Road Trippin’ to Washington, D.C. – Day 4

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We got up this morning and got a bit of a late start… I guess that’s just normal for us Solars. Our friend Jen made us a yummy breakfast of pancakes (!) and sausage. Then we loaded up the car and headed to Baltimore. We had plans to go to the National Aquarium. We found the parking garage and parked our car. Then at the last minute, we decided to go on a pirate cruise instead. We booked the pirate cruise and then realized it was in Annapolis and not Baltimore.

We had a few hours before the pirate cruise, so we decided to walk around and check out downtown Baltimore. We walked down to the bay and the kids immediately spotted dragon paddleboats in the water. We decided to walk over and check them out. They wouldn’t let all five us ride in one boat, so we had to rent two. We opted for the cheaper, regular boats (because I didn’t want to spend $36 to rent dragon boats for 30 minutes!). Wouldn’t you know our luck… they gave us dragon boats anyway (and I was happy because I saved $14!). We paddled around in the bay for about 20 minutes and then called it quits… it wasn’t really hot today, but it was SO humid out on the water.

After the paddle boats, we walked around for a bit and looked for somewhere to eat. The kids were getting kind of grumpy and all the places we wanted to go weren’t within walking distance. We decided to just pack it up and head to Annapolis. We grabbed sandwiches at Panera on the way into Annapolis. The kids were still pretty grumpy on the car ride in, so we decided to stop for ice cream once we got to Annapolis.

We headed for Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory and got 4 scoops to share. (Wouldn’t you know my picky little boy didn’t like ANY of the flavors we got, so I had to go back and buy him a vanilla soft serve.) By that time, it was almost 3 pm and time for our pirate cruise! We drove over to Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake.

I knew immediately that this was a great decision. We walked in and they had already made name tags for the kids: Mad Dog Max, Atlantic Ava, and Lighthouse Lia…. all fabulous pirate names! The face painting area was in a sand box, so Max couldn’t go in with his cast. One of the pirates ran in and grabbed a stool for him, then gave him a piggy back ride through the sand. We picked out pirate vests and sashes and the kids got face paintings… well, Ava got a pink sparkly mustache, Max got a pirate skull on his arm, and Lia got a starfish on her arm. Since it cost money for the adults to ride the ship too, there was NO WAY we weren’t getting in on the action. Josh got a pink pirate mustache and I got a black curly pirate mustache. Then we both picked out vests and sashes too. We got a lot of funny looks from the other parents, but I wanted to make sure I got my $19 worth!

After the kids got pirated up, we went into the gift shop and bought them some pirate hat bandanas for the boat ride. The pirate leaders taught the kids how to talk like a pirate and then we loaded up on the boat. It was SO fun and very well done. All the people running it were young, fun people who clearly LOVE their job. So, we got on the boat and they showed the kids some different things, talked about treasure hunting, and search for the treasure map. Then we found a message in a bottle floating in the bay that said Pirate Pete stole the keys to the treasure box. We had to battle Pirate Pete with water cannons to recover the keys, then find the X floating in the water.  Cross off Go on a Treasure that was on our Summer Bucket List 🙂

The kids found the X and pulled the treasure chest up onto the boat. After quite a show, they used the keys to unlock the treasure chest and all the kids got a bag full of pirate treasure! On the way back to the bay, they found another “treasure”… pirate grog (aka 7up). (Sidenote: my kids don’t drink pop, but I gave them some “pirate water” and they loved it ;). After that, we headed back to the dock.

After our pirating adventure, we headed back to Baltimore to meet up with some new friends, Sara and John Waire. They cooked up a bag full (literally!!) of crabs for dinner (and chicken for Josh who doesn’t eat seafood). We chatted and ate crabs while the kids played for a couple hours. It got late quick (how does that always happen?!) and we had to say goodbye and head back to Jen’s house (also an awesome host, she had brownies on the table for us when we arrived!). We had such a great night with our new friends (they are the best hosts ever!). Sara even made a skirt for my girls and then they gave us a pair of engraved crab mallets… they are AWESOME people!! Headed to the beach tomorrow… yay!

Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory, Annapolis MD – 5 stars: Yum! We LOVE ice cream and this place didn’t disappoint! A great place to stop in downtown Annapolis.

Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake, Annapolis MD – 5 stars: Absolutely fabulous!!! I can’t say enough great things about the people and the whole experience! They were SO great with my kids (and especially thoughtful of Max’s cast… it started raining right before we got on the boat and they ran to grab bags for his cast… they didn’t know it was waterproof). SO SO SO fun! I only hope they change the adventure every couple years so we can do it again next time we’re out this way.

Remember: We’re giving away a Road Trip in a Box at the end of our DC trip, and to enter the giveaway, you have to click on the little rewards tab and share away.  Look around for any little red ribbon for more chances to earn more points (you’ll see it next to the tweet button at the end of each post, for example). Happy sharing and thanks for following along!


Road Trippin’ to Washington, D.C. – Day 3

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We all got up bright and early this morning, thanks to an early bedtime last night! I figured we would get shafted on breakfast, since we were the only ones staying at the castle last night. Turns out I was wrong! They put together a tasty spread of fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, cheese and salmon, donuts, and cereal. We filled our tummies and loaded up the car.

We decided to do a little more castle exploring before heading on our way. We wandered around the rooms inside and then did a little sword fighting out in front of the castle (video to come soon). Then we said our goodbyes to the castle and got back on the road.

We made the drive through Kentucky and into West Virginia along I- 64.  I decided to check out my Roadside America app and see what West Virginia had to offer (after all, we’ve scored some pretty awesome finds via Roadside America lately!!). I was flipping through the choices and saw Hillbilly Hot Dogs. There was no question that we were definitely going to make a stop there for lunch.

We put the address into the GPS and headed North to LeSage, right along the Ohio River. The kids thought it was funny that we were driving in West Virginia, but we could see Ohio right across the river.

We pulled up at Hillbilly Hot Dogs and knew immediately, we had hit the jackpot. There was old rusted JUNK everywhere. We wandered inside and ordered up some (plain) hot dogs and corn dogs and french fries (we weren’t brave enough to try some of their crazy concoctions). While we waited for our lunch, we picked out our seats inside the school bus seating area. We also made sure to add our names to the wall… the walls inside are covered from ceiling to floor with sharpie graffiti.

When our dogs were ready, the girl at the counter rang the bell and hollered out “Lunch bell for Jenny!” We quickly got our food and ate every bite. Before we left, we made sure to ask them to sing their theme song, called “We’ve got a weenie”. You gotta love a song about weenies, right?

After lunch, we hopped back on I-64 to I-79 and made the long drive across West Virginia. It’s a beautiful drive with trees lining the highway the whole way. Other than that, there’s not much to see or do.

Somewhere between Charleston and Clarksburg, we pulled over at a rest stop. I knew we were in need of some fun and it didn’t look like we were gonna find any along I-79. So I dug into our adventure bag and pulled out some water guns. I went inside and filled them up in the bathroom sink and we had a water gun fight right in the field there. It was nicely refreshing during a hot afternoon! (Sidenote: we’re REALLY glad we’re not home in KC right now… they are apparently having a record hot day… hottest day in 27 years! It’s hot here, but not anywhere near that hot!!)  And, we go to cross off another item off of our Summer Bucket List!

After the water gun fight, we hopped back in the car and ate an early dinner of sandwiches. We had scoped out an ice cream shop in Fairmont, but wanted to make sure the ice cream didn’t spoil dinner. We stopped at the Dairy Creme Corner for a yummy snack. I found this place with my Yelp iPhone app. Josh got a strawberry shortcake ice cream bowl and the rest of us had soft serve cones. The kids were really excited because for 42 cents extra, you could get your ice cream dipped in sprinkles (you know, because there’s not enough sugar in ice cream already!).

And we continued on. We had a LONG drive today. We got a bit behind when we decided to stop for the night at the castle last night. But is was SO worth it! Either way, we really wanted to make it to DC today (well, technically Baltimore where our friends live). So we drove. And the kids played games on their leapsters. And they played Stack the States. And they played cars. We played ‘don’t wake up the mommy monster’ and ‘who can fart louder?’. And we drove. They were good. They fussed. They laughed. They threw a couple fits and we even had a few tears. Overall, it was a pretty good day in the car. We were glad to get out of the car when we arrived at our friends’ house!

Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage WV – 5 stars: This was a crazy, quirky little place right on the Ohio River in West Virginia. The food was great, the service was great, and overall it was a fun find! We’ll definitely stop in again if we’re ever out this way.

Dairy Creme Corner
, Fairmont WV – 4.5 stars: It’s pretty hard for us to rate an ice cream shop at less than 4 stars 😉 The ice cream was yummy and the servings were HUGE! The kids’ cones (and mine) were all Baby size (the smallest you can get and only $1.18 each) and it was more ice cream than any of them could even pretend to eat. The sprinkles were a HUGE bonus as far as the kids were concerned. They also served hot dogs, funnel cakes, and all kinds of goodies like that. We just had the ice cream.


Road Trippin’ to Washington, D.C. – Day 2

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We got a bit of a late start this morning, since everyone (except Josh) slept in. Lia actually got me up at 4 am because she had a bad dream, so I was up with her until about 6:30 am when she and I both fell back asleep. Once everyone was up and around, we ate a quick breakfast, packed up, and headed on our way.

Before leaving St. Louis, we stopped at World’s Fair Donuts. We scoped it out a couple days ago, so we knew we wanted to stop there. It was kinda late for donuts, so the pickins were slim. We managed to find some we’d eat (we’re not too picky when it comes to donuts!) and then we headed on our way.

We made the drive from St. Louis to Louisville on I-64 earlier this year… it’s not any less boring now than it was then. It’s a pretty drive really. I mean, at least there are trees to look at… it could be I-70 through Kansas. But, there’s just not really anything to stop and do along the way.

Have no fear, we Solars make our own fun! Somewhere in the middle of Illinois, we used the side of a gas station as our photobooth background for a pouty face/silly face competition (thanks to Max for the inspiration he gave in the car with an awesome pouty face)….we’ll let you decide who’s the winner 😉

We continued on I-64 through Louisville. We waffled on whether to hit up the Kentucky Derby Museum and in the end decided to pass this time around. Once we got East of Louisville, I pulled up my trusty Roadside America app (it’s the BEST travel app for road trips we’ve found by far).

I started browsing all the fun, quirky things to do and happened upon the Martin Castle. It said “It’s an impressively large castle, and you can spend the night in it.” What what?!

We immediately started heading toward Versailles, Kentucky. We decided that there was no way they were going to have a room available tonight AND there was certainly zero chance that their cheapest room would be available. BUT, we decided to call anyway and find out. Much to our surprise, EVERY room in the whole castle was empty.

We drove to the Martin Castle, now known as Castle Post. We pulled in and there wasn’t a single car there. We tried to open the front door, but it was locked. We finally called and found out that the manager wouldn’t be back for 45 minutes. We headed into town and grabbed some dinner at Halftime Sports Bar & Grille and then headed back to the castle.

We took a little tour and decided to book a room for the night. Lucky for us, since the place was empty, we got upgraded to a fancier room! We wanted to go swimming, but the pool was closed for repairs, so we decided to hit up the hot tub instead. We turned the heat off and the kids splashed around for about 20 minutes.

After our mini swimming adventure, we wandered the grounds playing princesses and knights and taking some fun pictures. And then we put the kiddos to bed. We’re looking forward to exploring the inside of the castle in the morning. And then we are headed to D.C.!


World’s Fair Donuts, St. Louis MO – 3 stars: The donuts were okay… the old fashioned buttermilk ones the girls got were the best. It was about 100 degrees inside the place and in the 5 minutes it took us to get our donuts, we were all melting. I think if we had visited earlier in the day when there were still more donuts left, it might have gotten a higher rating.

Halftime Sports Bar & Grille, Versailles KY – 4.5 stars: The food was great and the service was fabulous! Josh had a cheeseburger and I had a meatball sub.

Castle Post (Martin Castle), Versailles KY – 4.5 stars: I REALLY wanted to give the castle 5 stars. I mean, it’s a freaking castle! The whole place is fabulously well done. When they built and decorated this place, they really paid attention to detail and it is just SO COOL! I’m only giving 4.5 stars though due to lack of attention to detail in cleanliness and such. It is SUPER expensive to book a room here for the night and you would think that they would have everything perfect. Our room was awesome (we even got a free upgrade!), but we had to ask for towels and pillowcases. And there was trash in the bathroom. The pool is broken. I don’t know how long it’s been that way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it has been all summer. And there were a few things in the bathroom that were broken or didn’t work properly. Either way, stuff like that doesn’t bother us too much (I mean, we’re used to Motel 6, so this is definitely a few steps up!), but I felt it was worth noting. We’re so stoked that we actually got to spend the night in a castle…and we’re the only ones here, so we can’t complain TOO much!

Remember: We’re giving away a Road Trip in a Box at the end of our DC trip, and to enter the giveaway, you have to click on the little rewards tab and share away.  Look around for any little red ribbon for more chances to earn more points (you’ll see it next to the tweet button at the end of each post, for example). Happy sharing and thanks for following along!