day 25: illinois, indiana, missouri,

If you asked where they've been on this 13 state road trip, I doubt they'd mention the mansions of Savannah, Lincoln's courthouse, or even the beautiful beaches of Miami. As a matter of fact, if you asked them about ANY of the lower 48 states we've been to, I don't think you'd hear about whitewater rafting in Yellowstone, biking down the Rocky Mountains, swimming in the Great Salt Lake or even seeing a show on Broadway.

But all three of them would agree on the recycled junkyard/playground that is the City Museum of St. Louis. 

We no sooner get into this place, and slap on our wristbands, when all three kids disappear, and I mean dis-a-freaking-pear. 

Down one chute and out another, the "caves" in this place require that anybody under the age of 16 be accompanied by an adult. Why? Good question, because I've been in those things and nobody over the age of 16 can scramble through these meerkat tunnels as fast as a six year old, so you'll lose your kid regardless of your spelunking skills. Your only real hope is that one of the big ones gets stuck, backs up traffic and gives you a minute to catch up.

There's really no proper explanation for this place, except to say that there is nothing "museum" about it. After three trips here, I still contend that it's either the most dangerous playground you can imagine, or the safest junkyard you've ever explored. You'll enter a dragon's mouth and come out of a whale's vagina - no I didn't make that up.

You can traverse the Roof via an old Cessna plane connected to a five story high ropes course, or you can climb to the third floor via a giant slinky. You can run in a giant hamster wheel or slide down a two story slide made of old printing rollers.

You can sip handmade Italian sodas next to the world's largest pair of underpants, or play a 1983 Donkey King machine for a quarter. 

You can watch the fish swimming in an aquarium made of recycled glass and clam shells, or pop a squat in the bathroom created of recycled cooking pans.

There's a room full of retired skateboarding ramps, three giant ball pits, a balance beam a toss a big pit of water and even a kids area which still requires some climbing skills.

We made this stop in part because the big kids ain't getting any younger, but judging from their reactions today, we'll see it again.