A Visit to Hannibal

After yesterday’s manifesto, I think I owe you something light and fluffy. Like pictures of a family trip.

We’re really not in the “family vacation” age range. The idea of forking over a bazillion dollars to go someplace and be stressed out and miss nap times and have two of the kids not remember one bit of it a few months from now just isn’t appealing. So instead, we’re trying to come up with some day trips.

First stop: Mark Twain Cave

My sister brought up the idea of Hannibal several weeks ago, and we thought it sounded like a good idea. But Alex knew nothing about the literary phenomenon that is Tom Sawyer, so we trekked to the library and found an easy chapter book that told the story. Most of it, anyway. At the start, he was lukewarm about the whole thing. But by the end he was begging for extra chapters and asking, “When we go to the cave, I want to see where Injun Joe’s hand came around the corner with the candle!”

No sooner had we entered the cave than Miss Julianna started signing “toilet.” “No way!” I said. “You’re gonna have to hold it.” I knew that was a bad idea–the tour’s an hour long–but what was I supposed to do, make the tour wait? Catch up? In a cave? Uh, right. Next thing I knew, I had a growth attached to me. A whining growth.

The part Alex was dreading came in what they call the Grand Avenue. Having been there before, I knew they were going to turn all the lights off on us, and I didn’t want him blindsided by the fact, so I warned him. It almost derailed the visit, but I remained firm and promised him that I would hold his hand all the way through. I kept that promise, but it was quite a bit difficult considering my “growth.”

By the time we left Grand Avenue, we had filtered from the front of the group to the very end of it. (That’s me you’re seeing there at the back.) Just as we started into the bottleneck passage at the end of Grand Avenue, my darling daughter went, “Euch…blech…HURL.” And threw up down my back.

Mind you, we were 250 feet underground, at the back of the tour group in a protected environment that they are worried about preserving. And my daughter just threw up all over it.

Ah, parenthood.

But Alex got to see where Injun Joe’s hand came around with the candle…so that made it all okay.

Second Stop: Lover’s Leap

One bathroom stop later, Julianna was feeling much better. It was getting close to lunchtime, but we drove up to Lover’s Leap to get a view of the Mississippi River.

Third Stop: Picnic and Post-Lunch Exercise Regimen

We headed downtown for the rest of the day and had a lovely picnic lunch, which was interrupted by none other than Tom and Becky!

Afterward, we headed up to the lighthouse, a climb of 244 steps. Our children were rock stars and did the vast majority of the upward climb themselves. By now, we were pushing nap time, so holding our breaths, we went back down (much more quickly, because we carried the little ones most of the way) and sat down for ice cream. Then it was time to go see the historic buildings: Mark Twain’s boyhood home, etc. That was interesting, but not very photogenic, so I won’t share any there. Then it was a two-block walk to the museum, which was a lot of fun for the kids.

 (I love that picture.)

Fourth Stop: The Train Store

And following the museum, how could we help giving Nicholas the thrill of his life? We went to a toy train museum right on the corner up the hill from Mark Twain’s house:

At 4:15p.m., napless, we loaded the car and headed for home. We stopped at Pizza Hut for dinner, and I’ll just close with perhaps my favorite image of the entire day: