Heading West

Hey Guys! We’re back on the road and heading west this loop! We’ll spend the next year making our way through twelve states before heading back to Missouri to visit family again. The plan is to finish up the remaining six states in the contiguous US left on our map, grab a few places we missed as we went through some of the states the first time, as well as, revisit a few of our favorite places. We’ll (hopefully) hit around 40 different National Park Units as we make our way through our #grandwesternloop!

We spent two weeks in the Amarillo, TX area. We don’t normally stop at “roadside attractions”, but we found ourselves at two different roadside attractions while we were in Amarillo.

Cadillac Ranch was created in 1974 along Route 66 just west of Amarillo by Chip Lord, Doug Michels, and Hudson Marquez . For those traveling The Mother Road this roadside attraction is a must. And don’t worry…it’s completely legal to spray graffiti on the cars at Cadillac Ranch.

We had to leave our mark. Can you find it?

We’ve heard that the city is thinking about closing Cadillac Ranch down because of all of the spray paint cans being left there. We saw quite a few littering the ground near the Cadillacs. We brought our own cans and we threw them away in the handy dumpsters the city has provided when we left.

The other roadside attraction we found ourselves at was the Jack Sisemore RV Museum. We weren’t really sure what to expect here, but we’d heard it was a neat stop and at a great price. Free!

Jack Sisemore has been collecting old RVs for over 25 years. He’s redone some of them and left some in the condition he found them in. He has several RVs in his collection put together to make this museum that you can walk through and see how much RVs have changed over the years. The oldest one he has is the 1921 Ford Lamsteed Kamkar you can see in the pic above. The Kamkar body was mounted onto a standard Model T Ford and came with everything you needed. It was made by Anheuser-Busch and sold for a grand total of $535.00 in St. Louis, MO.

This is a 1976 FMC and was owned by Max Factor, Jr. You might know him as the president of Max Faxtor Cosmetics. We had way more fun going through these old RVs than we thought we would.

Each RV that had been restored also had been set up with items popular the year the RV was made. Check out that video camera!

The kitchens were stocked with items from the specific year of the RV. Check out the old tins!

You might recognize this bus from the movie RV! It’s the one they used to film the movie!

The inside of the bus was…a little lackluster. I’m going to have to rewatch that movie and pay attention to the scenes shot inside the bus.

Some of the vehicles in the museum aren’t strictly…RVs, but they’ve been used as one. I love this old VW bus!

At the back of the museum they had an old gas station set up. Check out the air conditioner on this car!

Here, let me give you a better look at this beast of an air conditioner. Can you imagine sitting right by it? My head would be frozen! It was a true feat of engineering and could be yours for the low price of only $12.85!!

We snuck in a National Park that we hadn’t planned on. The Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument was a very cool place to visit. When we got there we almost didn’t make it inside due to an infestation of paper wasps. I didn’t get any photos…I was more worried about being stung, but oh my word…there had to have been a couple hundred wasps flying around the visitor center. It was slightly terrifying.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the actual quarry because we’d just missed the last tour. We did peruse the museum and watch a film about the area before heading out to see what we could of the park. This area was known for it’s flint. The Native Americans would come here to get the flint to make their weapons and tools. We were able to see and touch some of the flint!

Somehow we ended up on this one lane (but not one way) dirt road. We hoped it would lead to some amazing overlook of the flint quarry, but it just kind of wound it’s way around the area where Lake Meredith used to be. Our GPS was convinced we were driving through Lake Meredith.

Let’s talk foodies…we found an awesome burger joint called Hil’s Burgers in Canyon, TX! If you go…get the onion rings.  We also found a Torchy’s Taco in Amarillo…so we HAD to eat there. Once or twice…or more.

We also went to a very cool state park, which I’ll tell you about in the next post because this post is getting to be way too long!!

See y’all down the road!


Categories: Foodie Find, grandwesternloop, National Park, Texas | Leave a comment

It’s Not All Fun And Games

Hey Guys!! One of the main reasons we took a travel hiatus is to work on the growing list of projects for the RV aka…our home. We do little odds and ends while we’re on the road, but there are some things that would be easier to do while stationary. I thought I would let y’all see  a few behind the scenes of what it takes to keep this nomad life of ours going.

The very first thing we do every time we driveway camp at my (Jennie’s) parent’s house is to clean out and organize our “basement”.

We take everything out, reevaluate its place and if we still want/need it, and clean out all of the bays under the RV. The first year we left we had all of the bays totally packed. Completely filled. There wasn’t a single inch of free space. Now…we’ve actually got quite a bit of empty space in our “basement”. The longer we do this nomadic life thing, the more we realize life isn’t really about the “stuff”…it’s about all of the memories and moments.

Once we got everything cleaned out and reloaded we put new seals on the bay doors that needed it. The seals are what keep the wet and dirt out of our “basement” and off of our stuff.

We (I’ll say we, but really it was just Jerl) did some electrical work. We (there’s that we again) added a strip of  electrical outlets under a lip on our closet.

A couple of our light sensor switches (I totally just made that name up…I don’t really know what it’s called) went out on the main control panel so Jerl took a look at all of those wires too. These switches tell us if our water pump and arctic pack is on or off. So, they’re kind of important.

So…funny story (not really…heavy sarcasm). The bottom slide out compartment in our freezer broke and so our freezer door wouldn’t stay shut. We looked and looked and looked some more for the part or for someone who could tell us where to look for the part and no one in six or seven states could help us. Y’all…we had to keep the lock strap on our freezer door or the thing would just stay open. That’s not helpful. While we were back in Missouri we finally found a place that could look up the part we needed and actually order it! We did a little happy dance after it was fixed!!

We have three ceiling vents in our RV. Two of them are in the bathroom with these little dinky fans that help ventilate the…well, you know. Our plan was to replace all three with an upgraded fan. We started with the one skylight that didn’t have the fan.

We LOVE it! It’s a reversible fan so not only can we vent air out when we’re cooking we can also pull cool air in to help cool the RV on days when it’s not hot enough to turn on the AC. We only got one switched out because we simply ran out of time due to some unexpected injuries. I’ll fill you in about those later.

We replaced this doo-hicky in both of our hot water tanks. The bottom one is the one we took out and the top one is what a new one looks like. I’d say we replaced it just in time. What the heck is it? Well, it’s actually called the anode rod and it helps protect the hot water tank from mineral build up and rusting.

We took out all of the cornice boxes around all of the windows (I’ve disliked these from day one)

and my (Jennie’s) mom and I made curtains!! It took me forever to pick fabric. For…ev…ER! And then when I decided I went back and found that one of the fabrics was almost gone! Sheesh! I bought up the rest of it that day and luckily we had enough for the curtains and a small pillow! We lined all of the curtains with the grey insulating material you see in the picture above.

And, because I’ve already gotten several questions about that insulating fabric…you can see the details in the picture above. I got it at JoAnne’s back in the upholstery section on the big, long rolls.

The curtains made a huge difference in the way the RV looks and feels. It feels so much more homey and comfortable now. We’re loving the curtains!

And… because I love the fabric…here’s the fabric that I almost missed out on. The big curtain in the back. When I first found this material there were five full bolts of it. Five! When I just happened to stop in to have one more look there was on partial bolt. One. And it was almost empty. I grabbed it and carried it around the store in a panic trying to finalize my decision on the other fabrics. That’s what I get for procrastinating and trying to wait for a good coupon.

Jerl fixed a leak in one of the slides. It had been leaking for sometime and we’d had it in to the shop. They pros couldn’t find the leak, but we kept seeing evidence of it, so Jerl took matters into his own hands…and leak be gone!

If you look back at the very first picture on this post you’ll see our trusty 4Runner. We had to replace her this past summer. Our first thought was to get a truck, but we couldn’t find one that fit us better than our old 4Runner so we ended up with a newer 4Runner. My (Jennie’s) dad and Jerl worked on getting her ready to go.


It was a hard decision. Not only did we really love our old 4Runner…she was totally paid off.  But, we can now flat-tow and get rid of our big, bulky, heavy trailer. The trailer has caused us some issues on our travels. We always had to make sure we could get a pull-through spot or if a pull-through wasn’t available we had to make sure there was a spot somewhere for our trailer. Some parks let you park on the grass right next to your spot…most don’t. Some parks want to charge extra for either another spot or storage. So, while we’ll miss her and the no payment it was definitely the right decision to replace her. *sniff sniff*

Ever wonder how to replace a mattress in an RV? Well, it’s actually pretty darn easy! We ordered ours from a company called Mattress Insider and they shipped them to us in the boxes you see in the picture above. So, getting the new mattress in the RV was easy peasy!

When you take the mattress out of the box it’s wrapped up tight. We found it easier to cut the wrap than try to pull it apart.

Once you cut the wrap, you unfold it and the mattress expands…and viola! New mattress! We got new mattresses for all of the beds. After two years of sleeping on the factory mattresses it was time for an upgrade. Our backs are thanking us!

Getting the old mattresses out the door wasn’t as easy as getting the new ones in, but with a little muscle we  made quick work of it.

In between all of the projects and explorations, life happened. Mr. Man got started on straitening his teeth with the help of appliances

and these trays. We were able to get all the trays he’ll need to take with us so over the next year his teeth will straighten out and when we get back to driveway camping next October we can go back in for a check up.

Littlest had a pretty big growth spurt which effected his vision so we had to find somewhere to get his eyes checked and get him some new glasses.

Mr. Man and Jerl took a quick trip down to Texas to get a driver’s permit. We’re late on doing this. Mr. Man isn’t in a hurry to drive…this doesn’t bother me at all. I get it. I’m not a driver either.

Jerl had a retina detach from his cornea. He had to have eye surgery. He’s actually still recovering from it, but is able to drive. It’ll take a solid three months for it to really heal up and then he’ll need new glasses. Remember that bit about me not being a driver? Well, thank goodness we were around family when this happened. My parents watched the boys while his parents drove us around to Jerl’s various doctor’s appointments. This is the injury that put a stop to any more big projects. Hard to work on something if you can’t see it properly.

Oh yeah…and three of us got a stomach bug. Gross.



So, while 16 weeks sounds like a lot of time…well, you know the saying…time flies. We started our Grand Western Loop on October 28, 2017. This loop will take us an entire year and will allow us to finish up 49 of 50 states with Hawaii being the odd state out. We had planned on doing Hawaii this past late September/early October, but with the growing number of projects we decided to put it off and take care of business instead. I’m so glad we did or we would have been in Hawaii when Jerl’s eye crapped out. That would have been…bad.

Well, Guys! That’s it for this post! The next post will be the first in our #grandwesternloop so stay tuned!

See y’all down the road!

Categories: Keeping It Real, Missouri | Leave a comment

George Washington Carver National Monument

Hey Guys!! This week we’ll finish up the National Park Units we squeezed in during our 16 week travel hiatus. I’ve only got one more park to tell you about, so let’s get going!

George Washington Carver was born a slave on the Carver farm around 1864. He and his mother were both kidnapped from the Carver farm. George was found and returned to the Carvers, but they never found his mother. He was orphaned and nearly dead from a bad case of whooping cough so he was excused from most of the daily chores. This extra time gave him the opportunity to explore and start learning about plants.


In the visitor center museum, you can learn all about George’s life from his early explorations in the forest all the way to his teachings and findings as an adult.

George Washington Carver had many accomplishments throughout his long life, but he’s most notably linked to his discovery of 300 uses for peanuts.

The day we went to GWCNM it happened to be Prairie Days where the park sets up all kinds of interactive displays to show what life used to be like on the prairie for early settlers. The picture above shows some of the medicines a field doctor during the Civil War might have had in his medical bag.

Volunteers (adults and children) came dressed in period appropriate garb to spend the day showing the public what it might have been like on a typical day during prairie life.

We walked around learning about the different skills needed to survive during the 1800s.

The boys learned how to make a candle.

You could even take a wagon ride through the prairie! The bumps and bruises were free of charge.

The boys earned two different badges at George Washington Carver National Monument! There was a special book and badge for completing ten Prairie Day activities.

There were sooo many pretties out in the prairie! So…many!

I only got pics of these two though. I didn’t really want to go traipsing through the tall prairie grass to get pics…sorry guys. The itchy threat of ticks and chiggers out weigh my need to show you all the pretties.

We ended our day with a trip to one of our favorite foodie places. Eagle Drive-In in Joplin! My (Jennie’s) parents had never been before so we were able to show them one of our favorite places!

National Park Units are a huge part of our travels. I did an official count on the number of NPS Units we’ve visited during our travels. As I’m typing this…the count is 89! We loved getting to share the experience with my (Jennie’s) parents during our hiatus!

The next post is the last post for our travel hiatus. It wasn’t all fun and games, Guys! In the next post I’ll tell y’all about the many projects we got done while we were driveway camping.

See y’all down the road!


Categories: Missouri, National Park | Leave a comment


Hey Guys!! We managed to sneak in four National Park Units during our 16 week travel hiatus! One of them, Homestead, I’ve already posted about. I’m going to try and squeeze both of the battlefields into one post. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve confessed to y’all before that when we started this nomadic lifestyle, I didn’t plan any battlefields at all. I wasn’t interested in walking around a big field that so many people had died in, but then we toured our first battlefield. Little Bighorn Battlefield was…eye opening. It was also during this visit that we all realized how important it is to go to these battlefields. To learn, to see, to remember. The boys learn more history in one day at a battlefield than they do in a week of history lessons. They retain the information. They get to put a physical place with the stories. Needless to say…we visit every battlefield we can. It makes me sad to realize everything we would have missed if Jerl had never talked me into Little Bighorn.

The first of the two battlefields we visited was Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. We spent some time going through the museum and getting ourselves aquinted with the overall view of what happened at Wilson’s’ Creek before we set off on the auto tour.

I feel like you can get a better idea of what the soldiers lives were like and who they really were when the National Park Service has displays like the one above set up with personal items.

It’s always nice when there are a few trails that lead you off the main auto tour road. We hiked this short one to see Wilson’s Creek. The spot was kind of grown over, so I didn’t get a good shot of the creek itself. We were impressed with the size of it though.

The Ray house was used as a Confederate field hospital during the battle,

but was originally used as a post office since it was built along Wire Road. It was called Wire Road because of all of the telegraph lines that lined the road linking the nation.

The battle at Wilson’s Creek in 1861 was the first official battle of the Civil War to take place in Missouri.

Missouri saw fighting for the next three and a half years as raiders destroyed anything military or civilian that might possibly aid the enemy.

There were sooo many pretties at this battlefield,

but in the interest of keeping this post semi-short I’ll just

share these three. This last one is my favorite. I have no idea what it is, but I love the way it looks…and the purple color!

We ended the day with some grub. We went to the Black Sheep in Springfield and got one of the biggest burgers we’ve ever seen! It tasted as good as it looks!

The second battlefield we visited was the Pea Ridge National Military Park in Arkansas.

I love it when there are interactive displays! It keeps the kiddos more engaged and curious.

Are you wondering what the answer is to the question? What did soldiers carry into battle? Half of a two man tent, a miniature bible, a blanket, letters and photos from home, tobacco, a small sewing kit, and some personal hygiene stuff like a razor, brush, soap…and if they were lucky they might have a spare set of socks and a shirt. This, of course, would vary from soldier to soldier and what they could afford to bring with them from home.

I can’t tell you how many battlefields we’ve been to off the top of my head…quite a few. This was the first time we were able to hold one of the guns the soldiers carried. The guns were heavier than we thought.

After we perused the museum, we set off to explore the battlefield armed with a map, the audio tour, and my trusty camera. We encourage y’all to purchase the audio tour any time it’s available at a battlefield. It truly adds so much to the whole experience.

In all of our travels, we’d yet to actually set foot on the Trail of Tears. The boys have learned about it…we were close to it several times, but this was the first time to walk a part of Telegraph Road. Telegraph Road would later be renamed Wire Road.

Pea Ridge was the battle that kept Missouri in the Union.

Each battlefield is different. Different landscape, different feel, different story.

Elkhorn Tavern was used as a supply base for the Union until it was captured and held by the Confederate troops.

It ended up being a field hospital caring for both Union and Confederate wounded. The original tavern was burned in 1863 by Confederate guerrillas.

This field was the main battlefield at Pea Ridge. There are some traces of the trenches the soldiers dug. If you look very closely, you can see a cannon here and there. And if you listen hard enough…you might be able to hear the echos of the gun shots, the shouts of the men, and the canons going off.

The boys learned some valuable history and earned another Junior Ranger badge at Pea Ridge National Military Park. It’ll be our last battlefield for a while since we’re heading west for the next year.

There weren’t as many pretties at Pea Ridge, but I do love this one.

In the next post I’ll finish up with the National Park Units we visited while on our travel hiatus! There’s just one left, but I thought this post was long enough as it is. So, stay tuned!

See y’all down the road!

Categories: Arkansas, Foodie Find, Missouri, National Park | Leave a comment

Branson Day-Trip

Hey Guys!

One of our favorite days during our 16 week travel hiatus was the day trip we took to Branson, MO with my (Jennie’s) parents!

For as long as I can remember, my parents and I spent time in Branson every summer. I love that I’ve been able to show my boys some of the fun I had growing up and give them some Branson memories of their very own! This was the first year they were all tall enough to ride the go-carts solo.

Fitz’s Adventure was new to all of us.

The Dude and I loved the rope coarse the most.

It’s not really for the faint-of-heart. It’s all perfectly safe though.

You’re strapped into a harness then clipped onto a safety rope.

Even Littlest did alright on the rope coarse once he got over being up so high.

Rope coarse not your thing? You could do the wall climb! Yup, that’s Littlest, The Dude and me trying to make it to the top.  The wall climb was the hardest activity there for me. Not because of the height thing, but because I’m short, and out of shape. I think every muscle in my body was sore the next three days!

The two little boys both tried this.  The Dude got really close!


Littlest took several turns in the laser course. There’s a viewing room so I got to watch him in action.

There’s a huge plane suspended from the ceiling that you can climb up to. We did a few times just so the boys could sit in the cockpit and mess with all of the buttons, switches, and levers.

Fritz’s Adventure was new for all of us. It was so fun running around being a kid with our kids! If you’re ever in Branson, MO…this place is definitely worth an afternoon!

We spent the evening at the Dixie Stampede. Another first for all of us.

This show had it all! Action,

adventure, music,


and food! Food that you get to eat with your fingers during the show…which…is very cool, unless you want to take pictures.

Let’s talk about the food. You get a soup (this was really good), an entire small chicken, half a baked potato, a slice of pork loin, corn on the cob, and a biscuit. No silverware required.

You even get dessert! Score! It was all really tasty! I’ve been to quite a few of the shows in Branson and this one was so unexpectedly fun. It’s different than any of the other shows I’ve been to. Y’all should totally go check it out if you haven’t already!

The last thing we did was visit Branson Landing. The two little boys rode the zipline across the river. It goes pretty fast!

We found a soda shop that sells every kind of soda imaginable.

And I do mean every kind. Dinosaur Dung soda…I think I’ll pass.

Littlest found a Peanut Butter & Jelly soda that he had to try. He drank the whole thing. I’m still not sure if he actually liked it…he’d make a face every time he took a drink of it.

Mr. Man found a Chocolate Soda. He said it was really good!

We had the best day in Branson with my parents. We got to experience several firsts…which for people who’ve been to Branson soooo many times is hard to find. And, we got to share some of the oldies-but-goodies with the boys.

See y’all down the road!

Categories: Destinations, Missouri | Leave a comment

Travel Hiatus

Hey Guys!! We took a hiatus from traveling this past summer and spent time with family and friends in MO while we worked on some projects around the RV. We spent 16 weeks having fun, touring National Parks, and catching up with family and friends.

If you ask the boys…they would tell you one of the best things about our hiatus was being able to shoot off fireworks.

One of the downsides of being nomads is missing out on holidays with family. We were away for the July 4th celebrations the last two years.

We didn’t get to celebrate on July 4th this year either…but we were only four days late.

When we go back to MO we always stay in my (Jennie’s) parent’s driveway. We driveway camp. The boys love to play games and spend as much time as possible with family while we’re back.

They also love all of the toys…

that they have access to while driveway camping. 😉

Shhh…be very, very quiet…he’s hunting birds. Magnus spent the summer stalking birds aka we put up a bird feeder to keep him entertained. He’s very serious about his bird stalking.

I tried to get a video of him chattering and charming the birds, but every time I’d get close enough he’d stop. Apparently, he’s a shy hunter. Who knew cats could be shy?

Sadi spent the summer doing what Sadi does best…sleeping. And eating. She’s a champion eater.

We took a mini trip up to Omaha, NE to visit friends and see the eclipse! You can read all about it here.

We also made it to a local Vietnamese festival! Please don’t ask me to spell out the name of the festival. It’s an annual festival held every August in Carthage, MO.

We had a great time wandering around, drinking boboa tea, shopping,

and eating. Guys…the food! We didn’t get anything that wasn’t good.

Speaking of food…

one of the things we look forward to

is hitting all of our

favorite foodie places. Bonus points for anyone who can name all four different places in the pics!

I’ve got a few more posts planned to catch y’all up on what we did over our travel hiatus. We’ll talk about the National Parks we visited, a fun day trip to Branson, and all of the projects we’ve been working on…along with some not so fun things that happened, so stay tuned!

See y’all down the road!

Categories: Eclipse, Foodie Find, Keeping It Real, Missouri | Leave a comment

Little Rock, AR

Hey Guys! Are you ready for the second part of our Arkansas adventures?

The main reason we were in the Little Rock area was to visit the Arkansas State Capitol Building. Y’all know about our rule of visiting the SCB before we can put the state sticker on our map.

We enjoyed the Arkansas SCB. It has a lovely dome! There’s something to be said for clean lines and modest decorations.

It had not one, but two of these fantastic staircases.

Both of the House and Senate Chambers were locked. We didn’t get to go inside, but I did snap the picture above through the window. I do love stained glass domes!

I love these big brass doors! I had The Dude stand in front of one so you could get a better perspective of their size.

I would have to say the best part of this SCB for us was the State Treasury room

where they let us hold half a million dollars!! Guys!! Have you ever touched so much money at once?

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hold the money ourselves. We each got to hold the stack of money while the tour guide (I’m so bad with names) told us a bit about the history of the safe. He also gave the boys some perspective on how much money it takes to go to college and raise a kid. I think they were pretty surprised. We asked if he’d ever had anyone try to take off with the money. He said he hadn’t, but they do school fieldtrips there and he had one kid refuse to give the money back to him. I would like to have seen that conversation.

The other place we really wanted to visit in Little Rock  is the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. One of the things we really love about being nomads is the ability to take the boys to places where our Country’s history happened. We feel like it makes a bigger impact to see it in person rather than just reading about it in some book.

We weren’t alive in May of 1957. We’d, of course, learned about what happened at the Little Rock Central High School during that turbulent time, but we hadn’t learned much about it with the watered down version that’s taught in schools. We really didn’t know anything. The Visitor Center laid out really well. There’s so much information you could spend the better part of a day reading though it all and watching the videos.


I’d never heard them called”the Little Rock Nine”, never thought about how brave they must have been, how hard they had to work to stay in school while so many wanted to find reasons to kick them out, and how they were representing an entire group of people. The whole world was watching these nine high school kids…just waiting to see if they failed or succeeded. That’s a lot of pressure. Reading about each of their stories was eye opening for all of us.

The Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site includes the Visitor Center, this gas station where protests took place, and the High School itself.  The high school is still a working school so the only way to tour it is on a Ranger led tour. We, unfortunately, didn’t get to go on one. I would have liked to, but timing didn’t work out.

We made a quick stop at The Old Mill Park which is a re-creation of an 1880s water-powered grist mill. You might recognize it from the opening scenes of “Gone With The Wind”. It was a busy little park! You can go into the mill and look around.

The Old Mill Park is dedicated to the memory of the Arkansas pioneers. The park is nestled at the end of a finger of Lake Number Two.

If you’ve followed us for long, you know that we love our burgers. We found a great foodie spot called Big Orange. The burger above is the Farmer’s Burger with a fried egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and aioli. It must have been good because it didn’t last long!

I had the Smashed Avocado Burger with avocado, pepper salad, Havarti cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli! It was delicious! Those fries you see in the background are the State Fair Fries which include chili, cheese dip, two different kinds of shredded cheese, pickled jalapenos, fresh jalapenos and red onion. The were totally not on my diet and I didn’t care at all…they were definitely worth it!

Pretties! There were tons of them!

I’m sure I took way more pictures

of pretties than I needed to.

I found this one at the Old Mill Park. I love the color and how different it looks!

That’s all for Arkansas! See y’all down the road!

This is the last post for the #minieasternloop2017

Categories: Arkansas, Capitol Building, Foodie Find, minieasternloop2017, National Park | Leave a comment

Hot Springs National Park

Hey Guys! We spent one week in Arkansas, but we crammed so much into that one week I’m going to break up our Arkansas adventures into two separate posts. We’re going to start with Hot Springs National Park!

Bathhouse Row

Confession:  I didn’t really want to go to Hot Springs National Park. I could’t figure out what could be so interesting about a hot spring. Did I really want to devote an entire stop to this area? When we visit some place it’s not just for a weekend. We devote an entire week to two weeks to each stop. I questioned whether or not this National Park was worth the hassle of staying so far from Little Rock (which is the main reason we were going to be in the area). Now, don’t get me wrong…we love our National Parks…it’s just that usually, National Parks are…well…bigger.  I’m talking about Parks and not Monuments or Historic Sites or Battlefields.

Fordyce Bathhouse/National Park Visitor Center

The day we went it was soooo busy. Finding a parking spot wasn’t easy. Let’s just say, I was still skeptical when we walked into the Fordyce Bathhouse. It wasn’t looking so hot for Hot Springs, so far.

Ladies’ Bath Hall

The boys grabbed their Junior Ranger booklets and we set about exploring the museum in the Fordyce Bathhouse. The National Park Service has restored quite a bit of the Fordyce to what it looked like back in it’s heyday. In the picture above you can see one of the stalls used for a womens bath.  The uniform you see is what the attendant would have worn.

Treatment room

The museum in Fordyce Bathhouse you get to walk through the “ritual” of a bathhouse visit. These visits were a three week long regime of daily baths,


workouts in the state-of-the-art gymnasium,

Massage therapy room

massages with

the newest devices and tinctures,

and a variety of specialty treatments. The room above was for podiatry…all afflictions dealing with the feet.

Beauty salon

When all that steam from the hot spring water ruined your hair, you could stop into the beauty salon and have it fixed. Check out all of the old beauty equipment!

Therapy bathtub

During the mid- 19th century, Hot Springs catered to the wealth of America. People came from all over the country to have a spa vacation at one of the famous Bathhouse Row’s “temple of health and beauty”, but the wealthy weren’t the only people lining up to get into one of the spas. The mineral rich, hot spring water was said to be a cure for what ails you no matter what that ailment was. Many people came for physical therapy in specialized tubs like the one above.


While the bedrooms were on the small side,


the bathhouses offered ample rooms and activities to allow for socializing in the evenings. The mannequin in the photo above kind of gave me the creeps. I really kept expecting it to move. Maybe I’ve watched too much sci-fy.

Men’s bath hall

The first bathhouses weren’t really bathhouses. They were wooden planks surrounding excavated rock where the bathers’ would soak their feet. The first “bathhouse” which was more like a log cabin was built in 1830. During the height of Bathhouse Row, the spas were very elegant with stained glass, fountains, and works of art to make an establishment that rivaled those found in Europe.

Please do not urinate in vapor. The things you have to tell people.

 There was a time when the opulent spas attracted not only the wealthy, but also sports heroes, politicians, and even mobsters. Hot Springs became just as known for gambling, prostitution, and organized crime as it was known for it’s water. The success of Bathhouse row has gone up and down through the years. During the 1940s there were twenty-four bathhouses in operation. Only two spas are operating today. You can go to the Quapaw or Buckstaff Bathhouses and soak in the hot spring water for a fee. The Buckstaff has been in continuous operation since it opened it’s doors back in 1912 and is the only continuously run bathhouse on Bathhouse Row.

While most of the springs have been covered and sealed off to prevent contamination, you can still see some springs bubbling up and running down the mountain to collect in pools of 140° water.  So, why is the water so hot? It may surprise you to find out that Hot Springs isn’t in a volcanic region. The water you see in the picture above started it’s journey about 4,000 years ago as rain water seeping into the ground. The rain water is heated naturally by rock that’s under immense pressure at a rate of 4° every 300 feet. The rain water is then forced back up though fractures where it will take about a year to return to surface. The park collects 700,000 gallons a day. Here’s a tidbit for you: the water that you see flowing in the picture above started as rain water when the ancient Egyptians were still building the pyramids!

Not far from Bathhouse Row is the Hot Springs Mountain Tower where you can get a birds eye view of the area.

There are even some hiking trails around!

We hiked to Goat Rock to check out the view. It was an easy one mile TAB (there and back) trial, but it was so incredibly hot. We ran into an older couple who had hiked from a near by campground. They were lost with no water and no map, but didn’t seem to be worried about it. Guys, if you’re going to hike…have a map and please carry water. Be smart about your explorations.


We saw tons of these little lizards during our hike. They were everywhere!

We even ran into this little lady. Can you see her? This little deer is a master at hiding and camouflage.

Ready for some pretties?

There were quite a few different pretties around during our hike.

We were there late Spring, early Summer. Some pretties were still just waking up.

I know, I know…it’s a weed. But, it reminds me of a serious case of bedhead. 😛

We had a great day learning about the springs, tasting the water, and exploring Hot Springs National Park! Even though it’s the smallest and oldest National Park there’s quite a bit to see and do. We easily filled an entire day and could have spent another day hiking more. So, what did we learn? Sometimes there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to National Parks.

See y’all down the road!


Categories: Arkansas, minieasternloop2017, National Park | Leave a comment

Pizza Roundup Rod’s Pizza Cellar

To my fellow pizza lovers I bring a pizza post from Hot Springs, AR.

Rod’s Pizza Cellar is a really good pizza place! The decor reminded me of the typical pizza parlor with green and red checked decor.

Rod’s was made on July 4th and has been open for 42 years.

The pizza that started it all for Don’s Pizza Cellar is The Godfather pizza and it is really good. The Godfather pizza has Canadian bacon, cheese, sauce, Italian sausage and  peppers. The cheese is on top of all of the toppings to help hold it all on the pizza.

The restaurant itself is pretty clean and the food is good, did I mention Don’s has a buffet? Well, it is a good buffet with a nice selection of all the pizzas Don’s Pizza Cellar has to offer.

Dessert was also offered with the buffet. My favorite was the strawberry shortcake!

You don’t like buffetts? No problem! They also have a full menu you can order from!

Now with all that, I’m giving Rod’s Pizza Cellar a 5 star review.

See y’all next time on…

Pizza Street!!

Categories: Arkansas, minieasternloop2017, Pizza Street | Leave a comment

World of Zoo Memphis Zoo

To my fellow pizza… wait, that’s a different post.

To my fellow animal lovers, I bring a post from Memphis,TN. It is really cool walking up to the zoo, looks all Egyptian and neat.

At the zoo, the Memphis Zoo, that have all kinds of animals, like leopards,

red pandas,

birds, and


All the animals at the Memphis Zoo seemed to be comfortable in their enclosures.

The zoo was nice and clean too.

They have loads of neat animals. We really liked the hippo habitat because you could get a look above,

 ground level, and even

below the water! Which means you’re for sure going to see the hippos!

There were several baby animals when we visited!

I love how fuzzy the baby orangutan looks! The exhibits looked nice and clean and the staff were all nice.

At the Memphis Zoo they have really impressive Lego sculptures!

They’re HUGE!!

Look how detailed the Lego sculptures are! Amazing! Can you imagine putting one of these together?

Each exhibit is decorated to match the cultural area of the world that the animals are found in.

 The Memphis Zoo is one of the only 4 Zoos to have the Giant Pandas.

The Memphis Zoo were granted permission by the Chinese government to care for YaYa and LeLe in 2003.

I got to get really close to a giant panda, and that was awesome because giant pandas are my favorite animals!

The Memphis Zoo houses over 3,500 animals on 76 acres of land. That’s a lot of animals!! But don’t worry, you only have to walk about 2 miles to see all of the exhibits and there’s a tram tour you can take if it’s too hot or you’re hurt and can’t walk.

They also have, drum roll please, Polar Bears!! This polar bear wasn’t as active as the one in St. Louis but it was still cool.

The zoo opened in  1906 and is rated as one of the top 5 zoos in the U.S.A and I can see why. Healthy, happy animals with cool habitats make a great zoo.

Well I think that about sums it all up, I give Memphis Zoo a 5 star review.

See y’all at the Zoo!!

Categories: minieasternloop2017, Tennessee, World Of Zoo | Leave a comment