Today all we did was drive and drive. Trying to catch up a little bit on our journey so we can make it to Arizona about when we are supposed to. The van is pretty tricked out right now. There is a 24" TV, a blue-ray dvd player and a full game system all hooked up. Riding in the back is like being in a really nice theater.
Last night's movie was Mary Poppins. It is one of our favorites and it helps the time pass quickly. We also started watching Fiddler on the Roof but didn't finish as we stopped for the night to sleep in Clarksville, Arkansas.
Lydia is still required to attend her Seminary class each day. So her instructor gave us the home study manual to maintain her attendance each day. It took us almost two hours for the lesson this morning but we have a nice study area set up in the back of the van too.
Thayne has never had a Whataburger before, so once we hit Oklahoma City there was the opportunity to share with our boy what was a childhood food memory for his parents. He thought the burger was huge. We had lunch there and then it was fill up with gasoline at $2.19 and head on out again.
The big sky of Texas loomed over us and as the sun set over the horizon, we were headed into Amarillo where not by morning but by evening we will had made it here.
Twenty one years ago was the last time I was here. Maliea was 8, Chaiya was 5 and Quayde was a wee babe on my hip in a sling carrier. The International Space station had parts that were still being built here and we took a bus tour. Things have changed a bit and the facility is much, much larger. When we drove past to our hotel, Thayne started screaming with excitement! He loves all things NASA and was so happy that we were going to check this place out.
Computers have changed a lot in that time and all you have to do is touch a screen and up pops tons of information. Maliea and Lydia spent lots of time learning about the history of space exploration and various parts of rocket history. There was an exhibit of incredible space inspired jewelry but I failed to take any pictures of it because I was just in awe.
So the coolest part was that all the fun rides and things were included in the price. There was this great rock climbing wall. Thayne was so thrilled to make it to the top. He has never been able to climb to the top before. It was pretty high. His descent was kind of crash and burn but he was so happy he didn't care.
There are lots of rockets outside. Along with the testing Space Shuttle PathFinder , missiles, military vehicles, jets and various other space exploration artifacts. Maliea, Michael and Thayne got to experience a 4 G centrifugal ride. They faces were bright red coming out.
This is a very small space that they are laying in. It was quite the task to crawl out of it but so much fun to pretend to be an astronaut in the Apollo command module.
Some of the other cool things were simulators where you got to fly an aircraft that you designed and this weird thing where you were a bird and had to flap your arms and move your body. It was to teach you the principles of drag, lift and flight. The computers monitored your movements and you were controlling the geese on the screen.
I have a picture of the two older girls in front of this in 1996 so of course I wanted a picture of the kids now. We were only planning to spend two hours there and then get on the road again but we ended up spending 5 hours.
Sometimes it is surprising how fate steps in and decides what direction you take. Or it could be a husband that has no sense of direction and decided to drive without a gps. We also could have blamed it on the fog that enshrouded everything. Somehow....we ended up not heading toward Nashville but south on route I-75 towards Chattanooga.
Then it was too late to turn back so we headed into Georgia and went to Chickamauga Battlefield NSP. We learned a lot about the battles of the Civil War that happened around this area. War is a sad, awful, horrible thing. It was a great little area to explore. There was a really nice display and a great movie telling about the battles and the losses.
So after a fabulous lunch at Fazolis, we had some choices to make on how we would travel on. The maps were telling us that we should just travel straight back up to Nashville and then across. Why in the world would we want to go back to the boring normal route. On towards Alabama we say!
Gorgeous Tennessee river! We even stopped at a rest area that was an island in the middle of it. So cool! Our current plan is to go to the Space Center in Huntsville Alabama. Thayne loves everything NASA, so he is going to be so happy with this turn of events. There are no wrong turns when you are adventuring only happy circumstances.
One of the reasons I love road trips so much is that there is so much diversity in this country of ours. It is refreshing for our children to see cotton fields and race trains as we drive parallel. Opening them up to new ideas and experiences helps us all to be more well rounded.
One of the few benefits that we get from Michael travel for his job so much is hotel reward points. So we are able to have this spacious suite at Holiday Inn Express for free! We have enough points that we can have free rooms for the entire trip. The kids are happy with 'real' tv and hotels are always a bit fun. Except Thayne is a bit disappointed tonight that it is an outside pool and it is a bit too cold to swim. School however can be done on the road also. Both Michael and I are taking courses currently. He is finishing his Capstone for his degree with Embry-Riddle University and I am certifying in Existential Well-Being counseling. So the kids are relaxing and we are studying.
Tomorrow US Space Center then the plan is to head to Memphis and beyond.
We have hit the Tennessee border and it is about 8 pm and I am a little tired of driving. Michael has had to sleep all day because he worked all night last night. I am not sure how comfortable he has been back there but there have been no complaints form anyone. When we got to the Welcome Center at the border, there was this height sign. Lydia will never be tall enough. lol We had a good laugh that she is supposed to still be in a booster seat.
We have not made it to Knoxville but just outside at Dandridge. So tomorrow we will explore Knoxville a little and then get to Memphis by evening.
Thayne and Lydia were thrilled with the idea to go out and party! So we quickly put together a Poppy the Troll costume for Lydia and Thayne went as a sloth. We had so much good food, shared company, and then headed out. Thayne lasted about 10 minutes before he reached his upper limits and started to say "none of this is real" under his breath. It is really hard to handle Halloween with sensory sensitivity. So that worked perfect for me. They had the experience and just a small amount of candy and we all went home happy and had time to watch 'Hocus Pocus" before bed.