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The mysterious land of Ohio

What happened to my lazy summer? All of the sudden it's filled with saying goodbye to old friends starting new jobs in far off places, birthday parties at the planetarium, and impromptu road trips to my native state.

Ohio is a strange place. We all decide to wear red and worship in the same 100,000 seat stadium several Saturdays in the fall. It's a great time to go to the mall because everyone else will be at home watching the Buckeyes on tv. For some reason, we're the most important state in every Presidential election. We have more astronauts and Presidents from our state than almost any other.

But we can't seem to learn about traffic light timing. Really, Dublin? Every red light? Come on!

We left bright dark and early Tuesday morning so we could arrive in Columbus in time for Kelly to work a half day. Cole is always mesmerized by the night. He's never out in it so before sunrise actually prompts him to be awake and ask questions about it rather than settle right back down. Even if we took both kids to the car still in their pjs.

Traffic was much heavier than normal--especially trucks. Call me anti-truck, but I think they should be banned from the roads during peak daytime hours. Yes, I know, they're the backbone of American shipping. But they're annoying to drive next to or behind.

When we arrived in Columbus, we dropped The Mama off at her "office building" (as Cole calls it) after checking in at the hotel. We then drove across town to spend the afternoon at Grandma's house where she had lunch and snacks for us. The kids played inside then we drove to a park to see some nature and play on the playground. The kids held deer antlers, saw raccoons and snakes and turtles, and were generally sweaty messes when I got them back to the hotel for pizza.

Wednesday morning we brought the hotel's breakfast buffet up to the room rather than try to eat downstairs. Dropped The Mama off at work, then headed for the zoo with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Hallie even though it looked like rain. It ended up being a warm, sunny day...we took the umbrellas and no sunglasses so of course!

The Columbus Zoo has changed quite a bit in the last few years. It's very nice. But also very frustrating if you have small children. The parking area has been Disney-fied with a centralized shuttle and the main entrance now is a "village" for admission and stroller rental before heading to the zoo or waterpark. There are souvenir photos to be taken and the place is swarming with helpful employees to encounter. As far as the animals go, heaven help you if you want to find 3 specific animals for your preschoolers. The animals are now grouped by home continent and exhibited on trekking trails where you must walk through 10 species just to see the elephants or gorillas. The Chicago zoos, bless them, are old fashioned and there's nothing wrong with that per se. Brookfield's new bear area is the same sort of thing Columbus has done--making me think this is the hot new trend in zookeeping. For my money, I prefer smaller animal houses grouped by type. There's something about the pachyderm house or big cat house knowing where to go if you want to see tigers or rhinos. Anyway, the kids spent over 3 hours having tons of fun, walking almost the entire way, and loving the time with people they rarely see.

I tried to get them back to the room for a nap and lunch. French fries they love. Naps in a hotel room, not so much. So eventually I just gave up and packed them back in the car for the short drive to my dad's house. They could play in the backyard and then after getting Kelly we had dinner and Cole got to open his birthday presents. Grandpa picked a few strawberries out of the garden for the kids and had watermelon so it was like heaven.

Yesterday's trip home was miserable. Everybody was ready to be out of the car and we got a late enough start so we hit Chicago rush hour. It rained periodically. And the traffic was heavy again the whole way. But we can't really complain about the kids. They were on their best behavior the whole trip..even with skipping naps and sleeping in strange places and all the excitement. Even if we were one of only a handful of families in a huge business traveler hotel, having a suite worked out nicely and the kids did about as good as can be expected with a hotel stay.

Overall, I'm thankful that Kelly has the kind of work where we can all go with her on a business trip and stay together as a family. No matter how miserable the 6 hour drive was, we're lucky.