Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad! We miss you!



83 years ago, my Dad was born – he was the oldest child in his family.


He spent his entire career at one company – Columbia Gas of Ohio, retiring after 47 years.


He married my Mom in 1950, and they celebrated 60 anniversaries together.


He was the father of 6 children,


including me – the baby of the family.




Over the years, he enjoyed many hobbies, including camping,



bowling and golf,














and boating.


He was grandfather to 12 grandkids, and great-grandpa, too.



We would typically spend this weekend at the lake, celebrating with Dad and chocolate cake.


Dad is enjoying his chocolate cake in heaven this year, but he’s still in our thoughts.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cedar Point Amusement Park


It’s 10 am sharp, and we’re waiting in line for the gates to open!

This week was our 2nd (annual??) trip to Cedar Point, in Sandusky, OH.  We were a little bummed to find out that the park switched over to its “fall hours” on the day we arrived, which meant we lost 2 hours of ride time, but at least we were staying onsite which allowed us “early entry” of an extra hour in the morning.

The kids were up, dressed, and had eaten breakfast bright and early Monday morning . . . they were anxious to get going into the park!  There were (5) roller coasters open for the extra hour in the morning, and the kids’ game plan was to head immediately to Top Thrill Dragster.


The plan worked – they were on so quickly that I missed getting a picture of them!!

Next on their radar was Millennium Force, after a quick ride on Iron Dragon.


Iron Dragon is a fairly mild roller coaster, so even Jensen and I went on that one!


Tari and I let the guys take the kids on Millennium, while we waited with Jensen.  This one is just too tall and steep for me . . . No, Thanks!!


Next up was Maverick . . .


This is a fun one, even if it bangs your head around a little bit.  The first hill isn’t too big, and you are launched up rather than that slow, agonizing “click, click, click” up to the first drop.  Tom and I rode this one together – screaming all the way!


From there, we made our way over to Mean Streak.


I think this one may still be the biggest wooden roller coaster in the world, but I’m not sure.  I just know that I’ve heard that it’s rough . . . so I passed on this one.


The feelings from our group were mixed on this one – the kids thought it was OK, but Tom & Paul said “Once is enough – too rough”.

After a nostalgic ride on the fastest, steepest, tallest roller coaster (in 1978!) – Gemini – we decided it was time to tackle the water rides!  One detour first – Hannah and her friend, Alexis, decided they wanted to try Sky Hawk.  They couldn’t get anybody else to join them, so the girls braved it on their own.


There they are – all the way to the left – arms in the air!

Now, it was time for the water rides.  Snake River Falls wasn’t busy at all, and we walked right on and boarded a boat.  When they say, “You will get soaked on this ride!”, they mean it . . . we all came off of it soaking wet!


Once wasn’t enough for Bryce, Hannah and Alexis – they went back for another ride!

Next was Thunder Canyon, where 12 people get in a circular raft and ride along a river, bouncing off walls, never knowing who’s side of the raft is going to end up under the waterfalls!



Nick, Tari and I watched from the overlook as the rest of the group went back for another ride

Now it was time to go back to the campground to get into dry clothes and have some lunch.  Tari and I were ready, but Tom, Paul and the kids decided they were up for one more trip down Snake River Falls.


After some lunch and a little rest, we were back in dry clothes and ready to tackle some more coasters.  First on the post-lunch agenda was Magnum – another tall one, with some quick up & downs at the end.  I sat this one out, too.


Note the empty queuing area in the background --  we were amazed at the short lines we experienced all day.  Many of the less popular coasters had no line at all, and even on the big ones, we only waited 15 – 30 minutes at the most!  It made it really easy for the kids to get on all the rides they wanted to ride!

Hannah really likes the front seat on the coasters, and she was often able to get there with hardly any wait!


The next roller Coast that I went on was Raptor.  This one is pretty radical – your feet are dangling, and although there is no big drop, there are lots of loops and spirals.  I sat it out last year, but everybody said how smooth and fun it was, so I decided to try it this year.


Those are people’s FEET pointing toward the sky as they go around that loop!

It was a fun ride, and definitely exhilarating – and I even managed to open my eyes for part of it!

Bryce and Nick wanted to go on Blue Streak – this is an old wooden coaster – they probably keep it around more for historical significance than anything else.


They couldn’t get anybody else to join them, so they just went on their own.


Wicked Twister (or Twisted Sister, as we called it!) was one ride that Bryce skipped last year, so this time he was going to give it a try.



Riders are launched – forward and reverse – higher and higher up these two spiral columns . . . crazy, if you ask me!

It wasn’t all about roller coasters, though, and we rode a few other rides, too.  Nicolas’ favorite was the “Turnpike Cars” . . . even if his knees were above the windshield!


Bryce and Jensen were about the right size for these cars, though . . .

We all took a ride on the Cedar Downs carousel.


At a top speed of 14 mph, it couldn’t compete with the coasters, but was pretty darn quick for a carousel!


Paul and Tari are ready to race!

The kids put their iron stomachs to the test on the Matterhorn, and they survived!


The new ride at Cedar Point this year is Windseeker.


It’s a very tall swing, where riders get listed to the top and then rotate around the center column at 9mph. 


It looks like it would be a very relaxing ride, and the view must be spectacular, but it would need to be about half as tall for me to ride it!

Jensen was determined to ride it, though, so Paul, Hannah and Alexis joined him.


After they were safely on the ground again, they admitted that the view was great but 9mph is faster than it sounds!

By then, the evening was winding down, and we were definitely winding down.  The kids decided on one last ride on Millennium, so Tari went with them while Tom and I killed some time riding the train around the park.  It was a quiet, relaxing ride, and I got a couple of nice sunset pictures.


We got back to Millennium just as they were getting off the ride – perfect timing – and they had just enough time (10 minutes) to squeeze in one more ride on Mantis, the last roller coaster of the day!

After that, it was back to the campground and into the hot tub to soak our aching legs . . . a great way to end a fun & busy day!


A Dream Cruise and a Concert


Every August, Woodward Avenue from Ferndale to Pontiac gets overtaken by classic cars.  It’s the annual Woodward Dream Cruise, and car enthusiasts from all over the country will descend on Michigan to join in the celebration.  Many of the classics line the parking lots along Woodward, but the majority are cruisin’.


This next one is for you, D-mann!



 A rat-racer powered by a CAT!

The boys, especially Tom and Nick, love the old cars, so since we were home for the weekend and heading to Detroit later in the day anyway, we decided to head down in the morning and check out some of the cruisers.  We saw quite a variety of old cars, trucks, motorhomes, and even a boat!


How’s that for a limo . . .


Nicolas would love to take this monster truck on the sand dunes!


This orange convertible was one of my favorites!

The cruise stretches for miles along Woodward, passing through several communities, but the bulk of the action is in Royal Oak.  We found a place to park, and walked along the side of the road, watching the cars cruise by.  We even saw Elvis (or three!) go by on a trailer!


The Big 3 car companies all had big displays, and the Ford display was in Ferndale, so we drove down that way to check it out.


Mustang Alley was reported to have a collection of privately owned Mustangs representing every model sold in every year since the Mustang was introduced.  There was even a “Mustang Garage” where owners could get performance parts installed on their car.


Nicolas felt pretty comfortable in this new Boss 302!


Bryce liked the paint job on this Mustang!

It wasn’t all Mustangs, though, and there was a nice display of super duty trucks, too.



Bryce liked this custom F-150, with its matching ATV!

As we were making our way back to our car, we spotted a well-known face in the crowd ahead of us, and managed to say hello and introduce ourselves as members of the extended Ford family.


It was none other than Alan Mulally – the CEO of Ford Motor Company, and Tom and I were quite honored that he took the time to pose for a picture with all of us (He even suggested that this would make a good Christmas card photo!).

That was our celebrity sighting for the day – we didn’t get nearly as “up close & personal” at the concert! 

So that takes us to “Part 2” of our busy Saturday . . . we arrived at Ford Field to find it already packed and bustling with activity.



Check out those motorcoaches – I wonder which one is Kenny’s?!

We finally found a place to park, got into the stadium, and made our way up, up, up to our seats . . . OK, it wasn’t that bad!


Not too many people in their seats yet, but it filled up later!

We got there just in time for Uncle Kracker’s opening act,


and then Billy Currington.


We were pretty surprised at the number of his songs that we knew . . .

Since I still don’t have a case or a zoom lens for my new camera, I took my old dependable one.  It has a pretty good zoom, but had quite a bit of trouble with the lighting.  I found that my best pictures ended up being of the jumbotron, as long as the lights weren’t too bright.

Next was the Zack Brown Band, who we really like, and I got my best pictures of the night . . . I think it was the blue lighting that helped.


When they sang “Free” it reminded me of the RV-Dreams Rally in Sevierville, TN

Tom, Nick and Bryce were all enjoying the show, and we were ready for the big guy to come on stage. 


Soon enough, it was time . . .



Kenny puts on a really good show, and his band does a good job, too . . . the three guitarists were really good.


The show ended with Kenny Chesney and the Zack Brown Band together on stage, and the entire audience on their feet . . .


. . . it was a great show, and we all really enjoyed it . . . even from the “cheap seats”!