About two weeks ago, we went on our yearly trip to a National Park. This is our third year taking such a trip because I am slightly obsessed with visiting them all. In 2010 (pre-blog!), we went to Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Last year, we went to Mammoth Cave National Park. And this year, we went to Hot Springs National Park. (It and Cuyahoga Valley National Park are the two closest that we hadn't been to yet, so it was narrowed down to those two!)
Originally, when Cory took the week off for vacation, we were supposed to go to Cornerstone. But after they announced it was the last year and all the bands we wanted to see backed out, we weren't really sure about going. Plus, it would have been the opposite of fun tent camping in billion degree weather, so National Park trip it was! This was the least planned trip I've ever been on, which was a little disconcerting for me. (If you know me, you know I like to make lists, and lists of lists, and binders, and lots of plans. I can hear Melinda calling me Monica right now.) But, despite the total spur of the moment event that was this trip, we had a lot of fun!
Day one was mostly driving. We had to sell tickets at Cornerstone before we took off for our trip. After that, like forty-five minutes later, we stopped at a McDonalds with a playland for lunch. The boys declared it the best vacation ever, thus setting the bar pretty low for them to continue to be amazed! After more driving, we stopped at Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston. The kids were really impressed with this place, (and Harry began his almost exclusively grilled cheese diet that continued for the rest of the trip!) My family used to stop there on trips when I was a kid, so I was happy to continue the tradition with our three kiddos. (A tip if you go: cash or check only!) That night we stopped in Memphis for the night, before continuing to Arkansas the next day.
Arriving on the main street in Hot Springs was like stepping back in time to the 1920's. Cory commented that it almost had the feel of beach town, and it really did. We toured the Fordyce Bathhouse, which now serves as the office for the National Park Service. We walked around to the different springs, that are right in the middle of the town! The kids were fascinated about the water coming out of the earth hot. They really liked the spring that was visible in the bathhouse with crystal formations all around it. We also took a scenic drive up Ouchita Mountain area. Swimming, dinner, and yummy hand made ice cream at Scoops, and we called it a day.
The next morning, July 4th, Cory and Jack got up really early and went to Coleman's Miller Mountain Quartz Mine where they dug up lots of really neat crystals. They had a lot of fun, and the crystals are really neat! After they got back, we went for lunch at The Pancake Shop. The Food Network recommends the banana pancakes, but the Yeager family recommends the French toast. (FYI: They are only open until 12:45 and only accept cash or checks.) Then we went on a duck boat tour. Then we took off back to Memphis, and spent the night there. We stayed right downtown (Yay Priceline!) and saw two awesome fireworks displays.
Before heading home, we visited some sights in Memphis. I took the boys to see the Peabody Ducks. (We stayed right next door, and, though Ive been to Memphis several times, I'd never seen them before.) They sat right up by the red carpet and were thrilled when the ducks waddled past! Then we went see Sun Studio and Graceland, and drove by The Great American Pyramid. (Which, again, I'd never seen, and had been eager to ever since reading about it in a "Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys Mystery" in sixth grade. I'm pretty sure whatever is was supposed to be is now out of business.) Then we took our leave of Tennessee, and headed home. (Oh Tennessee, with two of my favorite cities AND a National Park....)
Here are some pictures of our fun!!!