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April 13

Homeward Bound!

It's been a nice week, cold, but nice, but it's always nice to go home.  Today started much like most other days out here, cold.  We woke up around 6:30, showered, then hit the road by 7:30.  It was raining, but not windy, so driving conditions were fairly good.

We made a quick stop in Ozarks, Missouri to grab some McDonald's breakfast.  We got Ethan a Sausage Biscuit because it was the closest thing to a hamburger they had for breakfast (he wanted a happy meal).  He told us, after trying to eat it, that they didn't know how to make their buns very well.  I guess he didn't like the biscuit.

Another quick stop in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri for some gas and a rest break, and then we traveled straight through to St. Louis.  The sky had cleared up somewhat, so we decided to make good on our plans to stop there to visit the Arch and possibly a brewery tour.  We made it to the Arch easily enough.  It is the biggest structure in town, and most publicized on street signs, so it wasn't too difficult to locate.  When we finally arrived at the arch itself, we noticed that there were a LOT of people visiting that arch that day.  Apparently it was field trip day to the arch.  At any rate, it took us quite awhile to get into the complex itself as they now have security screening at the door, then we had to get tickets for the trip, and the trip takes about 60 minutes.  To make a long story short, we didn't make it to the brewery...  Maybe next time I'm in St. Louis...

Some interesting tidbits about the arch that I didn't know before; it is plated with stainless steel, it is 630 feet tall, and it is part of the larger "Jefferson Expansion Memorial," a national park right in the midst of St. Louis.  Ethan and I made the trek in the round, rotating pods to the top of the arch.  Ethan loved it at the top.  The people looked like "little mice, and the cars are mice cars."  His eyes were very big and he had a grin on from ear to ear.  We're going to have to get him into a plane.

On the way out of the park, we saw what I think may have been one of the Brewers, seeing as how they are in town.  It was a fairly tall guy with an athletic build and was wearing Brewers gear and running.  I think it must have been a Brewer as a) the Brewers were in town for the weekend, b) he was a youngish, athletically built man, c) running, d) in the middle of the day, e) in St. Louis, f) with all Brewer stuff on.  I think that all those things add up to one huge coincidence if he wasn't one of the Brewers.  We couldn't figure out which one, though.

We finally got out of St. Louis around 2:30, grabbed a little lunch in East St. Louis (beautiful town) at Ruby Tuesdays, then made the 5.5 hour drive home in two sections.  It's nice to be home!!!

A few notes about long drives: a) Take one of those books on tape.  The drive was immeasurably more enjoyable for me, the driver, and Jenny didn't sleep nearly as much as she normally did.  We made the roughly 19 hours of total driving without a single major fight and it was actually quite pleasant.  b) Get a good coloring book for your kid.  Well, at least our kid.  He colored the whole way out, and a portion of the way back.  The coloring book was actually much more valuable than the DVD player in the van, which he only used for a total of 3 hours of the entire driving portions of the trip.  He didn't sleep once, so that's a lot of coloring!

To summarize, we had a great time with our week in Branson, but we doubt we will return, at least until we are older and have maybe found more religion.  Like Jenny said yesterday, Branson seems like Vegas for religious people.  We kind of like Vegas, but admittedly wouldn't want to bring Ethan there.  I'm sure the trip would have been much different had the weather cooperated, but we still left with some enjoyable memories and much more relaxed than the week before.

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