Saint Louis, Columbus, to Grandpa & Grandma H.

We left Leavenworth at 8am, hoping to make it to our hotel in Vandalia, Illinois at a reasonable time after some sight-seeing in Saint Louis.  I did some "sight-seeing" of Kansas City from the car, including their stock exchange (livestock).  

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We arrived in St. Louis just in time for lunch.  We found a great pizza place called Pi, which was some of the best pizza we've ever had (and we've been to Naples).  It was really hot, but we were eager to see the famous Gateway Arch up close and personal.  You could see it everywhere you went.  It is ginormous, quite a sight to behold.  We didn't go up into it, although you can.  We didn't feel like waiting in line and there was plenty of free stuff to enjoy anyway.  The entire "welcome" area was a free museum showing the history of westward expansion in the USA.  It was fascinating.

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We also went to the children's science museum in St. Louis (more free fun).  We were there until 5:30.  The boys stayed in one room the whole time.  We didn't make them leave because... well... why would we?  They weren't finished learning from what they had or they would have gotten bored.  So, they played with blocks and other manipulatives for hours... and according to the picture their little manly bits ::sigh::

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We made it to our hotel by 7, had a quick dinner at Ponderosa (not much to choose from in Vandalia that late on a Sunday), took long hot baths and showers, and snuggled up in bed early.  The plan for tomorrow was to swing through the Columbus area for a visit with my brother Mark & clan.  We were up early and chowed down on some free breakfast before leaving.  We also stopped at a Walmart to grab some more cheap movies since as awesome as Toy Story 3 and Kung Fu Panda 2 may be, there's only so much a parent can take.  It was a long drive, but once we hit Indianapolis we knew we were close.

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We made pretty good time despite crossing time zones and losing an hour.  We had yet another great visit with Mark, Jen & the boys had a blast with their cousins... we even got to see Rachel (our niece) this time!  We walked, we talked, we watched Star Trek.  It was wonderful :)  They were kind enough to make room for us so we had a place to stay for the night before heading to Gpa and Gma H's to trade the kids for the dogs.

Although we awoke at 8am we didn't finally drag our butts back into the car until 11:30.  A mere 3 hour drive and we had made it to Gpa and Gma H's :)  The dogs went CRAZY.  Bosley was whining at the gate when he heard us pull up.  Charlie quickly followed.  We got slathered with drool and hair.  Yay!!!  My Mom took a video I think.  I was a little busy.  We immediately took the dogs for a good long walk to reestablish ourselves as pack leaders and get them some exercise.  Our family was complete again... for a couple days.

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Josh and I spent the following day getting the kids and grandparents used to us being gone, and the dogs used to the car.  We tried to get them groomed since Charlie was shedding so badly, but every shop was booked solid for the week.  So we settled with a couple really good brushes.  My groomer was free though!  Mom made me an appointment for early the next morning to get a haircut.  I also got to have an impromptu breakfast with Michelle in-between soccer camps.  Then later Pam showed up at the house with Haleigh and Eric! :)  They all had a wonderful time playing on the swingset.  I couldn't believe how much all our nieces and nephews have grown over the last few years.

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Mom and I left early the next morning for breakfast and my haircut.  I love it, LOVE IT (I am not very fond of my phone camera, however).  After that I accompanied her to a Dr. appointment.  I can remember her sitting through many a doctors appointment for me, and it's so boring to wait alone.  

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All was said and done by eleven thirty.  Josh and I loaded up the dogs and said our farewells to the boys.  I can still see Brennan standing in the driveway staring at me while we drove away... it was a little difficult.  We were on our way to Pittsburgh to deliver a painting for someone at Cannon Coffee, hoping to catch Ben and Nate for some lunch as well.
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