Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving break: St. Louis or bust!

For our main Thanksgiving festivities this year, we got together with a few families in our neighborhood and had a potluck feast. We are all young families, and it was nice for kids and adults alike to have some age-appropriate company over some delicious food!

However, our favorite part of Thanksgiving break was our weekend trip to St. Louis. Not only is the the zoo in St. Louis is free, but there is a really fun science center there most of which is free (although our membership to Wonderlab here in Bloomington even got us free access to the membership-only perks!). We just couldn't pass up the opportunity for a fun-filled weekend trip for a price of a hotel reservation.

Our first stop on the way was the St. Louis temple. Since the closest temple to us is 2 hours away in Kentucky, we always try to squeeze in a visit to the temple during long road trips. The kids always appreciate a chance to get out of the car and stretch their legs, and the time Stephanie and I spend in peaceful worship always puts us in a better mood for the rest of the trip.

Ready to hit the road again!

Our next stop was the St. Louis zoo. Despite the cold temperatures, there was still quite a variety of animals around. The kids loved them all, and the bigger the better!

My hot wife and the cute little kids were bundled up pretty nice. The zebras, on the other hand, needed all the sunshine they could get to stay warm.

What's not to love about elephants?

After the zoo, we had dinner and checked in to our hotel. We always try to find hotels with pools, and let me tell you, this one did not disappoint! There weren't too many people when we hopped in the pool, and it was nice and warm (a heated pool). However, after we had been there a few minutes, a bunch of people start popping their heads out of the water on one end of the pool, seemingly out of nowhere. Upon closer investigation, we discovered that the pool was both an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. A wall divided the two sections of the pool, but it only came down to the surface of the water, so it was easy to dip your head under and switch between the two sides of the pool. The kids had a blast going out into the cold November air and seeing the steam float off the heated water, and then going back in the indoor section.

Saturday morning, we headed over to the Science Center right after breakfast. The science center had lots of exhibits about building materials, aircraft, spacecraft, energy, and other cool things, as well as a world-class planetarium with hourly kids' shows about space.

Josh doing what he does best with blocks.

Heather loved dressing up as a Native American.

Josh played with this one toy non-stop for like 45 minutes, no joke. He had a great time, but you can see the expression on his face--he's guarding the balls like a fat kid guards his Twinkies.

Heather got mommy in on the Native American action.

Heather, Joshua, and I gave this contraption a shot. It was something like a human hamster wheel, although we never got the mechanics quite right.

After a nice long day at the museum, we were ready to head home, but we didn't want to leave without making one final stop at the Gateway Arch.

It's hard to capture the arch's true size in a photograph...

...but we gave it our best shot anyway...

...from lots of different angles...

...and of course the obligatory selfie...

All in all, it was a great trip, one that we would definitely do again, just for the price of a hotel room!

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