Friday, July 6, 2007

The (Very, Very Long) Details on Vacation

  1. Before we left: Took the van in for an oil change and two things happened. The first was that Jiffy-Lube said we have a cracked serpentine belt, and that it had to be fixed at the dealership. The stupid Kia dealership is across town and couldn't get us in for same day service. The second thing that happened from the oil change was that we noticed a grinding sound every time we turned left. We knew these two things would not be good for our trip, so we rented a Hyundai Santa Fe. Not the most comfortable vehicle for five people to drive across the country in, and it cost an extra $420 that I hadn't planned to spend, but we really had no choice.
  2. The All-Night Drive: We drove from Iowa to Batavia, New York - straight through. It took us about sixteen hours, I think. But that included pit stops. Not too bad, really. The kids slept for most of it, but The Husband and I didn't. We were pretty exhausted by the time we got to the hotel.
  3. The First Hotel: Well, it was a Days Inn. And it was old, and kind of icky. But it had a pool in decent shape, and so I guess I won't complain about it too much. The kids played in the pool a bit Friday night.
  4. Dinner with the new Step-Family: We went out to dinner (all 26 of us) at a restaurant in town and got to meet our new step family. Seems odd to say that we hadn't met them before, but since they live in New York and we live in Iowa, it makes sense. MJ (Dad's wife) has two sons and a daughter. One of the sons has a girlfriend who was there, and the daughter is married with a baby girl. We had a great time talkling with them at dinner. They are really great people, and the meeting was comfortable and fun. After dinner, I wasn't feeling that great, plus I was tired from the drive, so I went to bed early.
  5. Karaoke Star: But TH was rejuvanized. He went with my dad and brothers to the hotel bar (which was also apparently the local Karaoke hot spot) and spent the night singing Karaoke. I'm told that the patrons requested him for a few songs. He even did a duet with the local female Karaoke star to Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Lights. Two of my brothers got up and sang Peaches and another song that I can't remember. TH said it was the funniest thing to watch because they were really getting into the groove and started dancing. They have questionable singing talent, though... One of my brothers has some actual video footage of this, but I haven't seen it yet. My Dad was even at the bar with them pounding beers. But he skipped the karaoke spotlight. I always miss out on the fun!
  6. Before the Wedding: We had a nice, relaxing morning on Saturday before the wedding. Well, I should amend that to say that everyone but Hollywood and I had a relaxing morning. They lounged by the pool and sat talking. Hollywood and I were frantically practicing our flute/guitar duet for Bless the Broken Road that we were playing in the wedding. We just couldn't get it right - we could not stay together - until Hollywood started singing as we practiced. I realized that was the key to us staying together, so I begged her to sing at the wedding too. She was hesitant, she's never sang in public before, but agreed to do it.
  7. The Wedding: The weather was perfect. The wedding was in my new stepsister's back yard which was gorgeous. Hollywood and I did our duet as MJ walked down the aisle to my Dad. It was good. We didn't mess up, Hollywood's voice was clear as a bell and kept the flute and the guitar together. Yay! (Now I can put the flute away for at least another 17 years, right?) They wrote their own vows, which I think is cool, but a train went by right as they were saying them so I didn't get to hear them. But I did get to read them later, and they were really special. I don't have pictures of the wedding because I left the picture taking up to my brothers. When I get those pictures, I'll find a good one of our duet and post it another time.
  8. The Reception: The reception was held at a really cool private park that had an aviary where we could see pheasants and peacocks and other animals. One of the peacocks was on full display while we were there. It was so cool. We hung out the entire afternoon and ate good food, enjoyed good beverages, and celebrated the marriage of Dad and MJ. It was nice.
  9. The Family Cold/Flu: We all got mysteriously sick with a nasty cold/flu. I am still suffering the effects. It was weird, though, because we all woke up with sore throats that morphed into coughs and stuffiness. Summertime colds are the worst, especially on vacation... But, we didn't let it slow us down much at all.
  10. Niagara Falls: The city itself was a madhouse. It took us a while to find a place to park, but once we did and got to the park, we forgot all about the hassles. We took a boat tour of the falls and Hollywood decided that one of the boat workers looked just like Sanjaya from American Idol. She snapped his picture and was acting all 13-year-old-ish about him. It was cute. We happened to visit the Falls on Canada Day, which was quite a coincidence since we took the boat to see the Canadian side of the falls, and it was the only time the kids have been in Canada. Anyway, here's a pic of the kids. It's a crappy picture, my camera was starting to act all funky that day. I didn't know it then, but it was the beginning of the death of the poor thing.
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    On our way back through the park at Niagara there was a man with a trained parrot. Though it skeeved me out like you wouldn't believe, I let Bumblebee go up to him and watch the bird. He actually had the bird give her a kiss. Check this out!
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    Yeah, that's me in the background of the photo standing with my arms crossed completely OBSESSING about how gross it is that I'm letting a bird kiss my daughter. But Bumblebee loved it and The Boy and Hollywood thought it was cool too.
  11. The NFL Hall of Fame: We took the family to Canton, OH to see the NFL Hall of Fame. This place was so cool. Here's the fam (sans the photographer) outside of the hall. And though it may not look like it, TH loved the place, he just doesn't like to smile for the camera.
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  12. The Great Wolf Lodge: This place was awesome. And since we went from a dingy Days Inn to this, it really seemed like a palace. The hotel has a huge indoor waterpark and an arcade. Heaven on Earth for kids. The snack bar served out of this world pina coladas, which made it pretty darn nice for grownups too. Oh, and the kids had their own bedroom with a set of bunk beds and a twin bed. Which meant that TH and I got our own bedroom too (with a King bed). The extra privacy at the new hotel made the second half of the vacation even better. (wink, wink)
  13. Dead Camera: My camera died at the Hall of Fame. I had to go to Wal-Mart to get a new one. Another extra $200 that I hadn't intended to spend on the trip. Oh well. The new camera is cute - it's pink! TH isn't thrilled that i picked out a pink one, but I love it...
  14. Cedar Point: Very cool amusement park, ridiculously expensive. It cost $200 just to get in the door. And then once we got there, the power went out on some of the biggest rides! But that was short-lived. TH took The Boy and Hollywood to all of the fun (scary) rides while I took Bumblebee to the kiddie rides. I'm not afraid of roller coasters, but it worked out better this way. I was ambitious and got up and jogged 2 1/2 miles before we left, and then I put on my pedometer for the trip to see how long I'd walk in a day at Cedar Point. 11.2 miles of walking plus the running earlier! My legs were like jelly when we got back. Here's a pic of us at Cedar Point:
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    We didn't like the food at Cedar Point, though. Our dinnertime meal was possibly the most wretched meal I have ever attempted to eat. It makes me swallow hard just thinking about it.
  15. More Fun at The Great Wolf Lodge: Our last day was spent just relaxing at the hotel's waterpark and arcade. We needed it since we were all exhausted from our long day at Cedar Point. We have some great pictures of this day:
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    And here they are with their arcade bounty:
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  16. The Drive Home: We actually had a nice drive home. It took about 10 hours from Sandusky to home, but the kids were well behaved and it wasn't bad at all. I'll end this ridiculously long post with a picture of the kids playing with Bumblebee's stuffed animals on the drive home. I was so glad they were being nice to each other, even after spending a week crammed together in the rental car.
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    Ok, so The Boy looks a bit nonplussed, but he really was playing with the animals too.

    Whew. That's a very long post. But it sums up our vacation pretty well. Got back into town and picked up the van. It's running fine now. The guy at the Kia dealership tried to convince me that it would cost $1000 to get the van in tiptop shape but I asked him only to fix what was wrong and the bill came to under $200. It makes me nuts that he tried to get me to agree to $800 worth of unnecessary fixes, but I won't even begin to go into that tirade. Well, I'm off. We're headed out of town for my BIL's wedding. It was nice to sleep in our own bed last night, but we're back on the road today... If you're still reading this post then you must have no life. :)


WebGal said...

Hey! I have a life. It's a boring one...but it's a life. :)

Sounds like a fun vacation!

Jenster said...

Well... not much of a life anyway. LOL

That is amazingly cool about your duet with Hollywood and she sang at her grandfather's wedding! That is wicked sweet! You must have been so proud of her. You should have been so proud of both of you! That's serious good stuff!

The Great Wolf Lodge - is that in the Poconos? I know we have one here (about an hour and a half north of us) but I didn't know if it's a chain.

Your kids are gorgeous! I hope you have a good time on this next little trip.

Swishy said...

Your kids are so cute!

What a trip! Glad you're back :)

Monnik said...

jenster, the Great Wolf Lodge that we stayed in was in Sandusky, Ohio. It is a chain resort. They have one much closer to me in KC, so we might have to take the kidlets there for a winter weekend.

Monnik said...

thanks, swishy! they're as ornery as they are cute.

Mom In Scrubs said...

Hey Nik! your vaca sounds most excellent. Too bad about the car though, don't mechanics just piss you off?

Looking forward to our vaca coming up next week - we are driving to southern colorado - I am more nervous about the drive than anything...will see how the kids do.

I haven't been blogging for a while. Between me sick, and kids sick, and vacation prep, and busy busy work, I just haven't felt like it much. I will post soon though on my ambulance ride last night.

Yes, ambulance ride. More heart rhythm problems for me. Yippee.

More later-

Monnik said...

Holy crap, G! Hope all is well... Stay healthy, ok?