Saturday before Memorial Day, we decided to head to McAlester, Oklahoma. Why McAlester? Because of Whispering Meadows Winery. It’s close to home, only about 3 hours away, and we stopped there last year on our way back from vacation, and bought some really good wine.
Greg wanted to leave Saturday, but I talked him out of it. It was already afternoon, and I didn’t want to rush, getting some things packed, so we decided to leave Sunday morning. Greg did book a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express. Unfortunately minutes later, we found out that the winery is closed Sundays and Mondays. Oh well, it would still be nice to get out of town, and we were sure we would find something to do. Besides, we needed a good
excuse reason, why the kids were missing school on Memorial Day, which was supposed to be one of the snow make-up days.
We left around 9 am on Sunday morning and stopped at the Oklahoma Welcome Center to pick up some brochures. We found a listing for Dewgul Berry Farm in one of them, and since it wasn’t too far out of the way, we decided to stop. Only problem was that we couldn’t find it! There were no signs, nothing looked like a berry farm, and the GPS didn’t recognize the address. I think those Okies are making things up for their travel brochures!
We got to the hotel around 1 pm, which was a little early to check in, so we went in search of a park, and found one, and the kids got to swing for a little while. Our room was ready at 2 pm. We got a suite, which was soo nice! The kids were especially happy, because they each got their own bed and they didn’t have to share one, and most importantly, they didn’t have to sleep on the sleeper sofa!
We relaxed for a little while and then went down to the pool. If you look at the pictures on the hotel’s website, the pool looks HUGE! Well, it wasn’t! Someone was smart and used an ultra wide-angle lens for those pictures! The water was freezing cold, but the kids had fun anyway. Melissa was busy, saving the beetles that were floating in the water. Everyone needs a hero!
There was a Chili’s within walking distance of the hotel, and we walked over there to eat dinner. Afterwards we planned on playing some miniature golf at Speedline Entertainment (found in the McAlester travel brochure). They were supposed to be open until 9 pm, and we had a good two hours to play. The problem? They were closed!! Told you those Okies are making things up! Oh well, we killed some time at Wal-Mart (exciting, isn’t it?), picked up some dessert, and went back to the hotel.
… sitting by the pool after a good work-out, feet in the water, watching the kids swim, and chatting with my best friend.
It’s so sad, going to the gym and seeing the outdoor pools covered up with tarps until next summer.
Next stop on our vacation was Memphis, Tennessee, on Tuesday, July 7, 2009. We got there around lunch time and out of the many restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, we decided on Leonard’s BBQ. They had great food, and we ate way too much of it!
What’s a trip through Memphis without at driving past Graceland! Yup, that’s Graceland hidden behind those trees somewhere. I tried to get a picture of the gates, but a tour bus was blocking them. I would have loved to take a tour, but none of the brochures we found mentioned anything about how much it would cost (didn’t want the poor tourists dropping dead from sticker shock?) so we decided to skip it.
We did see Elvis at the visitor’s center near Mud Island… behind him was B.B. King.
We drove to Arkadelphia, Arkansas and spent the night, and on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 we tried our luck at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Any diamond you find is yours to keep! We rented the necessary supplies and picked a spot to dig….
…. and wash. Wish I had gotten a shot of Sara’s very dirty shirt! We found some pretty rocks, but no diamonds.
By lunchtime the girls had ad enough and wanted to leave (it was hot!!!) so we headed to the park restaurant for lunch. In the end, we kept what we found, and called them diamonds 😉
The girls were disappointed that they didn’t find any diamonds, so we headed to the Happy Prospector Gemstone Mine, a nice little tourist trap where you can buy big buckets of sand that have been enhanced with pretty colored glass gem stones, fake arrow heads and shark’s teeth (sharks in Arkansas??). We all had fun washing the sand away and finding all the pretty stones.
After a long day in the hot sun, we stopped at a hotel in Hope Arkansas and cooled off at/in the pool.
On Thursday, July 9, 2009 we only had a short drive home and our busy, fun-filled vacation came to an end.
No, not waiting to get into the pool, but waiting for mommy to put the camera down.
We were invited at a friend’s house yesterday, for a cook-out and some fun in the pool. It was such a nice afternoon/evening, with hamburgers, hot dogs, and homemade ice-cream. The kids had a blast turning into prunes swimming in the pool. They were in there for two whole hours and would probably still be in there, were it not for the ice-cream.
Melissa was so happy to be in a real pool that she even co-operated for a picture or two.
OK, from the beginning… better make some coffee to keep yourselves awake! 😉
June 5th we got up bright and early (actually it wasn’t all that bright out) and were on the road by 4am. Driving through Texas was sooo boring, and New Mexico wasn’t any better. We left with a full tank of gas, but by the time we reached Midland, TX it was time to start looking for a gas station. There were no signs by the highway exits so Greg keeps going, thinking that something must be coming up soon. Well, it didn’t, and just past Odessa, TX the warning light comes on, letting us know that we were going to run out of gas soon. Greg “thinks” there’s about a gallon (about 30 miles worth) left but he’s getting nervous because we’re still not seeing any signs and west of Midland is pretty much nothing for a while. GPS thingie to the rescue! He looks up the nearest gas station, which was about 18 miles behind us – and we did see it, only Greg didn’t want to pay $3.99 per gallon. Ha ha! Who knew we would end up there after all?! Thankfully we didn’t run out of gas on the way to the gas station and soon were back on our way west. Like I said, New Mexico wasn’t any prettier than Texas, but we did see a couple of dust devils. This one was the biggest one and we spotted it when we were still pretty far away. It was on the right side of the highway but as we got closer, it disappeared as it crossed the highway… but then picked up again on the left side and I was able to snap a picture.
We made it as far as Deming, New Mexico that day and spent the night.
June 6th we made it to Phoenix, Arizona before lunch time and ate at Joe’s Farm Grill. It was one of the restaurants that was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Greg brought a whole list of them so we could stop at the ones in Arizona and California. Lunch was very good, and afterwards we drove to my friend Anjeanette’s house. We met about 12 years ago when we both lived in Maryland, and we worked together at two different places. It was so nice to see her and her husband again, and meet her boys! We hung out at her house for a while first and then went to a nearby playground. The kids all got along really well once they warmed up to each other, and had fun playing together.
After the playground we went back to Anjeanette’s house and waited for Steve to get home, and then we all went to dinner at Thee Pitt’s Again, another “DDD” place that was featured on the Food Network show. Both of Anjeanette’s boys wanted to sit next to Sara, so she got to sit between the two (I see that I’m going to have to lock her in the closet soon, if the boys are already after her! LOL). Sara and Vance got along especially well and were coloring a picture together. Anjeanette and I were joking about planning their wedding.
We said good-bye after dinner and headed to our hotel and planned on maybe meeting for breakfast at Matt’s Big Breakfast (yes, another “DDD” place) the next morning (June 7th), but they opened waaayyy too early and I didn’t blame Anjeanette & family one bit for not wanting to get up that early, especially considering that it was a good 30-45 minute drive from their house. As it turned out, there was already a line when we got there just after they opened, and we didn’t feel like waiting. So off we went to find someplace else for breakfast, and on to California. Again, the landscape wasn’t very interesting…
We got to Anaheim early that afternoon and didn’t really do much. I think we did do a couple of loads of laundry. Greg took the kids over to the pool while I called my friend Bina, and then I went over there myself to take some pictures.
We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and then went for a walk down the street and back.
June 8th we met my friend Bina and her daughter for lunch at Baker’s Square, and then we all went to the Fullerton Arboretum. It was nice to finally meet Bina in person. We met years ago on a message board. Her daughter is 4 and just adorable!
The Arboretum was a great place, with lots of neat plants, like this tree here with a thorny trunk. There was white fluff all over the tree, too, that looked like cotton balls. I found a sign that said that it was a floss silk tree, and native to Peru and Argentina.
The kids got along great, too.
Bina and Miriam had plans that evening so we headed back to the hotel after the Arboretum and relaxed for a while. We decided to go to Downtown Disney that evening because it didn’t look that far on the little map we picked up somewhere. There was a restaurant on the way, so we walked there first to eat dinner, and then walked to Downtown Disney. That’s as close as I got to Disneyland 😦 Oh yes, and it was much, much farther than it looked on the map! Our poor feet! Sara walked most of the way, but Greg did have to carry her on his shoulders a few times. Back at the hotel, Greg got out his little GPS thingie and looked up how far we walked…. SEVEN MILES!!!! If I had known that, I would have gladly paid the $10, or however much it is, to park at Downtown Disney!
Well, this is it for part 1. Must edit some more pictures before I post part 2, so stay tuned! 😉