside. grr. we saw a nice statue of Secretariat and some other famous horse when we were walking to this tram ride thing. we waited on line for a short while, and then got on the tram. we got a tour of the park, and they pointed out this hall of fame thing for horses. (who knew?)
after the tram ride, which wasn't so long, we went to a presentation at the hall of fame thing. we were a little late for us, so everyone stared at us when we walked in (awkward).
the presentation was actually really interesting (and not the bad kind). they brought out the horses that they were talking about, which was cool. and don't worry, mary took like, i don't know, a billion pictures of either the horses mouth (is it a snout?), or the side, or the leg, or the butt. they're might be one of the face. but they're pretty horses.
famous horse
they're were a few Kentucky Derby champions of the 5 or 6 horses we saw, including one really famous one who's name i don't remember. they showed us the videos of the horses winning various races, and it is just amazing to watch how fast they can go. i would not want to be on the back of one. knowing me, i would fall off or something. i would be freaking out to much.
anyway, after the presentation, we went to another corral or horse stadium or whatever they're called, and watched another thing where people ride around on horses from different countries, wearing the native costumes. that took a while, and the entire time, there was this huge beetle sitting on this british lady's butt next to allana, who was next to me.
irish horse
we were starting at it (which sounds gross, but trust me, she was like in her 50s) and then after like 20 minutes (i'm also not good at telling time. it could of been 5 for all i know. this show was very long), i tap her on the shoulder and tell her that there is a bug on her crawling up the back of her pants, near her belt. i tried to say it in the least awkward and most polite way i could, like i-have-totally-not-been-staring-at-that-bug-on-you-for-the-past-10-minutes type of thing. i don't think i succeeded. i really still don't know if she spoke english, i mean, she seamed british or australian, but you never know. she did seem to understand in the end though, and brushed the giant bug off her pants.
spanish horse
then this australian guy came out with four horses, who all obeyed him so well it was crazy. they were the most well trained horses i have and probably will ever see. they did all these tricks, and while the guy was a little bit of a braggart, the stuff he did with horses were amazing.
they rode like this the entire time
there's also a horse under the top ones
after the show, we walked around a bit, and saw the horses, which mei got to pet, and which my mom made allana and me pet too (yay). then we went to this tack shop of some sort, and we got water, which was my favorite part of the day.
mei was very happy
you can see how much allana was too
i love water.
then we went to one of the barns, where some really huge draft horses were. that was cool, but it was time to go.
giant lawn chair
yet when we got back to the building, mei and mary spent a long time in the gift shop picking gifts out for a few friends.
we left kentucky horse park, and headed for somewhere in west virginia, a few days away from getting back home.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

St Louis, Missouri (ana)

we arrived in St Louis at around 5 in the afternoon, and my mom said our first night was going to be in a hotel, the Hamptons Bay, which is a spin-off of the Hampton Inn.
it was an amazing hotel.
luxury would be the word i would use.
the rooms were big, there were two beds, a comfortable leather desk chair, a flat screen, and free internet. but sadly, allana and i got the floor that night.
my parents went to the High Pointe, an old movie theater. they went on a date, and saw Captain America.
we got to stay at the hotel, order pizza, watch TV, and go on the computer. in other words, relax.
it was very nice.
we got a good night sleep (even the floor was comfortable), and went downstairs for breakfast in our swim suits. the breakfast was great.
the pool was a lot of fun. it was all the way in the back of a hallway, but my mom got to work out, and we learned that mei is a really fast swimmer. we actually tied once!
we were all sad when we had to leave, but we got the nice water with the oranges (another 95 type of day) and left to go to the City Museum, a museum that one of my mom coworkers- Mr. S - said that we had to go to.
mary and mei going up to a slide
mary climbing up a spring
if you are ever in St Louis, no matter if you are a kid or adult, you have to go to the City Museum. it is crazy. you are allowed to go pretty much everywhere, touch everything, climb everything, crawl everything, slide everything, and go through near death experiences about every other minute. in other words, it's a kid's paradise.
i was ducking the entire time
everything that decorates this museum is made of recycled items. the outside of the bathroom is made of baking tins, there's one wall with bottle caps, a part of the ceiling is covered in white plastic shopping bags, the list goes on and on.
we were at City Museum for about 3 or 4 hours, and we did not run out of things to do.
allana in a giant wire tunnel, suspended above the air
climbing up a giant spring, crawling under the floor trying to find a way out, shimmying under a pipe on your back, squeezing through a cave, going down a slide that drops straight down to the boiler room, climbing a bunch of stairs for a ten story slide, jumping into as ball pit, sitting in an airplane that is suspended high above the parking lot that shakes at the slightest movement, etc. your nerves are tested here.
allana and i decided not to go from one airplane to the other
i think i've said enough about City Museum, it was just so much fun.
we like the shade
we had lunch there, and then after the museum (we left because of the temperature- 103), we went to the St Louis Arch.
st louis arch from the side
we went underground, where the museum and tram is, and we bought tickets to go up to the top of the arch, the problem was, the time we were going was in 2 hours.
somee of the creepy talking/moving mannequins
so we walked around the museum, then just sat for about a half hour.
finally, they called our group, then we waited on line for about 15 minutes, walking through another museum thing to where the little cars would come to get us.
the pod we had to sit in was so small, and we could see out the window that we were slowly rising.
when we got to the top, the carpeted walkway was curved. we were at the top of the arch.
inside that are tiny windows that you look out. you can barely see them from the outside, but the view from inside was great.
one part of the view
we went back down the other side, and then we went to where we were going to spend our second night in St Louis.
part of the pod
mary doing the "facebook thing"
since St Louis is on the border, the nearest campground was about 5 minutes away in Illinois.
we arrived at the campground, and as we drove to the campsites, it looked really nice.
there was a lake, and on one side of the road it was filled with lily pads, which was really pretty.
the drive to where the actual sites was a really long one. when we got to the sites, all we saw were one other site with people. we chose a nice one, close to the bathroom, and close to water. it was also shaded, which was nice, because it was another 95 degree type of day.
we set up camp, and then drove back to where you sign up for the sites, at the entry.
then we went to dinner at this small, back road, Chinese place called Wong's Wok. it is really good, and it's close to University of Washington, St Louis. after we had that amazing food (along with Fanta), we went driving around University Loop, which is the neighborhood near the university. the house there are very pretty, very big, and actually not that expensive- if my memory is right.
we got back to our campsite, and now it was time for the horror to begin.
allana had gone into the bathrooms before, and said it looked like a prison cell. we had decided to hold it. but now it was nighttime, and we all needed to pee, so...
mary decided to not to come with us, and allana, mei, my dad and i decided to go to the prison cell. so we're walking along the dirt road, and a police cruiser comes by, with the flashlight pointing out the window, just like in movies.
we look at him, then continue walking. he continued on to the other people and got out of the car.
but now we weren't paying attention, having just stepped onto the porch of the 'bathroom.' my dad went inside, because it was dark and there was no lighting, and, well, we were scared.
he checks it out, and then we walk inside with our flashlights.
it is made out of cinderblocks, and there are two stalls, one bigger than the other. there were also no doors. seems like wyoming all over again. anyway, while we were holding the flashlights around the corner for the person in the "stall", my dad was screaming at us from the mens bathroom. i couldn't hear him.
turns out we were supposed to be listening to the domestic violence dispute that the only other people in the campground were having. the cops came 3 or 4 times that night.
when we were done with our interesting visit to the bathroom, we went back and my dad was making a fire, even though we were going to bed.
so my mom is screaming at us to stop talking and go to sleep. after everything finally gets quiet, and we're all starting to breathe heavy, we hear this strangled, rabid, loud, terrifying noise from the woods. we all bolt up and start freaking out, i guess you could say. my mom shines a flashlight outside to scare the thing away, and then the fire starts up again.
this campground is just lovely.
we get the fire under control and then the people start screaming again.
wow, this is fun.
also, to add to this misery, it's about 106 degrees inside the tent. cause of the bodies, and the sleeping bags, and the nylon, everything got hotter. it was pain.
at least there was a pretty view
the next morning, the bugs greeted us as we stepped out of the tent. there was a colony of flies living in the car by the time we were ready to go. the solution? my mom drive the wrong way to get the flies out with the doors open.
my dad had just gone for a run so he took a 'shower' in the pump water.
you can see how classy this place is.
the domestic violence people had left by the time that we woke up, thank god, so we left Granite City, Illinois, so ready to get home, it's not even funny.
(on our way to the highway, we passed about 7 strip clubs in a row- one right in front of a school)
we left for Lexington, Kentucky, having no idea where we were going to sleep that night.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Topeka, Kansas

while we were driving to Topeka, it was pain.
it never went under 100 degrees the entire time from Denver to Topeka. at least we got to stay in a hotel
we stopped at this random restaurant in Goodland, Kansas, on the way to Topeka, which is a very, very small farming you can't really call it a town type of town. the restaurant is called Crazy R's, and it's actually pretty good.
everyone stared at us when we walked in, because we weren't locals. but it was yum, and we got these good healthy shaved ice type of things, which just adds to it all.
haha. we should've used the side door. (yeah, not really)
mei, me, and allana, drinking our smoothies
when we got to topeka, it was dinner time, and we went to this great barbeque place called Boss Hawgs. the chicken is good.
when we were walking back to the car, we figured out that we left one of the doors of the car open.
thankfully, nothing was stolen, but it was still a close call.
that night we stayed in a Super 8, which have a reputation of being not the best, but this one was actually pretty good. my dad calls it a Super 10.
allana and i got the bed that night, but the problem was, i couldn't sleep for 3 hours after we turned out the light. not the best sleep.
the next morning we had breakfast, went swimming in the pool, and left the Super 8.
my mom said we were going to have lunch at a special place, but she wouldn't tell us what it was.
first though, we went to Brown vs. Board of Education Museum. it all started in Topeka, which none of us knew.
but it was there, the museum in one of the schools that were involved in the case.
the museum was really cool. we were only there for about a half hour, but that was plenty of time. we learned a lot about Brown vs. Board of Ed. you should definitely check it out if you ever go there. especially if your mom is a teacher like mine.
we left the museum with a few postcards and a pencil for mei.
it was pretty cool.
then we drove to Kansas City, Kansas, which isn't too far from Topeka, just an hour.
so, the restaurant was called Fritz's, and it was closed. but there was another location in Kansas City, Mo. but my mom still wouldn't tell us what it was, which is annoying.
we drove to the other Kansas City, and we it turned out, this one was in a mall.
so we eventually found it, and it turns out Fritz's is a burger french fry type of place, otherwise known as fast food, but they do it a little differently.
the way you get your food is that there's a train track near the top of the ceiling, and it has a little tray underneath it, which a basket is put on, which has your food inside. so the train goes on the track to your table, and the basket slides of onto this elevator, which brings the basket down to your table. also, you order on a phone which is at your table.
the milkshakes are to die for, but an actual server brings that to your table.
people watching the trains
mei was transfixed by the whole thing, but i was occupied with getting those awful hats off my parents. the rest was very cute though. and the burgers were good.
you can see just how happy i am
good god

we left that mall and drove to our next stop- St Louis, Missouri.

Denver, Colorado (ana)

when we got to Denver, we checked into our hotel, yet another La Quinta.
btw, those hotels are very nice, and it the price really depends on the location.
we went into the room, and just hung out in the hotel, on the computer, taking much needed showers. allana, mei, mary, and my mom went down to the pool, and i wanted to shower.
we got dressed, and went out to a mexican restaurant called Los Carboncitos, which my mom's coworker- Ms. M, recommended to us. it was really good food. i like the tortilla chips a lot. but that was fun, and they had a mariachi band, which was good, and they also had Spanish soap operas, and dancing and singing shows, which are so funny to watch.
man, i love spanish soap operas.
after that, we drove around denver, just checking things out. it seems like a really cool city, but for adults. it didn't seem all that kid friendly, from what we saw. but we did see a giant blue bear, and Union Station, so all that was fun.
union station
this was in front of some museum

then we went back to the hotel, where allana and i got the floor (ack), and we got a good nights sleep.
the next morning, we got up, and got dressed, and tried to look presentable to go downstairs for breakfast.
the breakfast was good, and we had already it before, and we knew what we liked and didn't like. the chocolate muffins are good, even though you can probably get a cavity from just one.
we made a group decision. we were all starting to get a little homesick (except for my mom, who really doesn't care where she sleeps "as long as i'm with the people i love." yeah right), and we all wanted to get through corn country and rednecks as fast as we could. so, we decided to leave Denver asap, and drive through the rest of Colorado and all of Kansas, to Topeka. it's about 8 and a half hours, more or less. it seemed a little shorter.
we passed through all these rich skiing towns, where stars like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz vacation (thank you Google), and there was this one rest stop where we got out to pee that had white water rafting (that was the place where we couldn't find the bathrooms, and ended up on the roof of the joint).
 miss ski town chick
but we had liked Denver, even if we were there for less than a day.
snap, chocolate muffins are good.