Things to Do - Grateful List (August 2016)

darcytroutman (1 of 1)

Happy Friday everyone!! Just when this week was going great, I realized that my ENTIRE BLOGROLL DISAPPEARED. WTF? So I'm trying to rebuild, but be patient as it will take awhile (probably a LONG while). Though maybe it's a good thing, sort of like cleaning house.

Anyways, I hope everyone has a great weekend. It seems odd to post about August at the end of September, but life moves so quickly these days.

I took the image above in my office, which gets the best light. I love when I come into the room and see the kids staring out the window.

Don't forget to check out this week's awesome on 5 Hours 'Til Bedtime!


* Watching Bad Moms with some of the best moms I know (I loved this movie!!)
* Watching Stranger Things on Netflix (so addictive!!)
* Watching Kubo and the Three Strings
* Watching the Night of on HBO
* Attending Cirque De Soleil's Kurios with F and P

* F constantly cooking us yummy food from the Forest Feast for Kids
* Deep fried oreos at the county fair

* Camping at River Run campground for Dan's birthday
* Taking the kids to Water Country USA the week before school started (it was empty)

* A much needed dinner playdate at Julia's house
* Our lazy weekend at home - T walking the dogs, F cooking, P making videos, and all the kids building a spaceship in our basement
* Dan's parents watching the kids for a week (thank you!)

VACTION (Roadtrip 2016)

Day 23 - Denver

* Ghostbusters with all the kids (yay Bechtel test winners!)
* Used book store shopping

Day 24 - Denver - Indian Peaks Wilderness

* Hiking to Mitchell Lake
* Asparagus, pesto, doodle pasta at Carolyn's house (so so good!)
* Sunset over the mountains on Carolyn's back deck

Day 25 - Denver - Waterworld

* Journey to the Center of the Earth with the kids (my favorite water ride ever)
* Closing out Waterworld
* The 4 girls all bonding while moms and sons went on waterslides together
* T and Scott playing imaginary games for hours
* The girls performing Hamilton for us

Day 26 - Denver - drive to Lone Tree

* Another morning at the used bookstore
* Quiet time at Allie's
* Magic Mushroom's feta pizza
* A 72 degree overcast day after weeks of heat

Day 27 - Denver - Art museum

* Women of Abstract Expressionism & Why We Dance at the Denver Art Museum
* Drinks with Allison until midnight (while watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics)

Day 28 - Denver to Salina, KS

* P on Denver, "it was like a whole week of sleepovers, which, is my jam."
* Castlewood Canyon's waterfall
* The girls researching feminist t-shirts online
* An easy (but boring) 6 hour drive
* The Olympics!!

Day 29 - Salina, KS to Great Wolf Lodge, KS

* Waterslides plus a huge room = happiness
* Simone Biles' floor routine
* GWL serves beer!

Day 30 - GWL to St. Louis, MO

* A nice big airbnb with plenty of space to introvert
* the crazy cheapness of Aldi
* A relaxed night of sangria and Olympics with my mom and her friend, Jan
* Much needed new clothes for the kids from grandma

Day 31 - St. Louis - Art Museum

* Ameircan Innovators at the St. Louis art museum (we also loved the contemporary art section)
* Laumeier sculpture park at dusk
* Staying up late to watch the US women's gymnastic team win the all around gold

Day 32 - St. Louis - City Museum

* 5 hours in City Museum and we could have stayed longer. This place was AMAZING!!

Day 33 - St. Louis, MO to Columbus, OH

* Arriving at Aunt Ann's to pizza and wine (plus a puppy for T to play with)
* Great conversation after a LONG day in the car

Day 34 - Columbus, OH to HOME!!!

* Visiting great grandma in her nursing home
* Arriving home to a fantastic homemade dinner (thank you Dan!!) and happy hour at our friends house (so much fun!!)


Places to Go - Floating & Fishing at River Run Campground (Rileyville, VA)


Since we returned from our 5 week road trip, I've wanted to go camping almost every weekend. In some ways this isn't surprising, as I've always liked to camp. But now that we have better systems in place - a container full of plates, towels, and silverware; all of our sleeping bags in one set location; tents in an easily accessible corner of the garage - camping seems EASIER. In just a few minutes, we can throw most of what we need in the car and go. And if we forget something? Well, we usually only camp for one night anyways.

Though, honestly, now that all three kids can pack themselves all weekend trips are so much easier.

Anyways, once we decide to camp, the big question is always - where to go?

A few years ago, when we floated down the Shenandoah River (posted here), we passed by numerous people camping on the river. So for Dan's birthday this year, I used my google skills to try and find the best of the riverfront camping options.

And eventually I found River Run Campground. On the downside, the sites are primitive (no water or hook-ups and only port-a-potties for bathrooms) and somewhat close together - they are basically big rectangles with the small side facing the river, so the sites are large in that you have a ton of space to park and camp, but you are still close to your neighbors.

On the upside, the riverfront sites were clean, the views were GORGEOUS, and each site comes with a picnic table and firepit. Further, the proprieters sell floating tubes for $10 and they will drop off firewood at your campsite for an additional fee. The port-a-potties were clean, but not sparkling, if you know what I mean.

All in all, River Run Campground was a great place to spend a night. The kids had a blast in the river (all except for F, who remains somewhat appalled that we camped without flushing toilets nearby), though the bank might be somewhat steep for preschool-age kids or younger. Click here for more info.


We even have a camping table cloth, that's when you know we're becoming serious campers (or so I'd like to believe).


I tried to "fancy-up" our dinner by pre-making hobo snacks to cook over the campfire (Italian sausage, cut up potatoes, and red peppers) and they were SO GOOD!!


The non-river front campsites were all unoccupied, so the kids had a huge field to run in and tons of hay bales to climb.


For T, the highlight of the trip was sleeping side-by-side with his best friend, Coco the dog.


Places to Go (Vacation) - 5000 Miles in 5 Weeks - Week 5 - St. Louis, MO to HOME!


For the final multi-day stop of our road trip, we met up with my mom and her friend, Jan, in St. Louis. Why St. Louis? I've wanted to visit City Museum for a few years now, but the drive was always a little too far and the plane tickets a little too expensive. Luckily, the beauty of an almost-cross-country road trip is you can plan your own route.

DAY 30 - Drive to Saint Louis, MO from Kansas City, KS (265 miles)


DAY 31 - St. Louis Art Museum and Laumeier Sculpture Park

We spent the morning of our first full day in St. Louis at the art museum, which had a fantastic exhibit on American Folk Art. By this point in the trip, my kids were over (as in WAY OVER) museums of any sort, so we could only stay so long. But the girls still enjoyed exploring the modern art and impressionism (T, on the other hand, kept asking to leave).


Some much needed downtime.


In the evening, we headed over to to Lamer Sculpture Park, which was crazy cool. It's so big that we didn't have a chance to see everything before closing. I'd love to go back.



DAY 32 - St. Louis - City Museum

And, finally, we made it to City Museum, which is a crazy place full of tunnels, slides, and pockets of art everywhere you look. At first, we were all somewhat overwhelmed by the crowds and small spaces (hello claustrophobia), but eventually we found quieter spots throughout the museum and realized that this might be the coolest place on earth. And the space itself is HUGE, we spent 6 hours there and didn't manage to see everything.


The giant ball pit was a huge hit.


But for T nothing beat driving the bus.

I loved the views!

Yes, that's my daughter climbing the wall.


More views!


And chairs that spin.


And rope swings.


And a juggler!


And staircases with eyeballs.


DAY 33 - St. Louis to Columbus, OH (420 miles)

After St. Louis, we drove to Columbus to stay with Dan's relatives for the night. They greeted us with dogs, pizza, and the Olympics. My kids were in heaven.


DAY 34 - Columbus, OH to HOME!!! (420 miles)

In the morning of our last day, we stopped to visit the children's great grandmother in her nursing home. We didn't stay long, but it was great to see her!

And then we drove. And drove. Up until day 34 I'd become a big convert of the road trip vacation - continually looking at googlemaps to figure out new routes by which we could see America. But two 420 mile day rows in the car as the only driver wore me down. And then we arrived home to rush hour on the beltway. After that, it took a few weeks before I'd drive more than 10 miles in the car.

All that being said, it was still an amazing vacation. In retrospect, I think the variety is what made us so happy - from camping to museums, rafting to seeing friends - we never became too bored or homesick because there was always something new and different on the horizon.

Now I just have to get through the craziness that is September, which seems much harder than traveling the country with three wonderful kids.


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