Our Trip Out West
(June 26, 2007 – August 12, 2007)
September 19, 2007
June 26, 2007
We are still planning the trip west. Last night I looked at the atlas again and planned out our basic route. We’ll be able to go through some major cities and do some exciting activities. Chris is concerned because he has calculated that our gasoline is going to cost over $2000! I had no idea. I really feel like God wants me to take the trip so I have just been planning and praying. I figure the Lord will take care of the rest. He seems to be really opening doors to show us that this is in His will. He made all the gas in the world so I figure he can easily provide me with $2000 worth.
July 29, 2007
We have decided not to go all the way to California this year. Gas and other expenses were going to be too great. However, we are still planning a great trip and you can look at our itinerary by clicking here. If we’ll be in your area and you would like to meet my family or do an interview, please contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We leave in one week and a day.
August 8, 2007
We are in St. Louis, Missouri this evening. I have finally been able to use Internet access. Actually, I had really hoped to camp or stay in the van the entire trip just so we wouldn’t end up spending a ton of money, but of course I didn’t realize we were going to be traveling during the worst heat wave ever. Yesterday I think it was 107 and today it was around 102. We have had hotter weather at home occasionally, but I agree with the children that this seems the hottest weather we’ve ever experienced. We were even sweating when we were sitting still.
So here is what we’ve done thus far… Monday morning we left. We were supposed to leave at 8:00, but of course we were a little late and ended up leaving Gray at 10:30. That’s not too bad, though, and I was pleased with our progress. I should have taken a picture of how neat the van looked when we pulled out. I had that van so organized with our clothing, food, sleeping gear, camping gear, etc. all in particular little compartments, but then by last night it kind of already looked like my laundry room on a bad day. This morning that van smelled sooo bad. I think it was the cantaloupe I bought yesterday for the children. The kids actually ate the cantaloupe, but then I put the peel (along with tomato and kiwi peel) in a pan to throw away later. Sarah (11) told me that this is the reason we shouldn’t try to make a compost pile in a closed van that is getting about 150 degrees during the day. It’s really disgusting now and honestly smells like something has died in there. This is the reason I don’t eat cantaloupe.
Monday we went to Mammoth Cave and arrived JUST in time (literally on the minute) for the last tour of the day. Then we camped that night in the park. That was wonderful. It’s a very nice park, we had a great time in the cave, and the kids did great camping out. I did think it was very hot, actually very very very hot, but I didn’t realize it apparently has been the hottest night of the year. I met a nice woman in the camping bathroom the next morning and she said they camp all the time, but that it was uncomfortable. That made me feel better to know that I wasn’t just “complaining,” although I didn’t really have anyone to complain to anyway. And I was busy listening to the crickets. That was fun!
The kids are freezing here (even though it was 107 outside) because in the cave it was quite cold and we didn’t have enough sense to wear sweatshirts like all the other people there!
Look at these adorable little children!!! We really are having a great time and I just thought these pictures were so cute.
Yesterday went to the Owensboro Science Museum in the morning and then we drove and drove and drove to get to the next stop, which was going to be near St. Louis.
The children are standing in front of Wooly Mammoth bones (recreated of course) at the Owensboro Science Museum. They had a great time, even though Hannah has a frown. She is standing beside me now even saying, “Looking at me – I was being grumpy!!!” She seems to think this is very funny to do now in pictures and then after I take it, she runs over and says, “Can I see me in the picture?!?” It’s actually kind of funny. She has such a rambunctious little personality. God has blessed us greatly with each of these unique personalities to raise.
We had intended to camp near St. Louis, but we passed the one stop where we could have camped and then we ended up closer to St. Louis not able to find camping anywhere. We were having difficulty finding someplace to eat the food (other than snacks) that we brought as well (and there seem to be no stores near the highway) so I stopped at Schiappa’s – home of a 36″ pizza. We had the 14″ and couldn’t finish it. I couldn’t imagine 36 inches! Anyway, I was asking the workers and a few other people if they knew of anywhere to camp and apparently two guys were very concerned about the children camping out in the heat so they offered to pay for a hotel room right next to the restaurant. It is kind of barren out here and it was a very sweet offer so I really felt I should take them up on it. They said they would enjoy knowing the children were swimming in a cool pool instead of laying in a hot tent. We slept GREAT and it was so nice of these guys. I really enjoyed the hotel stay and the breakfast.
This morning we awoke early and accomplished our goal of getting to the St. Louis Zoo early. It is such a great zoo. I could go there all the time! I can’t get the pictures to load right now, but I’ll try to put them on later in the week.
We had such a fun time at the zoo, but unfortunately when we went out to our van for lunch, someone had broken in to our van. They broke the passenger side door lock and I’m going to have to go in the morning to the Dodge dealership to fix it. This is terrible and we’re already way over budget for this trip! BUT, the good thing is that they were apparently stopped for some reason in the act because they got in the van (the lock is broken and all the doors were unlocked), but they didn’t take anything. I have a few thoughts about this… I figure that they either saw my Bible laying on the console and were convicted not to steal from someone with kids’ suitcases, kids’ clothes, kids’ toys, etc. all over the place OR (more likely), they opened the door and got a huge whiff of the dead thing (rotting cantaloupe, tomato peels, kiwi) in the van and they decided that they didn’t want to be involved in two crimes. Either way, I praise the Lord for the messy van (they wouldn’t have been able to find anything anyway) and even for the smell. 🙂
Well, we better get on to bed. We want to get an early start again in the morning because we’re going to the St. Louis Science Center – another amazing place. We’ve been there before once and loved it. I hope you like the pictures. Send me a note if you enjoy the postings!
August 10, 2007
We had the most wonderful time in St. Louis – well, other than almost getting robbed. It is a very attractive city, I think, with so much to do. I believe we could stay there for a couple of weeks just visiting museums, the zoo, and other attractions and still have more to do. Below are some pictures at the zoo.
The children loved the water area in the children’s zoo at the St. Louis Zoo.
Daniel, Christopher, and Hannah are being eaten by a hippo at the St. Louis Zoo.
Yesterday we went to the Science center and we were able to see a neat presentation in the planetarium. The only downside to that was that they ask you to turn off cell phones, cameras, big watches, etc., but there was this kid right beside us who kept turning on one of those little round light balls that you hold in your hand and then the light flashes all around. It was driving me crazy so finally I reached up (we were all laying on mats) and bopped his shoe. When speaking isn’t permitted (or I would have just asked him to stop), I sometimes do this to my kids – tap them on the shoulder, lightly kick their knee under the table, etc. – and they get the hint very quickly. But of course this little boy, whose parents were right beside him and weren’t making him turn off the goofy light anyway, had not trained him in any sort of manners apparently. So instead of turning off the light in shock and being quiet, he sat straight up and started shouting, “Mommy, someone is trying to take off my shoe! Mommy! MOMMY!!!! SOMEONE IS TRYING TO TAKE OFF MY SHOE!” At that point I just decided to ignore him and eagerly hope for the end of the shoe.
Here are some pictures from the St. Louis Science Center. It is the best museum ever!
My children, thankfully, were well behaved and have done well the entire trip thus far (all five days of it). We’ve had several comments on their good behavior and how “lucky” I am or what a good mom I am. These comments are very sweet and I always cherish them, but I know that I am also very blessed. I have made so many mistakes and continue to do so every day, but the children are very forgiving and God has been very merciful. I try to be a good mom, but I also have a great husband and he is very good with the children. So, it’s a combination of many factors, but I know that mostly the Lord has just provided us with much advice, help, and grace from others just when we need it.
Last night we slept in the parking lot of the Flying J truck stop. This is a great option and I’m thankful that they let you do this. I felt very safe and the children slept very well. The only reason I didn’t sleep better is because I didn’t have anywhere to lay down and I was cramped in my driver’s seat. I woke up with a big strain in my neck!
After we woke up and washed up in the Flying J, we drove and drove and drove some more. I think the children were really getting tired of being in the van because they began asking to stop at all the historic sites. Finally, Micah saw one the looked very interesting – Kalona Historic Village. We had to drive ten miles off the interstate, but it turned out to be well worth the trip. There is a little historic area where they have all the original buildings – school, railroad depot, a house, a beautiful church, etc. – in a central location and you pay for a guided tour. It was great. THEN – and this was REALLY neat!! – at the end of the tour, you get to go through a Mennonite museum. We did this and there was a delightful lady working there and she is Mennonite. She answered tons of questions for me and explained to the children the difference between Mennonite and Amish, how the Amish and Mennonite lived in that area, why she believes the way she does, etc. It was so helpful. She said she normally doesn’t go into that much detail with visitors, but she didn’t mind at all and it was kind of funny, she said, because we were even asking about her own personal history and she was so delightful to share her own experiences.
The children sit at an old one-room schoolhouse in Kalona, Iowa.
The Haskins family visit with Ada Yoder, a sweet lady and wonderful guide at the Mennonite Museum in Kalona, Iowa.
In this area we happened upon, there is also an Amish community of about 1000, which is pretty large, and the lady explained to me how to go to the area. After our tour at the museum and a delicious lunch of homemade foods at a local German restaurant called (???), I drove the children through the Amish community.
There were a few things that really struck me in the Amish community:
1) People going through in cars really go way too fast. There are very few cars there anyway – we drove around for about an hour in this area and probably passed 4 or 5 other automobiles. They were tearing up all kinds of dust on the gravel/dirt roads and once we saw a truck almost run into a horse and buggy. This made me so sad for these people. We were driving “buggy speed” and we tried to be very respectful of their customs.
2) The people in this particular area of Amish are more open to outsiders than some areas. I guess they just don’t get such a huge influx of visitors like they do in Pennsylvania that it’s not as much of an imposition. Anyway, the people we happened upon were very polite and respectful and willing to answer questions, such as “You don’t have a beard, so does that mean you aren’t married?”
3) There were several little children playing in the yards and they had little scooters, wagons, and another buggy like toy. One little boy was playing in a sandbox. It was nice for the children to see this.
4) We happened upon some Amish people repairing a building – with three men working on it and four children, I believe. They were all working. I noticed a bell on the top of the building and I stopped to ask if it was a school. It is. Sarah commented how neat that the children were helping to build their own school. The Mennonite lady had also explained to me that the governor of this state – Iowa – had some time ago agreed to allow the Amish to have separate schools with their own teachers and the students could attend independently because it was too difficult to send them to the regular public schools. The children were coming home with bad habits, were being exposed to things they weren’t exposed to at home, and were being taught things against their belief. First of all, I applaud that governor for being flexible in this and for recognizing that these parents love their children, but that it is a parents’ right to educate their children as they see fit. And also the children commented how it’s kind of like homeschooling in some ways, which I agree.
Now for the kids comments that I thought were funny…
We saw several horse and buggies and Amish people. I was explaining to the children (before out talk with the Mennonite lady) about how the Amish live – without modern conveniences of electricity, television, cell phones, computers, etc. and Christopher said, “Well, we must not be very Amish then.”
Then, after the entire visit through the community, which was soooo incredibly beautiful, Christopher and Daniel both declared that when they are old enough, they are going to shun society and become Amish because it looks like a lot of fun!
Daniel and Christopher in front of a 155 mm Howitzer someplace in Iowa. (I think!) This is a veteran’s memorial park.
We decided to stop at a veterans memorial park with some really neat machinery. Micah is on an M6OA3 tank.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Last night we camped in Nerstrand State Park in Minnesota. It’s a very nice little campground packed with campers. Actually, it is very interesting to me that all the campgrounds we’ve been to have been packed with campers. They begin to turn people away in the late evening so I will remember that we need to get to the campgrounds out west early enough to get in. (I guess that’s why the recommend reservations.)
Anyway, not only did we get to experience the awful heat wave in St. Louis, but here we were able to experience an unseasonably windy and severe thunderstorm. The children (except for Sarah) were terrified as we kind of saw it coming beyond the campgrounds so we began to put our things inside, etc., but then when it came upon us, the campmaster (or whatever you call the people – I guess he is perhaps a park ranger) drove by in a truck making an announcement and Micah convinced himself that he was warning us of an oncoming tornado. (The children are aware of tornado alley and are extremely afraid of tornados. I guess they’ve seen too many Storm Stories episodes.) So he began crying hysterically and Daniel was laying under his covers in the tent crying… Hannah and Christopher both looked like deer in the headlights… and so on. Finally, when there was a huge blast of thunder and lightning more than usual and I even jumped, I had to laugh and Sarah was laughing with me, but everyone else did not find it very funny.
Alas, we eventually went to the “storm shelter” (the little brick bathroom and shower area) and found out that it was going to be another hour before the storm passed so I told the kids we were absolutely going back to the tent. I did not want to sit in the bathroom with men, women, children, and even a couple of dogs. And more than that, the wind was blowing so hard that I was honestly afraid that if we didn’t get back in the tent, it would blow away so we ran back to the tent in the rain, got our covers wet, and took shelter. It turned out that it didn’t really matter that we got things wet, though, because after about 30 minutes, our tent began to leak anyway!
Micah walks around the campground in Nerstrand State Park. He is responsible for all our camp fires. All the children help set up and tear down the campsite.
Christopher, Micah, and Hannah play Star Wars space ship at Nerstrand State Park in Minnesota.