Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Thesicle

Since we've been on the road the past ten days, I've forgotten about my Thursday Thesicles. Here is a Friday Thesicle from a cozy log cabin in West Yellowstone.

We're almost there!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

We Drove Through a Wildfire

Well, not exactly through a wildfire, but it looked like it. Then we drove through even more of Wyoming and it got awesome. Tomorrow we plan to climb the Grand Tetons. And by climb, I mean Cal and Clark will crawl around on some boulders near the base of the Grand Tetons.  This is a beautiful place. And it was great to be greeted by family with wine at the end of that drive. Ah.
Somewhere, Wyoming
Somewhere Else, Wyoming
Clark found a baseball field in Debois, Wyoming!
And someone left a catcher's mask!
What the Grand Tetons?!
Oh no! It's a gruffalo!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Road Report: Colorado

We had a couple great days in Denver after our marathon through Kansas. We stayed with my friend Erin and got to spend time with other friends we hadn't seen for awhile. We also visited the Denver Children's Museum, Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, Hammond's Candy Factory, and went to a Rockies game. The Rockies played the Nationals! It was weird to be the only red shirts in the stadium, but the fans were nice to us anyway. The Nats lost, so that was dumb. Maybe as a first place team they were just trying to be nice to the poor Rockies. Tonight the Nats beat up on them with 12 runs. I wish we'd seen that game instead.

Today we spent a leisure morning with Erin (except for the part where I went running a mile high) and then played at Rocky Mountain National Park, which is north of Denver. It was awesome! I'll do more complete write-ups on the visits, but I wanted to check in since I hadn't for a couple days.

We are here for the night in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It smells like a giant cow, but not in our hotel room, so that's good. I feel like I should also mention that there is a giant cowboy boot outside. I believe it is the hotel sign.

Tomorrow we have another long drive-- only 433 miles though. Should be cake after Kansas. Here are a couple pictures until I can write more complete stories. Night, night.

Clark engineers a giant bubble at the Children's Museum

Smoochy and Scratchy take in the romantic view
at the Rockies game.
Rocky Mountain National Park

Parents, don't try this at home.

This boy loves to climb.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Louisville Slugger Factory, Louisville, Kentucky

While planning this road trip, I came across a helpful index of US factory tours. One of the ones I found listed as a favorite was the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory in Louisville, Kentucky. I dismissed the idea because I knew Kentucky was certainly not on the way to Idaho. 

When Brian asked why we couldn’t take a detour to see it, I looked on a map and saw that it was only a two hour drive south of Indianapolis, which was our second night’s destination. I figured in the mileage and it wouldn’t be too bad of a setback, especially for how cool it sounded and for how into baseball the boys (and we) are. So we told the boys about it and it quickly became the destination that, other than Gramma and Papa’s, they talked about the most before we left.  

So, after our night at Margo’s, a delicious Margo’s-mom (This is what the boys call her, not what I call her) breakfast, and a morning jog with Margo, we headed down south from Indianapolis and into Louisville. We easily saw the gigantic bat on the side of the old building downtown from blocks away.

Ready to hit the factory
While we waited for the tour, we visited a room that seems to serve as a type of baseball park graveyard. There are pictures of dozens of old ballparks that have since been laid to rest—parks like Candlestick Park, the Metrodome(Go Twinks!), and the Kingdome(Go M’s!) are framed and mounted on the walls. There are also bats signed by entire World Champion teams. I was happy and a little nostalgic to see the 1991 Twins bat. As an 11 year-old at the time, I was quite obsessed with the World Series that year, thanks to my baseball-loving, Minnesota Dad.

The tour itself is about half an hour and takes you right through the working factory. Our tour guide, Valerie, was an excellent leader and dedicated baseball-lover. You get to see the life of a bat, from tree to finished product. There are helpful videos that supplement the tour guide’s speaking, and even though the factory is loud, there is a microphone for her at each stop, and the TVs are turned up plenty loud enough to hear. We got to see the shelves used for the bats that Major League players order. (Major League players go through around 80-100 bats per season!) Photography inside the actual factory is prohibited, so I have no pictures from inside.

Outside there is a museum with a lot to see and do and touch. You can see what a 90 mile-an-hour pitch looks like, watch videos about baseball players and history, and there are a ton of bats to touch and stories and facts to read. (Of course I didn’t tear up watching the one about Ken Griffey Jr.!) We got to touch bats signed by Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench (while an attendant also held it, and while we wore batting gloves). The lifelike statues were a little creepy, but mostly cool. 

Scratchy and Smoochy hanging out in the dugout
Clark uses a 32oz bat like a hockey stick
Mickey Mantle's bat, handle with batting gloves!
Loved the tour!
The Great Bambino and the little bambinos
Smoochy, Scratchy, and Derek 
Ken Griffey, Jr.!
Watching 90 mile-an-hour pitches 
Ceiling decor
Cal Jeter
Bat trees!
We were surprised to see a couple placards about Bryce Harper being hit by Cole Hamel’s pitch a couple months ago. Guests can vote about whether or not hitting Harper was acceptable behavior and whether or not his suspension was warranted. (Um, no it was not acceptable, yes his suspension was warranted, and yes it was flippin’ awesome when Harper stole home after being beaned on purpose.)

After the main museum displays we found the kids’ area where the boys decorated bat nubs (pieces cut off bats before they’re finished) and hit off a tee for probably close to an hour. We caught up with Tour Guide Valerie, who went and found a bat with a Nationals’ W on it for the boys, and we spent time talking about her plans and dreams for expanding the kids’ area of the museum. She also wants to start a baseball day camp program for little kids. If you’re in the area, keep that in mind for next season.

So. If you’re considering driving through or somewhat near Louisville and your kids like baseball, you must see this place. It was worth the detour.


Decorating bat nubs
Swung on and belted!!
National League East...woot woot! Nats!
To read my other road trip reviews, go here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Young's Jersey Dairy in Ohio: 5 Shouts!

It's Whispers & Shouts' first cross-country review!

Last week we had the privilege of visiting a unique place for family fun—Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It’s a family business that started when a family built a barn in 1869, and has grown to be not only a working dairy, but a family destination with entertainment for every age. The farm is located just south of Springfield, Ohio, which is a perfect point for a family vacation stop-over if you’re driving through the state on I-70 or I-75. While planning this trip I was searching for things to do in Ohio, and Young's came up a couple times, so I started planning our trip around a dairy stop. I didn’t plan to spend three hours there, but when we rolled out the other day, we had put in more than that amount of time enjoying the place.

The first thing we did was try some of their delicious cheese samples and watch a cheese-making video. Yum. We then sunblocked-up and visited the petting area with adorable baby goats and their slightly less-adorable mothers. (I have a goat thing.) The boys had to be heavily coaxed, but did finally feed the goats. They were more into “driving” the old tractors and trying to ride the fake cows scattered around.


In the Kiddie Corral, the youngest guests can enjoy the dairy. There’s a barrel of corn to play in, John Deere tractor tricycles to race, a slide, a moonbounce, a tunnel that appears to be some sort of irrigation pipe with tires on each side. (That’s my best, most educated guess.) It would be perfect to sit in the shade sipping a milkshake while the little ones ran around in the Kiddie Corral. Instead, we pushed the boys on the tricycles, because in a parenting duh moment, we realized we’ve hardly exposed them to tricycles and they have no idea how to make one move. Oops. I feel like I may have failed a test I didn’t know was coming.

Through the tunnel...
My mommy never taught me how to pedal...
The boys are still three inches too short for the big slide (sliders have to be 42”), but Brian and I gave it a try. If the boys were tall enough I think it’s safe to say that all of us would have spent more time there. It’s a fun slide and there was no line to wait in.

Cowvin's Slide
We were happy to find out that not only are there two 18-hole mini golf courses, but there is also a driving range! The boys were right at home hitting their golf balls first at the range and then on the mini golf course. Granted, Calvin was more into watching the fountains of blue water and playing his golf club like a guitar than in actually playing mini golf, but Clark made up for it. Clark hit both of their balls on many of the holes and mine on a couple too.

There are also batting cages that the boys liked to look at and pretend not to be afraid of. We took a ride on a little train made out of old barrels and after all of our fun we had their delicious, award-winning homemade ice cream and milkshakes in one of the two restaurants at the dairy. It was a perfect way to spend the afternoon, and perfect timing too. The boys crashed hard after the dairy, and slept for almost the whole two hour drive to Indianapolis.

Workin' the driving range

min-golf rules
One of the courses
Cal playing his club-guitar
Train ride
Licked the bowl clean!
Throughout the day, Brian and I were remarking on the cleanliness of the place and the friendliness of the staff. The Young family didn’t forget anything. The place is beautifully clean and well taken care of. I was excited (I’m such a mom) to see the hand sanitizer dispensers by the petting barn and the little sinks with soap dispensers all over. There are plenty of covered areas for picnics. It’s clear that much thought and love has gone into making this place a special one.

I met Dan Young, the friendly CEO, who told me, “I've milked a lot of cows, dipped a lot if ice cream, cooked and served a lot of food, and the list goes on!  I've always worked here.” He has a degree in business and his MBA, which he has clearly put to good use while building the business. There are 14 family members who also work at the dairy, and the place has 320 employees! It does live up to its motto, “We create fun for our guests.”

I recommend Young’s Jersey Dairy to people with kids who live anywhere close, and to anyone traveling in the area. It’s a great place to spend time. You can stop in for a few minutes and eat an ice cream cone, or stay longer and pay a little more money to golf, ride the slide, hit some balls in the batting cages, and eat a picnic. 

My recommendation if you're coming in the summer, is to try to come in the morning if you know the day will be hot-- there is some shade, but a lot of sun too. So, either bring your sunblock or plan for a cooler time of day if summer is here in all her flaming radiance.

5 SHOUTS for Young's Jersey Dairy!

To read my other road trip reviews, go here.

I Don't Have Anything to Say About Kansas

I think our 567-mile drive through Kansas today can be best expressed through pictures.

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