my niece contacted us about a month ago to make sure we could come to my sisters surprise 50th birthday party. we said yes, even though it meant schlepping the k family 5+ hours to arkansas. not that we thought about not going, but i'm not saying i was happy about the drive.
the freestyle is large enough to carry all of us, and a fair amount of luggage. but we tend to over pack because eli is a demanding traveler. there's diaper bags, sippy cups, trains, stuffed animals, books, coats, blankets, travel bed...and that's just HIS stuff! you throw in hanna and her womanly needs (books, clothes, shoes, boots, clothes, pillows, suitcases, clothes...clothes....) and you have quite a car full.
we made it to the natural state by early afternoon and immediately started eating. we ate, and ate, and ate, then ate more because we felt so bad about eating. my sister and her husband have a house on the white river, just below a beautiful, towering bluff. there happens to be a picturesque railroad along the bluff also, endless entertainment for eli. we puttered around for a while, and called it quits and went to bed. eli kept us up until 1:30, though, so that was nice.
saturday woke us up with sunny and warm skies. it was in the 60's, so hanna and tyson were able to ride the four wheeler with my nephew kevin. he's really good with the kids, and caught some air with hanna on board. she was so excited. i even took my turn at it, but i felt like a fish out of water. deanna likes fast, motorized things, so she took the kids around on it, too, and of course she has to prove she's better at that sort of thing than me and was jumping the mounds of dirt around the property. after the humiliation that i suffered on the four wheeler (hanna announced to everyone that i was really, really slow on the four wheeler), kevin took hanna, tyson and i up to the top of the painters bluff. it was a winding, treacherous jeep trail up to the top, and a nice little hike to the edge. it was an incredible view. we were several hundred feet above the river, looking out over thousands of acres of rugged ozark mountains. very cool. hanna and tyson thought they could see the hollywood sign, but i think they were mistaken.
the surprise for my sister went well. somehow, the kids managed not to spill the beans and she was surprised. we were also lucky to see some of my mom's siblings, as well as a few other relatives that i only get to see on trips to arkansas. all in all, except for the extreme sleep deprivation, it was a great time, and the kids will always remember the trip. and not in a griswold/vacation sort of way, either.