St. Louis Escape

We weren’t sure we would do a trip at all this summer, since we’re putting as much money as we can find towards our new place. But, it’s also necessary to escape the madness, too. So, we went to our old standby, St. Louis!

We left on a Friday morning. We were road trippin’ old-school style with three kids in the back seat of our car. Our van has some transmission issues, so we don’t take it far. They mostly got along.

photo 2 (3)We got into the St. Louis area for lunch and then went to The Magic House. We keep thinking it will be our last trip there, but it really is a fun place for the kids. They are in the process of updating some exhibits, too, so we got to see some new things. And we had a Groupon, so …

DSCN0683It was a little more crowded than we’ve seen in the past, so the kids were kind of annoyed at first. As though no one else is allowed to be there. 😉 In the construction area, there were lots of funny conversations about designing a house. You can tell they have been watching HGTV and that we are building a house. I can’t remember exactly what Paige was talking about, but it was something to do with a bedroom. “But, it’s a MASTER,” she said.

DSCN0685Getting some practice for painting their new rooms.

DSCN0687We were wishing Uncle Craig was with us to help Andrew decipher the computer stuff below. “It’s not Intel,” Andrew said.

DSCN0689We went through the Lewis & Clark exploration trail. One person was particularly adventurous, considering it was mostly designed for child-size explorers.

DSCN0694Then we went to the “town,” which is a highlight for the kids and not so much for the adults. “This town needs more benches,” Ben said as we were sitting on the only bench and watching other parents stand around watching their kids play. Below, Andrew was writing himself a check for billions of dollars at the bank.
DSCN0695A cute waitress took my order at the pizza place. You can see the store manager and his assistant in the background. Andrew was with the money. Of course.

DSCN0696My date was not being a very good date. 😉

DSCN0698Paige also served us at the ice cream stand. So, both girls performed their Mom’s old jobs (Baskin Robbins in high school and valentino’s Pizza in College.) We explored many other areas of The Magic House …

DSCN0703… and had some hair raising experiences.

DSCN0708Then we concluded our day at our hotel with some pizza and swimming.

On Saturday, we had a morning swim and then went to the Missouri Botanical Center, a place we had never visited before.

082It is a 79 acre garden, so there is a lot to explore. We didn’t get to it all.

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086The kids were excited to find a hedge maze, and then disappointed that it wasn’t really a “maze” but just a nice design.

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088One of our favorite areas was an English garden, set up with a lot of little paths to explore.

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097In the Asian garden, we found some turtles.

098This dude was very relaxed.

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101After the garden, we got some lunch and snapped a picture of the girl who lost a tooth at the hotel!

photo 4 (3)and headed to Forest Park. We saw a statue of a guy on a horse. I don’t remember exactly what Ben said, but it was something along the lines of, “Do you see that statue of the guy riding the horse? It’s Saint Louis. He was a king.” Morgan immediately replied, “I’m going to marry him!”

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109 The statue is across the street from the St. Louis Art Museum. We were quite impressed with the kids’ interest in looking at the artwork. There was also some giggling over the nude pieces.

113After the art museum, we headed to the Science Center. We were only able to complete the arch construction with the help of our tall guy.

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116Andrew is in a WWII kick right now, so the boys watched the D-Day: Normandy 1944 movie in the Omnimax theater while the girls explored some other exhibits. The movie got over 15 minutes after the Science Center closed, which we thought was odd. They made us girls sit on a certain bench until the movie was over.

We concluded our evening with Ted Drewes frozen custard for supper and an evening swim back at the hotel.

Much of our Sunday was detailed in the Sunday Hike #8 post, but here are a few more pics from that day.

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141Thanks, St. Louis, for being a fun place to visit! We’ll be back again!

 

 

Sunday Hike #8

Date: August 3, 2014

Location: Downtown St. Louis

Distance: Approximately 2.5 miles

Critters Spotted: Lots of people in red, Cardinals T-Shirts. 😉

We were in St. Louis August 1-3 for a little getaway. We didn’t technically “hike,” but we did get a lot of walking in. On Saturday, we walked several miles around the Missouri Botanical Center and at Forest Park in the park and at the art museum and the Science Center. On Sunday, we walked around downtown. We’ll call it our Sunday Hike #8. 🙂

We started at the Arch. It’s a cheap place to park, and we always enjoy the walk. I mean hike.

119We checked out the new Ballpark Village, but determined it wasn’t open yet.

120So, we walked to Citigarden.

123Paige hiked up her capris to wade in the water.

121We told the kids they could NOT get soaked, because we still had to grab lunch in a restaurant. They were good and followed directions. They got a few sprinkles, but no one was soaked.

122We then walked toward Kiener Plaza — I just learned its name via Google — where we explored some more treacherous waters.

127There are moments you are glad your child is being brave and also equally wishing your child wasn’t being so brave. 😉

128No one got soaked, so we walked to lunch. Our choices were Hooters or Hardee’s, so we went with Hardee’s. After lunch, we walked back to Ballpark Village and checked out the festivities. It’s like a mall food court on steroids. (I’m sure they will want to use that phrase in their marketing.)

132Our next stop was the stadium, where the kids were given Build-a-Bear Clydesdale horses as a giveaway.

133We then hiked (literally) up to our seats in the nosebleed section. The good news is we were in the shade. The other good news is that it wasn’t 110 degrees like it usually is when we go to a game in the summer. The other good news is the Cardinals won!

We ended our hike by heading back by the Arch. I wonder how many pictures we have of the Arch?

142That concludes our Sunday “Hike” #8. More on our St. Louis trip tomorrow!

 

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary  … to Drost Digest! I got a little notice from WordPress that this blog is 5 years old! On Sept. 16, 2008, this little blog was born. (You can read the first post here. It’s inspirational, I tell ya! 😉 ) So maybe I should say “Happy Birthday” instead. Like most birthday wishes, I’m a little late.

On our blog’s birthday, Ben and I were jetting off to California for a partial work, mostly play get-away. It coincided with our 13th Anniversary. Such good timing!

I might be obsessed with looking out plane windows.

I might be obsessed with looking out plane windows.

I spy with my little eyes ...

I spy with my little eyes … The Hoover Dam!

We got into L.A. on Monday evening and our first stop was, drum roll please … the rental car place! ha ha! I would totally avoid mentioning this detail, except that we got a little surprise. 16-year-old Cori got her dream come true just 20 years late. She got to drive a Mustang convertible! Thanks, Hertz, for the free upgrade on our bargain price from Hotwire. (Seriously, people, I love Hotwire! We spent $150 for a week rental that, according to the Hertz site, should have been more like $500. No one is paying me to say this. It’s just how we travel. You might want to try it, too.)

Cruising!

Cruising!

Our next stop was in Covina to eat dinner with friends who moved to California last spring. It was so nice to see them! And it didn’t seem like it had been months, more like a few weeks. Andrew is buddies with their son, Andrew. It’s sad that Andrew Squared is not around anymore. And Morgan once planned to marry their son, Ben, so we need to keep in touch with this family. 😉 Then, we drove to Oceanside to stay at my Aunt & Uncle’s condo. They are so generous to let us use it.

On Tuesday, we spent almost the entire day at the beach. Except for when we ate lunch at the restaurant on the end of the pier at the beach. We sat. We read. We walked. We napped. We totally relaxed. We never do that. It was good. And it was probably good it was cloudy all morning so I didn’t turn into a fried lobster.

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We decided we should get our toes in an ocean every year.

We decided we should get our toes in an ocean every year.

On Wednesday, we headed back north to see my Grandma and her new home, the most amazing assisted living place I have ever seen. She basically has a nice apartment with a dining room just down the hall. We enjoyed visiting with her, my Aunt Patty, and Patty’s granddaughter and great granddaughter.  After lunch, we headed to Pasadena for the “work” portion of the trip. Ben did the lighting design for the Rose Bowl, and he and another Musco guy had to test the light levels. It was fun to see what Ben does when he travels and I got to help, too. How romantic, right?

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On Thursday, Ben did a little more work in the morning, meeting with a local contractor that does a lot of work with Musco. Then, when work was done, we decided to drive to Santa Monica and the famous Santa Monica Pier. Way more touristy than the Oceanside Pier and fun to see. Then, we headed back out to see my Grandma and have dinner at her place before heading back to Oceanside. Lots of driving on Thursday!

087IMG_3143107On Friday morning, we met with my Aunt Randi and Uncle David & Aunt Susan for breakfast at a restaurant along the beach in Pacific Beach. It was great to see them and nice of them to take time out of their busy day for breakfast. We took advantage of our parking spot and walked along the beach, taking in another pier. Later, we drove to Point Loma and  Cabrillo National Monument, which has amazing views of the San Diego Bay and the ocean. We could have done without the clouds, but it was still beautiful! There are also tide pools in the park.

Pretending to take a picture of me, while really trying to capture the hair in the background. Bald on top, pony tail in the back. Tee hee. ;)

On a pier near Pacific Beach, pretending to take a picture of me, while really trying to capture the hair in the background. Bald on top, pony tail in the back. Tee hee. 😉

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From the top of Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument.

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The lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument.

Sorry, Dad.

Sorry, Dad.

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We had In-N-Out Burger for a late lunch and headed back to Oceanside to hit the hot tub and catch the sunset. We missed the sunset (oops!), but it was cloudy anyway. We were still at the beach, so that’s OK.

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On Saturday, we said farewell to the ocean, beach, palm trees and traffic, and headed to home sweet home. It’s fun to escape, but it’s also fun to come home. Especially to this cute crew.

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Zai Jian, China! (Goodbye, China!)

Here we are (finally!) at the end of our trip to China! It was such a fun trip, but we were excited to get home to see our kiddos! Our first order of business was repairing our suitcase that had a large rip in it. We left our hotel and walked towards the subway. There was a little convenience store, and they had some tape!

We stood on the corner and taped up our suitcase. Crazy Americans!

Not pretty, but better than having our stuff fall out. 😉 And, thankfully, there weren’t many people out and about on a Saturday morning.

We could have taken the subway all the way to the airport, but we got off early so we could ride the fastest train in the world, the Shanghai Maglev Train. The Maglev is a magnetic levitation train that goes from the Pudong airport to kind of nowhere. 😉 So, we got on at nowhere and rode to the airport. We got some more views of the city on a rainy day.

We went fast! About 268 mph! And it was a very smooth ride.

I didn’t really get pictures of the train until we got off at the airport.

And one of our favorite signs:

I suspect most people don’t want to leave their stuff on the luggage trolley, but you never know.

We checked out the snack store again.

We got some snacks for the flight home. 😉 (Not really.)

At least this one says it’s “natural.” Whatever it is!

As a little side note, I’ve realized I rarely go into a convenience store in the United States. On our vacation last summer, we occasionally bought some snacks when we stopped to fill up for gas. At one gas station between Iowa and Florida, I saw a package of “Fried Pork Fat.” It looked like onion rings. So, we Americans eat weird stuff, too.

We wanted to eat some lunch before our flight, so we opted to stop at Burger King. On the menu … Jack Daniels. No wonder they guy we met on an earlier flight thinks Americans drink Jack Daniels all the time! 😉

Our flight departed on Saturday at 12:45 p.m. and we arrived back in the U.S., at the San Francisco airport, on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Talk about a long day! 😉 I must say, our 10 hour flight seemed rather short, thanks to our crazy long trip going to China. Unfortunately, we weren’t home yet. Our next stop was Denver and then, finally, Des Moines. Our flight in San Francisco was delayed and eventually changed to a different gate on the opposite side of the airport. I managed to leave our boarding passes in a bathroom, and realized it after getting over to the new gate. We had to race back, find that the boarding passes were gone, and get new ones issued. Thankfully, someone had turned them in at the closest gate, and I was able to get new ones. Our connection in Denver was going to be tight, but thankfully people actually let those with tight connections off the airplane first and our connecting gate was very close. We did not want to miss getting home! It was nice to see the familiar sights of Des Moines from the air!

Thanks, China, for a fun trip and memories for a lifetime! Andrew wants to visit you sometime, so maybe we’ll be back!

Shanghai — Day 2 (Part 3)

We left the Yuyuan area and took in a little shopping. We scored a few cheap DVDs, some of which did not work when we got them home. It was still a good deal, we figure, as we spent less than it costs for one movie in the U.S. for several DVDs. We then met up with Endeavor’s wife for supper.

Our supper was quite good. The basket on the left had some sort of corn patties and the other basket had beef with a coconut coating. It was delish! There was also an assortment of veggies, and I believe some pork. The plate on the middle of the table has green beans and potatoes. Apparently that was a dessert.

The area around the restaurant was all lit up for the night. We walked around for a while through a shopping area, neighborhood and park. We noted how safe it seemed to be walking around in a ginormous city, even though it was dark.

We eventually ended up back across the river near the super tall buildings for a few more photo opps.

And how do you get a photo of the top of the tallest building while also getting people in it? See below:

The little star lights above were hanging in many of the trees we saw. In the picture below, you can (maybe) see a kite flying in the middle of the picture. It has multiple pieces flying in the air. A woman was selling them and tried to get me to buy one for a very high price. I said I’d pay 20 RMB (roughly $3 U.S.) and she was OK with that.

Later, we were walking by the river and someone selling kites offered 3 for 10 RMB. How could we pass this deal up? ha ha! So, four kites for 30 RMB ($4.75). Not bad. 😉

So long, tall building. We enjoyed visiting you!

Shanghai — Day 2 (Part 2)

So, where were we again? Ah, yes, on our way to the Yu Yuan or Yuyuan, depending on where you look. It means “Happy Garden.” The area nearby included numerous shops, food stands and restaurants. And, of course, statues.

Inside the garden we, of course, got a chuckle out of the signage.

In looking through my pictures, they seemed very jumbled and disorganized, but that is fairly representative of the garden. Construction on the garden began in 1577 and it covers about 5 acres. There was no “one path” to follow, and we sometimes felt like we were going in circles or hitting dead ends. There are several areas, and I think we got to them all. As we were ready to leave, we got a bit lost and weren’t sure how to get out. As with everything we saw while in China, the greenery would have been greener later in the season, but it was still fun to see the architecture and plants that were blooming. There were paths, doorways, dragon-topped walls, very old trees, “rockeries” with caves and tunnels, waterfalls and buildings. It would have been an awesome place to play as a child!

This tree is 400 years old! His friend (below) was old, too. He had an elaborate bamboo scaffolding surrounding it. We were unable to determine what the scaffolding was for.

The sign below was quite funny. The “slope” is on the side of a stairway that has all of three steps.

The new city buildings can be seen behind the old garden walls.

We finally found our way out of the garden and wandered through the nearby shops. I kind of wanted some red lanterns, but I didn’t want to pay what was being asked or take the time to bargain with people.

And I couldn’t convince Ben to ride one of these. Ha ha ha! 😉

We did settle on a little treat.