I had a week of vacation left over from the previous calendar year that I needed to use by the end of February or I would lose it.  Shannon and I debated for most of February about a destination for a vacation but we couldn't come up with a cheap consensus.  We decided to take the last week of February off and hope for a heat wave to hit within driving distance.  When the forecast came out for the week it was apparent that a cold snap had hit most of the nation.  So, we decided that if we were going to be stuck inside for a week we might as well be stuck inside with stuff to do.  We still weren't sure how Addie would travel so we chose a close destination and headed to St. Louis.

02/24/2003 - Des Moines, IA to Hannibal, MO
We left Des Moines around 11:00 AM and headed to Knoxville, IA so we could leave the dog with Shannon's parents for the week.  We arrived in Hannibal around 5:00 PM so we actually made pretty good time considering that we stopped in Ottumwa, IA for about 45 minutes so Shannon could nurse Addie and we could get a soda.  The total distance traveled was about 250 miles.

After dinner at "The Pirates' Cove" restaurant we headed back to the Best Western Hotel Clemens so Addie could burn off a little energy.  In case anyone is planning on going to this hotel you should know that it is just the "Hotel Clemens" now.  It was a bit run down when we were there and Best Western has since dropped them.   How bad do you have to be for Best Western to kick you out? (Sorry, Dad.  I know you worked at one for fifteen years but it's true.)  It was quickly apparent that every business in Hannibal is Twain-themed.  It's like a big joke that the entire town is in on. Of course, don't mention it to any of the locals that Twain wasn't born in Hannibal because they don't find it very interesting or funny.

(1) Addie (special "nasal" appearance by sweet potatoes)
(2) Matt and Addie

02/25/2003 - Hannibal, MO
Shannon and I had thought about taking a long weekend in Hannibal so we used this time to check out some of the major sites so that we could come back later with nicer weather and do everything.  The high temperature this day was about 15F so we had the entire town to ourselves.  At the Twain home we were told that we were the only visitors that they had in days and each time we went to a new exhibit we had a guide there to welcome us because they had heard that they "had a visitor today".  Twain's boyhood home has hallways exposed to the outside and they didn't heat it for the three guests they had this week so Shannon and Addie's cheeks have a nice 15 "glow" to them.

(1) Shannon and Addie in Mark Twain's boyhood dining room (Addie is visibly impressed)
(2) Shannon and Addie with Mr. Twain in the museum
(3) Shannon and Addie (the excitement of a cotton bale was way too much for Addie)
(4) The whole family with statues of Huck, Tom and Mark Twain

02/26/2003 - St. Louis, MO
Since the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is one of the most recognizable symbols of our country we thought it only proper to spend our first day there.  The high temperature was around 20 this day so we had to remain bundled up. We spent late morning and early afternoon at the memorial, headed back to our motel (two blocks away) for a nap and then headed to Union Station to do some shopping and look for a restaurant.  If you ever travel with a Frohardt you will quickly learn that the trip is as much about eating as it is sightseeing.  Two years after a trip we still find ourselves recalling the meals that we ate and it becomes apparent that we only saw sights in order to make our vacation look more respectable.  When we drive to Estes Park, CO I spend the entire state of Nebraska thinking about the green chili pizza at Poppy's Pizza Grill.  That's a 1400 mile round trip just for a pizza.

(1) Matt and Addie at the base of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
(2) The whole family ready for the tram ride to the top
(3) Matt and Addie at the top of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

(4) Matt and Addie checking out the view
(5) Western view

02/27/2003 - St. Louis Zoo
The St. Louis Zoo is an excellent zoo.  It's labeled as "free" but you have to pay $8 to park and all of their new editions such as an insectarium and the Children's Zoo require a fee.  But, since there were only twenty cars in the lot this day they had all of the exhibits open for free.

(1) Shannon and Addie with the zebras
(2) Matt and Addie hangin' with an ostrich
(3) Shannon and Addie near a model of the leg of an Indricotherium (the largest land mammal to ever live...according to the sign)

(4) Shannon and Addie (about five minutes later Addie had had enough of the weather and our zoo trip was officially labeled "over")
(5) A little splashin' before dinner

02/28/2003 - St. Louis, MO to Durant, IA via Springfield, IL
Since there is no great route from St. Louis to Durant, IA (where Matt's maternal grandmother lives) it is just as easy to go northeast to Springfield, IL and then northwest to Davenport, IA.  Plus, by going to Springfield it gave Matt a chance to go to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and pick up another stamp for his National Parks Passport.  If you don't know anything about the National Parks Passport it is highly addictive and you can find information on my links page.  There are currently three of the Siems cousins (Matt, Amy and Sarah) filling out their Passports.

(1) Matt and Addie in front of Lincoln's home
(2) The whole family across the street from Lincoln's home
(3) Matt's maternal grandmother Dorothy and Addie

  - St. Louis 2003
  - Tulip Time 2003
  - Estes Park 2005
  - Walt Disney World 2005
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