By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
As my week away from work is coming to a close, I decided to share with you all what I did on my vacation. Typically I don't take a whole week off from work at a time, as I usually spread it out and take a few days off here and there. But this summer, my niece and nephew and parents were spending a week here with us, so I wanted to have some quality family time.
In the past when they've all been here, I've had to get up at 2 am to go to work, which has limited my time with everyone. Because our kids have activities over the final week of summer break, my parents decided it was best to come here, so we were able to do some fun things and all five cousins were able to spend some quality time with their grandparents.
|A Smurfy night out|
The weather during the week was less than ideal for outdoor activities, as there was a lot of rain. Monday we didn't let that dampen our spirits as we headed out to see the Smurfs 2, in 3D. Even though I'm an avid fan of the Smurf franchise, I didn't hold high expectations for the movie. I was pleasantly surprised, but best of all, the kids seemed to enjoy it too, even my 3 year old nephew who had fallen asleep in the car on the way and woke up about 30 minutes into it. He also refused to put on his 3D glasses.
Tuesday was spent at the new Junior High School, picking up schedules and walking around the building. My daughter had dance class and one son had marching band practice. We caught a late dinner at Boondocks in Carbondale. Once again, it was a great meal.
|Dragon slayers at "Castle Park"|
Wednesday the rain finally broke for a bit and we were able to head over to Jeremy "Boo" Rochman Memorial Park. It's also known as Castle Park, and if you're ever in southern Illinois (Carbondale area specifically), I highly recommend visiting. The park is a tribute to Jeremy Rochman who died years ago in an accident. His family built the park in his memory.
There's a huge castle, complete with secret passages, a dungeon, and a giant bell. The park also has several dragons, knights, gargoyles, and just about anything else medieval you can imagine. My nephew had a blast, but even my pre-teen son and niece loved it too. My daughter loves the park as well, as she lead her cousins to all the sites. My dad and I spent some time chasing the kids around, but soon found ourselves sitting in the pavilion decorated with suns.
Thursday after baseball practice and another downpour, we ventured over to the pond near our house with fishing reels in hand. It was the first time my nephew had been fishing and it didn't take long for him to pull a bluegill out. He caught three total that day, and I can still hear him saying "Unca Kebin, I got one." He was so excited. My seven year old daughter had the catch of the day, a giant bass. Everyone caught several fish that afternoon and even though we released them back into the water, we will have memories to feast on for years to come (I know that's a cheesy line, but it felt right)
|The Root Beer Saloon|
Alto Pass, IL
Friday was probably the wettest day of the week. We headed south to Alto Pass to check out the Root Beer Saloon
. We've lived here for almost 10 years and have never been, so this was an adventure for all of us. True to their word, the saloon specializes in root beer. We all ordered a round of root beer floats and enjoyed the ambiance of stuffed ducks, snakes, and other critters. Photography inside is limited, so you can see what it looks like on the outside. We wanted to visit the Bald Knob Cross of Peace as well, but when we finished our floats, it was pouring down rain to the point where it was hard seeing out of the wind shield.
|The Hunspergers meet the Robertsons|
Photo courtesy: Gorilla Grid Media
Friday night, my wife and I were fortunate enough to attend the Quack Attack fundraiser at Carterville High School. It was a speaking engagement with Jase and Missy Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Before the talk, we were able to get a picture with the Robertsons.
Jase did most of the talking and shared stories of his faith and family. He also talked about his passion for hunting. At the end, two of their children, Reed and Mia, joined their parents on stage. Missy and the children sang an amazing rendition of Amazing Grace. It was a fun evening and a great way to wrap up the week.
|On Crab Orchard Lake|
But wait, there's more. Saturday we finally had a day without rain. We'd promised the kids all week that we'd take the boat out, and since my parents were leaving with my niece and nephew Saturday evening, we had to squeeze in a few hours of boating. We took advantage of the sun and warmer weather and hit Crab Orchard Lake. We spent some time playing on one of the beaches before towing the kids behind on the boat on our newly repaired Hot Dog floatation device. We even hauled our dog Juno out with us too. She's still not so sure about being out on the water, but I think she enjoyed herself.
So that's it in a nutshell: my staycation. I needed a break from work and it was great spending some quality time with not just my wife and kids, but my parents and niece and nephew. Oh yeah, and I broke two personal records running during the week, one on Monday and another on Friday. I'm gearing up for the Warrior Dash again in September. Thanks for reading.