Monday, June 21, 2010

The One Where I Review Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark

As part of our stay-cation week, we spent two days and one night at the Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark (and hotel) in Columbus, Ohio. It's similar to CocoKey or Great Wold Lodge, water slides and water activities, all indoors. We've had a little experience with this type of place before so I feel like I know a little bit about indoor waterparks at this point.
Before I give my review, let me say that the boys had a blast (literally-there were water guns!). They really enjoy that sort of thing, so this was one of their favorite things that we did on stay-cation.

I will say this about Fort Rapids-the waterpark itself was great. There were tons of lifeguards, all of whom were friendly and helpful, and the park was very clean. We got there about 6ish on Monday night and it wasn't crowded at all. There was plenty of room at the available tables and chairs to spread out our stuff and head to the attractions. I liked that because it was smaller than Great Wolf, I felt more comfortable letting the boys roam a little on their own. There was a large area with tunnels, and slides and a huge waterbucket (Rascal Round Up) right in the middle when you came in. Then towards the right, there was a smaller areas for little ones (Kiddie Korral-the water was never deeper than 2 foot or so in this area-Moose loved it). Towards your left were the water slides, deeper activity pool (3-4 feet with basketball hoops) and the lazy river. Just beyond the little kids pool was a hot tub, but you had to be 18 years old to get in that. I totally took advantage of that on Monday since we had hiked earlier in the day!
The boys really enjoyed their time in the activity pools but the slides were definitely the highlight for the twins. (I even ventured down two of them!) There were 4 slides that you could go down using tubes or mats. My favorite was the  Black-Out Pass, the slide was enclosed and black, so it was pretty dark and then it shot us out into a funnel, before sending us down the final tube. I may or may not have screamed so loud the first time that Bryce no longer wanted to ride with me.

Moose loved the Kiddie Korral-there were slides just the right height for him to go down-which he did over and over and over again. Jackson spent a lot of time in the Rascal Round-up, the slides and waterguns there were perfect for our "medium-sized" kid-not too tall and not too short.

The waterpark had lots of clean towels and the staff was very helpful. Bryce scraped his leg and they were great about getting us a waterproof Band-Aid and making sure he was okay. We got dinner there the first night and the concession stand worker went out of his way to get us cups with ice for the boys and was very friendly.
Unfortunately, as great as the waterpark was, the hotel itself wasn't as nice. The hotel was showing it's age a bit with dated linens and faded paint. In our room, the bathtub had a stain in it-which wasn't a big deal because we were only staying one night but I would have definitely requested a new room if we had planned to stay longer. And then there was the TV issue. When we were done at the park, we headed back to our room to watch a little TV and unwind before bedtime. Oddly, the TV would just randomly change channels on it's own, as if the person in the room next to us had control of it. We called down to the front desk no less than 4 times, before giving up and going to bed. Those two things aside, it was a fine hotel, nothing spectacular.
Our room rate was $119.95, with an additional $26.95 charge for Jackson's pass to the waterpark (the room came with 4 free passes), Brody was free. This rate was lower than you'll find on the website or by calling, so your mileage may vary. All in all, I'd give the waterpark a B+ and the hotel a C. That being said, we'll probably go back at some point, because the boys LOVED it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The One Where We Went To Hocking Hills

As I mentioned in a previous post, we took last week off and went on a little "stay"-cation. The first stop on our stay-cation was Hocking Hills, Ohio. Hocking Hills is about 2 hours northeast of Cincinnati and has a ton of hiking/fishing/outdoorsy type activities.
The drive to Hocking was interesting, because you spend a significant amount of time on a two lane state route. The boys passed the time by making up songs. Loudly. And singing them off tune. Loudly. Being in a car with 4 boys for 2 hours is not for the faint of heart.
We planned to stay in Hocking Hills for 2 days but when we arrived we quickly realized that there wasn't a lot to do for our two youngest boys, so we revised our itinerary. It ended up being a day trip, so we would only have time for one trail area. After doing a little research, we decided that hiking the "Old Man's Cave" trail would be the easiest with the kids. I thought that I had read that it was a paved trail. I thought that bringing the stroller and wearing flip-flops would be fine. Yeah. Not so much. 
We abandoned the stroller fairly early on. (Our Maclaren is extremely light-weight but not something I want to carry up dozens and dozens of steep rock stairs.) The trail was not paved. It was dirt and stone and steep and scary. But beautiful. I would definitely recommend it to families with older kids (pre-teens/teenagers) but it was a little much for our guys.
The first formation you see as you hike is "old man's cave" itself. Very cool.
As you wind your way around you see a really pretty waterfall and watering hole. The watering hole had a huge cliff that some more adventurous (aka-not so smart-the water wasn't that deep!) hikers were jumping off of into the water.

 The watering hole was perfect for skipping rocks-the boys had a blast doing that. Moose mainly picked up dirt and threw it.

The trail got a little more treacherous and strenuous as we made our way back around to the exit. I was really regretting my choice of footwear by that time! (And more than a little nervous watching the boys hike close to steep overlooks!)
Despite all of that, I would definitely go back when the kids are older. They seemed to have a really good time and didn't complain about the hike at all.
After making it back to the car and scouting out lodging options (tons of cabins but only two hotels), we decided to head to Columbus for the night and try out the indoor waterpark at Fort Rapids. More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The One Where I Redesigned the Blog

So for awhile now, I've been thinking about re-designing the blog. I wanted something a little cleaner and simpler. And lo and behold, Blogger has a new design your own template feature. Um, yes, please. :)
So, here it is, the redesigned blog. I'm really loving the clean lines!
Along, with the look of my blog changing, I'm also going to be making some changes to the content. In the past, I've really focused on my "Ten on Tuesday" posts. And while, I love summing up a week in ten points; after two years, I'm getting a little bored. One of my big reasons for doing this blog is to record the memories of our family's adventures. The only problem is when I go to find that record, I have to search through a zillion posts of "Ten on Tuesday", so I'm going to do a better job of titling my posts in the future. I was a huge fan of the show "Friends" as a teenager/young adult. Every episode had a title of "The One Where...". So clever. So I'm "imitating" their creative genius (sounds better than "stealing their idea").
So there you have it, the newly re-designed blog. Oh, and did I mention that I would be posting more often? And not just about family stuff? But crafting ideas, fun things to do with your family and product reviews too? Oh yeah, I've got big plans for this little blog. I hope you'll join me on the journey. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ten on Thursday

1. The twins had a ton of fun at their overnight zoo trip a couple of weeks ago. They took about 60 pictures, only 3 of them were of people, the rest were of various birds, cats, snakes and monkeys. There were also a few blurry un-identifiable objects, and some photos of the ground. They told me that the batteries had died fairly early on, which surprised me because I had charged it up the day before. But then I realized Jarron had filmed 13 1/2 minutes of one of the talks the curators made. I watched it for about 4 minutes before the random camera angles and changes from portrait to landscape made me really dizzy.
The infamous tie-dyed shirts.

So happy to see this picture on the camera-I love peacocks!

2. All of the boys are done with school for the year-Bryce's teacher sent home a wonderful little DVD with photos from the year set to music. I got a little teary-eyed watching it. We were blessed with really amazing teachers this year. I think the boys were a little more sad than normal to see the school year end because of that. I can hardly believe they will be 4th graders this fall!
 Jackson celebrating his summer birthday with his teacher and classmates.
3. Jackson decided that it was time for he and Moosey to share a room, so we moved some things around and made it happen. They seem to really like it so far. Moosey loves his Jack-Jack, so I imagine he's pretty excited about the switch.
Know who else is excited? These two-they have a ton more room to act like crazy 9 year olds now!

4. We opened the pool this weekend and promptly spent most of our weekend in it. We also took the boys to Miami Whitewater park to try out their splash park. Moose wasn't super fond of the shooting jets of water.

Love this picture of Moose sharing his snack with Bear.

5. I walked my first 5K a couple of weeks ago. A real 5K! I got a chip for my shoe to record my time and my very first number that I had to wear on my shirt. (I felt like a real athlete when I picked up my "race packet". Hee!) I was very excited to finish in under an hour. I'm hoping to come in under 40 minutes next time. I'm up to 1.75 miles in 30 minutes. Which isn't much to brag about, but for me is pretty awesome. As Chuck says, you have to start somewhere.
6. The same day I walked the 5K (did I mention that it poured rain for the 1st mile?), we decided to head out to Kings Island with some friends. Unfortunately the rain moved back into the area and it really came down. The boys had a blast running through the rain and jumping in the puddles. Since the park closed early due to the weather, we decided to try it again last week. No rain this time, but Tim (who took one for the team of parents) and the bigger boys got drenched riding Whitewater Canyon.  It was a seriously fun night.
Look at that rain coming day-the kids were having a blast!

The very wet group of boys-yup, all 7 boys, all under the age of 12!

7.  We had a little get together with the Lakes side of the family over the Memorial Day weekend. I can't believe how grown up my little great-niece is getting. She's just about a week younger than Moosey but she looks so big with her pig-tails. Such a cutie. The boys had fun playing in the sand (including the big boys-Chuck and Don!) the funniest part-Moosey kept calling Uncle Don-"Papaw". Hee. hee. Moosey is hilarious sometimes.
 How cute is she?

8. So, this weekend, we went to the library and I saw Bryce and Jarron, on their own, without prompting, looking up title of books they wanted to read on the computer, I was thrilled. THRILLED! They love reading. They are actively searching out books to read. FOR FUN. Seriously, I was so happy to see that, you just have no idea.

9.  There is a house in our neighborhood, right on the corner, that drives me crazy. They have a ton of stuff in their backyard, a pool, a playset, a trampoline, a shed, etc. But no fence. Just those tacky orange signs you get from Wal-Mart that say "No Trespassing". And, I'll be honest, it annoys me a great deal, and each time we pass it, I mention how much I dislike those signs. Bryce and Jarron ride the school bus with kids who live in that house. (You get where I am going with this, right?) Bryce asked the little girl, "Hey, what's with those signs?" The little girl responded that her dad didn't like all of the teenagers cutting through their yard. So Bryce says, "Have you ever heard of a FENCE?"
Nice. And that my friends, is why you should never complain about your neighbors with the kids in the car.
10. We are taking a "staycation" next week-I've been searching out fun things to do in this area and I can't believe how many things we've never done that are within a couple of hours from Cincinnati!
So a little forewarning, the next couple of weekly posts will be very picture heavy! :)