Yes! We were spending the night in a real castle! The Kentucky Castle in Versailles surrounded by horse farms!
So we received a real key on a fancy keychain and unloaded the car. Then we looked at the on-site restaurant menus....and we opted to do a run to Sonic for dinner (it was her birthday celebration after all).
When we got back from dinner, we walked around the property exploring while enjoying our drinks.
What is Clarissa looking at? She's checking out the grand entrance!
The top floor has a dance floor and apparently the Kentucky Castle is quite the popular wedding venue. The night we stayed, there were no events!
We saw some guard birds....
They had flower beds and a green house.
Someone channeled their inner princess with this grandiose staircase!
After our exploring, we put on our swimsuits and walked down to the pool. Given there were non-guests in the restaurant and we didn't have our cover-ups easily accessible (buried somewhere in a suitcase). We used the hotel spa robes to head down to the pool. Someone loved it (it was a bit large)!
We had the pool to ourselves for a bit and then a couple other families came out and swam as well (saved mom from the freezing cold water). We were not in one, but you can actually stay in a suite that is located in one of the castle turrets.
We saw the sunset and the moonrise.
The next morning, we got up a bit earlier than we had initially planned to - what had been Hurricane Barry was racing us with 3-5" of rain and gusty winds. Not fun stuff to drive in, so the quicker we could get to our next destination the better. Siri helped me text my bestie and keep her updated (I also shared my location with her to allow her to stalk me en route). We had about a five hour drive and the first half was just overcast then it gradually started raining a little heavier and heavier. We ended up stopping for lunch about an hour away during a lovely downpour band of rain. The rain slowed us down a bit but we made it in pretty good time. We stayed with my bestie for a week....and of course we didn't take any photos together....(yeah I don't know how I failed on that one).
My bestie had to work a few of the days we were there. So Clarissa and I find ways to entertain ourselves. We visited with my cousins. We let the kids jump at at one of the indoor trampoline parks and then went out for lunch. Another day, Clarissa and I went to a Chocolate Factory!! Uh, how did I never know this existed?!?!?! We went to Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company, which has been around since 1981 (okay....it was a young company when I left for college).
They specialize in handcrafting small batches of fresh chocolates. Literally hand crafting, we watched as this group hand dipped fresh raspberries and then sent then down to the chocolate water fall.
At the chocolate waterfall, there is someone watching to make sure there is complete and total chocolate coverage. If a spot is missing, another trip through the waterfall is in order (feels like a stop on Candyland!).
They also have a chocolate molds: letters, numbers, St. Louis Arches, and you can order something custom - if you wanted. We bought some chocolates to take home. Someone may have eaten her chocolates nearly immediately (I think was able to hold her off until lunch time).
We visited my brother and his family. They have a farm and take in stray cats and are able to spay/neuter them for free. Though sometimes they end up with strays dropped off already pregnant. Clarissa was in kitten heaven!
FOUR KITTENS and an Uncle!! So much fun! A little tough to wrangle. She would try to get all four to stay in the same place.....it was a lot of work! We also gave the outside adults a little attention.
We also visited with my cousins/family on the other side of the family. I picked Busia's brain to update information on my ancestry family tree. Clarissa was happy to see her great grandmother. We also met Baby Bunny (Honey Bunny's baby!)
I did sneak this photo of my bestie. We were celebrating a whole lot of birthdays here! Busia's 101st bday, cousin's bday, Uncle's B-day and the Bestie's B-day (and it was actually on her B-day!).
After our quick week in St. Louis, Clarissa and I continued on our road trip. We headed to Amish country - Millersburg, Ohio. On our way, we stopped to drop Clarissa's American Girl off to head to the American Girl Hospital. We figured MaryAnn would beat us back to Doha, but she ended up getting misrouted and got more passport stamps than we did. We also checked out a Lego store with a huge Lego cat!!
We stayed the night in Millersburg in a Holiday Inn Express (and Clarissa enjoyed the pool that night). The next morning, we headed to Zinck's Fabric Outlet. We were on the hunt for some holiday fabric for Christmas PJs, some other items we had on our list, and just something fun to break up the long 13.5 hour drive. Clarissa found the last piece of a cute cat pattern fabric and we used it to make a reading pillow for her to take to school. Sadly, I was driving and unable to get any photos of the Amish driving down the road in their buggies, but I did end up having to google a lot of answers to questions Clarissa had about the Amish in America.....we both learned a lot! After our shopping spree, we headed on to Maryland....the last part of of summer adventures!