We got to celebrate this year in Portland, at my older sister’s house. The kids had a blast playing and lighting stuff on fire.
My little sister joined us on a trip north to see Mount St. Helens. It is hard for photos to capture the surrealness of a giant mountain missing half of itself.
We visited Powell’s City Of Books for the first time, the largest bookstore in the world. It was massive. Then we wandered around downtown.
We set off today on an 18 day road trip around the entire southern part of the country. We’ll make it all the way to the East Coast before heading along the Gulf Coast to get back home.
The whole day was spent on the road, well over 12 hours. We stopped outside of Yuma to look at the sand dunes, then a little further up the road to stretch our legs and put our hands into the Colorado River. We had dinner in Phoenix then drove the rest of the evening through Arizona’s mountains and into Albuquerque.
The landscape was gorgeous on the drive up to Los Alamos.
We spent the first part of the day at the Bradbury Science Museum, learning about how they built and tested the first nuclear bombs. The museum also covered lots of other areas of science that the Los Alamos National Laboratory now works on.
For the rest of the afternoon, we looked at the local critters and beautiful scenery at the Los Alamos Nature Center.
Having to get back on the road, we drove through more beautiful country, stopping at Santa Rosa, NM for dinner. Then it was a dark drive through the night to get to our hotel in Pampa, TX.
Of course our road trip would take us through the most extreme heat wave of the summer. But, we pushed through it, spending a few hours walking along OKC’s Bricktown Riverwalk. Some ice cream helped us all cool off before the game.
The OKC Dodgers were having a “Cielo Azul” night, where they wore their alternate uniforms and had Ballet de Folklorico performers in between innings. Our seats were so close, we were practically on the field. Connor ran the bases after OKC crushed the River Cats, 12 to 3.
One of the best public parks in the country must be The Gathering Place, which we spent the first part of the day in Tulsa exploring. They have a cool mirror maze, a sky forest to climb around in, a castle, and lots of amazing play areas.
When we couldn’t stand the heat any longer, we moved on to see downtown Tulsa. We stopped at The Center of the Universe, a spot where if you are standing in it, it echoes back your voice super loud.
Our day started off at the Arkansas State Capitol, where we looked around the grounds before exploring inside the building.
Next, we headed to the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Park. They had an informative museum about the fight to desegregate the high school, and the Little Rock Nine who were so brave to face such horrific racism. It was surreal being in a spot where such an important event in our country’s history happened.
We spent the rest of our day in Little Rock at the Central Arkansas Nature Center, where we learned all about the state’s wildlife.
If you ever find yourself in Memphis, I highly recommend visiting the National Civil Right Museum.
The Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, has been preserved and a museum built on the grounds, covering the entire history of slavery in our country and the Civil Rights Movement.
We all learned so much about such a dark time in our nation’s past and the fight for its future. It felt very solemn looking into the room where MLK spent his last moments, and standing in the spot across the street, where the fatal shot was fired.
The rest of our day was less serious but just as enjoyable. We ran by the giant pyramid that houses a Bass Pro Shop, before heading to Beale Street. We had dinner at Dyers Burgers and walked around the famous street, listening to the blues playing through the air.
The Tennessee State Museum was huge, covering everything from prehistoric times, through the founding of the state, the civil war, and into the present day. We spent all morning and early afternoon exploring its treasures, but we could have spent much more time.
After the museum, we drove around downtown Nashville and then visited the State Capitol, which was smaller than the one in Arkansas and many of the other ones we have visited.
We spent the rest of the day visiting a replica of The Parthenon, which is kinda a weird thing to build in Tennessee. I was disappointed to discover it was made of concrete instead of marble.
Vanderbilt University was practically across the street, so we drove around it some. Gavin wanted to see their baseball stadium, which he managed to do right before a massive thunderstorm started dumping buckets of rain on us.
We spent all day at the US Space & Rocket Center, learning about the creation of the Saturn V rocket and the US Space program. We also tried the Moon Shot, where we got to feel weightless for a bit, and the G-Force Accelerator, where we experienced 3Gs of force.
In the evening, we went to the Trash Panda’s Team store, to get some gear from the Minor League team with the best logo. Then we drove down to Atlanta, passing through Chattanooga, TN on the way.
Today we learned more about Martin Luther King Jr, visiting both his birth house and his tomb. While we were at the King Center, we got stuck in a massive thunderstorm. I ended up having to walk through it to go get the car, so I could pick up everyone else.
We drove by the Georgia State Capitol but it was closed, so we just drove a few loops around the block. Then we drove randomly around the downtown area, and did a pass by the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Truist Park in the suburbs of Atlanta became the 13th MLB stadium we’ve had the pleasure to watch a game in. We viewed all sorts of cool baseball memorabilia while wandering around the stadium. We got to see some players warm up and take batting practice.
The game was a pitching duel, and neither team could get anything going. But, in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Braves walked it off, winning the game 1 to 0. After the game, we made our way down to the field and the boys ran the bases.
The boys running the bases: