Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Vacation in the Great Indoors

If you only read yesterday's post, you might get the feeling like you were missing something. This should fill in the gaps.

We took a vacation. Goodness knows, we needed one. Deborah foresaw this need back in January, and went to the local Ramada and got one of each brochure on the rack. After a lot of phone calls and investigation, she picked out the Kalahari resort and waterpark in Sandusky, Ohio.

Did I mention that this is an indoor waterpark? I've been to several while I was in California and Spain — pretty much ideal places for an outdoor waterpark — but this one was built to appeal to us poor midwesterners that don't have year-round access to warm, sunny skies. There wasn't any need for sunscreen or insect repellent, even. We scarcely knew what the real weather was like outside. It currently bills itself as "Ohio's largest indoor waterpark" with signs promising "America's largest indoor waterpark" come December.

The place was big. Real big. I haven't altered this shot, other than to do some color correction. Fortunately, our room wasn't too far down this hallway.

We got there on Monday afternoon in what was definitely the off-season. The parking lot, built for thousands of cars, held perhaps twenty. Lines for the slides and rides were virtually non-existent. We practically had the place to ourselves.

The "Leopard's Lair" was definitely the centerpiece of the waterpark, with all kinds of slides, water wheels, valves, and hoses all over the place. A water-wheel-driven bell counted off the seconds until the enormous bucket at the top would be full and dump out again. So there was a constant clanging amidst the roar that gave the place the feel of some huge, steamy factory.

The kids were scared at first of the noise of the place — a constant, thundering roar, along with clanging, the screams of people on various rides, and the weird wail of the Zip Coaster launching rafts into weightlessness. We all got used to it pretty quickly, though.

Despite the enormity of the place, every inch of the space was accounted for, so much so that it sometimes was difficult to figure out where the entrance to a particular attraction was. We kept discovering more things, like a "lazy river" inner-tube ride (Fiona's favorite) or the not-immediately-evident kids' area.

Fiona and Aiden enjoy the water slide in the kids' pool. At first, they were afraid of the place, and all its noise and splashing, but they were having a blast by the third day.

This is probably one of my favorite shots that I got on this trip. Aiden liked to do whatever I was doing while it was my turn to watch the kids at the kiddie pool, and he sat down beside me and flashed me this huge grin.

Can you find Deborah?

They had dry entertainment, too. This was a huge "treehouse" with all sorts of ladders and tunnels, and lots of little rubber balls. Here, Fiona discovers what happens if you put a ball into a fast column of air. We also discovered that you can get two of them going at the same time — they go around each other in a fascinating, orbiting dance.

Since it was Paul's birthday, we brought him along. And we gave him a shirt, too, but he doesn't know that yet in this picture.

Here, fishy, fishy, fishy. Being the aquarist that I am, I had to stop and admire the fishtanks and their denizens. This tank was set into the side of a swimwear shop.

One aspect of the place I didn't care for much was the unspoken attitude of "we will have all your money before you leave." I would have blogged about this during the trip, but paying $9.95 per day to try to access the internet through a wonky infrared keyboard hooked up to the TV, or $5.95 per 15 minute increment to use the much nicer Mac down in the lobby seemed a bit excessive, especially when I've been plenty of other places that provided a computer room for free. Our restaurant the first evening was a bit of a shock, too — granted, there were five of us, and we were treating Paul for his birthday, but it's the most I've paid for a meal, ever. They did have enough things that actually interested me, though (like surf lessons) that they ended up with a fair amount anyway.

A silly souvenir. Some shops sold the usual junk (Oh yes, I want a shot glass with the hotel's name on it. Not.) but others had handmade items, like this zebra mask. Deborah's modeling it here, but Paul really made it look right, especially while wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

An African theme was evident throughout the place, many of the decorations being apparently genuine imports, which I found surprising. Fiona said that this must be a porcupine. I'll go for that explanation.

OK, I've taken some kidding about my blog being "all food, all the time" but this really does deserve a mention. This is the Kalahari Wrap at the Karoo Marketplace restaurant, and it's yummy.

Yes, we chlorinate our water. When we went, my swim suit was the same color inside and out. Now, instead of being all green, the outside is a sort of odd orange. In all fairness, we were in the water about six or seven hours per day.

All in all, we had a fun, relaxing time. With all the amazing number of things that could have gone wrong on such a trip, none of them did. No one felt left out, or unduly imposed upon. We all got to enjoy what we wanted to do.

We're back home now, and taking a big breath before life begins again.

No comments: