Archive for Vacation

NewShoes=NoFun

Well… got back a few days ago from a week in the sun (and just one day of rain) with some of the best friends ever!  Along with a couple of stragglers from Chi-town.  It was a ton of fun except for ONE thing… I did a number on my back.  There is speculation abound as to the cause: could it have been the extremely fun extreme go-cart track we adults check out; could it be the new shoes I bought just days before I flew out; or any of a myriad of scenarios.

I just know that by Tuesday, I needed to rent a wheelchair to be pushed around EPCOT and the Magic KIngdom on Wednesday.  It would have been a funny bit of payback since I had to push C around when he had his ingrown toenail.  However,  although I tried to keep a light heart about the situation I discovered that it was not very funny.

Thursday, I stayed behind and soaked in the giant tub then slept on the rollaway bed so I did not have to climb the stairs.

Friday, saw my return flight to Detroit ($117.00 roundtrip, still marveling at the price).  The three of us were greeted to a shower on the way to the airport.  I was given VIP service by a skyhop who pushed me to the front of the security check line and from there to my gate.  Would rather have not had to zip by, but hey it beat standing.

When I arrived in Detroit, I had to wait 3 hours for my brother and his significant other to pick me up.  On the way home, we stopped at Applebees just inside Toledo.  We were warned that the heater was broken and were shortly shown to our WINDOW booth.  This may be a bit of a coincidence, but half of the staff was out sick.  Welcome back to NWO… from 70º to single digits all in a few hours time.

Monday, I went to out hometown chiropractor who was recommended by my aunt who is enjoying Florida as we speak.  Dr. Scott was very personable and gave it to me straight.  At my age, the chances of a disc injury increase.  I am able to stand and do some menial tasks as well as the stretches I was given.  I know it will take time but for now I feel so useless.  I’m used to being up and around and here I am sitting on a bag filled with rice.  My first heating pad met with a grisly end.  Someone put it in the microwave for 1:45 and before the time was up…. BOOM!!! I did not see the aftermath but I could smell it.

I did have fun on my week off but I got a little more than I bargained for….

A Year Full of Ups And Downs

2010… What a year!  So much happened that I do not know where the time went!  It started off LAST January when I received my first two awards for acting in You Have the Right to Remain Dead (as everyone’s ill-fated, lovable, hammy narrator… Harnell Chesterton) and for bringing the Grinchi Scrooginess of Mr. Henry F. Potter to life in It’s a Wonderful Life.  Even my best friends gave up a Bears’ playoff game to share in my moment as well as family!

I can’t even fathom the reality that I had limited myself to only two plays this year.  I tackled m first lead role in the three person DRAMA, Miracles.  I hope that Dawn and Rebekkah share in my belief that this play was one of the best shows I have ever been a part of.  Thank you Beth for pushing for this show to be done and spreading its important, powerful message.

Chris next challenged me to seek out a new vocal coach.  I had wanted to find one ever since Emily passed; however, I was uncertain as to whether I could find one as determined to help me in what I need to do.  Thank God, he helped me find Kathrine.  I could not ask for a better coach.  I just adore people who know where your talent lies and are willing to guide you with suggestions on how best to cultivate them.  Over the years I have had and continue to have some of the best!

I also became a board member of a new theatrical group in which I get to spend more time with my friends and help to bring The Wizard of Oz to the stage next summer.  I also had my first byline when I reviewed the company’s production of (Cr)Oklahoma! last summer.

My final performances of the year came in the Mare helmed production of The Hound of the Baskervilles in which I played a dual role as Barrymore, the caretaker of the Baskerville estate and as the doomed Selden who met a rather grisly demise.  Each production lends some challenge as well as fun working with old friends and making new ones.

The fact that I only limited myself to two shows this past year allowed me to do some very cool things with my friends.  In July, we went to Cincinnati to the zoo and then to Kings Island.  I had not been to one of my favorite parks in several years and to go and be treated as V.I.P.s was extraordinary.  Not to mention the multiple game nights (from which I just opened 2011), chats in person and via I.M.ing.  Just good times!

Of course a year is not all roses.  On January 5, we lost our beloved Aunt Carol to cancer.  Gone long before her time but held on longer than many thought she would.  And more recently, my brother separated from his wife.  I think that ultimately with the help and guidance of prayer and the love of family and friends striving forward yet remembering the special times only make us stronger.

So as we bid farewell to 2010, wrap up the holiday season and look ahead to the new year,  I wish all of you the very best of peace, joy, and happiness.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne my jo,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE… GOOD NIGHT!

Superman Where Are You Now

It has been years since I have been to Kings Island (I was in junior high the last time I went).  It has changed so much in the many seasons that I remembered only a handful of the attractions and the overall feel has changed A LOT which is a GREAT THING!  I loved every minute of it!  Maybe because the four of us were V.I.P.s for the day which allowed us to not wait in lines, unlimited drinks throughout the park, a lunch buffet, a photo taken while on a coaster, and $25 in Beagle Bucks.

I’m not certain that a large number of people know about the V.I.P tour because it seems as if most of the employees were even stymied.  Thank goodness for Chase, our 9 hour tour guide who was a blast to have lead us around.  One of our group soon became ill and had to sit out a bit from the big thrill rides so Chase so kindly stepped in and rode with me for a while.  Who says work can’t be fun?

With the exception of one, all of the rides were amazing!  So amazing that it was a toss up between the 31 year old wooden BEAST (which we rode at least 4 times IN THE FRONT and once in the middle… YUCK!) and the newer metal, smooth flying Diamondback that were my favorites.  Also high up there were the Firehawk and Invertigo.  I must say that I was pleased that I only caused one ride to stop.  Unfortunately, it was Firehawk and C, L, Chase, and I were in our car, flat on our backs, staring up at the sky, inches from the station at the end of the ride.  The Drop Tower, while confining and almost caused C and I to feel the need to bail out, was great, too.

The last time I was at the park, the Kiddie Land was devoted to the characters of Hanna-Barbera:  The Smurfs, the Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, and the like.  Scoobs is still there in the form of an interactive 3D ride in which you shoot monsters and compete with your ride partner.  Justj beat  me by 30 points.  Most of the fun for the little ones (like its sister park, Cedar Point) is now devoted to Peanuts characters.

What’s a good amusement park on a hot, humid day without a good, soaking water ride?  Hand down the best one Kings Island has to offer is White Water Canyon.  Funny, but I do not remember the cannons that onlookers can fire at the rafts along the way.  One of the female operators along the way got me on purpose and yelled that she liked my Superman tshirt.  THANKS!  Another curious thing…. Chase informed us that we were one of the few V.I.P. groups to even want to ride water attractions.  We rode White Water Canyon 4 times.  Two times in a row each time.

Another old favorite was the Racer.  It used to have one blue train and one red train that raced each other along the track.  One train used to go backward but eventually went forward.  Must not be as popular as it once was because only one train was running.  While on the Racer, I forgot to take my Superman hat off my head… Bye, Bye Man of Steel.

Another highlight was the behind the scenes tour of the Beast given by Don… who holds the record for most rides on the Racer and also named the Diamondback coaster.

After releasing our exCELLENT guide… THANK YOU CHASE! we wanted to stay until the park closed to ride the Beast at dark but Mother Nature had other ideas.  Shortly after Chase left us at 7, it began to rain so it was off to use our Snoopy Bucks.  I replaced my Superman cap with a Kings Island one and bought a Snoopy tshirt “I Can Do That.”

We also took in a great show “Way Too Much TV” which showcased the themes from favorite tv shows of the 50s-90s.  Even the lyrics to the themes of Bewitched and I Love Lucy were sung.  I got to play theme song trivia before the show began and got a Way Too Much TV button as a prize!

On the way home, I was given the opportunity to eat at a White Castle for the first time ever.  It was really not as bad as I have heard some people say (I don’t know where those family members would know from because there are none in our immediate area).  And I didn’t notice any of the lingering effects of the Sliders as I made my way home at 12.30AM.

Thank you Chase!  Had A GREAT DAY!  And thanks to C & L for another great time!  I am way too spoiled with all this no line theme park fun!

Don’t Eat The Grapes On The Ground

Monday morning, three of my fellow tangenteers and I piled into my Sunfire and headed South for two days of fun!  Nice to be driven in my own car for a change.  I didn’t even mind sitting in the back, strangely enough. Plus, it saved C&L from driving their gas munching min van.  We were all set, car packed, ready to pull out, when suddenly and without warning someone shouted out “WHERE’S the KEYS!”  I had given them to C who soon realized that he had locked them in the trunk.  Not to worry, I crawled in the back, pulled the cord that released the back rest and found the keys.

Traveling down I75, we stopped at a McDonalds which had what was called their “Fun Place”  (zone, or whatever).  It had an assortment of interactive, touch screen games all but one of which seemed to be working.

We arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo, which is larger than her sister zoo in Toledo and it really showed.  Even I was worn out after our tour led by taylhis.  I love going to zoos especially with someone who appreciates every type of animal imaginable and researches them giving us insight into them.  I have to say that my favorite animal were the manatees CC Baby and Turner, they were fascinating to watch.

To beat the heat, we went to a 4D theatre experience through the Dark Continent.  Not only 3D but with the added thrill of sensory stimulation.  Seats moving, animals “breathing” down your neck, being “sprayed” and being poked by a rhino’s horn.  Now, I ask you, who would not have wanted to got to the Dora and Diego movie, instead?

Also part of the experience was the petting zoo.  Upon entering one of the pens, the attendant warned each of us not to pick up the “grapes” left by the animals.  Not part of the actual petting zoo was the lorikeet exhibit.  One of us decided to get close enough to pick one of the colorful birds up and was given a surprise.

After the exhausting, yet very fun tour, we found our accommodations for the evening.  Wouldn’t ya know, it was right next to an establishment called Rhino’s that I would not have minded checking out (JUST KIDDING!)  It’s a good thing that justj and I were not in the building closest to the club with the thumping music emanating from it.  We had our own noises to contend with.

After getting some sleep, we needed to be at our day two point of excitement fairly early the next morning.  But we were treated like Kings and a Queen.

Staycation

Even if my plans for travel fell through, I was sooooo not at all disappointed in my time off.  It began last Sunday when I was invited to attended services at my friends’ church.  I thought the service was very well done.  A timely sermon (even if the pastor attempted to parallel it with an hour in the life of Jack Bauer).

Monday, I visited the zoo with the same friends… minus admin who was stuck working.  But taylhis and company had a great time, as always.  I then went to auditions for the dinner theatre that I will be part of Valentine’s Day weekend.  I hope by now that the cast has been set as the director was lacking a few key roles.  As I previously mentioned, the play involves improvisation… just the word alone scares me.  But after learning who my character is… I am so ready for my new challenge.

Tuesday night, I introduced my friends to the cinematic adventures of Harry Potter.  I am pleased to say that all enjoyed the movie.  I agree, that while the movie does take a certain amount of liberties, as a whole the movies are really entertaining.

Friday night, I watched Mystery, Alaska for the first time.  I really enjoyed the “adult take on The Mighty Ducks.”

Saturday and Sunday nights were spent with some of my new friends of the Village Players.  Megan and I went to Mary’s and played Disney Scene-It, Movie Scene-It, more Trivial Pursuit, and Megan and I stayed and played cutthroat Scrabble with Mare and Trav.

And the climax… Mary, Travis, Jen, Megan, and I went to see Sherlock Holmes on the huge Rave screen with Digital Sound and Picture.  I must say that the ads for the movie do not do the movie justice.  THANK GOODNESS it was not all Robert Downey, Jr. with his shirt off… and very little of it actually was.  What we did get was a superb mystery, action thriller in the finest tradition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters.  The chemistry between Downey and Jude Law (as Dr. Watson) was great.  Irene Adler  and Inspector Lestrade (two other Doyle creations) were also instrumental elements of the movie.  The way  definitely paved the way for a return to late 19th Century London.  We definitely left the movie pleased and (myself, at least) am ready for the sequel.

So sometimes, the best vacations are spent right here in the backyard.

Moose On The Loose

I forgot to mention another thrill the parents had on their trip.  One morning, a large moose was wandering Charnel’s yard.  Dad was in the middle of dressing and ran out just in time to see the back end of the animal as it made its way along.  He quickly told her to take a picture but she was not about to snap the rear of any animal.  To hear, seeing the large beasts is common place; they previously had a moose wandering around their area for a week.  They have also seen a mother bear and her cubs in the wilderness near the roadway.

One the return flight, mom sat beside a businessman who had travelled to the state several times.  He asked if they had seen any moose.  The gentleman was slightly disappointed as he had never before seen one and my parents were blessed to see one on their very first trip.

My Parents Went To Alaska And…

all they brought back for me was this stupid tshirt. Well… not really stupid. I like it and was not expecting anything. I just remember some friends who went to Hawaii when I was really young and brought me a shirt with that momento printed on in (with Hawaii instead of Alaska, of course).

Like their trip last summer to California, their excursion had many memorable moments. As I knew he would, my father found plenty of time to engage in what must be his favorite pasttime: lawn maintenance. He mowed the lawn, pulled weeds, and whatever else he could find to do. However, all outside work had to stop at 9PM following the playing of Taps or there would be trouble. The sun rose at about 4AM and did not set until 11PM every night. Funny that I was asked if dad had sneaked his lawn mower in his carry on bag.

We were greeted by a slew of stories that seem unbelievable but with my family are quite probable. At the Army PX (store) there were three different areas: grocery, clothing, and miscellaneous. You had to pay for the items you picked up in their respective departments. For example, you could not pay for a ball of yarn in the grocery area… as my father attempted to do. And you could not pay for anything without a military ID. Problems ensued and I half expected to hear that the three adults and two small children had been arrested for shoplifting, but no such luck.

While taking a walk along the beach (in 50 degree weather… I would almost take that after the past few days), they happened upon many musicians trying to make a buck. A person from China attempting to return to his native land and a woman trying to pay her way through college were just a few.

As this is a family friendly site, I will not go into detail on my next topic. Charnel has a friend who sells products ala Avon. However, the catalog she sells from is anything but beauty care. Charnel was asked if she would like to start selling. She vehemently turned the offer down. However, I can see where the woman could make money selling her wares.

Finally, the parents had as memorable a return flight as they did going. All of the flights on the return voyage were packed. Consequently (and I don’t know how… only they could be so lucky), they only had one seat between the two of them following the layover in Newark, NJ. Thankfully, the airline took volunteers to be bumped to a later flight giving dad a seat.

As they got off the toll road after driving home from Detroit, the toll collector asked where they had been. Don’t you wish you had stayed another week when it will be cooler? I was thinking the same as I heard the forecast over the last week… WELCOME HOME!

MY First Time

A comment on Taylhis’ blog gave me inspiration for post fodder.  My first time riding a coaster took place when I was 10.  My family spent a day at Cedar Point with my uncle, aunt, and two cousins.  I liked riding rides and had been on several smaller coasters.  I remember the Beastie at Kings Island (still there, Lis?).  I took my cousin Stacy to ride the Jr. Gemini.  However this year, I was too TALL to ride the smaller version.  Seeing this, my Uncle Bob challenged me to ride the REAL thing with him.  Why not?  The line for the double train, much like The Racer, was not long so I did not have to wait a great deal.  I still remember having my eyes shut tight after we made the turn and approached the first hill.  From what I understand, I also held onto my co-riders hand and squeezed it a little bit too hard.  But what a rush!  Red and blue racers going up and down hills and then the split at the end when the cars tilt to the side and finally return home.  There may be bigger, faster, longer coasters  (you can see the Magnum XL 200 which is 20 years old this summer… NO WAY! dwarfing the classic) but the good old Gemini is still one of my favorites.  That day in 1983, I discovered that I was growing up because I was no longer small enough to go on any of the kiddie rides.  No more Kid Arthur’s Court for me.  But I can ALWAYS ride the Cedar Downs racing horses.

There And Back Again

After leaving the NJ/NYC area, we decided to break the drive home in half and spend another few hours of fun at the Pittsburgh Zoo.  After arriving at our hotel at 2.30AM (or was it 3.30?  “Jill” the obviously feminine GPS was an hour slow), I got a few hours of sleep.  The trek to the zoo AGAIN was met with detours and misdirection.  We stopped at a police station and parked in a towing spot.  Thank goodness Chris & Lisa returned to the van before we were given notice.  Once again, Chris seemed to ignore Jill’s directions to get us to the zoo.  We stopped at a road side dairy treat where they had the largest and HOTTEST fish sandwich ever.  It was so hot that I had to let it cool a few minutes,  but it was good.

The Pittsburgh Zoo was in my opinion the best of the three.  The exhibits were all extraordinary and entertaining.  The African elephants were a special treat especially seeing the babies.  A keeper was in the area with the 4 or five elephants and looked right at home.

The aquarium featured more jellyfish (I think Akron’s jelly exhibit was better), HUGE (relative) pot-bellied seahorses, and penguins.  My favorite exhibit was the sea lions on display.  The trainers made them perform for their food and it was amazing to see the animals wave, leap out of the water, bark, and perform other eye-catching feats.

There was also a mole-rat tunnel area for the little ones to play in.  Taylor and Sammie made a new friend inside the maze of tunnels.  Little Disney was more apprehensive about starting off but once she did, it took some time to get her out.  The park was closed by the time we got her out.  But we had to stop by the sea lions one last time.

Then, it was back on the road for the final leg of the journey.  We stopped in Elyria for dinner and stopped at Wal-Mart (there is no escaping it!!!!).  Funny thing, this Wal-Mart was still a regular store.  I had thought that all the old stores were becoming Super Centers… bigger and better, right?  Well…

We returned from our trip around 12:00 Tuesday morning.  Once again, I had an absolutely fabulous time in my role of Manny.  Thank you Chris and Lisa for having me.  Thank you Taylor, Sammie, Disney, and little Beeber.  I was so proud of the four of you.  There were a few moments when most kids would have been pulling their hair out, but you were all wonderful.  The end of this fantastic voyage.  Much too quick but memories to last a lifetime.  Be sure to check out taylhis‘ blog for her own journal of the trip.  I found that I had to make one adjustment to my own.  HEHE

A Day In New York

Glad I could two events of the past month together.  Our final hours in the Big Apple were some of the most thought provoking and emotional.  It began after we decided to have breakfast delivered instead of doing the hotel restaurant again.  We made our way back across the river for another bus tour.  This time on a jump on and off trek.  Our hostess was a barrel of laughs and energy.  At one stop, a vendor jumped on offering refreshments.  The guide quipped that “this is not a movie theatre” in a decidedly Oriental accent.  After 9 stops, we arrived at our destination.

Ground zero itself created a very heavy feeling within me.  Seeing the empty skyline was nothing compared to actually being up close to the site surrounded by a fence behind which the memorial is being constructed complete with the 1776 foot tall Freedom Tower.  The 9/11 exhibit was also an emotional journey.  Artifacts on display recovered from the wreckage of the hi-jacked planes, the buildings, even a stuffed lamb that was buried and somehow survived intact (symbolism, anyone?).   Video tributes of the tragedies and heroes.  Downstairs, letters written by children of different culures were on display.  Many of these were so heartfelt that it was hard to keep a dry eye.

Following the tour of the exhibit, we had to once again make our way to the pier to get back to the hotel.  We thought we were in luck when were directed to the front of the Commerce Building where there was to be a dock where a ferry came and went.  Not so luckily, the dock is closed on Sunday.  SOOOO WE HAD TO FIND YET ANOTHER WATERWAY BUS to take us to the pier we were accustomed to.  That is a story best left for another time… I may just let taylhis relate that adventure.

Finally, we got back to the Jersey shore and went to dinner before departing.  On our way out of Jersey, we stopped for gas.  Chris got out, started pumping gas, and was immediately confronted by an attendant who began shouting at him.  Apparently, we had inadvertantly come across one of the few remaining full service pumps in existence.  But outbursts like “Papi” were heard.  I thought he was a fan of David Ortiz (wrong area to be one of those… YUCK).  By the time the gas was pumped, Chris was promoted (?) to “Boss.”  On the way out, it was discovered that we were unsure if the rattled attendant attached the fuel cap… sure enough after travelling a few blocks, we found out that it was not.

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