It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Just kidding! Our vacation was neither that good nor that bad. There were definitely some really great moments, and there are definitely some things I wish we had done a little differently.
Normally, we would take the full spring break and do a 9-10 day vacation. This year, we did more of an extended weekend vacation – only 6 days. We headed down to Southern Indiana for the weekend and stayed with my brother and his wife. Upon leaving there, we spent a couple days wandering around Nashville, Mammoth Caves, and Louisville. Click here to see our Spring Break Itinerary.
Some of my favorite moments from this trip included:
- Farm tourist attraction signs. A farm-themed tourist attraction called Fair Oaks Farms had these unexpectedly fun billboard-sized advertisements along I-65 which included a giant fork statue along the side of the road, cow statues, and a giant table with chairs. It was really fun to see. I wish my camera had been handy when we came across them.
- Seeing my youngest children bond with their aunt and uncle. My oldest has spent some significant one-on-one (one-on-two?) time with my brother and his wife over the years, but my two youngest children have not. It was fun to watch them all get to know each other over board games, foosball tournaments, meals together, video games, various daytrip adventures, and unending matches of rock paper scissors.
- Looking for sasquatch at the Garden of the Gods in Illinois. Upon spying a Sasquatch statue near the entrance of the park, my seven-year-old was on the lookout for this mythical creature the entire time we were there. And wow, what an amazing place filled with beautiful rock formations to admire and explore!
- Seeing my daughter enjoy life in the country. My brother’s home is out in the country, and my five-year-old little girl loved it there. She heard a rooster crow for the first time. (She and the rooster exchanged cock-a-doodle-dos back and forth to one another for quite a while.) She loved watching the sheep across the street. And, she has developed a newfound love for climbing trees.
- Marveling at the peaceful nature of New Harmony, Indiana. Watch for a future blog post about this beautiful and unique town in the very near future!
- Dandelions! There was an abundance of dandelions in their white fluff stage all over that area of the country. My two youngest children took great joy in picking them, making wishes, and blowing the dandelion seeds into the wind whenever the opportunity arose. It was so cute!
- Listening to my children discuss animals found in caves. Here is a snippet from this adorable little conversation.
5yo: What lives in the caves?
7yo: (snickering uncontrollably) Batman!
5yo: Yeah. Also, dinosaurs live in caves. Dragons, too!
- Exploring Cumberland Park in Nashville. What a perfect little park! It had something for everyone – unique play areas for the kids and beautiful views from the pedestrian bridge for the adults.
- Running into favorite old friends. We were thrilled to find that some of our favorite friends were going to be in Nashville at the same time as us. We were even more thrilled to be able to meet up with them for dinner at the Rainforest Café there.
- Catching a glimpse of the adult my teen may become. I loved watching my teenager in action on this trip. Every time I saw him explain an exhibit to his younger siblings or take his little sister’s hand as she crossed a parking lot or tell his little brother that he did a great job at something, my heart swelled. I felt as though I was catching a glimpse of the caring adult that he is growing up to be.
- Falling in love with baseball. After touring the Louisville Sluggers baseball bat factory, my seven-year-old has been obsessed with playing baseball in our backyard. His mama (me) had formerly played softball in high school so she (I) is thrilled to play with him and encourage this.
- Running away from dinosaurs. My children love dinosaurs so, of course, we had to visit Dinosaur World while we were in Cave City, Kentucky! Our entire family enjoyed posing for pictures with the various dinosaur statues. We especially enjoyed posing as if we were running away from the biggest, scariest dinos.
Some things that I wish we had done a little differently included:
- Break up the first day’s drive. It was a loooooong drive to Evansville, and I wish we had planned a stop along the way in order to break up the drive with a fun diversion.
- Bring extra bedding. We had intended for two of our 3 children to share a bed in the hotels, but apparently, our children are in a we-are-unable-to-share phase of childhood. Thus, this didn’t work out well for us. I wish I had brought a sleeping bag or inflatable mattress or something so that we had more sleeping arrangement options.
- Wake up earlier on Nashville day. We wish we had arrived in Nashville an hour or two earlier in the day. Our original plan was to play and picnic in Cumberland Park before heading over to Adventure Science Center. But we got to Nashville a little too late and had to scrap our plans to stop over to the science museum. As an impromptu change of plans, we decided to explore another park, and then continue on with the remainder of our itinerary (eating at the Rainforest Café and wandering through the Opryland conservatories). Big mistake! Swapping a park (with no playground at that!) for the interactive fun of a hands-on science museum upset the balance of our day for the kids. They had too much walking with too little fun, and that is a recipe for whiny children.
- Book the cave tours in advance. We got online a couple evenings before our stop at Mammoth Caves National Park to reserve our cave tours, and they were completely sold out!!! According to friends and the park rangers, tours for this time of year (the spring break season) sell out weeks ahead of time. Oops! Thankfully, they offer a short self-guided tour which was just right for the attention span of our five-year-old (who was still complaining after all that walking in Nashville).
The positives definitely outweighed the negatives on our trip. Therefore, I am calling this particular vacation a success. I think even the children would agree… even though our middle child jokingly created the graph below to demonstrate his approval ratings throughout our trip.
Our seven-year-old loves reading Calvin and Hobbes books. He especially enjoys the scenes where cartoon Calvin reports to his parents that their approval ratings are dropping in the polls. Inspired by this beloved comic strip, our kid created this graph. The red line along the top of the page indicates “how fun the vacation could be.” Unfortunately, it appears that we never fully met his expectations. But hey, at least the approval ratings were trending upward by the end of the trip! 🙂
How was your spring break vacation?