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Archive for June, 2009

Family Vacay

This past weekend, Jensen, Amber (my sister), my dad, and I ventured up to the Wisconsin Dells for a weekend family vacation.  This was our first attempt at a family vacation and I was a bit nervous.  I ended up as the designated planner and per usual, I was concerned about it being an economical trip that included something fun for everyone.  Mission accomplished.

The Hotel

We stayed at an EconoLodge in Lake Delton.  Originally, I had looked into renting a cabin.  The Econolodge won out  because I had an Expedia.com coupon that I could use for our rooms there.  The positives: great location (close, but out of the main drag hustle and bustle), check-in was no problem, nice size pool and hot tub, decent rooms, great air conditioning.  The not-so-positives: UNCOMFORTABLE mattresses, lack of promised fridge/microwave/hair dryer.  Thankfully we had brought coolers and our own hair dryer.  Next time, we’re going to figure out how to cut corner some other way and rent a small cabin.

The Food

The hotel had a continental breakfast (although they needed to hire an industrial engineer to rework the traffic flow) and we packed our own food for lunches and snacks.  Our first night in town we went to a local brewery called the Moose Jaw.  It was a really fun place and we got seated immediately (at 7 on a Friday night–woo hoo!).  Since we were in Wisconsin and because I’ve recently fallen in love with the movie New in Town, I had to have some beer cheese soup.  It was actually pretty good!  Amber had a giant bratwurst and Jensen had something called the Capone.  We finished off our meal by splitting a gigantic piece of carrot cake.  I had found a coupon for 10% off the total bill for this place, so we basically got the cake for free!

The following night we went to Paul Bunyan’s Cooking Shanty.  I had vaguely fond memories of this place as a kid, but unfortunately, this visit wasn’t that great.  Jensen wasn’t feeling well so he didn’t eat much, our waiter was way too busy (even though he did a good job trying–we felt bad for him), and all the loudness/chaos made you (aka me) feel like I was in the way.  I just wanted to eat and get out of there.  For the price (no coupons), we could have had a really nice, quiet, take our time meal elsewhere.

Entertainment

On Friday night, we walked downtown and went to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  Once again, this had been a vaguely fond memory from childhood.  As adults, it just felt cheesy and touristy.  If you go down the other main road, there are many better attractions.  We did end up five miles outside of town on a country road as the GPS tried to get us to an indoor amusement park.  We only ended up finding the park as we were leaving town (the opposite direction) on Sunday.

Saturday was the best.  THE BEST.  We went to Noah’s Ark–“the world’s largest water park.”  We had heard about this place, but had never been and I was somewhat skeptical.  But, it was military day on Saturday.  Military members got in free and family members half price.  With Jensen and my dad being free (he’s a Veteran), we got in 4 for the price of 1!  This was my biggest money-saving find for the weekend. 

AND if that wasn’t sweet enough… as we were getting out of the car, I opened up the side pocket of my purse (that I had purchased at a garage sale a few weeks earlier but had yet to use) and found $20!  Yay–we were able to use this to rent a day locker and to splurge on some end-of-the-day park food (funnel cakes, pretzels, and dipping dots–oh my!).

Anyway, back to the day… Jensen, Amber, and I had gone to Adventureland about a month back and it was no fun at all so I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to handle the rides at this place either.  I could definitely tell Jensen was skeptical as well.  But by the end of the first ride, I knew it was going to be a hit!  We arrived at the park around 10 a.m. and probably didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes for most rides in the morning.  Jensen and I rode every ride with the exception of the Plunge and the Point of No Return.  We were even able to go on 3-4 rides as a whole family! 

Some of my reviews…

Black Anacoda–definitely worth the wait!  But beware–several waterfalls will leave you coughing and sputtering if you inhale!

Jungle Rapids–I’m NOT all about wrapping myself up like a little sausage on those mats to fly down a tube!

Sting Ray–I’m still wondering how you end up with a wedgie after that.  Beware–lighter rider has to go down the big drop backwards!

Witches’ Gulch and Twin Sisters–I’m a MUCH bigger fan of twin sisters–though somehow I managed to fly off my tube at the end!

The Lazy Rivers–wonderful IF you don’t have a husband and sister who are trying to soak you at every opportunity.

At the end of the day, we went minature golfing (free as part of our admission) and were able to dry off.  I don’t know if I could have justified the expense if we had paid full-price, but for a bargain, it was an awesome day.

On Sunday, we stopped at the House on the Rock for a tour.  All of the Hares had been there before, but it had been several years and we thought Jensen would enjoy some of the weapons collections.  Advice: don’t stop on your way home and wear comfortable shoes.  It took us over 3 hours (and that was with skimming several exhibits) to walk the tour.  Seriously, those little signs that say “tour continues” that you look forward to seeing in the beginning, you DREAD by the end.  And there’s nowhere to just stop the tour–you have to keep going!

All in all, I think it was a great attempt at a first family vacay.  We all made it home safely despite a run-in with a storm somewhere along HWY 20.  Hopefully I’ll stay energized to make it through the work week!

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True confessions.  My favorite lyrics to a song on the radio right now are “bad mamma jamma from down in Alabama.”

::shame face::

Can I help it if I was raised on country music?  Is it my fault that I didn’t even KNOW where people heard other music from until junior high?  When other kids were bringing in New Kids on the Block (who I never listened to) and Paula Abdul, I was bringing in Aaron Tippin and the Statler Brothers. 

Country music and I have gone back and forth, back and forth over the years.  Once I discovered other music, I gave country up completely for awhile.  A long while.  I think there were times when I would be rocking out in my bedroom in high school (adolescent angst) that my mom would think, “Whose child IS that?!” 

Then in college, there was some point (I think during my sophomore year) when people starting admitting again that they too had been raised on country music.   Eventually we were all listening to it together, making plans to go to rodeos, and watching 8 Seconds.

I’ve heard some people say that country music is like mold–it grows on you.  Well I must have been raised on a particularly resistant strain ’cause it’s still hanging around!

Haha, I have to admit that I feel sort of like an abomination to some folks (yes, folks) when I drive around in my Honda Accord with country music blaring.   But what’s a girl to do? 

I have taken a couple trips around in our new-to-us truck just to feel more in my skin 🙂 

That said, I don’t think Jensen’s going to let country music rule–he grew up mold-free.

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Such an Amateur

So, I’m trying to do this bike riding to work thing, right? 

Well, first of all, yesterday I finally decided to branch out and try a different route.  Normally, I go from my house, down 24th St and then take Stange straight down to campus.  The problem is that it’s a super public route and there is a TON of construction going on.  I’m usually freaked out that some person on a bobcat is going to swing around into me or that I’m going to wipe out and fall into one of the many holes they’ve created.  Call me paranoid, but I wanted an alternative route.

So I decide to find out what would happen if I cut through SUV instead of going around it.  It was wonderful!  So much more quiet and less dangerous 🙂  I didn’t have as much momentum to get up the other side of Stange as I typically do, but I made it! 

Now the ride home.

All throughout the work day yesterday, it was sunny/partly cloudy in Ames.  When I get ready to leave my office, I look outside and notice a few rain drops.  No big deal I think.  By the time I’m leaving Curtiss, it’s a steady downfall.

DANG IT.

You see, I’m such a bike riding amateur that I was completely unprepared.  I knew there was a chance for rain today but was optimistic (an unusual state for me) that it would miss Ames.  I’m fairly certain that the logo for biking amateurs has got to be a pair of jeans with a bikeseat shaped wet spot right on the butt.  I HATE that.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, I foolishly also wore sandals to ride my bike to work.  I know this isn’t a good idea anyway, but I thought, no big deal.  That is, right up until the intersection of University and Stange where my wet sandal came flying off as I tried to stop to push the crosswalk button.  DANG IT.

Well, I certainly learned my lesson. 

1. Always have a plastic bag on your bike seat.

2. Always wear shoes that are strapped to your feet when biking.

3. If there’s a chance of rain, wear your contacts.  At least until they come up with windshield wipers for glasses.

Oh and you’ll be glad to know that it stopped raining about five minutes after I got home 🙂

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