Gauntlet Wars

We had to get up super early this morning to make it to Little Rock for Summer’s run at Conquer the Gauntlet. Somehow we managed to get out the door and all the way there without incident, and we dropped her off in the middle of a huge grassy field where everyone was parking.

I took the girls to Sonic since we were all super hungry. I thought that would have gotten them into better moods, but but it was mostly downhill from there. I had some trouble with the Sonic app ordering again, which I think makes four out of five times that I’ve had an issue with it. This time, I was unable to place my order and was double charged for a $40 refill on my gift card. Fortunately, it looks like customer service will be able to refund me if I give them a call. When we got done eating, we went to the McCain Mall to shop around. The girls started off okay, but things quickly devolved into more or less constant bickering. We had a moment of brief quiet as I picked up a Rocket League blind box pull-back racer car. We even went back to try and recover my decade-old preorder credit without any luck.

We made a quick stop at Dick’s to try and refill my CO2 canisters before heading out to pick Summer up again. It was my first denial for the age of the tanks and how long it’s been since they’d been hydrostatically tested. Summer texted as we were walking out, so we made our way back to the event to pick her up. I called when we got there to find out where to find her, and as soon as I hung up I got a call from a girl I was messaging on the Fbook about a CPAP. She wanted to meet at the McCain Mall at 3, so we got Summer, went to eat a celebratory meal at Red Lobster, and then picked up my new CPAP.

From there we stopped at Sam’s for a few things, and I nearly picked up a box of Coca-Cola syrup before deciding against it until I had more CO2. We stopped by the Dick’s in Conway so I could be denied for that one last time, and then headed home so the girls could go with their father to the county fair. Once they were gone, we headed back to my house to set up my new CPAP and start some laundry.

As soon as Summer flopped down on the bed, she spotted a brown recluse, and then a second just a few seconds later. After a mad dash to strip the bed sheets, I killed a total of half a dozen of them of various sizes. At least the new sheets seem soft. And spider-free.

I can’t even imagine how many of them I’ve swallowed in the night.

Homeward Bound

I successfully canceled our hotel in Branson for tonight, and we got everything packed back up for the trip home. After a whole lot of sweating, I managed to get everything to fit into the trunk so I could strap my new Aeron chair to the hitch cargo rack. It felt solid enough that I called the guy back and met his wife to pick up his other chair as well. Why buy one when you can have two for twice the price? Even better, I got it for half what I paid for the first one due to a couple lines in the fabric of the seat.

From there we started our six and a half hour drive back home. We finally stopped at a Jack in the Box just outside of town after talking about it for a few days. It was about what I expected, but I just had to try it after all these years of seeing commercials.

We got back home around 9:00 and went to my house first to drop some things off and check on my plants and animals. It could have been worse, but I’ll have plenty to clean up this weekend. The worst was another ant infestation in the cat food. One of my succulents also seems to have melted away somehow. I think that was probably the most upsetting thing, because it was supposed to be hardy and able to not completely wither away in just two weeks.

From there, I took the girls home and got unpacked. Summer warmed up the last of my leftover egg rolls, then we watched a few episodes of The Office before bed.

How is it possible that so much house cleaning is necessary after two weeks of being gone?

What Are Traditions: Independence Day 2018

Even I slept in too late today. Everyone has been more and more tired every day, so we decided to try and cut the trip a day short. It’s our last day here, so we decided to spend it all at Fair St. Louis by the Gateway Arch.

We got there around 1:30 in the afternoon and made the walk to the arch. I made a big enough deal out of nobody touching the bean in Chicago that we all went up and leaned on the arch for a while. It was really hot out, but even with a relatively good amount of shade from the sun, we decided it best to spend most of the afternoon in the underground museum and visitor center. We ended up taking the tram to the top of the arch and spent a bit of time looking down over the city. They cart people up and down regularly, and you can just leave whenever you want, which I thought was interesting. It was super crowded, and the windows were way smaller than I expected.

After some pretty decent burgers in the underground restaurant and killing a couple extra hours in the museum, we went back up to the lawn to pick a place to watch the air show and fireworks. Summer and Eaddie went back to the car to pick up some snacks we brought, but ultimately had to give them away to someone outside the gates because they didn’t allow outside food to be brought in.

The air show was pretty good, and I was surprised to hear that one of the powered paragliders I follow on YouTube was actually a part of the act. After that, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra got Summer all riled up, and then the fireworks filled all the viewing space under the arch, which was pretty neat to experience. But I think the most impressive part of the evening was how quickly we got back out of the city after the show. There were so many people, and we just hopped on the freeway and made it back to the hotel without too much trouble.

Seriously, why the hell wasn’t it a McDonald’s under the arch?

It’ll put Aeron your chest!

September 2, 2010

Everyone slept in today after such a long day yesterday. I didn’t get to bed until around 3AM, but I was still the first up. I went downstairs to make some breakfast to bring back up since this hotel’s breakfast only runs through 9AM.

When everyone finally got up and around, we decided to go to LemonGrass, a Vietnamese restaurant I visited with my family almost eight years ago when we passed through to pick up my R1. I remembered the hotpot being so good that I just had to go again, even in our sudden downpour of rain. We all got something different, so everyone got a chance to try everything else. My vermicelli with lamb and an eggroll was pretty great. Afterward, the rain let up so we could walk a couple blocks down the road to Gelateria Del Leone for an icy dessert.

July 3, 2018

We left there and headed back toward the hotel, stopping at a Sam’s Club right up the road. We had picked up just a few things when I got a call back from the guy in town with the Herman Miller Aeron chairs. We ran back to the hotel to drop everything off and load up the cargo carrier, and headed back through the city to get a chair.

It’s going to be tough packing everything up. I’m definitely in charge of choosing what goes and what stays for any future adventures. It’s been more frustrating than necessary simply due to how much crap we’ve been lugging from hotel to hotel. It’s all a lesson in planning and minimalism.

Eat the leftovers!

Bean There, Done That

We slept in a bit longer than I had hoped after being out late for the movie. We eventually made the trip into the city for another couple shows at the Adler Planetarium and to check out the rest of the exhibits. This time I ignored the full parking signs and went straight to the planetarium parking, and a guy let me in for the same $25 rate I paid a couple days ago in a parking structure over half a mile away.

When we finished there, we went outside and ate some leftovers on the beach. Lake Michigan was a pretty spectacular sight, and there were sailboats everywhere. I even spotted the Tall Ship Windy on a tour. I’d love to go out on it sometime in the future. The weather was nice for sitting around, and I’m sure it would have been even better out on the water.

After that spot of lunch, we decided to walk the two miles to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate bean sculpture. It was pretty impressive, and completely surrounded by people. None of the girls wanted to get close enough to touch it, so I didn’t bother myself either, though I immediately regretted walking that far and not taking the extra few steps to see how it felt.

Two miles back to the car and we were off toward St. Louis. We stopped at an A&W/Long John Silver’s on the way because I wanted some home brewed root beer. We finally got into the hotel around midnight, and my first impression was that this hotel was completely built out of parts and pieces that were stolen from other area hotels. It’s like the owner kept booking rooms and would walk out with a hand full of room number plaques and elevator buttons, and then come back to use them in his hotel. We’ll have to see how things look in the morning when we’re not all dead tired from a four mile walk and a five hour drive.

Seriously bruh? Follow the speed limit!

Relatively Prehistoric

Today started off particularly slow and late. My Aunt Diane called after she got out of church so we could set up an early dinner. We left the hotel in the early afternoon to go shopping at an Old Navy that offered less of a deal than I expected, and then killed the rest of the afternoon there until we met my Aunt Diane and Uncle Rich at Greek Islands for dinner.

It was nice to visit with them, but they insisted on paying and the place wasn’t particularly cheap. It was probably the fanciest and most different meal we’ve had our entire trip though. I had a roasted suckling pig, Summer got lamb, Autumn had some kind of chicken spaghetti, and Eaddie had something with spinach and a flaky crust. The flaming cheese appetizer seemed to be pretty popular with other tables as well, and it was really good with the bread they had. None of my cousins could make it, but we managed to keep a conversation going.

After dinner, we separated and went our different ways. Summer spent the evening trying to prepack things to load in the morning so we could go catch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at an IMAX just a few blocks away. It was a super late showing for the girls at 10:20. The theater was a full-service dining experience, which was new to all of us I think. I don’t think I’d do it again except for a movie I’m really not interested in seeing. It was too distracting for my taste, and the screen wasn’t a traditional IMAX size. The girls had fun though, and we all got to experience a Dyson bathroom faucet with built-in hand dryers.

Life, uh, finds a way to pay.

The Eaddiest Beattiest Birthday Party

We got to play real-life Tetris today, except none of the luggage disappeared when I got it perfectly loaded into the trunk of the Murano. I’m still not entirely sure how I got everything to fit. I think it was mostly the soft stuff that filled the odd empty spaces. I should invent amorphous luggage.

Once we got everything loaded up, we stopped by Boston Store in the mall to search for deals. I kept getting stuck on dress shirts and jackets, first because non-universal sizing is ridiculous, and then because even at 60% off, some of the prices were still super outlandish. I dig a brand-name thing occasionally, but not for the things I was finding. I did actually end up finding a great deal on a puffy Nautica coat and a Chromecast Ultra. I wished the store was closer to home so I could really spend some time there finding the best deals.

When we finished shopping, Eaddie decided she wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s for her birthday. It wasn’t quite as nostalgic as I thought it might be. I think it was mostly due to the location. It was, however, a great time once we got past the eating. They have a new system for gaming where you just get a certain amount of time instead of having to spend a finite number of tokens. I think the whole experience actually lost something for not having the tokens, but at least they kept paper tickets.

From there, we headed out of town, stopping by a Harbor Freight to pick up a locking hitch pin. We made it to Chicagoland in just about the amount of time Google Maps stated, and with only minimal cursing over toll roads. Overall I think I’m just glad we didn’t die while following other traffic at 20 over the limit. Years of offensive driving habits prepared me for this.

You can’t show people how many you are anymore!

Dude, you’re going to Dells!

It was finally water park day. Beth got us four tickets to the Mt. Olympus water park in Wisconsin Dells, which seemed like a larger version of Branson. It was basically a series of water park resorts all in a long strip of land near the lake. Each resort was relatively small by itself, but every single place on the road had a novelty statue at the very least, and many places had indoor water slides.

Mt. Olympus was a bit smaller than I expected. We pretty well covered the whole park in just a couple hours. The water slide lines were mostly annoying, and it was pretty hot outside to add to the discomfort. The wave pool was small and tubeless, so you weren’t even allowed to swim out past where you could touch the bottom. I think we all really had the most fun climbing around the kid’s area where they had a couple tubeless slides and tons of random water falling everywhere.

After the park, we went back to Beth’s place to pick up what the girls had forgotten, and then we took Beth and Bryan out to dinner. It was a bit of a drive to Olive Garden, but I’m an expert at multi-lane interstate driving now. Dinner was pretty good, and afterward we had birthday cake for Eaddie and Beth back at her condo.

That wrapped up our evening in Wisconsin. We packed up most everything when we got back to the hotel, and we’ll head to Chicago in the afternoon. Hopefully Chi-Town will treat us at least as well as Madison.

Did you find your retainer?

Henry Vilas Zoo

It was a bit too cloudy today, so the girls decided against the water park. Instead, they found a nearby zoo. The Henry Vilas Zoo is a donation-only zoo that was just a few minutes away from our hotel. We stopped for lunch at QDOBA Mexican Eats, which was basically a Chipotle. Everyone loved it, so I felt validated for skipping the McDonald’s.

The girls really enjoyed the zoo. It was smaller, but probably the perfect size before being too big to enjoy in one visit. We missed the aviary that closed earlier than the rest of the park, which was a bummer for me, but otherwise it was a good visit.

After the zoo, we went by a Target to pick up some laundry detergent. It was a bit of a chore to get there through the university campus, but we made it. The Target was big enough to have a parking garage on the ground floor and escalators that carried your shopping cart back down for you. It was pretty impressive. Upstairs it was just the usual stuff, but parking was neat and unexpectedly easy.

Back at the hotel, Summer took laundry to a place just next door to the hotel while the girls and I went swimming. I’ve spent more time in a pool this year than probably the last ten years combined. It’s been fun, but my hair is over it.

That tallhorse is hungry.


I crashed pretty early last night after running on very little sleep over the course of our trip up here. I caught up on sleep well enough that I got up and around at a decent hour. Breakfast at the hotel was pretty good, and after a slow start to getting around, we went to pick up the girls.

I wanted to go to Costco with Beth to see if they had the Nest Hello and Google Home Mini bundle that was available online. We stopped and got Starbucks for everyone on the way. We didn’t spend very long in Costco before Beth had to run, and the rest of us went to another local store to pick up some things for her.

After dropping that off, the girls wanted to go to Culver’s for some burgers. That was good, but I think it made everyone tired. We headed back to the hotel to get unpacked before dropping Summer off at the gym.

The girls and I went to a closing Toys “R” Us to look for deals. The store only had a couple days left, and it was super depressing to see all of the fixtures being sold out from under them. The carcass had already been picked pretty clean, but we bought a couple things before crossing the street to Dick’s to kill some more time. After that we went to a comic book store, and then the Dollar Tree in the shopping center next to Planet Fitness.

When Summer came out, we went back to the hotel to swim for a while before crashing for the night.