Staycation Days 8-11

July 27th, 2015 No comments

Staycation Day 8 (Friday July 24)

Despite going to bed late on Thursday, we were still prepared to visit the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana on Friday. Instead of getting there at 11 am when they opened, however, we decided to arrive later at 2 pm so we could all get some much needed rest.

Brother #1 accompanied us and our first stop was Dan’s Pierogis where I ordered three potato & sweet cheese pierogis and three sweet cheese pierogis but ended up with six all potato pierogis. I went back to complain and they gave me three sweet cheese ones. Apparently their cook dumped the potatoes in the bin labeled sweet cheese. I’m not sure what happened with the combo ones but next year I’m just getting sweet cheese across the board because they are the only good ones anyway. I also tried a taco pierogi at a different truck which was quite good.

We were all a little spent after so much walking the day before so we only spent about two hours at the fest. We ran into my cousin as we were leaving which was funny.

We stopped at a Little Caesars nearby to get one of those pretzel crust pizzas with the pepperoni and cheddar cheese sauce and took it back to my parents’ to eat. When we arrived Brother #2 was there holed up in his room. Apparently at some point he went to take a shower but not once did he stop in the kitchen to say hello. I seriously don’t understand him. Incidentally, I invited him and his girlfriend through her (since he doesn’t reply to my texts) to Indiana Beach and the fest but she said they were working. Which is fine, but he didn’t even acknowledge it or any of us when we were there. The last text I got from him was in February and it was “thanks” after I wished him a happy birthday. I texted him prior to that and he didn’t reply and once after that and he didn’t reply. On top of that, not once has either of them invited us to do something with them even when they are literally fifteen minutes from our house. I don’t get it. But I’m at the point I don’t care to get it anymore. He’s self-centered and rude and I’m done. I just hope he realizes he’s the reason we don’t have a relationship – not me. I can only try so many times before I feel like a fool for even bothering.

Anyway…

After eating our pizza and chatting for a bit we decided to go home. We just weren’t in the mood for another late night.

Staycation Day 9 (Saturday July 25)

Everyone was still feeling pooped. E didn’t even want to join us at the pool so we went alone. When we got back he asked if it was ok if he went home so he could hang out with his friends (before leaving for the pool we gave him the option since we could tell he was kinda bored). I tried not to let that hurt my feelings since at his age (17) who can blame him? We were just going to sit around watching movies the rest of the evening anyway and he was due to go home in the morning. So after dropping him off at home we went to the arboretum to see the LEGO exhibit. Then we stopped at Whole Foods for some shampoo and Panda Express for dinner.

When we got home I helped Joe clean all the bug guts off the Escape. We also officially met some of our neighbors including a couple who just moved in two weeks ago. They have a beautiful big St. Bernard which my mom would love.

Staycation Day 10 (Sunday July 26)

We didn’t do much but runs some errands (Target, Costco, Target again haha) and watch TV.

Staycation Day 11 (Monday July 27)

Joe was back at work. I had contemplated going in so I could play catch-up but I had a rough night sleep-wise and my stomach was bothering me so I didn’t get out of bed until 11 am. Then I cleaned the house for a few hours and watched some YouTube videos. I’m not really looking forward to going back to work, but then again when am I?

Categories: Excursions Tags:

Staycation Day 7 – Indiana Beach

July 27th, 2015 No comments

Staycation Day 7 (Thursday July 23)

E felt better so we stuck with our plan to visit Indiana Beach Amusement Park. We were up very bright and early (5 am) so we could leave at 6 am as we had multiple stops to make – gas station for fuel, ice (for the cooler) and a Coke product (for discounted admission to the park), E’s house so he could grab a few things, E’s girlfriend’s house as she was coming with us, and Brother #1’s house since he was also coming with us.

We arrived at the park at 10:30 am their time which was perfect since we got free parking close to the entrance and by the time we purchased our tickets and walked across the suspension bridge, the rides were just starting since they technically open at 11 am (not 10 am like I mistakenly thought).

Unlike previous years, there’s only one wristband they sell for $31.95 which includes nearly all the rides and the water park. I had checked their site ahead of time and learned Thursday was BOGO if you mentioned you liked them on Facebook (which is funny because they don’t even have an official Facebook presence). In addition, you could get $10 off each ticket with a Coke product. Since there were five of us that meant two free admissions and one discounted by $10. So instead of paying $159.75 the total was $85.85 (or $17.17 per person); and technically it was $63.90 out of pocket since my brother paid his own way. We ended up spending more than that on food even though we did make a trip back to the car for a meal later in the day. But who can resist tacos, corn dogs, and Dippin Dots, the last of which was $25 for four people (I opted out due to lactose intolerance)?

I went on a record 8 different rides this time around (not including the water ones) –

Paratrooper (aka Umbrellas) – I hate this ride but Brother #1 insisted and threatened to drag me on the Sea Dragon otherwise.

Scrambler – I think is my fave and I’m not sure why I was too nervous to ride it last year.

Den of Lost Thieves – I “won” this point-gathering ride by 10 points, woot!

Dodgem (aka Bumper Cars) – We went on this twice, in fact, since they’re way too much fun. And the first time we had an extra long session since there wasn’t anyone waiting.

Music Express – Minus the music as it was broken; oh well, at least it was operating unlike last year.

Rocky’s Rapids Log Flume – Poor E lost his beloved Deadpool hat on this ride and they wouldn’t send someone to get it. We tried to convince him he wouldn’t have wanted it back anyway since by that point it was water-logged and had been run over by subsequent riders and likely torn up.

Antique Autos – Ugh, this ride is just dumb so I made Brother #1 “drive” while Joe and I sat in back. The line is always so long too because they have two cars in operation even though they used to have three times as many.

Train – I had to end our visit taking the train from Kiddieland back to the suspension bridge because it’s a classic.

Rides I used to go on but now avoid –

Sky Ride – You can thank Joe for scaring me into not wanting to ride this one ever again. He has me convinced it’s a death trap.

Falling Star – My stomach cannot handle this one anymore.

Hooiser Hurricane – According to Joe and E, who rode this roller coaster, it’s really bumpy. I don’t recall since it’s been a log time since I last rode it.

The Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain was not running all day which was fine because that thing throws you around like there’s no tomorrow. I think we all ended up bruised the last time we rode it. I was bummed their Grand Carousel wasn’t running either. Then again, I’ve yet to see that ride in operation.

Sometime after 3 pm we decided to visit the water park section of the park which we never have done before. It was ok. The lockers are ridiculous – $10 (but they refund you $4 when you return the key) and super small. It would have cost us $24 just in locker fees so we decided Joe and I would keep watch over the stuff on the beach while the other three went on some stuff and then we could switch off. Except they disappeared for over an hour before returning. I’m not going to lie – I was a bit annoyed because the water park closes at 6 pm and I wanted to make sure we had some time to enjoy ourselves too. Brother #1 agreed to watch our stuff while E and his girlfriend took off and Joe and I went on the Big Flush (a two-person water slide with a raft) which was a lot of fun. If the line wasn’t so long I would have gone on a second time. We also rode the Action River although the water wasn’t moving very much to be deemed a river. Plus it was a bit too shallow for my taste. The beach itself was nasty and dirty which was weird to me because I swear they used to filter the water. In any case, it was fun but I think next time what we’ll do is hit the water park earlier since by the time we arrived there weren’t any chairs left (even though there was plenty of room for them). Or we’ll rent a cabana. In any case then we can just use one locker for our valuables and we can all head out together to enjoy the water.

After changing back into our street clothes Brother #1 decided he wanted to visit the haunted house. No one was really into going, plus it’s a separate $3 fee, so I went with him. Two women visiting from California were the only other people in our group and I made my brother lead the way through the twists and turns in the dark castle since it was his idea. One of the women held onto the back of my shirt the whole time. It was rather lame save for the one part where you end up in a room full of doors trying to find the one that isn’t a dead-end. Ugh! I didn’t care for that or the part where the corridor becomes extremely narrow and it’s so dark you can’t see. It hasn’t changed much from when we were kids which on one hand is lame but on another made it less scary for me since I hate haunted houses anyway.

We ended up leaving around 9 pm their time which was the longest we’ve ever spent there for a day trip. I was dreading it after reading all the negative reviews on Yelp about how run-down it has become, but it didn’t seem too bad – I could tell they spruced up some areas up with a fresh coat of paint so if anything, it looked better than last year. There were still a lot of rides with multiple broken down vehicles which made the lines longer but it wasn’t very crowded all day so it was tolerable. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how long we stayed and how much fun I had.

Categories: Excursions, Family, Fun & Games Tags:

Staycation Days 1-6

July 22nd, 2015 No comments

Staycation Day 1 (Friday July 17)
Cleaned the house, basically, while Joe was at work.

Staycation Day 2 (Saturday July 18)
Joe and I hit the local theater in our mall to see a matinee of Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer & Bill Hader. While it was a bit long for a comedy (2 hours), I thought it was pretty good. Afterwards we headed to a different mall so I could check JCPenney for jeans and swimwear, but first we stopped at a place called Moochies for lunch. It wasn’t all that, although their greek fries, covered in feta, were very good. Our mall shopping trip was a complete bust and we left empty-handed. UPS delivered my new camera while we were out so I charged the battery and set up wifi & ability to transfer photos from the camera to my iPhone which will make posting to social media on our vacation possible. Technically you can post from the camera directly to Facebook and YouTube but it’s cumbersome trying to type out a caption.

Staycation Day 3 (Sunday July 19)
We visited Cosley zoo in the morning to test my new camera.

Fox

It’s pretty decent. It’s really hard not to compare it to the results I could get from my SLR which isn’t fair to a point and shoot model. Pros: zoom is magnificent, shutter speed is impressive, and you can shoot HD video in any camera mode which is a plus. Cons: battery life is crap, there are limited aperture settings so you don’t get that lovely blurred background, and the camera kept changing the exposure on me (although I’ve since learned by reading the manual how to lock that moving forward).

After the zoo we went to Walmart for a few things and bought this cute beach bag for $5.

Beach Bag

It will come in handy on our day trip to Indiana Beach.

We also decided to grab Chipotle for lunch. Normally we eat there but it was rather busy so we decided to take it home. That turned out to be a good thing since five minutes after getting home E was dropped off by his mom (he’s supposed to text Joe when he’s on his way, but he didn’t do that until he was more than halfway to the house and we had zero idea what time she was planning on dropping him off). Since he hadn’t eaten lunch, he made himself a sandwich and we had grilled hamburgers for dinner.

Staycation Day 4 (Monday July 20)
We headed to the mall to see Inside Out. Was I the only one who balled their eyes out during this movie? Damn Pixar really pulls at one’s heartstrings! It was a great movie, as most Pixar films are. After the movie we went to Round1 to play ping-pong for an hour. It was only $5.25 which was even less than the pricing on their website. I’m so out of shape because my calves were sore the next day. We had Portillo’s for lunch and I made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

Staycation Day 5 (Tuesday July 21)
The boys wanted to see a Milwaukee Brewers game so I purchased tickets on Stubhub Monday evening for a Tuesday night game. We decided to head up to Milwaukee at noon (arriving at 2 pm) to visit their zoo first.

I was originally going to bring my SLR but didn’t relish the idea of carrying my camera and lenses into Miller Park, or leaving them in the car, so I decided to bring my new camera instead. It performed pretty well, although, like always, it was a disappointment compared to my SLR (do I sound like a broken record or what). That being said, one cool feature is that you can change the aspect ratio of the photos. I’ve gotten so used to my SLR 3:2 ratio that I was thrilled to learn I can do the same on the new camera, even though I do give up two megapixels to do so, effectively changing my 16mp camera to a 14mp one.

I also tested the new crossbody bag I purchased from ebags earlier in the week. I do like it, although I find it a bit uncomforable to wear across my chest due to how thick and unpadded the strap is. I swear, I cannot find the perfect bag. This one gets so close other than the strap. It is a good size, although a bit heavy even when empty.

Getting to the zoo at 2 pm was quite odd. We’re used to getting there when they first open and leaving around noon. The parking lot was full, but not overflowing, and most of the exhibits were not that busy so it was nice. The only downside to arriving so late is the ridiculous amount of fingerprints on all the exhibit glass. I couldn’t find a smudge-free spot in order to get a shot of the lions. By the time we made it to the Great Apes most of them were nowhere to be found. The exhibit buildings close at 4:45 pm but it seems like they take the animals off exhibit closer to 4:30 unless there was some other reason all the gorillas were MIA.

Giraffe

My camera’s battery died just before we were done seeing everything so I’m definitely going to need to buy a spare battery for our trip to Disney. I hope two batteries will be sufficient for a full day of fun. I don’t plan on hiding behind the camera the entire trip but it would be pretty fun to put together a nice video montage of the parks.

Staycation Day 6 (Wednesday July 22)
We originally planned to visit the arboretum to check out the new LEGO exhibit and then get lunch from our favorite BBQ place, Smoque, but E was not feeling well. His sinuses have been bothering him since Sunday and today his throat was hurting too, so Joe took him to immediate care. He tested negative for strep throat but was diagnosed with a sinus infection. He’s allergic to all but the strongest antibiotics which they didn’t think he should use for just a sinus infection, so he basically has to treat the symptoms and let the infection run its course. He’s taking Pseudoephedrine and Flonase and resting. We suggested pushing back our Indiana Beach trip to Friday but he really wants to still go tomorrow so we’ll see if that ends up working out.

Categories: Excursions, Food, Kids, Movies, Photos Tags:

Vacation Planning Update

July 17th, 2015 No comments

First day of our Staycation and I was wide awake at 5 am. At least I got the house cleaned early before I wasted a lot of time online and on the phone with Disney getting our old tickets set up in their new system.

Completed Prior To This Week:
Booked hotel and paid down payment
Booked flights and paid for them
Reserved rental car

Completed This Week (more details below):
Bought some things for the vacation
Converted our old Disney tickets to their new ticketing system
Started building an itinerary for each day

Outstanding:
Finalize our itinerary
Book Fastpasses (can’t start doing this until 7/22)
Call Enterprise to see if we can use a cash back bonus certificate from Discover before purchasing it

Items Ordered
Last night I ordered two crossbody bags from ebags.com because I want something to carry around Disney World that isn’t too big or too small and despite the plethora of bags I own, nothing was up to the task other than my Kipling backpack but I think it would be a little too big. In any case, I had been looking at bags for awhile and narrowed my choices down to two. Since they offer free return shipping I’ll just send back the one I don’t like. For once those little code finder extensions in Firefox worked and I got like $15 off my total order which was nice. Plus with my trial Shoprunner account I got free two-day shipping.

I also ordered a camera from Amazon – Canon SX700 HS. I went onto chat and asked the Amazon rep if they could give me a deal and they gave me a $15 promo code which was nice. Plus I had a $10 promo code in my account from Prime Day when I ordered $45 of gift cards. So my $279 camera cost $254, plus I used the $45 gift cards toward the purchase (they shipped in 1 day) so I only had to spend an additional $229 or something once you factored in taxes.

I tested the camera, albeit briefly, at the dreaded Best Buy near our house (the only time I’ve set foot in one in years) and it seemed decent. I know it’s not going to rival my SLR but there’s no way I want to lug that or my lenses around on our trip; they are too bulky and heavy. I know the photo quality will trump my shitty iPhone 6 at least! If I get pretty decent photos and nice videos (it shoots in HD) I’ll be pretty happy. The zoom on it is impressive which is why I spent a little more than just going for a $100 camera (and the reviews on this model were better than most).

Disney Tickets Converted
I called Disney today to get our old tickets linked to my Disney account. It took a little while, but it worked! And the rep confirmed we have 7 days left, they are still part hoppers with no expiration, and we don’t have to use all 7 days in one trip. Whew! Plus they were able to update the name on my ticket (it was in my maiden name). So relieved to get that hassle out of the way ahead of time! Now we’ll also be able to reserve our Fastpasses later this week.

Touringplans.com
I also signed up for an account on touringplans.com where you can build an itinerary for each day at the parks and it tells you the best order to visit the rides to keep wait times to a minimum. I plan to keep playing around with it. It’s cool because it even tells you which rides you should get your Fastpass for and what times. It’s kinda insane to me to be planning all this two months in advance but if it prevents me from standing in line half the day, so be it! Right now my current touring plan for Magic Kingdom is still anticipating a grand total of nearly two hours standing in line, and that’s on a day where the crowd level is only a 2 out of 10! Can you imagine during the summer when it’s super crowded?

Categories: Excursions, Shopping Tags:

Weekend Stuffs

July 13th, 2015 No comments

Friday I met up with my friend for lunch at Portillo’s where I chose to get the chicken and fruit salad from Barnelli’s. It was so fresh and delicious, I was impressed! I hate that the salad is seasonal since it’s so delicious.

Chicken & Fruit Salad

Friday night Joe, E, and I went to Sonic for drinks. They got shakes since they’re half price after 8 pm. I ended up getting the lemon berry slush which isn’t quite as good as the lemon berry cream slush but taking a few sips of Joe’s vanilla shake and then my slush rectified that without consuming too much ice cream so I wouldn’t get sick.

Saturday morning we tried out a new-to-us theater to see Minions, which we enjoyed. The theater is in the mall less than ten minutes from us but we never go there because ticket prices used to be high. On Friday my friend mentioned that tickets were only $5 there now so I did some investigating and they’re actually $4.50 every day before 5pm. Our regular theater was $5.50 until recently when they reduced it to $5, no doubt to compete with the other theaters in the area. The new theater has larger reclining seats but no points system to earn free movies so we’ll probably alternate between the two.

After the movie on Saturday I returned one of the super duper comfy bras I bought at Kohls because it wasn’t being so comfy after all even though the other one, same exact style, is fine. Go figure. We also bought two t-shirts – one for E and one for my brother which I know he’ll love. I’m saving it for Christmas. We made a trip to Costco for a cheap lunch and some groceries, and then stopped at Half Price Books since we had 40% off coupons. E got two cds and a Pokemon game guide, I got a collapsible fabric cube, and Joe got Jenga and Mario Kart DS.

We also watched two movies Saturday evening – Nightcrawler and Earth to Echo, neither of which were all that great, particularly the latter one.

Sunday we went grocery shopping to prepare for our friend’s annual BBQ. In addition to cookies (which we didn’t end up putting out since they had a huge cookie tray already), we brought the makings for s’mores (as did another friend who playfully berated me for not telling her even though I bring them every year), strawberry jello shots, and a new creamy pasta salad I decided to try. I wasn’t too impressed with the salad, and it was a bit stressful getting everything together before meeting up with our friends at 3 pm for lunch at a restaurant before heading to the BBQ, so I won’t be doing that again. I noticed that they barely had any chips there so I plan to bring a bunch of bags next year instead.

We didn’t go in the pool because it’s usually full of teenagers/young twenty-year-olds, but this year it was mostly kids. My friend has a hot tub now too and I was kicking myself for not bringing my suit. Next year I’m bringing it!

At 9:15 pm we walked over to the park to catch the fireworks show which was even better than it was last year. We ended up leaving the party sometime between midnight and 1 am.

We were up pretty early today because we had an appointment with a lawyer to discuss putting together a living trust. Afterwards we had breakfast at Chick-fil-a, stopped at the library and Target, and later tried a new Chinese restaurant a coworker recommended since my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in the whole world suddenly closed. Unfortunately the Chinese place wasn’t anything special so the search continues. We also spent a little time at the pool. Now I’m doing laundry and wishing I had another four days off work.

Categories: Food, Friends, Movies, Shopping Tags: