Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Golden Birthday in The Gateway to the West

Nora just turned 6 - on the 6th of January. As she graciously reminded us every day for the previous 2 months: It was her GOLDEN birthday. So for a special birthday we took a special trip (okay, well, it just worked out that way, but we can pretend that it was especially for her, right?:)

Cornbread had to travel to St. Louis, MO for training on Friday the 4th. He left on Thursday night and the girls and I drove out there on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend there. He extended his hotel room and we fit as much as we could into the 36 hours that we had there.

We arrived Friday afternoon around 5:45 (after 5 hours in the car - no stops) and brought our bags to the room and walked to McDonalds for dinner. We went back, got our swimsuits and I dropped Cornbread and the girls off at the pool while I found a Walgreens to buy some cold medicine for Ryann (who began complaining of an earache while we were driving). I joined them in the pool for a little bit, where Ryann reminded me - often - that if we stayed in the hot tub for too long, we would get sick (Cornbread had meant dehydrated) - However, there was no chance that I would be going in the big pool - it was TOO cold, so I took my chances and stayed in the hot tub:) We went back to the room and got the girls settled in bed with a movie and layed down to watch something - anything - ourselves. I think Cornbread and I went to sleep before Nora did...

Saturday morning we got up, walked to the bagel place, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out to see the arch. We had decided the week before that we wouldn't be going in the arch as it was rather expensive and the girls wouldn't know the difference, and Cornbread knew that I would not get through the elevator ride due to my panic attack issues. We were content to drive to the arch, get out, take pictures and look at it from several different angles.
From there we went to the Anheuser-Busch factory for a (free) tour of the brewery. The first stop was the Clydesdale's stable. These horses are absolutely magnificent!

Cornbread and I enjoyed the tour - and the two free samples afterward. It was interesting to hear about the process and the enormous amount of beer that is made by them - and consumed. We chatted with both of our tour guides a bit and found out that it is incredibly difficult to get a job with Anheuser-Busch - you basically have to have a parent working there to get in - and year 'round employees receive two free cases of product each month. Since both of our tour guides were there on break from their college classes, we can safely assume that they are the most popular kids in their schools...

Nora spent the entire tour like this because of the smell of the barley malt:

Lunch was pizza at a local restaurant suggested by the tour guides. Um, St. Louis pizza is not so good. When exactly did barbecue sauce replace pizza sauce? Am I now a chicago pizza snob?

The girls ate approximately 1 1/2 pieces of pizza between the three of them since they had filled up on pretzels in the hospitality room of the brewery and they were simply too busy coloring to care about eating lunch. Please take note of what Georgia is doing in the picture below. The poor busboy had a lot of cleaning up to do around our table.

After lunch we went straight to the St. Louis Zoo. The Zoo was also free - bonus! We had two hours to get through the whole zoo so we had to make a game plan on how to get through it all. The weather was decent - cloudy, but warm for January - so the animals were out and were pretty active, which made for a fun visit. We enjoyed the Humboldt penguins who were outside and were active (they're from South America, I think, so they don't need the arctic climate) and the Puffins who swam around and splashed everyone. We did not, however, enjoy the smell of the penguins and the puffins. They smelled much worse than the barley malt at the brewery, yet Nora didn't plug her nose once:) Here we see a peacock that was chasing a female peacock. Apparently in the St. Louis zoo the peacocks roam free and come and go as they please in whatever exhibits they want. We originally saw them in the prairie dog exhibit, but when we turned around they were hopping out of there and walking along the path with the visitors. This peacock was right at my feet. Being the courteous visitors that we are, we were trying to scare it into spreading his feathers.

Really, who wouldn't love to ride around on a gorilla?

Here we see lions demonstrating the two positions that the Woof is in most of the day:

It was an exhausting day at the zoo:

We couldn't wake Georgia up - she was OUT and I was a bit worried that she was going to sleep for the rest of the night and decide she was done at 4am. We let her sleep a bit in the hotel room while Nora opened her birthday presents. Nora declared that she got the best stuff ever so we let her play for a while, then got everyone going for dinner. We had decided that Steak N Shake would probably be our best bet for kid friendly + food that mom and dad will like. We ordered each of the kids a chicken nugget meal of which Nora was the only one to partake. Ryann was miserably sick and tired, and Georgia was having way too much fun - again - with the salt and pepper (I believe she finally stopped crying about being woken up when she spotted the magic white and black stuff). I do not know why we order them food - Georgia's meals at both restaurants were free, because who charges for mass consumption of salt and pepper? And Ryann hardly eats anything on a good day let alone when she is not feeling well...They were quite happy with their hats, though:)
We had a fantastic trip - and it was super cheap! We came in under budget by a huge amount and had lots and lots of fun with the girls. We were all really exhausted by the time we got home on Sunday afternoon - sleeping in hotels is so horrible when you're all in the same room.

We were so glad that we had an opportunity to make Nora's golden birthday special in this way. Nora and I decided that all golden birthdays should be celebrated with a weekend trip - can you even imagine where Ryann is going to want to go on hers (the 17th)?


Jen 8:53 PM  

What a fun trip! I bet Ryann will want to go to visit her sister at Calvin and learn how to party.

Sarah R. (C) 9:17 PM  

Sounds like so much fun, except for the sick little girl. Yea, for coming in under budget, that is always a good thing.
Salt and Pepper shakers always get moved as far away from the boys as possible when we take them out to eat.

heidi jo 12:03 AM  

sounds like a REALLY special birthday - and a really special trip.

those clydesdales hold a very special place in my heart - i've loved them for years! aren't they some of the most amazing animals you've ever seen? did you get up close enough to pet them? i have been in the barn with them a couple times and the size of their HEADS just blows me away every time i've gotten to pet one on the nose... just AMAZING! God is so creative. :)

Mommy Brain 7:17 AM  

Sounds like a great trip...what a special way to celebrate Nora's birthday. Thanks for sharing your pictures with us.

Amy 12:41 AM  

It sounds like you guys had a blast! Love the pictures. I love St. Louis. Haven't been there too much. We went on a family vacation there with Dave's family when we were little. Jonathan was only three and locked himself in the motel room. They had to cut the lock to get him out. It was a fun trip otherwise.

Carol 8:11 AM  

What a great family trip. Thanks for sharing the story and wonderful pictures! Happy Birthday, Nora!

Heaven Sent 10:41 PM  

What fun memories! Love the photos too... your girls always seem so happy and cute!

Hopefully Ryann is feeling better!

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