A few weeks ago, my husband and I were reviewing our budget (we’re Dave Ramsey people, FYI), and noticed we were bringing in more than what we budgeted for. One word: overtime (and quite a bit of it too). It was at that point that we decided to do something nice for ourselves. We researched tankless water heaters (the kind that heat your water as you need it as opposed to keeping a tankful of hot water at any given time) since our current water heater is getting closer and closer to an ancient status (ah, the joys of a 100 + year old house). And getting a new water heater would be nice, but it’s not exactly one of those things you can really get super excited about. And ours is still functioning fine. It’s just a bit outdated. We may have proposed a few other ideas for the extra funds, but ultimately we decided a mini vacation would be fantastic. And it just so happened I had scheduled myself in such a way that I actually have a weekend off. A true rarity.
So. We had our funds. We had our weekend. Now we just needed a place. We talked about Cincinnati and Indianapolis, both places that we’re fairly familiar with and aren’t that far of a drive. Somehow, St. Louis, MO was suggested, and upon investigation, we decided St. Louis sounded really fun. And it was. It was a bit of a drive for us, and we hit a batch of nasty weather and road conditions on the way out, but it was well worth the trip. We have every intention of going back and actually have suggested it as a potential destination for the next Stallings big family vacation. We were only there two nights and a day and a half, but we had a most enjoyable mini vacation. Allow me to share the details.
Day one. Or rather, evening one. We got into St. Louis on the later side (after 8 their time). We checked into our hotel and ordered St. Louis style pizza from a pizzeria the desk clerk highly recommended. Let’s talk about that pizza. It was super thin, cracker-crispy crust with a thin layer of sauce and cheese. We didn’t like it. It was too thin, too crispy. Apparently we don’t like St. Louis style pizza. It was certainly edible, but we will not order pizza from Imo’s pizza again. We luckily had brought quite a few snacks with us, so we ended up with full bellies. The rest of our first night was spent watching our little ones very happily exploring the hotel room. Our son played hide-and-seek, our daughter opened every drawer and cabinet, and they both ended up rolling around and trying to jump on the very fluffy beds. They were giggling and squealing, and my husband and I were laughing because they were laughing. Night one was fun.
Day two. My son normally isn’t the first to rise in the morning. It’s usually my daughter, me, then my son, then my husband, in that order. Apparently, that doesn’t apply when we’re vacationing. My son was up at eight am, happily announcing, “It’s waking up time, everybody! Wake up, Mommy! Wake up, Daddy! Wake up, Maddie!” Naturally, I was up and my daughter was up. We’re light sleepers. My husband, however, didn’t stir. Not even a twitch. So, my brilliant son states, “Maybe a flashlight will wake Daddy up. Oh, I know! I will open the curtains!” And you know how hotels have those nice heavy drapes that block out all light? Brendan throws them wide open, and our room went from night to full on sunshine. My husband was not amused. I cackled. It thought it was hilarious.
After everyone was up and dressed, we grabbed some complimentary pancakes and eggs. Then we bundled up for the “feels like 3 degrees” weather (jeez, it was frigid) and walked to the St. Louis Arch. My son was so excited and kept shouting, “Arch, here we come!” We had fun. We bought souvenirs (a key chain for my daughter who is obsessed with keys and a mini arch for my little boy), walked around in the mini museum, and rode in very BioShock looking pods to the top of the arch. Both little ones had a lot of fun looking out of the teeny windows down at the city and river from the top of the arch. It was a little nerve wracking to see my 18 month old trying to push her face against the glass panes.
After our visit to the Arch, it was time to eat again. Lunch was at the Schlafly Bottleworks (http://www.schlafly.com/breweries/bottleworks/). Yum. Beercheese potato soup, grilled portobello sandwich, macdaddy grilled cheese, grilled asparagus and a beer sampler made for happy bellies. Obviously, the children didn’t partake in any alcohol consumption. If they had, they may have actually napped. As it was, there was no nap, merely a thirty minute attempt at trying to get them to rest back at the hotel before we gave up and took them to The Magic House. A word about the Magic House. It is magical. We could have easily spent the entire day playing there, and our little ones still wouldn’t have had their fill. It was awesome. Highlights of the Magic House include watching my son climbing the three story “beanstalk” over and over, the waterworks area, the mini town, the giant vacuum thing that you could put pompoms and scarfs in and watch them get sucked through clear tubes, the Magic Treehouse exhibit, and the music area. Oh, and the “baby” area. Both of our children had a blast, and we will go back to the Magic House. I wish I could relocate it to downtown New Albany. That would be awesome. Check it out at http://www.magichouse.org/.
After leaving the Magic House, we got Chinese food carryout in what we later decided was a shady part of town. The menu was four pieces of white card stock hung up on the wall hand written in red ink. There was a man sleeping in the restaurant that the owner didn’t seem to be paying a bit of attention to. The bathroom’s were out of order, although when he realized it was for my son, he said we could use the bathroom. My husband said it was a little scary. There was plastic stuff on the faucet handles, and it had quite the leak. My husband says just beyond the bathroom there was an area that he had a sneaky feeling that something very suspicious and ninja like was probably happening. My husband has watched a lot of 1980’s martial arts movies. We quickly got our food and headed back to the hotel. The food itself wasn’t bad. Spicy. And my stomach has been a little off all day, but it wasn’t bad.
Day three. Time to pack up and go home. 😦 More complementary breakfast foods, then back up to our room to pack while our bellies settled down. Then we hung out in the pool and hot tub until it was getting close to time to check out. All in all, it was a really fun mini vacation. My husband and I have decided we will do stuff like this more often. We’re thinking three mini vacations per year and one bigger one, and we had a fun time talking and planning out the next one on the four hour drive home.
Now the big question: Where to next?