Thursday, June 28, 2018

Month long trip continued...Minnesota and Wisconsin Dells

Continuing onto the rest of our trip. To start off I'll list some of my
pros and cons I thought of for going on a such a long trip with
4 kids under 8.

Enjoying not being pregnant (going on rides and getting to do
all the activities I wanted without
worrying about a baby inside me) :)
Got to sleep in some days (inside cruise cabins are
especially nice for this because they're pitch
Next to no cooking/cleaning
QUALITY time together
Couple parenting-having help with the kids
Nice variety throughout the trip
Had all the kids so I didn't have tomiss any
Time with both sides of the family
Getting to try out 3 minivans-pacifica rocks!
Figured out a system to go out on date nights on the
cruise without kids after putting them to bed
No school or work!
Didn't feel homesick ONCE!
Although we had responsibilities, they felt pretty light

Packing/unpacking all the time
Not the healthiest food
The work that goes into planning and packing
My camera broke
Travel days! BLAH! (BUT on the bright side the kids were
really angels for these they just took forever
to get to where we were going plus we always had major
delays for one reason or another)
Next to No naps for Caden or Mom (thankfully Rachel
was a champ at taking naps wherever)
Sharing a room with 6 people
The cruise made Caden act spoiled when it comes to food
and drinks (didn't last too long)
The cruise was the hardest for me personally with all the sit
down meals and getting all 6 of us
changed multiple times a day in our tiny cabin

Now onto our day to day with pictures:
5.30.18 woke up at 6:30 to get ready to go to the airport. The
traffic to get to the car rental was really bad m but luckily
things went really smoothly dropping off the car and catching
the shuttle to the airport. Our first flight to Baltimore went well.
Then our flight was delayed 40 minutes. Then when we boarded,
we had to wait IN the plane 2 hours 15 minutes before departing
because of an incident, then after waiting for a long while for
our rental car, we were driving for only 5 minutes before we were
there sole witnesses to this awful terrible car accident right
before our eyes. It was one of the scariest things I've ever seen.
It was simply a MIRACLE that we didn't get hit. I can't stop
thinking about the what ifs.  The girl was miraculously ok. She
hydroplaned into one wall of this time freeway and they spun
right back over too the other side and smashed into the wall.
I cannot believe she lived let alone was ok considering.
She sat with us in our car while I called 911 and until the police,
her dad and fire department came. Agreed an hour of waiting
and giving our statements, we were off to Minnesota and Darrin
drove us all the way here which was a 5.5 hour drive after an
already LONG day. The kids slept most of the whole way.
We arrived at 2:30am to Tiff and Adam's house!

5.31.18 we didn't get to sleep until 3am last night. Woke up at 7:20. Hung out with Tiff and her kids for a bit, got ready and left for the mall of America. We kept what we were going to do today a surprise. We let the kids know we were going to a surprise place since they were so good yesterday during our day of travel. They were so excited that we were doing rides at Nickelodeon universe. World's largest indoor theme park. We had a BLAST! I don't think there would be any better way to spend the day at a theme park. Air conditioning, next to no lines, there were usually kid rides next to the big rides so the shorter kids didn't feel bad when they couldn't go on rides because there was one they could go on close by etc. We rode all the rides, got lunch at Sbarro, went to a few cool stores, and then rode all of our favorite rides again! Some of them several times. Our favorites included the giant surfboard one that makes you feel like you're going to fly out of the roof, the one similar to the ticket was really good, the Ninja turtles ride, they had a really long, fun, green roller coaster, the log ride, and the one that went straight up and straight down, also, spencer and Caden couldn't get enough of the bumper cars that Parker was too tall for 😁. Then we drove home for dinner at Tiff and Adam's with Heidi's family and my parents who just got in. They had a wonderful BBQ, we hung out and had a lot of fun.

6.1.18 Today was all about hanging out, relaxing and playing. In the afternoon the sisters and Mom got to go to lunch at a Thai restaurant and get pedicures! We had such a great time bonding. Then Darrin and I provided Papa Murphy's for dinner, salad, and him homemade brownies and ice cream. We rented Peter rabbit for the kids for downstairs and Battle of the Sexes for the adults upstairs. Then after the movie we packed up and headed to our hotel, AmericInn. It's quite nice.

6.2.18 Today we had plans to go to Duluth for a train ride/boat ride. The high was 37 degrees though and raining!! So we knew we had to find something indoors. We ended up going to The Works Museum which was by the Mall of America. We got a Groupon for $17/group of 4. It was a lot of fun! They had all sorts of things and experiments we could do plus a cool kinex car building teach that would race two cars and time them. Spent forever on that. It was a great place to be on a rainy day! Then we had lunch at the mall of America and went to a bunch of cool stores since we didn't go in as many as we would have liked last time. Then we came back to Tiff's for dinner and more playing.

6.3.18 went to 9am church with the family. Got to hear Tiff and my Mom bear their testimonies which was really special. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. Then we went to pack up from our hotel and check out before going back to Tiff's house. We hung out for a while and then started dinner and dessert making. We went to a park and the Mississippi River which was a lot of fun. Then we came back to eat dinner. We said our goodbyes and went to Tiff's work to say goodbye to her and check our her new model home. It was gorgeous. Then we headed on our 3.5 hour drive to Dells Wisconsin. We stayed at super 8 tonight. Had to switch rooms once because it was nasty in the first room. But other than that it was good.

6.4.18 woke up, ate breakfast and packed up. Went to Walmart to pick up lunch before heading to Wilderness Territory Resort. We were allowed to check in at noon to use the water park before our room was ready at 4. Wow, this place is huge with 8 small water parks that make up the resort. Each water park has had an indoor and outdoor including a big kid area, a hot tub, baby area, and at least 3 big waterslides. Usually two body slides, a tube side and a raft slide. We played until 4 and went to our room to check it out. It was really nice and big with two queen beds and a full pull out sofa. It also had a balcony. We were on the first floor so the balcony went right out to our car which was so convenient! We ate some snacks and then headed back out to the waterslides. At about 8 we came back to the room and Darrin picked up Burger King whole I got the kids all ready for bed. We ate a late dinner and zonked out.

6.5.18 when we woke up I went out to Walmart to pick up breakfast for a few days since the resorts don't provide breakfast, and I already picked up lunch stuff for a few days. They don't allow coolers inside the water parks but we have a cooler backpack and were able to fit our lunch in it and eat it right outside the park. When I got back we checked out and went off to the water park. We also had access to the water parks for the entire day we checked out. Plus, the stay included tickets to the Tommy Bartlett Show!! We took the shuttle to the ferry that took us across Delton lake. It was BEAUTIFUL! The water park across the lake had an outdoor swimming pool that overlooked the lake. So gorgeous! Rachel napped in my arms in the indoor water park here. The kids and Darrin really enjoyed the cargo net with the slippery Lily pads. After we were all done here, we too the ferry and shuttle back to the one with the giant kids playplace that was also included. We brought socks since they were required for the playplace. It was a super fun playplace that all 6 of us really enjoyed! We went on more waterslides, went to the huge wave pool, and then headed to dinner. We got KFC and then headed to to the parking lot of the Tommy Bartlett Show to eat and then get good seats. We got there about an hour and 20 minutes early and got the first parking spot. We ate and then noticed bus loads pulling in so Darrin went to save us spots while we finished up dinner and got warm jackets and clothes since it was getting chilly. We got front row seats and the show FLOORED us!! Seriously one of the best shows I've ever seen! The kids and adults alike were completely enthralled and amazed the whole time. The first 45 minutes were water tricks including wake boards, skidoos, skiing, water shoes, a funny clown and more. Then intermission and then the second half were circus type acts which were really good too. We checked into super 8 and got to bed.

6.6.18 woke up in time for breakfast, ate, and went back to the room for relaxing and watching some toons before heading to Kalihari. It was pouring rain all morning. We checked in just before noon. She told me we were upgraded free on charge. Sweet! Our room wasn't ready yet so we went to the outdoor water park first. We had lunch, then Darrin went on all the slides with those that were real enough while I fed Rachel and she slept. No lines. Quite cold and very overcast. But no lines! We also won a family breakfast at their breakfast buffet by naming the artist and song title of the song that was playing! Then I went on a bunch of slides once it got sunny again. And then we got in the hot tub which was super nice with a hot waterfall too. The decor here is really impressive! After we did everything at the outdoor water park our room was ready so we went to check it out. WOW!! Giant! 2 bedrooms-one with two queen beds and one with a king, two bathrooms, a living room with pull out bed and fireplace, a balcony and  little kitchenette. Then we headed to the indoor water park. They have flowrider here and even Spencer can do the boogie boarding. We each took multiple turns doing that today including myself. Darrin did this SWEET new trick of doing a summersault with the boogie board. I tried multiple times to do a barrel roll and did it but the water kept sweeping me up at the end. It was so much fun to see Spencer doing it too. They have a guy telling you what tricks to do which was really cool. Then we did a bunch of the slides, the wave pool and lazy river. It's a really huge indoor water park with lots of variety. I went to go get dinner which was kind of a mess since I forgot the room key and had to get my wallet in the room and when I came to get it from Darrin he was gone. They had moved our stuff and so looking for him I walked around the indoor park twice and the outdoor park twice with no luck so I ended up using Darin's wallet that was in the car and hoped I wouldn't get pulled over. I grabbed salad, burritos, colored and juice at Walmart. We ate, enjoyed a fire, and went to bed.

6.7.18 woke up, got dressed and went to breakfast with the breakfast we won. It was really impressive. The normal price would have been $57 for our family. It was delicious! Then we packed up, checked out, took our luggage to the car and went back to the indoor water park. We had a great time! Then Spencer accidentally pooped in the kids pool 😬🤢😱😱😲😮. I never wanted to be the Mom who's kid pooped in the pool and got it shut down. But I guess it happens. I felt so bad! Darrin showered Spencer and we got back to having fun. Darrin and I got to go down the straight drop water slides too. We killed some time at the cheese factory which was really fun to try a bunch of different flavors of cheese, and we bought some really unique flavors of soda to try. The chocolate strawberry one tasted JUST like chocolate covered strawberries! Then we went to dinner at pub pizza which was the worst pizza I think I've ever tried. The crust was flat and completely flavorless. We came back to Kalihari for surfing. Even Parker got to surf and there were only two others that were surfing so it was so great to have so much time to do it and get to see them do it! Parker even got up for a few seconds twice. Then surrender joined in for boogie boarding. They did surfing and boogie boarding for two hours. A little more play in the wave pool and then to super 8 for sleep.

6.8.18 after super 8 breakfast we started our day with a trip to Timbivati wildlife park-tickets were included in our Kalihari stay. It was a lot of fun! There was a lion that wanted Rachel so bad! Over and over again it literally tried to get her by jumping up on the glass and clawing! Scary but really cool. It was so huge! Not crowded at all, pig races, petting and feeding giraffes, camels (including baby camels), feeding parkeets, petting turtles, snakes, skunks and seeing lots if active animals. All FREE with our stay! They charged for food to feed the animals but we found plenty on the ground to feed them for free 😁. We are lunch and headed to Great Wolf Lodge-our last resort. We checked in at about 1:30, headed to the water park and played, checked out our room (really big and nice including two queens, pull out bed, fireplace and balcony), Caden, Rachel and Mommy took naps while Dad, Parker and Spencer went back out to the water parks. Then we went to Denny's for dinner and came back to the resort for story time where they also got to meet the wolf mascot, got ice cream, watched the clock tower show which honestly was underwhelming, and did the dance party where they got shiny pom poms to dance with and keep. It was fun! Then off to bed.

6.9.18 woke up, ate instant oatmeal in the room for breakfast, and decided to try out Mt. Olympus today since yesterday we pretty much did all of Great Wolf. We got free tickets to Mt. Olympus when we attended the Tommy Bartlett Show (which we also got free tickets to 😁). Parking was $20 which we didn't think about. It was pretty crowded since it was a Saturday but we were glad we went and tried it out. Really big place with lots of fun to be had. No towels as opposed to the resorts we've been staying in which was a bummer. Their wave pool had one 9ft. Wave which was crazy! They had several good ones. After we were done here we had lunch, and went back to Great Wolfs water parks. We really enjoyed the mat racing slides and the wave pool here which is perfect for kids and Darrin, Parker and Spencer were body surfing one of the waves! Then we checked in at super 8 and settled down for the night.

6.10.18 Sunday was filled with church where we met a nice family from Utah there, Mirror Lake State Park which was beyond beautiful (minus tons of mosquitos). We saw innumerable tadpoles, beautiful forests, bridges, mossy cliff sides, the wake-less lake, a playground and a beach, and hotel swimming/hot tubbing. Super 8 even had a sauna which was fun.  A great break-day from the rest of the go go go.

6.11.18 ate super 8 breakfast, checked out, and headed to
Shamrock Motel which includes tickets to Noah's Ark Water
Park. Unknown bonus: it's across the street from the water
park so we could walk which saves us $15 parking fee.
They have us our wristbands and we walked right over.  
This is America's largest outdoor water park. It didn't
disappoint- lots of fun! But I will say the water was reeealy
cold. not Good thing it was mostly a nice day. We were
here from about 10:30-4. We did everything but 3
sides and are saving those for tomorrow. It was getting
pretty overcast and we were cold so we called it a day
since we knew we had tomorrow too.  We headed to dinner
at Burger King (we can feed our family of 6
there for $12.25. boom baby!) and went to the outlet
malls for a bit of shopping. They had free strollers there
to rent which was saweet since we forgot ours at the hotel.
We leave tomorrow night! Where did the time go? We've
been SUPER blessed with our health and safety this
whole trip. Feeling really grateful. But now Rachel
has a fever and Caden has a painful tummy ache 😬😥.
Hoping they're both feeling better for our long day/night tomorrow!

6.12.18 we had to check out by 10:30 from Shamrock Motel. Things we liked about this Motel: swings including baby swings, outdoor pool, indoor pool and hot tub, walking distance from Noah's ark, free water park tickets, and the lady at the front desk was super nice. Didn't like how outdated it is, that the AC didn't really work and there were lots of ants. We woke up, had instant oatmeal for breakfast in the room, packed up for the flight and headed to Noah's Ark. It was overcast and there were several field trip buses that came so things were crowded and there were several rides closed today. So that was a bummer but good thing we already came yesterday and did most everything. We rode a bunch though and ended with the last ride being flash flood that has the HUGE wave. Then we headed back over to Shamrock at about 1:30, had a picnic lunch, played on the swings and swam in the indoor pool and hot tub. When it was time, we got changed, finished packing up, and headed on the road for the two hour drive to MKE airport. On our way, Darrin got a phone call that our flight was delayed making it impossible to get to Salt Lake tonight! So she said there was one other option for us to make it tonight and that was a 6:25pm flight rather than our original 8pm flight. Our GPS said we would arrive at the airport at 5:33... We told the lady we'd do our best. Now it was panic time! We forgot that we still had to fill up on gas, return our car and now we wouldn't have any time for dinner. The time on the GPS kept going up for rush hour traffic and an accident! Talk about stressful. I took the time to pray that we'd make it. Otherwise I didn't know what we'd do! We made it to the airport at 5:45, returned the rental car and RAN to check in since we had to with Rachel as a lap child. The Lady have us a hard time about being late (not our fault), made us move things around in the suitcases because we were 1 pound over, then we RAN to security and there was a big line. We knew at that point we wouldn't make it. Just then a worker told us we could go in the wheelchair page because we had a stroller! We got through security with 14 minutes until take off and it was a miracle that they didn't have to further check our bags since it seems like ours always gets flagged with snacks. We RAN to our gate as fast possible all 6 of us. We got there literally 6 minutes to take off. Everyone was already seated of course and it was a completely full flight! They made an announcement for volunteers to move and MIRACULOUSLY we got three seats together for me, Rachel, Caden and Spencer. Darrin and Spencer has to sit alone in different areas but still! Holy smokes I'm so grateful we made it! I know it was an answer to prayer!

Our assessment of the different resorts/water parks we stayed at/went to:

pros: tickets to Tommy Bartlett Show, 8 water parks (each small but fun to visit them all and see what they had to offer), free shuttle and water shuttle to get to the park across the lake, the lake was absolutely beautiful including the water park across the lake, wide range of slides from high thrills (like the loop body slides) to plenty and I mean plenty for the kids, a lot of BIG water slides that the whole family could ride-even babies-this resort by far had the most of these, HUGE, giant, FUN playplace that was included
Cons: towel cards, lots of walking to get around and a bit confusing

Pros: flowrider, tickets to Tommy Bartlett, tickets to Timbivati wildlife park, free upgraded really nice room, biggest indoor water park which was awesome-lots for everyone, won a free awesome breakfast
Cons: not a ton of big slides for Caden and Rachel

Great Wolf:
Pros: wristband room key, room was ready by 2:30, free Shutterfly photo book, story time/dance party/character,
Cons: the water parks are just ok compared to the other two resorts, only one hot tub and it's packed but don't enforce the age 6 hot tub rule like the others

Mt. Olympus:
Pros: Really big, 9 ft. wave pool, way cheap with the free passes we got (just paid $20 for parking), could have done amusement park rides for cheap too but we focused on the free water stuff
Cons: Really crowded, extremely confusing where to go to park, water was pretty cold, no towels

Noah's Ark:
Pros: Got to go for two whole days with our hotel stay which was cheap, America's largest water park, lots of rides, across the street from our hotel (Shamrock)
Cons: Not a ton of kids stuff (Caden and Spencer), water was really cold, semi-crowded (there was a field trip when we went), their new ride this year wasn't open yet-looks really fun, no towels

And that's a wrap folks :)