Morning sunrise & fog.

The long awaited trip is now history. Why do fun adventures seem to take forever to arrive, and then are done and past in the blink of an eye? We had been planning this fun get-away for about 2 mths. I had my moments of panic and excitement come in waves as I thought of what I was getting myself into. But, I really wanted to do this. So I decided we were just gonna do it and make the best of it. The biggest part of the challenge was the travel time of about 6.5 hrs with all 5 of my children 11 yrs-9mth. And driving through Chicago, all by myself.


Eating at Whole Foods

What was our plan? We left bright and early Tues morning. I got up at 3am with my hubby and Collin-11. And was almost ready to go an hr later when Collin came in. He showered and got the other 3 up and ready to go out the door while I got baby up and fed her good. We then hit the road at about 4:35 am. It took about an hr for them to all nod off to dream land again. All but Rylen-7. He never took a nap. We actually managed to drive a huge chunk before needing to stop, in fact. I think it was the other side of Chicago. Which ended up NOT being a good idea. As Kianna got hungry about half way through and was NOT impressed with not being able to just stop anywhere. We also discovered a certain son who can not handle a moving vehicle while watching a movie. So going through Chicago found him hunched over the trash can.

I have no clue where we even pulled off at. I just seen a huge mall, with a Lego store and thought ‘Why not?’ Yeah, why not check the time too!! Just because you’ve been up for hours and hours doesn’t mean the rest of the world has been. It was about 8:30 am, no store was open. So we opted for a movie while I fed the baby, in the parking lot. Then I seen a sign for a Whole Foods grocery store. So we went in there for a brunch, which we ate at their picnic tables outside. Then we loaded up and headed out on our way. It was a good hr stop!! And soon after we were on the road, and another movie was going, the above child lost his lunch! You’d think he’d get the idea!

Anyway… we made it to Indianapolis, IN around 2:00. Which we lost an hr in there. And we had made another stop. Yes, we are so thankful for a bigger vehicle – we had upgraded from our minivan to a suburban, known as Big Red.

So after checking in, and finally getting to our room, our friends got there!!! So let the fun begin. We have been friends with Brenda for a long time, but our times together have been far and few between and always so short. So we had decided to meet somewhere half way. And just spend a few days together having fun! The only thing we really planned was going to the zoo.


So Tues afternoon we went swimming and just let the littles get to know Brenda and her sister again. Which really wasn’t hard to do!! The motel had a great pool with wide steps, perfect for Karson and Kianna to play on. After a pizza supper we found this great park with a huge silo and slides and a tractor to play on. There was also a meadow of flowers with paths through it. A splash park, and more.


We all crashed fairly early that night. We wanted to be at the zoo soon after opening time. Which didn’t really happen. We all felt like taking our time. And then it was a HOT day, like in the 90’s. But we survived. And had lots of fun. I discovered Rylen is becoming quite the photographer. He has for some time been begging to use my camera. I let him now and then, but not often. But he proved to me he has a genuine interest in it and some skills that will be awesome one day! He took many of my zoo pics and other pics of our time together.


The zoo was fun, yes, the heat damped the spirits and the clothes!! But we made the best of it. A train ride, and a fun little roller coaster. The Dolphin Show. A Dog Show. The picnic and boys playing the the shrubs nearby, where by-passers were amused at Karson for popping out at them. He had a stick and they were ‘hunting’ each other. Kianna was finding every odd piece of left over foods and non foods to sample. (Blah!!) And Rylen had the camera for a while…


These are all photo’s by Rylen, age 7.

The zoo had a little bit of everything, but a HUGE disappointment in that there were no crocodilians. (Yes, that is a word! Even though my computer declares it a misspelled crocodile. Crocodilians is the word for crocs, alligators and gharials. Now it’s yelling that gharial isn’t a work either!! Thanks ZooBooks for the education in crocodilians!!) They did find ONE fake croc, heading under a bridge. And they stayed there for too long looking at the silly thing.


Lunch time and bush hunting.


Photo’s by Rylen, except for the giraffe’s.



Most of the other animals it seemed to be a fast look and they were on their way again. Boys!! They didn’t have very many monkeys either. But did have this huge skywalk system for the chimps. They would climb up this high tower then walk across huge ropes to platforms. It was neat. But when they were walking out there the sun was so bright & hot, we couldn’t see real great, nor did we want to stand and watch for long.



Lego creations in the garden’s.

We headed back to our motel around 3:30, after the dolphin show. Oh, and after a tour through the gardens to see the huge lego sculptures, while Karson, Kianna & I went to Big Red. They were just done! Then the boys headed straight for the pool, as soon as they could. We had so much pizza left over, we had eaten that for breakfast and then supper again. And snacks. ha

We headed for the park again, this time earlier than 8pm. We wanted to go walk so other trails we had seen on our way out the night before.Β  AND we took some furniture polish to spray slides to make them slipperier. But once we got there and seen it was once again really full, we decided to spray bottom sides and let them polish the slides that way. Let’s just say ‘It works!!!!’.




The boardwalks were fun to run on. I was a bit nervous someone would find their way into the water. But no one did fall over the edge. And we got some great pictures. It was a photographers haven. And we seen a couple photographers out there doing their thing. We then headed for Yo Joy Yogurt shop for a cool treat!! Then back to our motel. It took the boys a while to settle down to sleep. But one by one they dropped off. Then Collin stayed up with us girls til midnight. It’s fun to hang out with your own son. He is growing up so much! And joins in on conversations. We had a blast.


Thurs. we decided to head for a mall with a Lego store. We packed up and headed there about 10. After an hr of lego drooling, the littles were just getting DONE. And the boys were too. I wasn’t sure what time I was gonna head home. But decided they were all so tired I should just drive while they slept!! My parents had come through Chicago that morning and said traffic was crazy. So that helped the decision as well. Traffic was CrAzY coming down on Tues, and if she said it was still crazy Thurs, I was a bit nervous. I tanked up baby and boys. And we hit the road around 12:20pm. And I soon had a quiet rig!! Most slept for over 2 hrs. Karson it was around 3. Collin kept me company, as we talked about the trip and the fun we had. We seen a crop-duster plane that was going over fields right beside the interstate. He would cross the interstate and do the other side. We tried to time our passing, but just missed him. But he flew right up behind us, he was getting bigger and bigger in my side mirror before looping up and away.

We then hit a big rain storm just south of Chicago. And had to slow to a crawl for a while. The lightening was fun to watch and the cracks of thunder we could hear above the rain and music we had going. Kianna woke just as we got into Chicago. But a couple of the boys were still sleeping. So I decided to push my luck and see how far we could go again. Rylen did a great job keeping her happy!! We made it the whole way through Chicago without stopping. We did stop in traffic for just a bit when we merged onto I90. But otherwise we had a pretty easy sailing through there. I was very thankful for that. One frustration I had, was I forgot the I-Pass. So had to stop at every toll booth. The last half hr Kianna was DONE waiting. But I wanted to stop at the Plaza that went over the Toll Road.


So we took a good hr break there. They had a small play area the boys & Kianna played in. And while we watched the traffic zoom beneath us, we ate an ice cream treat. It was time to get on the road again.


We had just gotten into WI when I seen the sky beginning to get really dark. Let’s just say that storm was a bit worse than the first one we went through. We finally stopped along the road. I fed Kianna again, and we waited for the worst of it to pass. I thank God for His protection over us. I was ready to pull out into traffic again and seen a big open dark spot. Good I thought, no traffic. It was nearly as dark as night and it was only around 6 o’clock. Anyway, something made me pause. As I looked again, I thought I seen a dark shadow coming up behind me. So I waited a bit to see if it indeed was something. It was!! A big dully pickup with a large cattle trailer, who didn’t have his lights on!! We were so thankful for God’s protection.

We slowly made our way home. The storm was still not very friendly for driving, but it was hard to stay parked. So I kept going. We got home just before 9pm. The lights of home were so Welcoming!! And so was the hubby & dad of this tribe!! There is just no place like home!! But we sure enjoyed our trip!!

*Photo credits go to Rylen & Lois Martin, and I used a few from Brenda & Kendra Orendorf.




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2 Responses to OrtinIndyAdventures16

  1. Esther Gingerich says:

    Wow, Lois! You are brave to travel like that with kids! πŸ˜ƒ
    And that plaza, is that the one close to the IL state line? It looks just like the one we stopped at already on one of our trips to IA to visit my in laws. We loved that place, and sat right above the interstate to eat lunch. In fact we sat really close to the play area! So fascinating! πŸ˜ƒ

    • TenderHerb says:

      It’s the one on the West side. There are more than 1, depending how you go through Chicago. But that’s the one we stopped at. So it’s likely the same one. πŸ™‚ I’m not sure if I’m brave or nuts. ha

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