Motorhome Trip - Indianapolis and Louisville

Sunday, July 19, 2015
After leaving Chicago we headed to Indianapolis.  We went downtown to the White River State Park and rented a surrey to ride around.  We rode around the canal loop and then into the city.  Hattie was exhausted and fell asleep while we were out.  We wanted to go explore more, but the kids were exhausted, so we decided to head to our RV park and make dinner and let the kids just swim and relax.  It was a much needed day to not be on the go with the kids.

Hanging out at the RV park.

The next morning we drove to Louisville and took a tour of the Louisville Slugger museum and factory.  We all really liked it a lot.  Hazel came out and said, "I liked that a lot more than I thought I would, and it wasn't too long." We all received a mini bat at the end, which was exciting for the kids.  Niels kept slugging everyone with his, so we had to hide them in the motorhome.

We stopped in at Churchill Downs to see some horse races, and they were having their spring meets.  It was really cool to see the grounds and the horses so close.    

Motorhome Trip - Iowa, Wisconsin and Chicago

Sunday, July 5, 2015
Sunday night we drove from Minneapolis to Forrest City, Iowa and stayed the night.  In the morning we picked up our motorhome.  It was really crazy the day we picked it up.  We were not sure how long it would take to go through the rental agreement and procedures.  The office opened at 8 am and we had to have our rental car back in Minneapolis by noon.  We thought 2 hours would be enough time to get the motorhome if we came in at 8 and then I could drive the 2 hours back to Minneapolis and Brendan would drive the motorhome and pick me up in Minneapolis.  We didn't want to bring the kids in and the rental was under my name, so Brendan stayed at the hotel with the kids while I did the rental orientation.  Then I had to wait my turn to meet with a couple people to finish signing documents and it was taking a long time.  Finally it came my turn and I signed what I needed to, but Brendan still needed to sign as a second driver and they had to do the motorhome walk through.  I told them he would be back to finish up.  It was 10 am at this point and I rushed back.  Brendan told me that he called the rental car company and since he picked it up 30 minutes early he had to have it back by 11:30.  If it was after 12 then they would charge us $70.  The rental was only $26 through Costco.  Brendan unloaded everything out of the rental car and strapped up Niels with me and I had to zoom off.  It was a stressful drive back with my ETA changing on GPS.  Brendan also said I needed to fill up with gas, but wouldn't have time.  He said it would probably be a dollar or two more per gallon but to let the rental car company do it because it was less than the $70 late fee.  I pulled up at the drop off at 12:05 and the guy saw that I didn't fill up and he said they charge $10 per gallon, so I should probably fill it up.  He told me where the closest gas station was to the airport and I left.  I was really stressed at this point.  When I came back, I was obviously late, but to make a long story short, I went into the office and talked to someone and got out of the fee thankfully.  Meanwhile back at the hotel, Brendan didn't have a car yet so he had to walk with the girls in the stroller over to the motorhome office, which was luckily only a 5 minute walk I think.  He finished everything up and got the motorhome successfully.  

There were rows of motorhomes waiting to be transported.  Here is our Minnie Winnie at pick up.

We drove from Minneapolis to Stoughton, Wisconsin which was just a little outside of Madison and stayed at an RV park.  Wisconsin was so green, and had beautiful farms everywhere.  Stoughton had a cute little downtown.

We love cheese, and being in Wisconsin we definitely had to buy some.  We bought a few different varieties that were delicious.  We even bought some chocolate cheese which tasted just like fudge.  It was nice having a refrigerator, so we could keep it cold and bring it home with us.

We loved Chicago, and it ended up being our favorite city on the trip.  We stayed there for 2 nights and wished we had more time.  Brendan's brother Christopher luckily told us of a place in the city we could park our motorhome because the closest RV park was 45 minutes away and we wanted to be in the city.  We parked at a truck marshaling yard for busses and trucks.  We had to walk a little ways to hop on the bus each day to get downtown where we wanted to be, but it was great.

Buckingham Fountain was beautiful and right on the water.

 Milleninum  Park has lots of free outdoor concerts.  While we were there some special DJ was putting on a free dance party.  Hattie was showing me her dance moves.  It was such a beautiful park right in the city and on the water.

 The famous Cloud Gate or "The Bean".

Crown fountain has two towers that reflect the faces of Chicago.  In the summer lots of kids play in it, but it was still a little chilly when we were there.

We tried some Chicago deep dish pizza.  It wasn't our favorite.  We prefer a thinner crust.

Garret's popcorn didn't disappoint though.  

We walked down the famous Michigan Avenue with all of the high end shopping.

 We really wanted to take an architecture boat tour, but the first place said pregnant people couldn't go.  We found another I could go on, but we decided to just get water taxi passes for the day instead, because the kids probably wouldn't be into the tour anyway, and we wouldn't be able to enjoy it.  We loved the water taxi, and it was so cool to cruise through the city with the buildings towering over us.  

Our first stop off the taxi we headed to Willis Tower to go up to the sky deck.  They had some amazing views of the city, and it was a little weird standing in the glass box that was 1353 ft up in the air.

Another stop off the water taxi we went to was Chinatown.  We walked around and bought some delicious Boba drinks.  They had so many different varieties and fresh fruit was lined up everywhere inside.  They were delicious and refreshing.  Hazel liked the popping boba.

 The Maggie Daley Park was AMAZING!  It was the best park we've ever been to.  I only got a few pictures of one playground, but there were so many other cool parts, with cool swings adults could go on and a splash pad and just beautiful structures.  The kids didn't want to leave.  They still talk about the park.

 This is where we parked our motorhome in the city.  We had kind of a long walk to the bus, but the lady that drives the Navy Pier Trolley that parked next to us gave us a ride one morning down to the Navy Pier.  It was really nice and saved us some walking, especially since my feet were getting a little tired and swollen from walking all day.

This was our setup for the kids' seats most of the time when we would put the table down.  Niels is sleeping and Hazel and Hattie are watching a movie.

Motorhome Trip - Las Vegas and Twin Cities

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Las Vegas

I get the weekly Top 20 Travelzoo deals email, which sometimes isn't good because all I want to do is take a trip when I see so many good deals, and this one was for a motorhome rental for $1 a day.  Brendan always talks about how cool it would be to take a motorhome trip with the family sometime.  He did it a few times when he was younger.  I've never been excited about the idea.  I think it always sounds nicer to go somewhere and just stay in a hotel.  So when I saw the $1 a day deal I looked into for Brendan's sake.  It was for an RV rental company that needed to relocate their new RV's from the Winnebago factory in Iowa to one of their 4 offices in either Las Vegas,  Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Denver. They had specific dates and when I called to find out the details there was only one left for the day we needed.  When I told Brendan about it he said, "Let's do it.  Call back now." So that's how this trip came to be.  I knew I would be almost 8 months pregnant, but we would be in a motorhome, so I wasn't that worried because I could walk around and go to the bathroom while driving.

We chose Vegas as our drop off destination.  They give you 13 days to get the motorhome back to the office from when you pick it up.  On May 28th we drove down to Vegas in the evening and stayed at Brendan's parents time share.  The next day was Hazel's 6th birthday, and she was excited to celebrate on the trip. When she woke up we had her favorite cereal for breakfast and a Frozen balloon tied to it.  After breakfast we went swimming at the resort.  Hazel requested hamburgers for lunch, so we went to Shake Shack for the first time.  I always see people posting about it in NYC, so I was excited to try it out.   
You could say the trip actually started out really rocky.  It was very stressful.  When we were at Shake Shack Hazel let go of her Frozen balloon and it went really high up in the restaurant.  She was throwing the biggest fit about it.  I had to go ask an employee if they could somehow get it down with a ladder from the very tall ceiling.  Luckily they did.  Then we were walking around town for a little while and it was really hot, and the kids were getting cranky.  Our plane wasn't supposed to leave until 4:30, so we had some time to kill walking around.  Niels needed a nap, but we had already checked out of our hotel and it was 102 degrees outside so we couldn't hang out at a park or anything.  Then we got a text from the airline that our flight was delayed to Phoenix, which meant we might miss our connection from Phoenix to Minneapolis.  I had to call the airline and try and figure things out.  They said they would make sure and hold the plane in Phoenix.  We decided the best thing for us to do was to drive to the airport together and check in all of our luggage and car seats first and then leave and take our car to our parking.  We had already booked a parking place for our car in covered parking at a hotel for the next two weeks and it said it was only 1 mile from the airport.  They have a shuttle that only goes hourly from the hotel to the airport.  When we put it in GPS it said 24 minutes.  Brendan started freaking out and we weren't sure we were going to make the shuttle to get back in time.  I'll just say we barely made it and it was extremely stressful.  When we got to the airport and were heading to our gate, Hazel freaked out about something.  I can't even remember what it was now, but it had to do with one of her new gifts.  She was throwing one of the biggest fits I've ever seen her throw as we were walking through the terminal.  We both tried pulling her aside and calming her down, but she just wouldn't.  She was also yelling this was the worst birthday every.  It was so embarrassing.  I'm sure everyone was wondering why we were having another kid when we could barely handle the three we had, as we walked through with everyone staring at Hazel as she chased after us screaming and stomping.  Not to mention I was about to have a break down just dealing with her and her madness at such a stressful time already.  When we got to the counter another lady told us they weren't going to hold the other plane and it was the last flight out for the night, then they confirmed it was going to be held.  They did end up holding it for us and I was worried how we would sit together on an already fully boarded plane, but they had saved 5 seats for us in the very back thank goodness.  Our plane ended up landing in Minneapolis at almost 2 am I think.  The kids were all sleeping and exhausted. 

Niels kept swimming away when we tried to take a picture.

We also tried to get a picture together and Hattie was running away in the plants and Niels was also taking off.  Typical picture taking for us.

We gave Hazel some little gifts at lunch that she loved and treasured the whole trip.  

 All three sleeping when we got off the plane.  We also had to grab all of our luggage and car seats and get on the hotel shuttle.

We woke up late on Saturday after our late arrival the night before.  Saturday was kind of just a play it by ear day because of the kids.  We stayed right by the Mall of America and took the shuttle over there for lunch and to check it out.  We also had a few meltdowns with the kids.  Hattie ran away from us for a little bit, but we tracked her down pretty quickly.  That was kind of scary, and of course the kids all started acting up at one point and we had to go back to the hotel for naps.  We wanted to go downtown and check it out, but the thought of doing it with the kids just stressed us out, so we headed back to the mall on the shuttle for dinner.  We weren't scheduled to pick up our rental car until the next day.

We stayed right by the airport and the kids liked watching the airplanes.  I was surprised you could barely hear the airplanes from where we were at.

 The Backyardigans.

 The Lego Store.

 The Peeps and Mike and Ike store had some great samples.

 Hazel had been looking forward to going to Build A Bear for a long time for her birthday gift.  

 They had lots of rides at the Nickelodeon them park inside.

On Sunday we picked up our rental car and went to church.  After church we drove around and saw some of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  I thought it was really pretty and green.   
 This is the St. Paul Cathedral.

Minneapolis is known for it's thousands of lakes.  We stopped at the chain of lakes near the city.  First was Lake Calhoun.  Hazel and Hattie love walking on things like curbs like they are on a balance beam.  There was a curb along the lake they were walking on and just as I was taking this picture I noticed Hazel was running along it, and was just about to yell to her to slow down because she was going to trip and fall in the lake, but I was too late.

 I knew it wasn't deep, so she wasn't going to drown, but I was so mad.  Brendan and I didn't even rush over to her very quickly but another man did.  It ended up being pretty funny.

 These two were being so cute together.  They were holding hands running around everywhere together and pointing at things.

Over by Lake Harriett we hopped on a historical trolley and took a little ride.  The kids really liked it.  The neighborhoods and houses were so cute in this area.  It looked like a great place to live.  We loved it, but we were there when the weather was nice.  I hear their winters are the worst in the states.  After the lakes we headed down to a small town called Forrest City, Iowa which was two hours away from Minneapolis.  We stayed in a hotel there that night and the next morning we picked up our motorhome.

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