A Twisted Episode of Survivor

Posted in Kids, Travel on September 29th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had a wonderful weekend.  It all started with another visit to a haunted house on Friday night.  Although I enjoyed my previous haunted house experience at Ghostly Manor earlier this year, I just wasn’t feeling the Halloween vibe enough to subject myself to scariness – I didn’t sleep well the night before and little sleep makes me feel claustrophobic – weird.  But anyway, the haunted house was actually a haunted corn maze and they had other things to do at the farm, so I enjoyed myself immensely hanging out with my kids and the coolest teenager I know.  There is just something about farms that make me feel an inner peace; something that was illustrated again during the weekend – more on that in my next post.

Literally a cornfield in the middle of nowhere, Leader’s Family Farms has things to do to keep all ages entertained.  There were even a few things we didn’t even get a chance to try after spending so much time being lost in the corn maze.  Next time I will have to check out the hayride and the coop shoot – I have a special affinity for hayrides because they remind me of the week-long vacations to a dude ranch I took with my family as a kid.  But one thing about Leader’s that really impressed me was their ability to make appealing and fun attractions without the large budget or the mechanical reliance that a major theme park would have.  The “Barnyard” or family area had several things for the kids to play with: bouncy castles, a zip line, haystacks to climb on, a hay maze, slides – all physical activities which would guarrantee kids’ exhaustion giving the parents some “mommy-daddy time” at the end of the evening – the problem is everything was physical for Mommy and Daddy too, and like the DJ noted, “I don’t know who is getting tired out more – the parents or the kids!”  But that illustrates my point about the ability to entertain every age group without spending big bucks – and that is true for both the patron and the establishment.  Actually, let me back up for a minute and go off on a tangent – the purpose of the site, right?  🙂  Why do they call it a hayride when you’re actually sitting on straw?  I learned from a display at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo that hay is green and made from grass.  Straw is yellow and made from wheat.  So the kids were climbing on straw stacks, they played in a straw maze, and people were enjoying straw rides…  doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as hayrides, I guess…

But back to Leader’s – they had a DJ, who hosted Karaoke and played wedding-style audience-interactive songs like Hokey-Pokey, The Chicken Dance, YMCA, and Shout.  I was trying to teach Disney (my almost 2 year old) the YMCA, but she only liked the part where we clapped.  Maybe next time we will get down on the dance floor – this time my other girls were too shy and tired was I.  My insanely brave (or psychotic, depending upon who you ask) 4-year-old Sammie was intent on going into the haunted house, and my husband was actually going to take her in, but before she could even enter, she was frightened away from the experience by the scary music alone.  We got a cell phone call just as we were entering the corn maze, and so we retreived Sammie and let her enjoy the experience of the corn maze, which ended up being what I would describe as a twisted game of Survivor.  Take 4 kids, all under the age of 9, into a corn maze and wander around in the dark for over an hour.  No bathrooms, no snacks, and you only have enough stroller for two of them, so the other two have to walk.  It was fun, but also quite an experience.  I would love to go back and explore the maze – without kids though.  And when I got home, I looked at an aerial photo of the thing, and now it all makes more sense.  Here is where I spent my Friday night:

You enter at the small white building at the bottom of the picture and go left.  Where we really started losing it was around the back tire and the spoiler of the race car.  You can see how many forks and circles there are in the paths in that area.  And again, while in the thing, I had no idea what it looked like because I didn’t think to check a map before going in.  I would also bring a flashlight next time; well, maybe not if I didn’t have kids to worry about.  We were using our cell phones for light, but then the other half of our group who went into the haunted house called to see where we were and when I said I didn’t know, the cell phone lost service – adding to the stranded feeling we were experiencing.  I must have stashed my cell phone on top of the stroller really quick because my daughter had turned backwards in her seat and was falling out, so after I fixed her, I frantically searched for the cell phone with no luck – apparently it had fallen off the stroller in the corn maze.  So when we finally got out, I had to tell the staff that I lost my cell phone in there.  As they laughed at me, they asked if it was on vibrate or silence mode – “Of course it is!”  I said, because it would have been too easy to find it otherwise, and let’s face it – a lost cell phone in a corn maze wouldn’t be funny if you could call it and hear it ring.  So a small black silent cell phone lost in a corn maze in the dark?  Forget it.  They did call me the next day though, saying that they did eventually find it, probably with the light of day.  Well, anyway, the corn maze with 4 little children in the dark was quite an experience.  Not horrible, but not recommended…  quite an experience – I can only describe it as having felt like I came through an ordeal after we got out…  it was kind of like being stranded in the wilderness, not knowing when rescue would arrive.  Sure, there are “corn cops” and all you have to do is yell, but I don’t know how they’d hear you and I honestly didn’t want to be the group that yelled for help.  We did it on our own, and for that, we got the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Well, I’ve rambled about that long enough…  I had fun.  I loved the serenity of the farm at night, and it was a beautiful night weather-wise.  It was cool but not cold, and being in rural Ohio meant that we were navigating the maze under a canopy of thousands of stars…  I would love to go back and explore the maze without worrying about the kids being hungry, thirsty, having sore feet or having to go to the bathroom.  And someone remind me that if I have any more kids, a corn maze is NOT a good activity for a pregnant woman – too much walking and not enough bathrooms.  This post is so lengthy I’ll have to save our alpaca farm adventure for the next post…  stay tuned!

Terrorizing Tangents

Posted in Current Events, Travel on August 17th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

After the drive-through animal safari (see my previous post).  We were SO ready for dinner, but instead, we headed to Ghostly Manor in Sandusky, Ohio, hoping to beat the Saturday night crowds.  It’s weird because it’s a haunted house that’s open year-round, and it’s in the middle of a roller skating rink / arcade.  You pay your admission, and then you wait in line for your doom (insert evil laugh here).  Someone raps at the door to signal your turn in the haunted house, and let’s be honest – it’s so much better than we could ever do at the haunted house (or haunted tour, as we are calling it) that is planned for October’s weekends in Williams County Ohio.  But, we have a teeny-weeny budget, so how can we possibly compare?  Also, we cannot have narrow corridors (nor the “birth canal hallway”; something they had that I was not thrilled with, but would be a very scary tool if we could work with it.  But I wouldn’t want to really try because it totally seemed like a lawsuit waiting to happen…), so that makes it a different type of haunted house to begin with.  But anyway…  they say it’s the 4th scariest in the nation and I believe them.  Although I have to admit to being curious about the top 3 haunted houses on that list…  what is so scary?  Let me know which haunted houses are rated the scariest; as soon as you find out.  I do know that while traipsing through Ghostly Manor, I grabbed my husband’s shirt (he was in front of me), and I didn’t let go…  I let him lead me through the birth canal, past the skeletons and falling maggots, and I actually pushed him (hard!) past the vibrating floor boards (another something we can’t do because of low budget).  He ventured through the lair several times after that without me, and I don’t know what his experience in the Ghostly Manor was like without my pushing, shoving, and screaming, but he said it was better with me along…

Either way, it was a really fun day, and we came home with lots of ideas for our haunted tour.  Ours will be touring in October, so check it out on October 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, and 31-Nov. 1 in Bryan Ohio.  See ya then!!!!!

Saturday Slobber

Posted in Kids, Travel on August 17th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, school starts on Tuesday, so for one last summery hurrah, we ventured over to the coastal cities in Ohio on Lake Erie for some fun.  First stop was the African Safari Park in Port Clinton, which is really more of a drive-thru zoo than anything having to do with Africa.  They do have zebras, giraffes, and camels, but most of their animals hail from North America.  It’s always an extremely fun experience, and we try to go every year.  Since this summer was very busy with the new baby and all, it didn’t occur to me that we hadn’t gone yet until I struck up a conversation with a really nice elderly couple at a restaurant the other day.  When I asked where they were from, they replied, “west of Cleveland”, so that got me thinking about the Safari Park in Port Clinton.  On the way home from the restaurant that night, I said to my husband, you know, we haven’t been to the safari park this year…  An idea was hatched, and there we were on Saturday with 6 of our closest friends.

Saturday morning was almost like a one-act play with all of us standing there on our front porch, trying to figure out who was going to ride with whom; we were trying to find the best way to do things to be as economically (and environmentally) friendly as possible…  We ended up taking just 2 cars for the 12 of us, and then once we got to Port Clinton, it was like musical chairs (cars) once again while we tried to figure out how to position everyone to get the most bang for our buck, so to speak, since the safari place charges by carload and by individual…

So anyway, after a stop at Cheese Haven In Port Clinton – and now I have to go off on yet another tangent because Cheese Haven is SOOO good and totally worth a stop if you’re in the area.  And what I mean by “in the area” is anywhere up to 100 or even 1000 miles, depending on how much you like cheese.  They have so many varieties, along with fresh jerkies and beef sticks and other yummy treats.  We stopped there to get our lunch of corned beef sandwiches – and they have the best corned beef sandwiches, yum.  Unfortunatlely, I was not wlling to take 4 kids into the cheese store to run around, so I was stuck in the car with the kids, but my oh-so-thoughtful hubby talked the worker into making me a sample bag (which they’re not supposed to do, you only get the free samples if you go into the store, but hey, I was stuck in the car), AND he made my sandwich for me – how sweet 🙂

Ok, tangent aside…  now we’ve arrived at the Safari Park, and it is SO crowded…  Makes me think twice about going there again next summer unless it’s near their last weekend of operation like it was when we went last year…  I mean, I just can’t stand waiting in line to go to the bathroom, of all things…  Waiting in line is not much fun at all, but when you’re waiting in line to do something as necessary and as unrewarding as going to the bathroom, it’s really annoying.  So, because it was so crowded, it took us forever to get through the drive-through zoo part; although not as long as it took the other vehicle in our caravan because they were stuck behind an obscenely slow white van the whole time…  So while we got out of the drive-through section, they had barely just begun…  But the whole park is a really cool place; even more so if you don’t care about the vanity nor cleanliness of your car since there are some rather huge creatures (including deer, elk, elands, buffalo, zebras, giraffe and longhorns) who drool, head-butt, lick, slobber, and basically invade your car as your drive through their habitat.  I think you must truly be an animal lover to appreciate the place since you come out filthy…  This was the first time we had been there in our new car, but I’m happy to report no major damage, that I know about, at least; but what’s this about driving our car through a pond, jamiahsh?!?

We’ll get to the bottom of that later…  when you come out of the drive-through part, it’s time for the walk-through zoo section, and there they have monkeys, macaws (military, not green-winged as the sign said), ocelots, warthogs, alpacas, and tortoises; not to mention rides for the kiddees: ponies and camels.  I noticed that they had 2 camels for riding; one was resting while the other gave the rides.  But interestingly, one was a Dromedary and the other a Bactrian camel, the difference between the two species being mainly in how many humps they had…  My daughters rode the Dromedary (1 hump), and they really seemed to enjoy themselves – I wonder if riding the Bactrian (2 humps) would have been any different?  I was envious because I’m no where near the 125 lb. weight limit, so I’ll probably never get to ride a camel…  After that, we got to check out an animal show, ironically titled “Laugh With the Animals”.  It was ironic because our host for the show was so dry – she had the audience doing everything but laughing…  It was a fun show, though, and something that we hadn’t yet done at the park in our previous visits.  Overall, an interesting day…  as it is anytime you have 12 people on an outing together!

If you liked reading my synopsis of the day, check out my fellow tangents.org blogger and get Jamiahsh’s take on the whole thing.  I’m going to take a lesson from him and blog this in 2 installments…  got to leave the readers craving more, so they say!  Check out my next post for a full summary of our visit to a year-round haunted house – Ghostly Manor in Sandusky, Ohio!  Until then…