McAllen, St. Louis, Milwaukee: Vacation 2016

Well we are back from vacation. We were gone for almost 3 weeks and traveled over 3,000 miles. Nate was gone almost an entire month and logged more miles than we did.

For this trip I was the most prepared I have ever been when it comes to packing for a trip. We have done 2 big road trips with Zoe in the past and this would be our biggest yet. I wanted to make sure that we were really prepared. I packed up snacks, new toys, a great deal of technology and many other essentials. We had a mountain of bags ready to go the night before.

Our first day of road tripping was to Slupher Springs, TX as a mid-point to St. Louis. Our good friends Tim and Amanda let us stay in their house while they were on vacation. The first day was only about 9 hours, which when you live in Texas is like nothing. We unpacked our overnight stuff at the house, ate dinner and took Zoe to a park to run around. In the past, a six hour drive would have exhausted me. Texas is huge, so car travel is relative.

Ready to go!

Had to stop and see Buc-ee!

Playing at the awesome park in Sulphur Springs!

Our second day was a drive through Texas, Arkansas and Missouri to St. Louis. We got in around dinner time and as promised, Zoe saw Grandma on Tuesday. We even got to visit one of our favorite restaurants, Noodles and Company. We stayed in St. Louis for a little over a week. We spent time with many of our friends. Our friends Wesly and Will were kind enough to let us stay in their house. Unfortunately, they were not there most of the time because Wesly was in the hospital awaiting the arrival of their sweet little boy, Liam. He was born last week and he is super cute. We did get to see them and spend some time with them at the hospital and a little bit at the house. We had some Chick-Fil-A with my dad. We also got to visit The Magic House and Ted Drewes!

Magic House!

Ameren's Newest Employee

Driving with Grandma

Yum! Ted Drewes!

We stayed some time with my sister, Victoria (Aunt Vivi) and her husband Kurt in St. Robert, MO. They are stationed at Fort Leonard Wood. Aunt Vivi took us to Zoe's first Cardinals game. The day of the Cardinals game was very interesting. It was a rainy day. Zoe was having a great time at the game. She loved screaming, "Go Cardinals!" and "Michael Wacha!". We ended up leaving the game early because of rain. It was good that we left when we did because I ended up getting sick and needing to go to the hospital. It was pretty intense. I have my dramatic moments, but I am not medically dramatic. I have been hospitalized four times in my almost 30 years of life, including Zoe's birth and my own. It seems that Victoria, Kurt, Zoe and I got a stomach virus. I was also pretty dehydrated and my blood pressure was low. Fortunately, Zoe only threw up once. I think Kurt and I had it the worst. Despite the illness that hit us, we had a great time weekend with Victoria, Kurt and my mom. Victoria's dog, Janet, was terrified of Zoe and it was hilarious. She is a big dog and she just could not handle the tiny human in the house. Meanwhile, Zoe loved her. 

First Cards game as a family!

Aunt Vivi!

Very into the game.

Our next stop was Milwaukee. Zoe and I stayed with our family friends, the Kelms. Nate was a delegate for the LCMS National Convention so he stayed downtown for most of the week. Zoe had the vacation of her life in Wisconsin. The Kelms have two teenage boys, Jake and Caleb (Zoe calls him Leb) and a middle school daughter, Chloe. Zoe LOVED playing with the Kelm kids. Chloe had great toys and was awesome with Zoe. The boys were great at playing with her in the yard and chasing her around the house. She misses them for sure. Meanwhile, the adults had a good time catching up and watching baseball. Angie and I had a rather lovely day on Amazon Prime Day checking out all of the deals. We had a fabulous time with our friends and miss them already.

Zoe fell in love with Chloe's giant Panda. We'll revisit this in another post.

Playing with Jake and "Leb".

Chloe and Zoe: Buddies for life!

My college roommate, Shannon was able to drive down to Port Washington with her three girls and we got to spend some time together. One cool thing is that Shannon and I both have daughters named Zoe. Hers is Zoey and mine Zoe. The funny thing is we had never talked about baby names when we were in college. We just so happened to chose the same name for our girls who are about 3 months apart. 

They were unsure of each other at first, much like their mamas were of each other.

We got a hug out of them at the end. :)

Zoe and I went up to Concordia one day to visit. I had a couple of people that I wanted to visit with and thought we could walk around the campus to see what they've done with the place. We had a great visit with Pastor Smith and with Dr. Uden. Later that evening, the convention delegates were bused up to visit CUW. Zoe was able to meet Freddy the Falcon. She was very excited. We ran into some friends including my dear friend Lyla Buuck. I wasn't at all expecting to see her there, so it was a really great surprise.

She met him during the day as a statue.

She could not handle herself when she met the real Freddy at night.

The trip back began on a Thursday. Nate had to fly to the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans so Zoe and I headed back to Texas. Thankfully, our PALS leaders, Pastor Mark and Connie Barz caravaned back with us. We stopped in St. Louis overnight for our first stop on the way back. Our second day was a looooong one. St. Louis to San Antonio is a 15 hour drive. I was expecting that it would take a long time. What we didn't expect was having car trouble. We rented a car for this long trip because our cars are old. As we were approaching Dallas, my tire pressure light came on. Normally I wouldn't really worry about the tire pressure light, however; the last time that light came on in my car, we had a tire blow out. I was not about to have that happen again. We ended up having to take the car to the Hertz location at Dallas Love Field and with the help of a very nice Hertz agent we switched it out for another car. Thank goodness the Barz were with me. They helped me with Zoe and get the cars switched out. I don't know how I would have done it without them. Plus, that rental car was gross. We had been basically living out of it for almost three weeks with a toddler. It was a wasteland. We got back on the road and after about 20 hours of travel, we arrived in San Antonio at about 3am.

The next morning, Zoe and I had a lazy start at the Barz house. Around 11am we started for home. Of course, this was the day that Zoe wasn't happy with traveling and I can't say she was really alone. We ended up stopping three times in our 4 hour trip back to the valley. When we got back, she was a sport and helped me unload the car. We had some Mac and Cheese and watched some TV until bath and bedtime. Nate came home 5 days later. We are so glad to have him home.

All in all it was a great trip. We are so blessed that we got to see family and friends. We were so blessed to have traveled safely to and from our destination.

That's all for now. God is good.

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