By several strokes of luck, I was able to keep the surprise trip a surprise for the kids up until the very moment we pulled into the parking lot at Grizzly Jacks! It went something like this:
Jeremiah decided he didn't want to come to Sunday School on Sunday morning. That meant that after church I headed home, loaded up the car, took Wolf to Willemina's Dog Spa and then drove over to pick the kids over at their dad's house. We got in the car and I told them Francisco and I were taking them to Starved Rock for a surpirse hike, wasn't that nice? And they fell for it. Francisco followed us in his car (he had to leave last night to work today) so I told them he was going to do some shopping alone after the hike at the mall in LaSalle-Peru. And since they know their dad loves to shop, they didn't bat an eyelash.
As we got closer to Starved Rock, Jeremiah announced he had to go to the bathroom. As we turned onto the road where Grizzly Jack lives, he announced he REALLY had to go to the bathroom. So I said we would use the bathrooms at Grizzly Jack's. He didn't like that idea, thinking that just peeing by the trailside would be quicker. Well, I pulled into the parking lot and said, "Kids, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is you HAVE to use the bathroom here whether you like it or not. The good news is we are spending the night here, too."
At first they didn't believe me. When they finally accepted this as the gospel truth (interesting choice of words for someone like me, eh?) this is what happened:
Sierra squealed, Jeremiah started laughing and they squeezed their little muscles to hold in the pee long enough for me to snap a photo:
The rest of the day and today as well were great fun, and the kids were unusually appreciative. I had lots of help packing up the room, unloading the car and unpacking at home, and they said Thank You about 1000 times. On the ride home Sierra said when she's a mom she will take her kids there for a whole week of vacation sometime because it was so much fun.