Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Spring Break Trip- Day 1

As spring break approached I started getting excited thinking about taking a little family trip over the break. Since we had some money from our tax refund I thought it would be fun to go on a small trip somewhere in Oklahoma. There are some places we really want to go but are enough of a drive it would be hard to do an out and back trip in one day. I listed out different places we've wanted to go and let Carter and Elise pick their top two choices. Carter wanted to go to a cave and see dinosaur bones at the museum. Elise said she wanted to see a waterfall and go to the swimming pool. I hadn't mentioned a swimming pool but knew that would be easy since we could make reservations at a hotel with an indoor swimming pool. Ty asked off for a couple days over spring break but was only approved for one day off. We decided the kids and I would go ahead and go on the trip without him and I made our hotel reservation. We decided we'd drive 3.5 hours out to Alabaster Caverns to see the cave that has a cave tour. Then we'd drive almost 3 hours to Norman and spend the night there so we could get up and go to the Sam Noble Museum where the apatosaurus bones were. That would give us just a 2 hour drive home on Wednesday. I figured we'd make it to Norman in time to swim that evening and then we could swim again in the morning. We thought about doing a shorter drive and only going part of the way to Norman on Tuesday but I figured we might as well go the whole way because Elise would need to nap anyway. I didn't want to waste money eating out especially since I knew the kids would just want mac and cheese. We got lunchables at Sam's for lunches and I got easy mac to make in the hotel microwave for dinner. That made for a cheap trip because we just had the hotel fee, gas, and the minimal expense of the cave tour and the museum entry.

Tuesday morning I got up early to run before we left and made sure I would be ready by 7:30 so we could leave as soon as the kids got up. Of course that was a day the kids actually slept in! The kids both slept until almost 8:00 so we were on the road later than I hoped but I knew we'd still have plenty of time. My goal with this trip was to be flexible and just go with the flow and do what seemed best for the kids. I was so proud of what a wonderful job the kids did in the car. We spent the first hour of the drive listening to an audiobook. Then Carter lost interest in it. We stopped for a restroom break a little past Enid and I gave the kids snacks and notebooks to draw in. Then Carter switched over to drawing on his boogie board. Elise is incredible about entertaining herself in the car without toys or complaining. It amazes me! We were driving along on the highway and all the sudden we saw some beautiful red mountains. I was getting ready to point it out to Carter when he told me to look over at the volcano. We were oooohing and ahhing over the view out of our window when I looked over and saw a sign for Gloss Mountain State Park. We didn't even have to exit the highway, it was just like going off to a rest stop on the highway. I asked Carter if he wanted to go see the mountains and he said yes so we pulled off to check it out. The mountain had stairs built into the side of it so you could climb to the top. Carter wanted to go to the top of the mountain. He and Elise went up all the stairs all by themselves. I figured we'd get to the top and then look around a little and then head back down. Carter wanted to walk all the way to the end of the trail so we did. I got a little nervous a few times because we were up so high but the kids listened really well and stayed on the other side of me away from the side. We spent about an hour at the park and then ate lunchables in the car for lunch. I was so glad we stopped because when we got home Carter said his favorite part of the trip was the red mountains. I just wished Ty had been with us because he would have taken absolutely gorgeous pictures! We want to go back sometime with him so he can see it because it was incredible. The pictures I took just don't do it justice!

Taking a break on the walk back to the stairs.

Our arrival at Alabaster Caverns was perfect timing. We made it into the visitor's center around 12:40. They do tours every hour on the hour so we had time to buy my ticket (the kids were free), the kids picked out a souvenir in the gift shop, we used the restroom, and then the kids played at the playground for a little bit before the tour started. While we were in the visitor's center I noticed a sign about a passport to Oklahoma State Parks. I asked the worker about it and she gave me one. Each state park we go to we can collect a sticker for the state park and put it in our book. Since she just gave me one I figured the kids could share it. When we started the tour the tour guide told us since it is a gypsum cave there are no stalactites and stalagmites. Carter decided since it didn't have them it wasn't a real cave which cracked me up. There are 4 different kinds of bats that live inside the cave but we only saw one kind. The bats were still hibernating so our tour guide was able to even spotlight them with a flashlight without waking them. Elise loved the bats and pointed out every bat she saw. We saw some bats out by themselves and then clumps of bats all together. The tour guide said male bats tend to be alone and the female bats are the ones who stay together. We got to see a cave crayfish which Carter mentioned later was a troglobite. Elise was thrilled to see a waterfall inside the cave which was pretty impressive. After our cave tour we played at the playground for a little bit. Elise was hungry so we headed over to the Cedar Canyon Overlook to eat our applesauce and veggie straws. While we were over there Carter saw a hiking trail and wanted to go on a hike. If I was nervous about the height of Gloss Mountain, this was even worse. There was a steep drop to the bottom of the canyon if you fell to the side of the trail. I talked Elise into letting me carry her, thankfully! But my palms were sweating each time Carter so much as stumbled on the trail. I had flashbacks to being a child and not understanding why my mom was freaking out about us being close to the edge of high cliffs. Now I get it!

At the Cedar Canyon Overlook. This picture doesn't show how incredibly high we were!

During our hike we came across a couple of boards going across a little stream that were also pretty high. I had Elise hold my hand on the way across. Then when we turned around later and went back across she didn't want to hold my hand so I held my arms out to the side of her but she did great and didn't trip or anything. We passed a family hiking at one point and Elise said to them, "My mommy poops on the toilet." They didn't understand her so she repeated it. They still didn't understand her but just laughed a little when she said it and then let it go. I was a little embarrassed even though everyone would assume an adult poops on the toilet so it's not really news or anything surprising. It's just an interesting thing to say, I guess. I had to laugh about it later. We came up on a low hanging branch of a tree and Carter hung from it. Elise wanted to hang from it too but she couldn't reach so Carter grabbed it and pulled it down for her to grab on and swing, it was so sweet! When we got back to the top of the trail we went to the restroom and then got back on the road a little after 3:00. I told Carter I would put his tablet beside his seat but I didn't want him to get it out until Elise was asleep because if she heard his tablet, she'd want hers and then she wouldn't nap. Elise did really well with having her nap pushed back later than usual. Once she was asleep Carter got out his tablet and played on it quietly so she could nap. It was a very peaceful drive.

When we got to the hotel Carter wanted to go swimming right away. I told him we had to check in and then take our stuff to our room. I used a luggage cart and the kids had a blast riding on it. They had yummy cookies at the check in desk and Elise wanted one so she and I both had one but Carter didn't want one. In our room I made our Easy Mac for dinner. It took a long time to cool and the kids were having a hard time waiting because they just wanted to go swimming. While we waited on it to cool we called Uncle Paul to sing him Happy Birthday. It was so cute to hear the kids recount our day to him. I loved hearing what their big takeaways were from the trip. Carter told him all about the cave tour and Elise kept telling him we were eating mac and cheese. Once the mac and cheese was cooled we ate dinner and then headed to the pool. Elise wanted me to get in with her. The water was really cold, especially for an indoor pool! There was a 7 year old girl there who Carter quickly befriended and we all played Marco Polo together. She kept trying to talk Carter into jumping into the pool with her but he was too scared. After a while I got out because Elise was doing such a great job by herself and didn't need my help at all. When we got home and the kids were telling their favorite parts of the trip, Elise's favorite things were eating mac and cheese and swimming! She's an easy one to please!
Ready to swim in her new swimsuit Gigi and Papa got her for her birthday.

We facetimed Gma and Gpa while we were swimming so they could see what a good job Elise was doing. The kids loved that! I gave the kids a bath when we got back to the room and then we got ready for bed. Carter walked over to the bed and said, "There are 4 pillows. There's enough for daddy, but he's not here." We called Ty to tell him good night and when we hung up Carter started crying that he wanted daddy. Elise kept saying, "It's okay. Daddy had to work. Let's just go to sleep." I was cracking up. I think Carter was mostly crying because he was tired. I ran 4 miles that morning and even with 6.5 hours of driving for the day I still got 19,000 steps which meant I walked 12,000ish steps at the state parks which would be around 6 miles of walking. So I'd imagine Carter had over 12,000 steps for the day since his legs are shorter so he was pretty wiped! He fell asleep almost immediately but Elise tossed and turned for over an hour. I tried to read but the kids were bothered by the light so I just laid in bed. Elise finally fell asleep a little before 10:00 and then I fell asleep too. Carter woke up before 7 am the next morning but Elise slept until almost 8! We definitely had a very fun filled 1st day of our trip!


  1. Wow, that was high up! I would probably have made them crawl across the boards. :) Elise's swimsuit is so cute!

  2. Gloss Mountains were pretty! And I loved Carter's bat picture.