We knew when we started planning this trip that we would need to go visit some relatives on our way out of the country. As a result we started our trip in Springfield MO, where Stacie was born and raised, and her father still lives.
The trip from Boise to Springfield was uneventful, but fairly long for what should be a pretty simple jump. We departed the house at 5:30 AM MDT and arrived in Springfield around 7:00 CDT via Chicago and St. Louis plus a three-hour car ride. Springfield is a typical Midwestern town in southern Missouri where the people are super friendly, and the heat and humidity of summer means you better get out early.
We kicked off our three days in Springfield at Silver Dollar City, a theme park dedicated to the westward expansion. We did the typical theme park activities, such as eating funnel cakes, riding roller coasters and generally acting like kids. It’s amazing how fun roller coasters can be even at 42. I told myself I was going to try to embrace everything we did on this trip no matter what it was or how silly it might seem at the time. Normally I would have been half in half out while visiting Silver Dollar City (SDS). I would have had work on my mind and would have avoided most rides; however, this time I was up for anything and had a great time. My favorite was the Giant Barn Swing, which is exactly what it sounds like – a huge swing 30 feet across that makes you feel completely weightless at the apex of the swing – it’s awesome.
After SDS we headed back to Springfield and had a nice dinner and went to bed with the kind of exhaustion only a day at a theme park can bring.
The next couple of days were filled with outings to Bass Pro Shop’s world headquarters (and their relatively new Antique Gun collection, which was surprisingly awesome for someone who is not into guns), Glowgolf (putt, putt inside with backlight’s) and a trip to Wilson's Creek battleground, which was the site of the second major battle of the civil war.
The family is doing AMAZING. I was worried about how the trip would start out, but I have been thrilled with how everyone is embracing the trip and the opportunity we have to explore the world together. There have been a few moments of dread – “oh crap, what have we done?” - and a few moments of missing home, but thankfully they have all been short-lived and fully expected by everyone. The kids are loving their online school (The Florida Virtual School) and are working hard to stay on or ahead of pace. In fact, Peter has chosen an accelerated pace for Math and Science, which means he could be done with the entire year by the middle of December – crazy!
Overall, the trip could not have gotten off to a better start. It was wonderful to see Stacie’s Dad and his wife Pam, and experience a little Midwestern hospitality as the first stop on our adventure. We are off to St. Louis to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden, one of Stacie’s agenda items, before heading up to Chicago to visit my family.