After nine days of being away, the time came to leave our Wyoming nirvana. Our last day in the Tetons was bittersweet. No one was truly ready to return to Louisiana. It seemed as though we all found our home away from home. Some of us even entertained the thought of moving to the Jackson area! What a dream come true that would be.
We packed our bags and loaded the minivan. The van was a bit more loaded than before due to our many purchases while in Jackson. We all know that a girl can't resist shopping!
"On the road again... I just can't wait to get on the road again..."
We waved goodbye to our cabin and hit the road. Our destination for the day: Colorado Springs, Colorado. Keeping with our road trip tradition, we made our way to the first roadside attraction of the day. The giant head of Abraham Lincoln in Laramie, Wyoming. This is an enormous bronze sculpture of the late president's head sitting atop a gigantic stone pillar. The landmark was constructed to commemorate Lincoln's 150th birthday.
From there we traveled to Fort Collins, Colorado to view the Swetsville Zoo. It sits near the highway and borders a nearby waterway. This is not a living zoo. It is a collection of sculptures that were constructed from discarded metal bric-à-brac. It was truly incredible! There were animals, dinosaurs, vehicles, robots, flowers, fish, people, serpents, huge wind-chimes and so much more. This was one of our favorite stops! We are definitely fans of this brilliant and talented artist, Bill Swets.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] Anna Grace, Grayson, Andrew and Duke![/caption]
After a quick dinner and a 2 1/2 hour drive, we arrived at our beautiful hotel in Colorado Springs. We stayed at the Wyndam Mining Exchange hotel. It was an old historic building that was converted into a hotel. At one time this was where mining companies would promote their stock. The building stands as a gleaming reminder of the gold rush, and its old vault sits proudly preserved in the lobby. Our room was very spacious and luxurious. It had old exposed brick walls plus Art Deco inspired fixtures and furnishings that contributed to the charm of this hotel. We highly recommend staying here!
We slept in and headed out just after noon to continue our journey home. Before we left the Colorado Springs area we visited the Manitou Springs Indian Cliff dwellings. These structures were built by the Anasazi Indians. They were actually relocated from southwestern Colorado to their current location in an effort to preserve them. We noticed that once you climbed inside the dwellings, the temperature dropped dramatically! No need for air conditioning here! Something we southern girls wouldn't know anything about. AC is our best friend!
Just minutes outside of Colorado Springs sits the World's Largest Beetle, which is where we headed to next. The beetle was really big and looked to be made out of paper maché. We hurried up the cactus infested hill to snap a few pictures with the huge bug and off we went!
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480.0"] Like our "A Bug's Life" leaves?! We couldn't resist.[/caption]
We drove twelve hours to our next resting spot, Fort Worth, Texas. In Fort Worth we stayed in the stockyards area. It is an area that is quintessentially the "Old West." It had so many amazing shops, activities and restaurants. The kids loved this place! They took pictures with cowboys, longhorns and motorcycles. They even got some Texas shaped suckers! Most importantly, Anna Grace found some pink sparkly boots. She's in love!
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] She's a natural with that bike![/caption]
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1200.0"] We found Rodéo-opoly![/caption]
While in Fort Worth, we happened upon the funniest beer can yard. It even had a sign saying "rehab is for quitters." Don't know that we agree with that motto but it got us laughing and the yard was quite a sight to see!
The next morning we got in the car and headed to our last roadside attraction, the pig on a roof in Shreveport, LA. We pulled over quickly once we got there and snapped a few pictures. We then zoomed down the road towards Saint Francisville!
Finally we were on the home stretch! Only three hours away, we were so close yet so far. All of us were becoming a little antsy in the car. Although our journey had come to an end, we are now planning what amazing places we can visit next summer! Stay tuned for our next adventure and thanks for coming along on this one!
The Rodéo Girls
After three full days on the road, we finally arrived at our sweet little cabin in Wilson, Wyoming. The cabin couldn't have been in a better location seeing that it was just six miles from downtown Jackson Hole! The cabin had a master bedroom with a loft. Although the living quarters were tight and six people had to share one bathroom, we were able to make it work! The fact that we were usually out enjoying nature's bounty instead of sitting inside our cabin all day definitely helped with that. One of the best things about our cabin was that at dusk, we were able to see many elk, deer, and bull moose munching on their dinner in the nearby swampy areas.
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Now this might not surprise you, but we started our trip running behind and leaving an hour and half late because I, of course, was not finished packing and was at Cabella's at 9:00 a.m. buying a baby blue Yeti for the trip. How could we drive cross-country without the perfect fashionable ice chest? We did clearly say that this was going to be done Rodéo Style! (By the way, the ice chest is the perfect size and does last up to three days.) Although we got a late start, we were so excited to begin our journey!
We packed light but the van was still very full! In addition to all of our luggage, the kids had every electronic device known to man, tons of DVDs, games, etc. We had a huge bag of snacks and filled the Yeti full of drinks. We were prepared for everything or so we thought! It didn't take long for Anna Grace to ask "How many more minutes? We've been in this car forever!" After explaining to the kids that this was going to be an adventure and that we were making memories, we handed each child their road trip binder. This binder included all the detailed information about our trip. From driving directions and drive time, to accommodations, roadside attractions and activities. It covered everything! Especially our destination, Yellowstone! They loved flipping through these binders and were able to follow along which means they were participants, not just passengers. We made sure that they directed their attention to the roadside attraction section in their binders so they would know what stops we were going to make.
The first stop on this long journey was to see the largest crawfish in Alexandria, LA. The kids excitedly climbed all over the man made sculpture while we were there. Interestingly enough, we discovered that the outer shell of the crawfish was completely composed of red duct tape! Not very durable, but oh so typical of south Louisiana!
After leaving the crawfish, we missed our exit to get back onto I-49, so we just cut across the median and exited the interstate like it was nothing! Who says southern ladies can't drive? Once we were back on track, we headed to Frierson, LA to view the largest mailbox in Louisiana. It stood 19 feet tall and was visible from the interstate. The kids loved it! They wondered if mail was really delivered here. From there, we traveled to Shreveport and stopped at Superior Grill for a yummy dinner! There would be no more attractions to see until Fort Worth.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] Andrew, Anna Grace and Grayson[/caption]
Fort Worth, Texas is home to a beautifully restored vintage Sinclair gas station. The children loved seeing the "old timer" gas pumps and the vintage truck parked in front! The huge Sinclair brontosaurus statue was on top of the building, and the young ones were just in awe at the size of the huge beast! If you are ever in the area, it's a must-see! Next stop, Wichita Falls, Texas.
In Wichita Falls, we saw the smallest skyscraper in America. It was precious and a must-see! It stood at only 4 stories tall. We didn't arrive in Wichita Falls until almost 10:30 and the area in which it resides seemed to be a bit eerie at night, so we snapped a few photos and off we went! Our destination: Amarillo, Texas.
Amarillo was where we spent our first night in a hotel. It was almost 2:30 a.m. when we arrived! We were exhausted! We had planned for a 13-hour drive the first day, but it turned into a bit over 15 hours. We learned that traveling with children means frequent potty breaks! This, in addition to stopping at the designated roadside attractions, filling up the car with gas and our tummies with food equated to several more hours in the car!
Thursday morning, we got up and headed towards Cadillac Ranch. (Which is in Amarillo) Along the way, we ran into two guys and their dogs, who were trying to make it to Albuquerque, New Mexico. They had been trying to get there for six months. At first we passed right by them, and then I thought, let's go back and take our picture with those guys playing music and give them a hand if they need it! So we turned around and let the kids listen to their music. We took our picture with them and spent a few minutes getting to know them. We gave them some money to help out with their traveling, and right as we were leaving, a truck pulled up and offered them a ride if they could contribute some gas money. With the money we gave them they were able to hitch a ride. They were so excited and were literally cheering and exclaiming about how "stoked" they were. We were just so happy that we could be a part of helping them get to where they were going. After seeing our new friends off, we got in the car and drove to Cadillac Ranch.
Cadillac Ranch is a public art sculpture that was created in 1974 by a couple of art hippies from San Francisco, who were part of a group named Ant Farm. They came up with the idea and found an eccentric billionaire investor, Stanley Marsh in Amarillo Texas, to help bring this idea to life. This attraction has been a favorite for many years, and we could see why. When you come into the gate there is a pile of probably 300 cans of used spray paint. We brought some of our own spray paint to make sure that we could leave our mark. Our kids had lots of fun spray painting on the cars. This was such a big hit with all of us and was one of my favorite stops! It is such a clever idea. We will definitely always remember Amarillo because of this fun, quirky roadside attraction.
Do you see what we added to the car?? Our favorite phrase, "Keep Dreaming" and we made sure to do it with purple spray paint.
Right outside of Amarillo, after we left Cadillac Ranch, we were stopped by a sweet policeman for speeding. But thankfully, he just taught us how to use our cruise control and let us move along on our travels. He was such a traditional looking Texas Ranger in his cowboy boots, hat and vest. And that mustache! Quite impressive.
We ended up stopping in the same little town we got pulled over in for a Teepee that was right off the road. We knew we couldn't pass up the chance to visit this fun little roadside attraction. What kids would not enjoy going inside a real plastered Teepee?
After snapping the kids photo, we got back in the car to keep traveling. We stopped in downtown Denver for a hot dog at a restaurant called Biker Jim's. If you know Grayson, then you know he has a love for snakes. This restaurant is famous because they serve rattlesnake and pheasant hot dogs. Sounds yummy, right? Well, Grayson said it was awesome, but I decided I would rather take his word on this one than try it for myself!
That night, we stayed in Rawlins, Wyoming. Just like the day before, we didn't arrive until about 2:30 a.m. It was another long day, but we were able to sleep in the next morning since our last day was only about 6 hours of driving to get to Jackson Hole.
The next morning we got ready and got back in the car. On our way to Jackson Hole, we came across a festival in Pine Bluff, Wyoming. It was such a neat town, and we couldn't miss the opportunity to stop and join the fun of the festival! We got to meet lots of cool local people and enjoy treats like cotton candy and homemade lemonade. The kids had a blast exploring and meeting the people. Anna Grace especially loved meeting everyone's dogs. Then she would make sure to tell them about our sweet little Dixie Rose, who unfortunately had to stay behind with Dad, so they wouldn't be too lonely without us.
They had all sorts of things going on at this festival, including face painting. Anyone who knows Anna Grace, knows she loves to paint faces, finger nails, etc! So her first stop at the festival was to get her face painted. She loved it, and once we got back in the car, she looked in the mirror and said, "Mommy, I look beautiful!"
Grayson got his first souvenir of the trip at this festival. It was a hand carved knife with a bison on it. Here you can see the booth where we got the knife!
Next to the booth, they had some stuffed bears. Grayson was a fan and requested a picture with them! They look so real, don't they?
Once we had seen and done all we could do at the little festival we headed to our final destination! We arrived in Jackson Hole around 6:30 p.m. and were so happy to have completed our first 3 days of traveling! Can't wait to share the rest of our trip with you!
The Rodéo Girls
Have you taken your summer vacation yet?
If not, you are welcome to come with us as we take a road trip across the country, Rodéo Style! Shanna (the owner of Rodéo), her friend Christy, and each of their kids (that's 4 kids total, people!) have decided to load up in a rented mini van and drive from St. Francisville, LA to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which is a 30-hour drive, one way! Are they crazy or just livin' life to the fullest? We'll let you decide on that one. The reason for this trip is to visit Yellowstone National Park to soak in all "God's country," and do it in a way that they will never forget! This won't be just another vacation, it will be an experience! It's a trip that will encourage them to slow down and really enjoy the journey, which is something our "on-the-go" society has sort of forgotten how to do.
They are just two southern ladies road trippin' it, without their husbands, but with their wild and crazy kids in tow stopping at a few of America's best roadside attractions along the way! Curious about what route they are taking and what "quirky" roadside attractions they plan to check out? Don't worry, we've prepared a map for you so you can follow along...
Starting this week, we will be sharing the diary of their trip. The stories. The laughs. And most importantly, the pictures. We hope you are excited to come along on this journey, and to get you in the spirit, we've included the playlist we'll be listening to along the way.
Laissez les bons temps roulez'! (Let the good times roll!)
The Rodéo Girls