Vacation Fun

va_beach_09_blogMay was a busy month for us as we took two vacations almost back-to-back. First up was a trip to Pigeon Forge, TN for four days in a rented cabin. I have to say it was a lot nicer than I expected. The town is “touristy”, but in a Nags Head kind of way, with Go-Kart tracks and miniature golf courses, and not the no-holds-barred cheesiness of Gatlinburg, just five miles up the road.

We took the boys to see the magician Terry Evanswood, which went over very well; both of them had to buy magic kits when it was all over. Blacklight golf was another hit, as was a drive through the Smoky Mountains National Park.

From there, we traveled to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Everybody but Scott liked it; if you ask him what he liked about the trip, he’ll tell you “not the cave.” Then it was up to Louisville for a few days with Laura’s cousins Nathan and Val and their three kids. Jason and Scott helped cousins Ben and Sarah with their lemonade stand, and Grace hung out with year-old cousin Katherine, who apparently inspired Grace to start crawling. We also fit in a trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum and some time on the trampoline.

After a four-day break back at home, we headed out again, this time to Sandbridge, VA, just a few miles south of VA Beach. We had a bunch of stuff planned, very little of which we ever got around to, but the boys would have been happy to just splash in the surf all day every day, so why fight it? Grandma and Grandpa Jim joined us for five days and we got to see the Virginia Aquarium, Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin, among other things. Grace had a blast seeing all the fish and sea life, especially the frolicking otters (note to self: add “frolicking otters” to list of potential band names).

Hopefully the boys are old enough to remember all this stuff for a while. Actually it’s a pretty safe bet as they still remember the last beach trip, two years ago. Now the challenge will be soldiering through the rest of a long, hot summer with all our vacation trips already behind us.

Flying Skybus

Over the weekend we journeyed to Ohio for Laura’s mom’s wedding, and became some of the first passengers of the recently launched Skybus airline. We got our seats for a whopping $10 each, which had me imagining a Korean War-vintage transport plane where we’d strap ourselves to benches alongside livestock cages and food crates, with someone handing us parachutes once we got over Columbus.
I have to say the whole experience was pretty cool, though. Since it’s well known Skybus isn’t paying their flight crews much of anything, their money obviously went into the planes, which are new and spiffy and nicely appointed, with leather seats in every row. Obviously not much expense went into uniforms for the flight attendants, who wear jeans and Skybus t-shirts with those little “wing” pins. At first I didn’t even spot them as flight attendants, and nearly asked one lady where she got the pin, so I could get some for the boys.

The flights both ways were smooth, with some of the best landings I’ve ever had, and with flight times a little over an hour each way it beat driving all hollow.

Rumor has it once things get swinging the interiors of the planes will be plastered with ads for whomever’s willing to buy space, and only time will tell what regular use of the planes will do to their condition, but this time out it was a pretty positive experience. And at $10 a seat, just about what air travel is worth these days.

April (Snow) Showers Frost Our Flowers

What with all the warm weather and sunshine lately, we decided to buy some plantings for the yard a couple weekends ago. Laura and the boys had fun adding flowers to the various beds and things were looking better than they had for some time (our gardening adventures having taken a backseat to kid-chasing for a couple years now).
So of course it follows that we’d get the first real snow of the season a few days later. On April 7, mind you, the day before Easter. Pretty unheard of in this neck of the woods. But as they say no good deed goes unpunished. The pansies and a few others took it in stride, but a good number of blooms were lost to frostbite. Maybe we’ll try again in a few weeks.

A Day At the Circus

Last weekend we took the boys to the circus for the first time. In retrospect, we probably should’ve waited another year.

We started off well enough, with Jason laughing hysterically at every inane thing the clowns did, and the elephants were, predictably, a big hit. But about 40 minutes in, both he and Scott were ready to go. That’s probably partly due to the fact that they’re not very sedentary kids; the longest they stay still is usually 25 minutes for a viewing of “Curious George.” It could also be because so much of the circus seems like filler; for every minute of high-wire thrills or tiger taming, there’s at least 3 minutes of poodles jumping through hoops (yawn) or truly lame clown routines like “Dancing With The Clowns” (Who is this aimed at? Do small children even watch “Dancing With The Stars”?).

I grew up in the age of Gunther Gebel-Williams, where the emphasis was on spectacle and exotic animals. The new star of the show is “Bello,” a daredevil clown who looks like the love child of Eraserhead and Max Headroom. The show’s a lot more high-tech now, and for my money pretty dull. But then maybe Mom and Dad felt the same way when they took me.

Souvenirs were also an eye-opener. Thirty bucks for a small stuffed elephant. Among the more curious items were plastic tiger heads with flip-top skulls that served as Sno-Cone holders. I don’t know what they were going for there, but it reminded me of the desert served up in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”…chilled monkey brains. Yum. Basically it’s a way to charge a mint for shaved ice. What happens to the tiger head when the treat is gone? Are you supposed to use it at home? “No bowl, Mommy, I want to eat my ice cream out of the tiger’s skull!”

Anyway, despite the fact that they squirmed through a lot of it and we left early, the boys are convinced they had a wonderful time. And that’s what counts.

Traveling Time

Jason took his second plane trip last week…to Minnesota again to see Mommy’s relatives. He had a fun stay with his Great Uncle Nick and Great Aunt Bernie and got to play with Cousin Ben. Then it was down to the farm with Great-Grandma for more adventures, and briefly up to the Twin Cities before heading back home.

Staying entertained on the long plane rides was a bit challenging, but overall Jason did very well, and charmed everyone. His new trick involves holding his hand way up over his head when asked how big he is. To the follow-up question “How did you get so big?” he answers, “Grow, grow, grow!” (Which makes “grow” one of four words in his vocabulary, the others being “Momma,” “Dadda” and, for some reason, “truck”!)

For now, Jason is glad to be back home in familiar surroundings and with his favorite toys. Mommy asked him to make his toy train go “Toot, toot” but he pressed the wrong button and got a different sound out of it. So when it finished, he said, “Toot, toot!” himself, just to make Mommy happy.

And so it did.