Archive for the ‘Excursions’ Category

Indiana Beach 2017

August 14th, 2017 No comments

This year we decided to visit Indiana Beach on a Sunday. Since the car rental places aren’t open on Sundays we opted not to rent a van and planned to take two cars. Brother # 2 contemplated coming along and would have driven me and Brother # 1 while Joe would have the kids and ES, but then my brother bailed because he found out he has Lyme disease, started medication over the weekend, and (understandably) wanted to take it easy.

The revised plan was for me to drive my other brother and myself but then Joe’s son, E, bailed as well. So that’s how we all ended up crammed into Joe’s Escape. ES sat up front since he’s the biggest of everyone and I sat between K and my brother. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be although I’m sure the Xanax I took that morning helped. We were mostly right on schedule other than the extra wait at K’s place while ES tried to locate his missing annual pass.

Indiana Beach Sign

Even so we arrived at the park right before they opened at 11 am which is not easy when they are an hour ahead of us. We opted to park in the free lot since we didn’t bring food but just a cooler with drinks. We managed to sneak some water bottles inside and made the Taco Shoppe our first stop. Everyone had two tacos except K who got a walking taco.


Rides I ended up going on: Den of Lost Thieves, bumper cars (twice), Growler, train, carousel, Music Express. The first ride would have been better had the “guns” worked. No fun when you can’t shoot any of the targets to animate them. The Growler would have also been more fun if our car was able to spin. I didn’t want to spin too much, but it wouldn’t spin AT ALL.

Rides I wanted to go on but didn’t because a) I was worried about my balance issues or b) I didn’t want to get wet: Scrambler, Flume, Bumper Boats.

Lame, I know. Know what else is lame? Finding out the old game tickets and Cool Cash cards from previous years were not accepted. Even lamer? The new Cool Cash card we purchased was only good for the season so we ended up blowing $11 playing Skee-Ball just to ensure there wasn’t any money left on it. Even lamer still? The dumb puzzle game I got just to use up our “tickets” (electronically stored on the card).

In between rides we noshed on some Pronto Pups (aka corn dogs) and everyone except me got ice cream as well. On the way out of the park (around 4 pm) we stopped at the Taco Shoppe and grabbed tacos to go which we ate back at the car so we could wash them down with water/pop from our cooler.

The weather was warm but comfortable the entire afternoon and for the most part I didn’t feel too sweaty. Didn’t get burned either since we slathered on the sunscreen when we arrived.

While the visit was more enjoyable than I anticipated, I doubt we’ll be going back next year. I’m kinda over that park. It definitely looked even nicer than last year because just about everything was freshly painted (lot of orange was used in particular), but the rides still weren’t operating properly and most were either too intense or too childish for my tastes. Perhaps Disney has spoiled me but the only really appealing thing about Indiana Beach for Joe and me nowadays are the tacos. Since they are now open on the weekends through the end of October we MAY go back one more time just to walk around and get tacos but for a 2+ hour drive I don’t think that it’s worth the effort. Hopefully the kids and my brother won’t pester us to go next year. The main reason we felt obligated to go this year was because we had last year’s season passes that were also good for 2017.

» All Indiana Beach photos

Interesting notes/observations:
This one kid promptly fell flat on his face after getting out of his bumper car. I felt bad for him but it was also funny.
We had to get off the expressway in Indiana and take the side streets through Gary (ew) since traffic was so bad.
After dropping Brother # 1 off we had dinner at Culvers. Apparently all that theme park food wasn’t enough for us?!?!
Total out of pocket for food: $100 (since Joe paid for most of it other than Brother # 1’s Pronto Pup, nachos, and Dippin Dots).

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Milwaukee Brewfest 2017

July 31st, 2017 No comments

Saturday my brother came over to watch Wookie so we could attend the Milwaukee Brewfest in Wisconsin with our friends KM and EN. We drove up together in Joe’s car and our friends were kind enough to treat us to lunch at Oscar’s Bar and Grill (which we first discovered back in February 2016). I was feeling off thanks to lack of sleep courtesy of a severe panic attack episode the night before so I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and ended up eating it sans bun. They have awesome fries but I went easy on them since I didn’t want to trigger any issues. I felt weird enough having to urinate so often including making a pitstop on the ride up even though it only takes about an hour and a half. It was a little longer, however, since we ran into traffic jams like three times. Luckily we left plenty early enough and still arrived at the fest before it began.

The on-site parking was only $5 which is awesome. Even though KM and I had designated driver wristbands ($15) and mostly sat around chatting and people-watching, I still had a pretty good time. Joe and EN certainly enjoyed themselves and even though there were 100 different vendors there only managed to sample about twenty beers. They had food trucks there which was cool since KM and I weren’t keen on the hot dog meal that came with our admission and gave ours to the boys. I got a personal pizza from the Palermos truck and KM got some cheese curds. Both were good.

This is the souvenir glass they gave to everyone at the entrance

We ended up leaving around 6:15 since I still wasn’t feeling so hot and KM agreed to drive Joe’s Escape (I was supposed to). We stopped for even MORE food (LOL) at the Brat Stop since neither of our friends had ever been there before. I didn’t actually get anything to eat since I wasn’t hungry. I believe by the time we got home it was around 10 pm and Wookie had been by herself about 5 hours by that point since B took off just before 5 pm. I’m so glad he and his girlfriend are ok with watching her occasionally since I don’t like the idea of leaving her with a stranger or in a boarding facility. Not sure what we’ll do when we want to go on an actual multi-day vacation, though. I hope by then they have a house (they are currently looking) and their dog gets along with Wookie so she can stay with them. Fingers crossed.

One of the cool things about the fest is they included a free ticket to Germanfest which was going on just 2 miles down the road. We didn’t get to take advantage of that, but if the two fests coincide next year, the plan is for KM and I to have Joe and EN pass those tickets to us through the festival fence and take an Uber over there. We’ll come back to pick up the boys when their festival is over.

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Pierogi Fest 2017

July 31st, 2017 No comments

Joe took Friday off so we could take my brother to Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana. Since we were going to be gone most of the day I arranged for B’s girlfriend R to watch Wookie. She arrived around 8 am so I could show her where Wookie’s food and water was, how to lock her up in her playpen when she was ready to leave, etc. Joe was teasing me because I had put together a 2-sided care sheet but what can I say? I was nervous having never left Wookie in anyone’s care before.

We all ate some apple fritters Joe brought home the day before before he and I left the house around 9 am.

We were very prepared this time around – I had extra plastic utensils, napkins, and salt and pepper with me in addition to our usual bottled water. The plastic knife in particular came in handy since they only give out forks. We arrived just before the official opening at 11 am and secured parking two blocks away near the church. Most of the main street where we used to park in previous years was already blocked by chairs people were using to hold their spot for the parade later that evening. Most lots were charging $20 to park which is just ridiculous!

We made our way through the fest to our first stop which, of course, was Dan’s Pierogis. They were woefully unprepared and despite getting there early and standing in a rather short line, we had to wait another 30 minutes for our food because most of the flavors weren’t ready yet. As if they don’t know they are the most popular booth there? They couldn’t have started preparing them sooner? Ugh. I ended up getting some taco pierogis from the Mendoza truck to tide me over while we waited. I love them! Even though they charge 75 cents extra for some salsa and sour cream it’s totally worth it.

We located seating in the shade by the nearby elementary school so that was nice since we spent a good hour, if not more, there. I ended up speaking to an older woman in a three person group who shared our picnic table. She seemed nice enough even though Joe indicated I may have offended her later when I loudly remarked that someone must not be able to read since I smelled cigarette smoke – apparently it was her and one of the guys. Oh well. It did say “non-smoking family seating” on the sign there. Ironic considering how she was remarking earlier about all the people who brought their dogs even though online it said no dogs allowed (they probably should have posted signs, though). Honestly, I don’t think she was offended, or maybe didn’t hear me, since when we left she was very friendly saying goodbye and wishing us a nice day and I didn’t detect any sarcasm.

We left the fest around 2 pm and stopped at the grocery store so J could get toothpaste, and then stopped for food at this little place called Chicago Pita Kitchen where we’ve eaten before. I did not care for my cheeseburger but the feta fries were delicious. Joe liked his Italian sausage sandwich but the fries in general there suck because they are undercooked. We played three games of Aggravation at my parents house and got home around 8 pm. At that point Wookie had been alone for maybe three hours so not bad at all.

Note to self: do NOT get the stuffed cabbage from Dan’s Pierogis. It is completely flavorless.

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Food & Stuff

June 5th, 2017 Comments off

Nothing too exciting happened this weekend. I took Wookie to the vet on Friday just to go over some concerns I had. She’s fine, but I ended up getting her the canine flu vaccine since I’d like to take her to some puppy play places or dog parks soon. She has no dogs to play with and I can tell she would enjoy that (with the right dog, of course).

We also got some more food for her, and with coupons paid less than $7 out of pocket and that included two toys. Pretty nice deal!

Sunday Joe worked on changing the front brakes on his car while I did my normal Monday cleaning a day early. I had skipped it last week so it was due. Prior to that we went to check out the Taste of Wheaton and had a couple of tacos from a booth called Taco SomethingorOther (shoot, can’t remember) which we’ve never heard of before. They were ok but nothing special for $3 each. We ended up picking up McDonald’s on the way home for lunch, LOL. I don’t think we’ll bother with that fest in the future – the “craft” booths are boring, they no longer allow dogs, the music is usually country, and the food booths are pretty standard fried food fare and not a representation of what he city has to offer. I can only imagine the cost must be too high that no local restaurants ever seem to participate. It was hot and humid too so we didn’t stick around for long.

Dinner each night over the weekend consisted of Lou Malnati’s deep dish which we ordered Friday night since we had a $25 certificate that expired at the end of the month. I’m sure that’s not doing my weight any favors but damn is their pizza good! I like how we can get 3-4 meals out of one large pizza if we can stop ourselves from having more than one slice each meal. We actually had two each on Friday which is why there’s none left for tonight.

I’m getting ready to go have lunch with a friend shortly so that’s it for this boring weekend update.

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Garage Organization, Arboretum, Wookie’s Leash Manners

April 24th, 2017 Comments off

Saturday (4/22) we finally got rid of some stuff we were unable to sell last year at our garage sale. Since it was Earth Day our town was having an electronics recycling event so we got rid of four old computer towers (but first made sure no hard drives were inside). Then we took two boxes of donations to Savers. I had done a little organizing on “my side” of the garage on Friday so between these two actions it’s already looking less cluttered, not to mention there will be more room in front of my car which is critical since I should be getting a new one in the next few months and it’s likely going to be a longer length than the Jetta which was a little cramped as it was. Some days I feel like chucking everything because clutter makes me so anxious. It doesn’t help when we pass by people whose garages look barely used. I feel like I have way too many boxes of decorations for various holidays/seasons and have been purging the stuff I never use but continue to keep for some strange reason.

We took Wookie with us on our errands since our last stop was Petco to snag a free bag of food thanks to a coupon Joe found online. It was all gone, though, so we walked out empty-handed. Wookie didn’t get to really socialize either since Petco doesn’t get the volume of traffic Petsmart does. After we got home and ate lunch I took her on a longer than usual walk to try and tire her out so she wouldn’t be so bored when we headed to my parents’ house to celebrate Easter and J’s birthday. I love going over there but feel guilty leaving Wookie at home for 8+ hours. It’s weird because I never felt bad leaving Bella when she lived here. I think it’s because she doesn’t really do anything but lie around anyway so what’s the difference? Wookie likes to play and interact with us so I feel like I’m neglecting her when she’s left home alone for too long.

There was much food to be eaten Saturday night, including a strawberry cake I baked specifically for J. It wasn’t homemade, and was originally going to be cupcakes, but after all the cooking and baking I did last weekend I went the easy route and made a 9×13 sheet cake. It came out good, though.

We didn’t get home until midnight and played with Wookie for 45 minutes before going to bed. Despite still being tired we got up a little after 8 am Sunday (4/23) morning so we could get to the arboretum at a decent hour. We stopped by Starbucks to try the unicorn frappuchino that has been all the rage this week but was told the unicorn ran away. That was disappointing since Sunday was the last day to get them. Guess it was the universe’s way of stopping us from wasting our money.

It’s a good thing we didn’t get to the arboretum until 10 am because there was a huge 10k at 8 am and part of the grounds were shut down to vehicle traffic to accommodate it. Luckily we missed all that craziness and for once NOT being the early bird paid off. Speaking of birds, we made a beeline over to daffodil glade on the west side of the arboretum where we spotted some bluebirds.

Bluebird Directing Traffic

That was unexpected since I was actually looking to get photos of the tree swallows that live in the area. I also got some decent pictures of the flowering crabtrees and a couple of the daffodils which was nice considering they were already starting to die. They only seem to last a week or two which sucks.


Purple Tree & Daffodils

On the way home we stopped at a different Petco and were able to snag a 5 lb bag of food for only $1.28 using the “free” coupon (you have to pay tax).

I took Wookie on a walk after lunch and she’s doing so much better on the leash. I didn’t have to stop once because she was pulling too hard. It’s nice to see we’re making progress. We also set up the tie-out in back so she could roam around but she was getting it tangled on stuff and going on the neighbor’s patio, plus eating stuff off the ground. We moved to the front of the house but it wasn’t much better. It was supposed to be relaxing hanging out outside but not with a puppy to constantly monitor. I love her dearly but sometimes it stresses me out having her around 24/7. I feel bad even saying that but it’s true. I give lots of credit to people who not only have a dog but kids too. How they manage that is beyond me.

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