A Garden of Memories | My Family Travels
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Two months ago, this was just speculation, an idea interwoven with thoughts of summer. Finally, that idea had reached reality. My parents worked hard on planning a fun vacation through Missouri and Arkansas. They prepared the soil and planted the seeds. Eventually, these seeds of planning sprouted into the buds of a family vacation.

Day One included a five hour drive from Naperville, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri. City Museum was the first stop. As its name implies, it was a museum, a rather junky one…literally, as the whole place was filled with objects that had been recycled. One of the main staples was climbing equipment, making it feel like a veritable playground for kids and adults alike.

After spending a few hours there, we made our way to our hotel, a Hyatt Regency, where we were able to relax. We had gotten two rooms, but one was unfortunately not ready. As we waited, we watched Fourth of July celebrations beneath the Arch, which we could see from our room.

After dinner at Imo’s Pizza, we headed back to City Museum. We visited their roof, where a giant Ferris Wheel awaited us. However, our rooftop adventure was cut short when lightning was spotted and everyone was ordered to go back inside.

The next two days spent in St. Louis could really be considered my sisters’ vacation. One day we visited Grant’s Farm. The second day we visited the St. Louis Zoo. My sisters both adore animals, so they were really excited to see various domestic and exotic creatures. Me being the person with a “you’ve-seen-one-zoo-you’ve-seen-them-all” mindset, gazing at animals behind fences wasn’t the most exciting aspect of the trip for me. We got to visit the Arch on Day Two, and I thought that was pretty cool, but I was really expectant for what would come next.

Coasters, and other rides, were what awaited us at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, when we arrived there on Day Four, after a four hour drive. Stepping through the front gates, we felt like we were whisked back into time, entering a town where guys like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn would feel right at home. Workers and entertainers wore the garbs of people who might have lived in the Ozarks in the late 1800s. Buildings were built with this in mind as well, allowing the olden day feel to permeate nearly every aspect of the park…except for the rides, of course.

After two days of thrilling rides, entertaining shows, and mouth-watering food, we packed our bags and made the two hour drive to Rogers, Arkansas, to spend our last few days with our cousins. Given the helter-skelter pace of going place to place over the first half of the trip, it felt nice to settle down and just relax…and play games. We played card games. We played video games. We played at parks. We watched my cousins play soccer. Play, play, play.

The biggest challenge awaited us on the drive home: Eleven hours, driving from Arkansas back to Illinois. I found it funny how tired I felt after doing virtually nothing but sitting and using a laptop.

Two months ago, this was just speculation. My parents had worked hard. Their work paid off. Though not everything turned out perfectly, we still had fun. We journeyed together, and that was probably the most important part. Being together, being a family. The seeds my parents had sown sprouted over the week, transformed into a garden of memories we can revisit any time we want.

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