The First Day of School



Today officially marks the first day of school for my older three kids. (The little boys begin next Monday). I now have a freshman, sophomore, and senior…Yes, this is Gracie’s LAST first day of school. *SOB*

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 It was the most unique first day of school they have ever experienced. Through the course of their school day they crossed through five states and completed first day orientation from the comfort of a bouncing bus seat.

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Today marks the first day of an epic road trip around the United States. We are in the unique position of being able to take this road trip in September because we home school our children, as well as the fact that Toby is self-employeed and can set his own vacation days.

We love being able to vacation in September and it has been our choice vacation month for years. We find the cooler temperatures and smaller crowds, due to kids being back in school, make for a less crowded, more enjoyable vacation. We have also found September a more affordable time to vacation since places often offer “off season” rates after Labor Day.

The downside of vacationing in September, however, is that when we are traveling from place to place that our “free time” isn’t actually free time since there is daily school to be done…

Although it is my belief that anything to be learned in their textbook pales in comparison to what will be learned through the hands-on experiences of touring the very places they read about in those books.

As we traveled through Ohio on our way to Missouri we decided to make a stop in Columbus to visit the Columbus Zoo. This stop has been on my “wish list” of destinations for decades after falling in love with Jack Hanna, who served as director of the Columbus Zoo from 1978-1992 and is still heavily involved there today.

I had never had the opportunity to visit the Columbus Zoo so when our travel route took us right by there we decided it was a perfect first stop on our trip.

The zoo was stunning! Far more impressive than any we have visited before. The attention to detail and the staging of different “areas of the world” were Disneyesque in their grandeur and in its ability to take you on a magical journey, reminding us a lot of Animal Kingdom.

The zoo was huge and we didn’t even make it through the entire park.

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We were so impressed with the Columbus Zoo and found out first hand  why the Columbus Zoo consistently makes the list of top 10 zoos in the USA. Here is a look into our fun, memory making stop at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium:

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Arriving at the Columbus Zoo!

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The gorilla play area was amazing. Tyler was quite jealous of the gorillas’ playground and desperately wanted to join them.

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What hauntingly beautiful creatures!!


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Toby and Ozzie

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The kids all got a kick out of the touch pool…especially after seeing the movie “Finding Dory.”

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The manatee aquarium was so neat. The room was filled with mangroves and decorated to look like a bayou fishing dock.

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Tyler was thrilled when the Momma manatee swam up to the surface for air and he could see the baby manatee that was laying behind it.

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Manatee kisses for Molly

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Near the aquarium there was a splash pad to cool off  in. The boys loved the spitting sea creatures!

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The girls!

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Ozzie loved the kangaroos.

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“Paint me like one of your French girls.”


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And then we headed to Asia…

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Look at the reach on these two!!

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Because the zoo is so large they offer complimentary shuttle service to the far sections of the zoo.

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A napping lion 🙂

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In “Africa” there was a plane the kids could climb in and pretend to fly. This was Tyler’s favorite thing at the zoo and it took forever and a day to get him out of it!

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My favorite experience of the day: Watching these two Grizzly bears. They kept “kissing” and drew quite the crowd with their PDA!

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The Africa section of the zoo was my favorite part. The attention to detail was magnificent. It truly felt as though we had been transported to the savannah.

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While the airplane was Tyler’s favorite part of the zoo, this safari truck was Ozzie’s. He LOVED pretending he was driving his way across Africa. .

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A beautiful shot by Gracie!

It was an amazing start to our trip!





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