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Monday, June 30, 2008

Maple Leaf Hangover

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The above photo is my "self portrait". I vow to take one of these on every vacation. I won't take it just anywhere. No. This picture must be taken in a place where I find myself having so much fun my belly laughs are innumerable.

Here is the root of my drunken belly laugh.
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Mike and I originally planned a camping adventure set in Algonac State Park. We had everything we could need for our trip...except for a sunny forecast. The Friday morning we were to leave, I checked the weather online and found out we would begin experiencing thunderstorms that evening followed by a rainy day...All day...the next day.

Mike, we can't put Alex through that. Where will we go when it rains?

I honestly thought I would cry. My camping plans had been ruined. I wanted so badly to start this new family tradition. However, Mike and I decided to cancel our reservations at the campground and map out a plan B.

I spent a long time on the Internet. I looked into Toledo, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, and more. How far did we want to go? How much did we want to spend? Given that we only planned on being gone 2 evenings, we decided to stay close to home. Mike (way out of nowhere) suggested we go to London, Ontario. What's in London?

Well, I'm happy to report our trip to London was a success-plus. I found wonderfully inexpensive places to go as a family. Places where we could put Alex down and let him explore. Places where we could play all day long and do nothing else.

The above picture of Alex was taken in Storybook Gardens. This park took in a few neglected animals, added storybook statues (i.e. humpty dumpty), a Ferris wheel, a huge playground, and a splash pad, and called it a family destination. I loved every second of this place. More importantly, Alex loved every second of this place.

The splash pad was about 10 times bigger than one I saw at a park near home. I honestly didn't know how Alex would feel about all of the sprinklers. Some children just don't care for it. I should have expected he would thoroughly enjoy himself, though. Almost the second he felt the water, he just had to run around and laugh...and laugh...and laugh. I couldn't help but crack up watching him. There's nothing like pure joy.

Day two was a little rainy and drew us in to the great indoors. We visited the children's museum and also an indoor park. Alex was free for the museum but Mike and I paid $7 a piece. While, at the park, Alex cost $5 and Mike and I were free. Sweet!

The museum was housed in an old school building. It was 3 stories of nothing but adventure after adventure. Alex went crazy. I could swear I heard him yell "AUTONOMY!" upon entering the first exhibit. He discovered dinosaurs, space, a child-scale neighborhood with a post office, grocery store, police station, house, McDonald's, gas station, and fire engine, a doctor's office, and more. Alex walked around and around and around. He didn't know where to begin. I could go on more about the museum but I'll move on.

The indoor park had 3 different playgrounds, 2 of which were geared for "tiny tots". It also housed an arcade, karaoke, laser tag, and an eatery. Again, this was a place where we could let Alex explore and do what he wanted. His playground had Little Tikes everything along with a ball pit, blocks, gears, a very loud walk-on piano, books, and one giant submarine that he couldn't wait to climb into. The second area had about 20 Little Tikes playhouses in every style and color. Here, Alex was in heaven. I wished I had a house with a yard to justify going out and buying him a playhouse. Oh well, some other year.

All in all, our little get-away was great. I did have a few strange encounters with the natives but I'll save that for another post.

I'm glad my camping trip was rained-out. I hope we can take another spontaneous trip again soon. :)

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