Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Short Vacation

Well, long story short--we had to postpone a highly anticipated trip to Disney.  So, Jason and I decided to take the kids on a little short vacation just two hours away.  We took them to the Great Wolf Lodge!
Neither parent really knew what to expect except for a water park.  What we didn't expect was the child-centricity of the resort.  Elena and Vivian LOVED the size of it, the look of the lobby--and apparently tons of other families did too, b/c it was PACKED with kids.

There was a LOT to do at the Lodge--but we started with the water park.  Water always makes me very nervous, because neither E nor Vivian can independently swim without a life vest.  Couple that with a very large park and plenty of kids that are pushing/leaning/crowding certain areas--you get a very vigilant mother.  I would have taken lots of pictures/videos, but my camera wouldn't stay dry.

E and Viv started in the toddler area, which was cute and relatively calm.  My heart soars when I see Vivian here; she is so adventurous, proud of herself, and I marvel at how easily she gets around.  Elena is having a great time, but asks for my hands to climb the steps to the little slide.  Since we're all sort of cold, I oblige.  She goes down the slide sitting up very nicely, and quickly rights herself in the water once off the slide.  She doesn't pop up and walk/swim to do it again, although she'd like to--the act of exiting the slide into the pool of running water seems a bit much for her to process while putting her feet down, so it's slow going to do it again.  Both kids are loving it, and we're all happy.

Then we tried the bigger kid slides.  There is a huge climbing structure--mostly made of rope "rooms" and tunnels, with a few steps to separate sections.  Definitely NOT handicap-friendly.  We try it anyway--we are all very slow, and the rope hurts all of our feet except Vivian's.  Lots of kids pass us, and we are the only parents trying to go up this way--which means that there either must be another way up, or no other parents here have to escort their children on this slide.  We finally make it to the top--only one rider at a time.  I go first, and wait for Vivian.  She comes down BEAMING and immediately screams "AGAIN!" when I help her out of the slide.  E comes down next, twisting and turning, sitting up very well the whole way down--until she meets the "pool" part at the bottom of the slide, which surprises her and she flattens out, getting a faceful/mouthful of water.  I help her out, she is scared, and coughing, and doesn't want to try again.  I don't blame her, she seemed quite unhappily surprised at the ending of what was otherwise a great adventure.  We head to the lazy river.

Elena loves the lazy river.  She gets to swim, ride the current, try to avoid falling buckets of water and just is thoroughly enjoying herself.  I have to be vigilant, as lots of kids in rafts simply do not notice that their inflatables can come together and push E's little head under water or smush her face between the plastic--so I spend a lot of time pushing them away.  Lots of parents are doing this; kids on the rafts are oblivious.  E and Viv also love the wave pool.

The second day we did a lot of the same, but with two exceptions; we took E and Viv (separately) on the two-person big slide (on rafts) and it was a huge success, and Vivian had to leave early b/c she needed a nap.  So Jason and E stayed--for two and a half more hours.  That's a LONG time for E to be swimming!  Her love of the park was great--but the combination of her wearing her swim vest and the crotch strap made for some pretty serious chafing on her thighs.  No more pool for a while!

There is a challenge at the Lodge called MagicQuest; it's basically a scavenger hunt type game, where you have a magic wand with a memory chip.  You "find" things on your magic wand and activate movement around the hotel with a proximity sensor in your wand.  Basically, the kids carry and wave their wands around and stuff happens--magically!--and THEY LOVED IT.  It was a lot more fun that I expected--E had to walk around a lot (which she did) and Vivian even enjoyed it (it is aimed at reading-aged kids and above).  Elena typically walked with one crutch and held her magic wand with the other hand.  She got LOTS of stares and questions.  One young girl was so nice, polite, and just didn't get why Elena used her sticks even after we tried to answer her questions.  And then we got the "what's wrong with her" as we entered a crowded elevator of older kids--Jason and I answered in unison "NOTHING" and then Elena piped in that these were her crutches and she uses them to get around.  The girls that asked seemed satisfied, and ended up being quite nice.  My guess is most of these kids haven't ever seen (or noticed) anyone wearing AFOs, or using crutches, etc.  We notice that stuff all the time.

The kids also tried bowling for the first time!  They had 5-lb bowling balls and bumpers on the lanes.  Elena was tired, so she asked for help, which we gave her part of the time--she DID do it herself, though!  Very proud of both girls for hitting those pins!

Overall, my impressions of the Great Wolf Lodge are positive.  My big negative critique is the cost...the only thing "included" as a guest is water park access (everything else costs additional).  My huge positive review is the water park, especially the lifeguards.  They are EVERYWHERE, and they appeared very alert and responsible--it was quite impressive.

The best part of the trip was being together as a family, just the four of us.  Elena and Vivian got along beautifully; they both slept in the sofa bed together, and it was wonderful to witness the relationship between these two girls.  I'm such a lucky wife and mother.


Josephine Andersen said...

I've wondered whether that would be a good vacation spot for us or not. It sounds like a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to the pics and videos :) Somebody asked Avery why she needed a walker yesterday (I wasn't there), and she told me that she told them that it was a long story, and she didn't feel like explaining it to the whole group of kids ;)

Anonymous said...

Is this "The Wolf Lodge" in the state of PA?? I think I'm going here in a few weeks! :D