We checked into the hotel in St. Robert, Missouri sometime in the afternoon of August 7th and waited for Nick to text and let us know that he was done with his class and free to spend some time with us. We didn’t have to wait long, and headed to Fort Leonard Wood, which was only minutes away from the hotel. Nick wasn’t allowed to leave the base, so we hung out there, went to dinner, and then hung out by our car in front of his barracks until it was time for him to go back.
On Sunday, August 8th, Nick was able to get another pass for the afternoon. We took some time to relax in the morning, and while we ate lunch, Nick texted me to let me know that he was done with whatever he had to do. A little earlier than expected, so that was nice 🙂
Off to the base we went (again, he wasn’t allowed to leave, but I did offer to smuggle him out, and then back in, in our trunk! He wouldn’t go for it, though). There’s not an awful lot to do on the base, and we sat on the bleachers of the parade field for a while and then went to the mini mall and PX, where it was much cooler, and then sat in the food court and enjoyed a treat from Baskin Robins.
Yup, it wasn’t very exciting, watching an empty parade field. Thank goodness for Nintendo DS! 😉
This was at the food court, where Greg let Sara play with his Blackberry. She had fun taking pictures of her big brother.
It was so nice to see Nick again, even if we only had a few hours, and of course the time went by much too fast. No telling when we will be able to see him again, all depends on where he will be sent next (he’s home at the moment).
Sara was so cute when we drove through the base each day, to Nick’s barracks. Fort Leonard Wood is pretty big, and it was at least a 5-minute drive after we went through the gate. Sara said “I know we must be close, because I see Army people”.
We were off to a fairly good start when we left on our 2010 summer vacation at about 3pm on August 6. Unfortunately that didn’t last long when we got stuck in a thunderstorm (the rain came down pretty good!) and had to deal with Friday rush hour. The construction on Highway 75 didn’t help either, and we didn’t make it quite as far as we’d hoped, and spent the night in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
On August 7th (Saturday) our plan was to make it as far as St. Robert, Missouri, to see Nick, who was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood at the time. He didn’t have a pass until mid afternoon, and we had some time to kill. I looked at the map…. yes, I still like to have a map on hand, even though we have a GPS… and saw that there were some caverns just north of Springfield, Missouri, and we made it there just after lunch.
Fantastic Caverns is the only ride-though cavern in the US and the tour is held in a Jeep-drawn tram. When we walked out of the door to board the tram, I gave the driver our tickets and told him there were four of us…. and he said that was perfect, because he needed four people to sit in the Jeep with him! How lucky is that? It was nice, not having to sit squished in the trailer like everyone else.
Here you can see the entrance to the cave, and our driver walking in, to open the doors to allow the Jeep to drive through.
The cavern was discovered by John Knox and his hunting dog in 1862. Knox did not want the cave to be exploited (as a possible source of saltpeter) by the Union or Confederate governments, so he kept the cave’s existence quiet. It wasn’t until five years later, on February 27, 1867 that the first exploration took place.
Riding wasn’t even an option back in 1867, when the first known explorers visited Fantastic Caverns. They were 12 women who, equipped with ropes and ladders, ventured inside to answer the owner’s advertisement for cave explorers. The names of the 12 women still remain on a cave wall today.
Humans have never inhabited these cavers; however, a variety of animals do find a home here. The grotto salamander, the cave crayfish and the rare, blind Ozark cavefish can all be fund dwelling in Fantastic Caverns. Clean, unpolluted groundwater is vital to these animal and to the cave’s overall health, and water quality is carefully monitored. (We didn’t see any of these animals during our tour)
The temperature inside Fantastic Caverns is about 60°F (15°C) year-round.
Pictured below are two huge stalagmites in the Hall of Giants.
The caverns were used as a speak-easy during the prohibition years and hosted music concerts during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The shows were broad cast on KGBX radio in the 1970’s.
(Excerpts from fantasticcaverns.com and wikipedia.org)
Yum! We also bought Coconut Peanuts, and those were really good, too!
Yesterday was the first day back to school for the girls.
Sara started second grade, and met her new teacher last Friday. At breakfast I asked her if she wanted me to walk in with her, but she said that she just wanted to get dropped off in the car lane (I’m so proud of her!). When I picked her up in the afternoon, she said that the day went well and that she had fun.
Melissa started highschool this year and was really nervous. We missed the schedule pick-up day because we were still on vacation, but we went last Thursday morning to pick up her schedule, along with a map of the school, and we went to find her locker and all her classrooms. Her school is huge and she’s getting quite a workout, walking back and forth to get to her classes.
This morning she was nervous that she would get lost, but it turned out that she never did, and she said that her day went pretty well.
Dropping her off and (especially!!!) picking her up was a nightmare!!! Good thing we left a little early in the morning, and she had plenty of time to pick up her “blue schedule”, although she didn’t have time to get her ID picture taken. No big deal, since she still has a few days to take care of that. Then picking her up was even worse. I was stuck in school traffic long before I even got to the school zone. I had sent Melissa a text, letting her know that I had left and to just look for the car. I get a text back from her while I was on my way to the school, letting me know that she had to get her picture taken and that it might be a while. No problem, I was stuck anyway. Then I thought about picking her up outside the auditorium, which is of the opposite side of the school, and sent her a text and asked her if she wanted to go over there, but I heard back from her too late (was already across the intersection and in the pick-up line with no way to turn around) so she had to walk all the way over to the other side of the school again. Then I had to deal with these idiot drivers! They leave two or three car lengths between themselves and the car in front of them, and if they would just move up, the back-up wouldn’t reach as far back. Ugh, I hate that!!! Seriously!! It took more than 30 minutes from the time I left home until we were out of the school parking lot! Starting today, the plan is to pick her up in the auditorium parking lot. She said it wasn’t busy at all, and she can stay inside the building (especially in this awful heat, and when it rains) and I can pull right up to the doors. I can take a different road to the school as well, and hopefully won’t get stuck at the stop sign for 15 minutes, waiting to cross the intersection into the school. Oh, and let’s not forget about the idiot who made a left turn out of the right-turn lane at the elementary school in morning, and cut me off (and got honked at!)!!
Then of course we got to go to Wal-Mart, school supply shopping. That was fun! (NOT!) but at least we were able to find almost everything she needed, just need to look for poster board somewhere else. Makes me even more thankful that we ordered Sara’s supplies from the PTA.
Today can only get better, right? But just in case I do disappear, never to be heard from again, you can find me in the rubber room of the local loony bin 😉
Today is a big day…. it’s Melissa’s 14th Birthday, and her first day in highschool!
Happy Birthday, Mellie!
We celebrated yesterday, since she wouldn’t really be able to enjoy it today. She picked out her own cake (Red Velvet… store bought, since it’s waay too hot to turn on the oven – yesterday it was 109 F!!) and she got lots of cash, and an iTunes gift card. We are also getting her a new phone in the near future (with a keyboard, so we can hopefully decipher her text messages 😉 ) and we will be adding her to my wireless plan. Right now she has a TracFone and needs to use up her minutes before she can get the new phone.
I thought I would have some fun with her, and took a picture of my phone’s keyboard, and put the print into her birthday card. The look on her face when she pulled the picture out was priceless! She had no idea what it meant, and at first thought that she was getting a laptop. I think she’s excited about the new phone.
She already used some of her cash to buy Super Mario Kart for the Wii.
Not sure what she was thinking here… maybe wondering why all she was getting was a card, and no wrapped presents?
Well… we should be back from vacation today. The plan was to be back before today, because it’s back to school for the girls tomorrow, so today is the latest we could have come back.
This is also the last post I scheduled before we left, so if you don’t see a new post tomorrow, better send out a search party because we must have gotten lost somewhere 😉
This was it…. starting out in Texas, then going through Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, through Illinois again, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri again, Kansas, Oklahoma again, and back to Texas.
Hope no one is waiting to see pictures because I’ve really been procrastinating. Haven’t even transferred them to the computer yet.
We’re back in hell home after our vacation!
6 hotel rooms
3 DDD diners
ONE great vacation
Right where I belong!
… and don’t forget to eat chocolate! 😉