Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vacation 2014

**Warning: this post is long and is overloaded with pictures and videos.**

As you already know, I was on vacation this past week. Mike joined in on the fun by taking the afternoon off of work on Friday so we could have a little family getaway. We kept it short since this was our first family vacation. On my list for ideas was to stay overnight in Des Moines, maybe check out the Downtown Farmers Market and take Sullivan to Blank Park Zoo. We did all the above and had the best time. 

On Friday afternoon with the car packed, we headed to the Fairfield Inn in Ankeny. I think my toughest decision for this vacation was where to stay. At first I thought close to Blank Park Zoo, but then thought we would be back tracking if we wanted to go to the Downtown Farmers Market. My next option was to look in downtown Des Moines. I decided to go against this as well since most of those hotels are more expensive and do not offer free parking. So I decided to look for a place close to downtown but not in the hustle and bustle. I wasn't looking for anything fancy, but there was a couple of must in our hotel stay. The hotel needed to have free parking, an indoor pool, free breakfast, and a refrigerator all while being clean, rated fairly well rated and inexpensive. Fairfield Inn was perfect, right in Ankeny which is only about 15 minutes from Downtown Des Moines. The hotel was super clean, met all my requirements, and it was right off 235. 

Sullivan had a great time staying in the hotel. He loved the mini frig but not as much as the elevator and the pool. We got to our hotel earlier on Friday evening to spend some time swimming. He giggled, splashed, swam for over an hour. After we dried off and got ready we headed out for dinner to Jethro's BBQ. I've heard good things of this place from my coworkers who have visited or work in our southern locations. Jethro's was also featured on the show, Man vs. Food back in 2010. The service at this place was excellent. The waitress recommendation were a hit as well. I got the nachos with beef brisket, Sullivan got the chicken strips with homemade mac and cheese, and Mike got Jethro's Famous Combo which consisted of their well known wings and rib. 

In the morning we ate breakfast and were checked out of our hotel by 8:15. Surprisingly when we arrived at the Downtown Farmer's Market it was fairly quiet. We spent the next two hours walking through the closed streets featuring almost 300 vendors. The market was a great experience. It tends to be more of a true farmer's market with tons of vendors selling fresh produce, flowers and baked goods. We did buy a few things, something for everyone in the family: 2 giant cookies, a couple of pumpkins, and some locally made beef sticks. 

Our last stop in Des Moines was Blank Park Zoo. We arrived right when it opened at 10, so again it was nice and quiet. Timing was perfect on Saturday. No alarm clocks, no rushing, no waiting, no busy traffic, and no crowds. Maybe this all had something to do with the big Iowa vs Iowa State game in Iowa City that day, maybe it was because summer is ending and everyone has already had their vacations, or maybe it was luck on our side that day. Blank Park Zoo was more than I expected it to be. This zoo is not small but not too big either. It has a wide variety of animals of which all were out to see our the day we visited. The only thing the zoo had closed was the train rides, but that didn't bring us down. We saw everything from seals to flamingos, lions to "Nemo" fish, birds to giraffes, and farm animals to turtles. Some of my favorites were the giraffes and the lion. While we were visiting the lion, a child was making "roar" noises when the lion decided to reciprocate back. It was so cool hearing a real lion roar. Sullivan and I also got up close to the giraffe and fed him. Again so cool and such a neat experience. Sullivan's favorites included everything about the giraffes and riding the carousel horse. 

Our little family of three loved our first family vacation. We are sure to repeat something like this again next year. I loved making the most with our time together and couldn't be happier with my time off. We have a ton of pictures and a few videos to hold on to this year's vacation memories. I just love the video of Sullivan feeding the giraffe! We bought him a stuffed giraffe as a souvenir and he has not left it alone. He totes it with him everywhere around the house and will not share. So far his name is BIG giraffe.

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