The Promised Vacation Blogs

Well, The Boyz are back in school, so it’s time to finish off the summer blog! Time for the blogs I promised…

The Morons

To be fair, I may be guilty of being a moron a couple of times.

One of the great challenges with visiting Disney World or Universal theme parks in the summer is the crowds.

Most people are super awesome, but with sooooooo many people, there can be a lot more morons. It’s basic math.

But rather than focus on them, why don’t we learn from them.

  1. For the love of God, don’t go the wrong way in a double stroller. See, there’s a flow to a river of people at theme parks, and when you’re on a narrow boardwalk or side street, it’s critical not just to try and plow your way against that tide like an ice breaker. It creates massive log jams. Duh. Instead, get back into the flow. People will let you into the flow, just re-enter it, don’t continue on like a blind hippo.
  2. Don’t litter even if you’re from NY. I get that it’s what you do in a lot of American cities, but resist the urge to slurp down your Mickey shake and then just drop it on the ground, splashing sticky Mickey milk everywhere.
  3. Why get angry at the security guards searching your backpack or stroller? It’s the world we live in and those folks aren’t in charge of policy but by god, you know they’ll be held accountable if some nutjob slips in with a bomb or an AR-15.
  4. If you need to clean up your baby, go to one of the many bathrooms, do not use one of the rides in a waterpark. I don’t think I will ever enter a wave pool again.
  5. When you’re told not to shout at the animals, please do not shout at the animals.
  6. If you decide not to go on a ride, please make that decision before you spend 30 min in line, then have to push your way past 10,000 people waiting in line. Yes, this was one of us. No names.
  7. Don’t punch or kick the characters. I get that Goofy looks like a goof but stop your kid from trying to kick him in the balls. Have a chat with your children ahead of time. “Son, daughter, wave at Darth Vader, don’t run up and hit him with your $200 lightsaber, ice cream cone or baby brother.”
  8. If you’re thinking of making a rude request of a character for a laugh, think, again, frat boy. Muriel will not sit on your lap. Why would you think that’s funny?
  9. The Disney or Universal characters are awesome but don’t stress them out with unreasonable requests, like looking after your child while you run to the bathroom.
  10. Line-ups at the food counters are crazy sometimes, so when you arrive at the counter, it’s kinda cool to have your order ready, not start by glancing up at the menu board, putting a hand to your chin, and going, hmmmm, what do you have to eat here, let me see, oh, mmm, a burger, but I don’t like burgers, I want a sandwich, but I don’t see a sandwich, wait, there’s one, but oh, can I get it without fries, yes, great, now little Johnny, Billy, princess Leia, uncle Herb, grandma Fettering, what do you guys want?

Honestly, most of this seems like common sense.

*****

The top 5 things that made The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World the most awesome person ever.

  1. She started to direct the people in the line-ups at the airport. See, people weren’t paying attention when airline staff became free, even when the staff were waving and shouting, “next!”, so she stepped up and pushed people towards the right counter (wait, ok, apparently ‘pushed’ is not accurate. Funny, but not accurate. “Influenced” may be a more appropriate word.)
  2. On the first day, when we were so soaked that water sloshed around in our underwear, she was the one who found a woman handing out towels. Now, we were all looking, with me in line at the front desk dripping puddles on the floor, but she found the towel woman. Props to Disney for even having one, but without her pretty eagle eyes, we would have dripped water like melting glaciers.
  3. On the buses, when it was crowded, she’d give up her seat for a mom with a little kid in her arms or an old grandma. Few others, – fit and healthy men included – did this. When did this curtesy disappear?
  4. When she found a phone (detailed here), she gave it to the hostess in the restaurant, which is cool, but when that hostess completely forgot about the phone, she marched up and reminded the girl, making sure the phone was returned to a very grateful grandma.
  5. This was not her style of vacation and yet she troopered through it, averaging 15-17,000 steps a day, dealing with the heat, carrying a backpack full of water, medical supplies and vats of sunscreen. She kept everyone’s spirits up in the Bataan death march that was the line-up for Thunder Mountain Railway, found the missing boys in the Blizzard Beach waterpark, gave Volanco Bay one last chance (that resulted in perhaps the best day ever), and put up with me going full-on nerd in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. She helped make this trip an epic adventure we will all remember for the rest of our lives. She’s the best mom, best wife, EVER!
Next vacation, Maui. I’ve sent the Rock a text asking him to meet us there.

Next vacation will be more to her liking. Maui. Beaches. Sparkling water. No line-ups. No schedules.

Oh, and The Rock . Thor. Jason Mamoa.

Disney World Top 10 Lists – From The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World

Fun with the family

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World made 2 Disney World Top 10 lists –  Her best moments and Mom advice. As well, at the bottom is a bonus list drawn from our brilliant Disney World travel agent, Alyssa.

Getting The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World to share her insights wasn’t easy. When I first asked her, here’s what she said. “I don’t know, stop bugging me.” Then, later, “I’m in the shower, can’t you wait until I get out?!” Then, much later. “You’re not going to stop asking me, are you? Ok, here it goes…”

Top 10 Disney World Best Moments

  1. Seeing Everyone Happy – Kay, I’m gonna cry, but the best moment was seeing Joe and Carter so happy. They’d done so much planning and preparation, then had the best time there.
  2. The Pop Century Resort room – because their amazing efficiency blew my mind. USB ports everywhere, many places to store things, and it didn’t feel crowded or messy even though it wasn’t a big room.
  3. The Disney business is a magnificent machine – if I had more time I’d want to pay attention to how it’s run, it’s like nothing else in the world.
  4. The Bus rides – I said one time that the buses were my favourite ride and I stand by that. No wait, when you get a seat, then they’re my favourite ride.
  5. Anywhere air-conditioned was the best.
  6. The Service – It was above and beyond, generally speaking. Every ‘cast member” took their character to heart. Even the waitresses and waiters. Even the guy in the 50’s diner who upset The-Youngest. He was just playing his part, but also probably digging up his past, going through therapy. I sensed there were some issues there.
  7. No Reservations Needed – I liked that we could get into the themed sit-down restaurants even though guides said we had to have reservations. The food didn’t blow me away, but it was the whole experience that was cool.
  8. The 3D Muppet Show – I’m gonna cry, again, but I loved it. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Why? Ok therapist Joe, I guess a part of it was the music, I used to play it on the piano all the time when I was young. Plus, I grew up with Kermit and Miss Piggy and Gonzo and everyone in the show. They were my friends in childhood, though I hated the grumpy old guys cuz they were boring. Oddly enough, I find them hilarious, now.
  9. Safari Twice – I’m glad we took a friend’s advice to see the safari in the morning and at night. Different animals were out. The lighting was different.
  10. Unplanned Fun – Stop making me cry. Sometimes the most fun I had was not planned. Even just, you know, taking a break and relaxing on the bus, or listening to The-Youngest go on and on about a rollercoaster’s stats, or watching The-Oldest be goofy. Little things, but little FAMILY things. I don’t get enough family time.

Top 10 Mom Tips

It’s ok to have a lazy day on the lazy river. Blizzard Beach.
  1. Wear breathable fabrics, loose, breathable fabrics
  2. Be prepared to do laundry.
  3. Be prepared to abandon the plan if you’re not having fun, because I saw so many families with screaming babies and kids melting down because they were going to have fun, dammit
  4. Be prepared for a LOT of walking. You don’t really know how much there is until you’ve spent 12 hours walking or standing in a line.
  5. There is not a lot of shade or AC. Even though it’s Florida and you’d think they’d be prepared, they’re not. Unless you go into a souvenir shop or a restaurant or … wait, maybe this was all part of the plan, a clever scheme, I see it now. (See the Disney Business Model above.)
  6. Umh, if you have the time, take it. Try not to rush through stuff.
  7. I now believe in the Fastpass concept. Line-ups suck. Line-ups in the sweltering heat suck even more. When you only have a few days, it’s painful to waste time.
  8. As mentioned before, do the Safari twice, day and night. You won’t regret it.
  9. The meal plan was complicated but worth it. It takes a good 24 hours to figure it out, but it pays for itself (and allowed The-Oldest to eat without the guilt of how much that extra banana would cost.)
  10. Don’t buy the themed, free-refill mugs. You have to take them back to your resort room (which takes, like 30 min) or you have to carry them along with you, all dirty, and leaking sticky stuff everywhere. They’re a complete waste of money and time.
  11. OH, bonus, wear matching T-shirts! Next time, I want all of us to wear matching T-shirts, but they match to each theme park. Animal kingdom T-shirts for animal kingdom day. See, I’m buying into the Disney machine.

Alyssa’s List can be found HERE! It’s the perfect list from someone who’s a regular visitor to Disney World.

Our Disney World Specialist – Alyssa’s Top 10 List of Things to Think About.

disney world agent alyssa magi
My number one recommendation for Disney World is to get a good Disney Specialist (travel agent). Alyssa made our trip a billion times better.

Alyssa was an amazing resource, and (being our first family visit), I bugged the hell out of her.

Here is Alyssa’s Top 10 List of Things to Think About.

  1. Reserve the Magical Express Bus ahead of time so you (and your luggage) can go directly to Disney World. They will even pick up your luggage at the carousel and put it on the bus.
  2. You can get stuff delivered to your Disney Resort. If you buy something in a park, it can be delivered to your room. If you need cheap supplies of water, these too can be delivered to your room (from Walmart or Target.)
  3. The water is better than it’s been in the past, but it’s still not perfect. Getting bottled water may be the way to go if water taste is important.
  4. Book Fastpasses as far in advance as you can. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort, you can book them 60 days in advance. The best rides go quickly.
  5. Disney only ships their Magic Bands within the USA  However, speak directly with your Resort and they will be ready for you at the Check-in Desk when you arrive.
  6. Create a My Disney Experience account, and download the app for your phone. The app will have wait times that you can track. Here’s the thing though. You must be careful not to change or link anything to your account until your family members have accepted the invitation from you. Making changes before accepting your invitation could jeopardize your fast passes and reservations. The other option is to just let everyone log in under your account and share it that way with you as the primary account holder who manages others in your party.
  7. A ticket might include one ‘Extra Magic hours’ that may be in the morning or in the evening after the park closes.  Not every park offers it every day. Look at the park hours for the specific dates and times they offer the Extra Magic Hours.  Talk to guest services at your Resort as well.
  8. The summer rainstorms are definitely abundant and sometimes can be an outright downpour! But the nice thing is, they can last as little as 10 minutes and then it passes, and the sun is out again! It is a good idea to bring rain ponchos but I don’t think you’ll need anything more special than a dollar store find.
  9. As convenient as the complimentary transportation is, it is also slow at times so give yourselves plenty of a time cushion if you are trying to make a show or parade.
  10. You will likely have a Disney hangover when you come back. Oh yeah, it’s a thing. But you’ll be back to normal in a few days!

(She was amazing! She spent so much time making sure we had the BEST vacation ever!)

(Thanks, Alyssa. Her Links are HERE and HERE.)

For other top 10 lists, see HERE.

Top 10 List of Disney World Moments – By The-Youngest

Rockin’ Rollercoaster, probably the best ride in Disney World.

The-Youngest: “Wait, wait, what, I have to do a top ten list on rides? Really, Joe? Really?”

“Yes. No one knows more about rollercoasters.”

“So do you want the best rollercoasters?”

“No, my bad, not just rollercoasters. Rides. Tell me about your top 10 rides.”

“It may not be totally in order, but I do have the #1.”

Top 10 rides in Disney World – the Youngest

  1. Rockin’ Rollercoaster – Has to be the best for its speed. Its ‘launch’ at the start is very forceful. It has double vertical flips and is smooth for Vekoma (which is the make of the rollercoaster, not glaucoma as Joe heard it.)
  2. Expedition Everest – Could be #1, but it has a scary yeti. A very scary Yeti. Still, it’s got a huge drop and great speed.  It almost made me grey out at the bottom of the big drop, and going backward was cool, and being in the dark made it feel like a backward flip.
  3. Space Mountain – felt more forceful than the one at Disneyland. The restraints are better, but not enough space for feet. It’s a toboggan-style ride, which I don’t like, but it’s in the dark so you never know what’s going to happen, except that I did because I watched YouTube videos of what it’s like with the night-vision goggles on.
  4. Splash Mountain, better than Disneyland, because it had 2 per row and it was long and had a better ending song. That’s important. The drops were more intense. More wet, too.
  5. Seven Dwarves Mine Train – I thought it was cool to have a rollercoaster drop right at the start, and the trains moved side to side. Animatronics were well done, too, and didn’t scare me at all. Music was good, too.
  6. Avatar: Flight of Passage – A good ride, but Joe liked it way better than I did. Lots of close calls that feel like you were going to hit a tree, or bang into a cliff. Not intense, and I like intense, but riding in a weird position, like on a bike, that was kind of fun, too.
  7. Thunder Mountain Railroad – No Fastpass. A terrible wait, but cool things to do in the line, like blowing up things with dynamite as the rail cars passed, but even though it was not that intense, it was still fun. Good speed and quite smooth.
  8. Test Track –  Very fun! You designed the cars, and I made a car that looked like a terrible car but it beat my parents! It was the fastest ride in the park. My eyes dried out. Even big rollercoasters don’t do that. That was fun.
  9. Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin – A shooting ride. Lots of fun. I’d seen the vids and knew where to shoot. It’s fun to do with family because you can spin around and control where you shoot. Or spin away just as your mom is lining up a shot. This ride has strategy!
  10. Slinky Dog Dash – A good ride if you like launches, but only really good if you’re really young or like my mom, because the launches are not forceful. Not much air-time, but a good ride, for someone just getting into rollercoasters.
Time to blow something up. Magic Kingdom’s Thunder Mountain Railroad. This is how you make a line-up fun!

It’s not that I didn’t like some of the other rides. Star Tours was ok. The Muppet Show was kind of fun. But I could only have 10 things, so those are my 10 recommendations. One that I’d avoid – the water ride in Animal Kingdom, Kali Rapids. You got super wet but it was super boring.

However, my most favourite ride will be the Tron coaster that’s coming in 2020. Epic ‘launches.’ Flips in a motorcycle riding position. Fast. Intense. There’s already one in Shanghai.

I wonder if my parents will take me back to Disney World to see it. I need to start a gofundme campaign or get some Patreons.

Top 10 List of Disney World Moments – By The-Oldest

Top 10 moments?

As always, The-Oldest gave a lot of thought to his answers.
  1. The rainstorm when we arrived! Oh yeah, yeah, the big rainstorm was amazing.

2) The architecture is amazing. The world-building, like how things looked, the time, you know, to get it right, that was incredible.

3) Favourite ride? Rocking rollercoaster had a lot of umph, but it wasn’t my favourite. In Epcot, the racecar ride one was one of the best, cause it’s got more story, but Splash Mountain’s still my favourite. It helped that we had a Fastpass but I’d wait in line for two hours for that ride.

4) Epcot had the best fireworks. I guess what made it the best was that it had a ton of room, even with huge crowds. We could see everything. Fireworks are best when you’re not being pushed around by crowds.

5) Is there a ride not worth the wait?  Sure.  Lots. For us, we waited about an hour for the Goofy plane ride, the Barnstormer, in The Magic Kingdom. Very short. Not worth even a 15 min wait.

6) It is really hot there, you know. Close to torture at some point. I would not want to go in summer, again. Too crowded, too.

7) Is there any park I’d wanted to spend more time at?  I would want to spend more time at Universal, but I think I had enough of Animal Kingdom, but I don’t think we spent enough time in Epcot or Hollywood Studios, but Magic Kingdom definitely needs more than 1 day, as we were very tired and not ready for the heat.

8) Favourite place to eat? 50s diner, chah, you know what I’m saying- it’s getting into the feel of the 50s, so yeah, I’d recommend it. But my favourite, the German restaurant with live music. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. They played mountain horns and had a buffet of German food. Chah.

9) Was the Resort good? Pop century, yeah, big time. I was excited because I like the really old stuff, like the 60s and 70s stuff. And stuff from the dark ages, like the 50s and 40s. Wait, why are you scowling at me, Joe.

10) What was the most terrifying ride? Expedition Everest, yeah, that yeti, even knowing ahead of time didn’t help. That yeti was scary.

“We’re here to have fun.”

11) (Yes, 11, he’s giving one extra one for free) What’s the one thing I’d tell everyone? Manage stamina. No matter how fun the ride is, don’t wait for anything too long, it kills the fun, and you’re there to have fun.

Top 10 Things To Do In Vegas With Kids

This is for you, Joe. The Avengers. Don't pretend otherwise
This is for you, Joe. The Avengers. Don’t pretend otherwise

Ok, the long awaited list is here. Is Vegas kid-friendly? Are there things to do with kids in Vegas?

The answer to the last question is, yes.

  1.  The Avengers Tour – ok this one may be recommended just because I’m a complete Nerd and super Avengers fan, but it’s tons of Hulkie fun. If you like reading or listening to audio tours. And I do. Or if you want a chance to lift Thor’s hammer or see all of Ironman’s suits, then this is for you. I had a blast here.

  2. NY, NY for lunch or supper. I love the Village Street Eateries. Great place for burgers or pizzas, and for the adults, a fantastic faux-street with shops and restaurants.

  3. So much to see and buy in the candy stores besides, you know, actual candy
    So much to see and buy in the candy stores besides, you know, actual candy

    Hersheys Chocolate Store – First of all… chocolate!!! Second of all, they don’t even call it a store. They call it Hershey’s Chocolate WORLD! But, hey, it’s a store full of chocolate and, like the world, it’s free to get into. It can be a lot of fun looking at all the variations of chocolate bars or candy you can buy, and searching for that perfect peanut butter cup cup or Hershey Kiss pillow.


  4. Coke Store and M&Ms store – Not that they’re the same, but they’re right beside each other. 3 stores of products that relate to products. Coke glasses. M&Ms candy dispensing machines. Coke shirts or stuffed Coke Polar bears. M&Ms licence plates and key chains. All the vital stuff every person needs.

  5. The Adventure Dome –Ok, it’s not Disneyland or even Legoland, but for the price, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or the whole day.  It’s $32 US per person and that allows you to stay all day. All day. Think of it like a carnival come to town. But if you want to save a bit of money, have one parent sit out the rides and video the experiences.

  6. The fountains at the Bellagio
    The fountains at the Bellagio

    Fountains at Bellagio – It’s free. It’s fantastic. And it’s in the middle of the strip, so it’s easy to get to, either by walking or by taking a bus or cab. Watching the fountains spray and pulse and wave to music is simply magical.


  7. The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay – Not the cheapest thing out there, about $22 a person, but you can make of it what you want. You can touch slimy things. You can see real life piranha. And you can spend as much time as you want either staring at a croc or watching the sharks glide over you, under you or around you. It’s more of a zen thing, really. Like watching waves come in. Or golf.

  8. See something Cirque – We went and saw The Beatles – Love and the boys loved it. the Michael Jackson show might be another good choice. But take a look at seeing at least one. If you’re cash-strapped, look for the least popular and get last minute tickets for a show like a cirque du soleil – the holocaust.

  9. The High Roller – A great party place, too, but the boys loved going high above Vegas and seeing it all. It’s a slow ride and anyone with a fear of heights or problems with movement needn’t worry, it’s the most stable, safe ride out there. Again, it’s not super cheap, but it’s one of those neat experiences that will be remembered. Especially if you take lots and lots of pictures.

  10. Get out of Vegas – Lots of fantastic tours to the Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam, or be like us, and rent a car. The surrounding area is gorgeous and bleak, but so worth seeing. And that Grand Canyon, wow, it’s still one of the most impressive things you’ll see in your life. Nature kicks ass, folks, yes she does. It really shouldn’t be missed.

Sometimes just being with your family is fun. No matter where.
Sometimes just being with your family is fun. No matter where.

But hey, being anywhere with your family should be kinda fun. Even a mall.

Because that’s what makes vacations fun.

Not the glittering lights or walls of M&Ms, but the time spent with friends or family, simply doing ‘stuff’ together. Sharing experiences. Creating memories. Holding hands.

Those are the best moments on a trip.

Or in life.

 

Things we did not do, but seem kinda cool…

Madame Tussaud’s

CSI Experience

Gondola ride at the Venetian, but man, that’s an expensive 15 minute ride.

or check out these sites… 39 things to do. 23 things to do.

Top 10 Quotes From the Vegas Trip

Is he being thoughtful or thinking up something funny?
Is he being thoughtful or thinking up something funny?

So, our trip is done, the boyz are back in school, and it’s time for a recap of our trip to Vegas. And what better way than the 1st of 4 top 10 lists.

 

Top 10 Quotes From The-Oldest

  1. “I am providing the laugh track.” After he laughed, and I commented that he doesn’t often laugh at a lot of my super funny jokes.

  2. “The smell just comes at my face.” It was the smell of Vegas after the rains came. A wet, kind of sulphuric, moldy smell.

  3. “He’s the Beeth.” Now this means, ‘he’s the best.’ ‘The most amazing.’ It comes from his favourite composer, Beethoven. I have no idea how it got morphed into ‘beeth.”

  4. “Coffee tastes like black.” Yes, yes it does.

  5. His new word of the trip – “Danger noodles.” For snakes. I think this one will catch on.

  6. The Grand Canyon “has been touched more by cameras than by humans.” Wow, I mean, wow. That’s actually deep.

  7. “Girls? What girls? There were girls? Looking at me? What? Where? When? What?” After I told him about the incident in Dunkin Donuts where 2 girls checked him out.

  8. luigi-and-marioEvery morning in our hotel room, he’d write a quote on the foggy bathroom mirror to his brother. My favourite… “Will you become Luigi?” It meant, will his brother get taller than him. See, ‘cuz Luigi, from Mario Brothers, is taller than his older brother. Yeah, I didn’t get it until he explained it to me.

  9. “I am funny. I had meat.” After I told him he was on fire one night for all the funnyisms.

  10. Then the words that may define him. “I’ve found my passion, Joe. Music. It’s what’s in me.” How cool is that? It brought manly tears to my eyes.

I know there were more, but being old and forgetting things, these were the best that I could recall. When did he become such a funny guy? A deep thinker? Or has it always been that way and he’s just becoming more comfortable belting it out so I can hear him.

Either way, he’s an astounding cool guy.

Next up, the best things to do in Vegas with Kids. In my opinion.

Peace out.

Beatles Love – Cirque du Soleil – Vegas

Would my guitar gently weep?
Would my guitar gently weep?

No question about it, the Cirque du Soleil folks can put on a fine show. I’d seen one every time I went to Vegas, but this one was a little different. This one had a musical theme. The Beatles.

Now who doesn’t love the Beatles?

So I was keen to see what they would do with their usual contortionists, flying acrobats, odd-looking clowns and gymnasts leaping around. The-Oldest couldn’t wait to see it. He’d seen one Cirque show in Vancouver and loved it, so combining that style of performance with music that he loved could be amazing.

Or he could be massively disappointed as he set his sights too high, like I did for the new Star Wars movie. Or for democracy.

We’d bought tickets more towards the back. Deliberately. Being me, I read a ton of reviews, and the general consensus was that the new Star Wars movie wasn’t that great and that we should sit in the back if we wanted to see EVERYTHING in the Beatles – Love. If we wanted to be a part of the show, then closer to the front was the way to go. Every seat was great, I’d read, so why not go with what would be the best for us?

I mean, hey, spooky-ass clowns poking children or whatever else the Cirque people decided to throw at the keeners who sat at the front might be a bit much for the-Youngest, so for us, farther away was better.

Not exactly a spooky-ass clown but sometimes the costume are a little.. odd
Not exactly a spooky-ass clown but sometimes the costumes are a little… odd

We made our way to the Mirage and waited for them to open up the theater. While we waited, the-Oldest ran through a litany of Beatles songs he thought they might play. His top 10. We made our own list. I may post this ‘cuz I know people are just dying to read about more lists.

Then we went in.

In the end, the show was spectacular. We’d done well by choosing the back since they covered most of the front seats with a huge, billowing sheet for one song (which looked awesome, but would have scared the poop out of the-Youngest.) As well, they had a performer dressed up as a spooky-ass monkey (instead of a clown), who picked bugs out of people’s hair.

That would have terrified The-Youngest. And me.

So, here is the top 10 list of why the Beatles- Love was amazing.

Top 10

1) For me, the music brought back so many great memories. I grew up listening to their music. I owned their albums. I can sing (badly) most of their songs.

2) I loved what they did with the billowing sheet, shining lights on it and making it seem like a moving ocean. And yes, there is a video below of that. Spectacular! How does someone think this up???

3) The set they did with undersea gardens looked amazing. Floating octopi. Kelp trees. Bubbles. So awesome. I wanted to be in that octopuses garden with them.

4) I love seeing what human beings can do. Skilled, acrobatic ones. Not chubby, Captain-America-loving ones like me. Even the simplest of things for Cirque performers like climbing up a rope (which always made me feel funny in my naughty area) is done with such grace and beauty, that I can’t help but be amazed.

5) We watched a man seemingly dance in slow motion, using a cart with a ladder on the end. it’s hard to explain, so there’s a video at the bottom. The strength and balance that takes is so far beyond me that I may as well be that monkey picking bugs from the audience’s hair.

6) Lucy soared in the sky with diamonds. Words simply fail me to describe it. It was magical.

7) A VW bug slowly exploded into pieces during one of the songs, the pieces held by the performers. (again, you can see this below.) It worked because I love seeing things kind of blow up, I didn’t see it coming, and it looked like poetry would look if poetry could be visual.

8) The stunning visuals and song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, made me cry. Yes, I cried. Don’t judge me. If a guitar can weep, so can I.

9) There were even a few times when the leaping acrobats missed their marks, landing not on top of the roof of a car, but on its side and then having to scramble up. But hell, they even made that look good.

10) Having the-Oldest smile with unrestrained joy made it worth the expense ten times over.

So, my review… see it. It’s worth the money. It’s worth the time. It’ll leave you singing Beatles songs and talking about the most amazing feats you saw.

The-Oldest gave it a complete 10/10. He would see it, again. Happily.

The-Youngest agreed it was fantastic, but he says stick to the back of the theater. That monkey is the stuff of nightmares.

And The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World sat either transfixed by all the grace and beauty or was moved to tears by the music. 10/10 for her. Maybe 11/10 because it made her oldest so happy.

Could you ask for a better show?

My apologies for the ads, but since I couldn’t record this myself, I had to look to youtube

 

 

Top 10 Cool Facts About the Grand Canyon.

I admit it. I love facts. Facts are fun. Here are a few..

1)94% of the Grand Canyon is untouched by humans.

Like the ocean, the Grand Canyon remains largely untouched by smelly people
Like the ocean, the Grand Canyon remains largely untouched by smelly people

That information makes we want to go touch things. Same with The-Youngest. Give him a year there, though, and he’ll have touched everything.

2) They totally goofed up how long people had been in the canyon. Originally, it was thought about 4000 years, ago, but recent discoveries put mankind buggering around in the area at about 10,000 years, ago. Even Wiki needs to be updated. But it makes me think how many facts we take as facts are not, in fact, facts, but best guesses.

3)going to 11 The river rapids are so dangerous that here there is an entirely new rating. Most go I-VI. The rapids here go to 10. Like Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel’s speakers going to 11. (See link for why, it’s kinda cool.)

4) The dude who finally and successfully navigated those rapids had one arm and couldn’t swim. Think about that for a moment. His name, not a crazy name like John ‘the macho man’ Powell. Simply John Wesley Powell.

Just as I was about to take the perfect shot of the Grand Canyon, two people stand to admire the view. At least they gave scale.
Just as I was about to take the perfect shot of the Grand Canyon, two people stand to admire the view. At least they gave scale.

5) 5 million people visit the canyon every year. Most show up the same day as we do and try to block all my cool shots.

6) No one has been killed by a mountain lion in the park. I was massively disappointed. I say we serve up the dumbest tourist every year to one of those cats just to make sure they’re well-fed.

7) It’s not the deepest or widest canyon. Screw you, Himalayan and Australian canyons, it’s still the prettiest.

8) Scientists don’t agree on how it was formed. Oddly, I’m ok with that. I worry a lot more when everyone agrees on something without question. Sounds more like dogma than science to me.

The picture of the Grand Canyon I took from space that last time I was there.
The picture of the Grand Canyon I took from space that last time I was there.

9)The Grand Canyon is one of the few natural landmarks that can be seen from space. Like me with my shirt off. It’s also listed as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.

10) You can see about a quarter of the earth’s natural history here. Or approximately 1.75 IMG_0491billion years of history of a world 4.5 billion years old. Older than the dinosaurs. It’s older than Betty White.

For more cool Grand Canyon stuff, check out these links.

National Geographic 

Written by the Grand Canyon itself, I think.

Lonely Planet

My person go-to site – Trip Advisor

Best Things to Do

Best Map For the South Rim

Let me know if you have any advice to add 🙂

 

 

 

Pokemon Go By Joe – top 10 hints from The-Oldest

Pokemon Go on the go.
Pokemon Go on the go.

Before I take you on our first epic Pokemon Go hunt, let me give you a list of 10 things to remember as told by The-Oldest. 13. (My thoughts are in red).

1) Don’t forget to charge your phone (or tablet.) Seriously do that. There’s nothing worse than seeing a ‘rare’ and not being able to get it because your phone died.

2) Hang out in areas that have wifi, cuz that’s how people are getting them.

3) Get rid of multiples that you have to upgrade your one Pokemon. Take the best species with the candy you’ve traded in your other Pokemon for (ok, that makes no sense to me). Get candy for selling the guys you aren’t going to use. (Ok, I kinda get that.)

4) Please, please, use pokestops. Always. They are good.

5) Do not use you incense right away. Use it on a walk.

6) I was told Beethoven, at the very end of his life, had a piano with 7 octaves. (ok, I think he got a bit distracted here.)

7) Try to do a run every day to catch them all.

8) Get good at flicking Pokeballs. Do not drag it, flick it, no, no, if you drag it, he’s going to attack you in real life. You have to flick it. FLICK IT. No, stop, you’re dragging it, again. Flick it!!!!

9) Stay alert or you’ll get run over by cars (or kids on skateboards, or moms with strollers, or kids on bikes looking at their own Pokemon Go maps. Basically, stay alert!)

Give me 6 months and I'll be one 6-pack away from being this guy
Give me 6 months and I’ll be one 6-pack away from being this guy

10) About the team thingee. If you want to join Team VALOR, you’re evil. Join Team MYSTIC, and you’re a nice guy. Join Team INSTINCT, and you’re an idiot.  That’s right. (FYI, he says he’s joining team Instinct). Each team has to do with a legendary bird. Zapdos = yellow. Articuno = blue. Moltres = red. You can look them up. They’re very famous.

So there you have it. Does this help? No? Well, The-Youngest has some ideas, too. Stay tuned.

And if you don’t want advice from a 13 year old, here’s another link…

http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/pokemon-go-tips-canada-how-to-catch-em-all-1.3683698

Top 10 Reasons School Being Out Rocks

NYNY rideI don’t know whether to be nervous or excited. Sort of like the moment before your date arrives or just before the roller coaster drops 10,000 feet in 2 seconds.

But the boys are out of school!

And there are 10 GREAT things about that.

1) No more nagging The-Youngest to do his spelling or math or English or socials or science or, well, anything that doesn’t involve mini-hockey.

2) We get to use the pool one last year. With water restrictions, birds pooping in it all the time, and the cost of various and toxic chemicals, the pool’s gotta go.

3) More time to play Magic, build tanks, play FIFA or NHL 2015, throw the baseball, walk the dog in the park, win at Clue, or listen to The-Oldest become a classic pianist.

4) Another epic vacation. This year, Vegas/Grand Canyon, or as The-Youngest calls it, “the trip to the Hershey World.” Apparently, it’s HUGE. The candy store, not the Grand Canyon. (“Joe, did you know – it’s two stories?”)

grand cayon

5) More time to discuss the great philosophic ideas of all time. Like the meaning of evil. The nature of the greater good. And if Ant-man could beat Spiderman (who The-Oldest pronounces, Spooooderman for some reason that makes sense to a teenage mind).”

6) No freaking baseball, hockey, Tai Kwon Doh, parachuting, goalie camps, soccer, Tai Chi, Ballet or Jujitsu or Jedi Training. Just summer. No commitments. How cool is that?

7) No force-feeding The-Youngest so he can get to school on time. Or fast-washing The-Oldest’s gym strip so he doesn’t smell like the Rock’s armpit.

8) No racing out the door, then remembering The-Youngest forgot his lunch, binder, water bottle, magic cards or shoes.

9) monte pythonMovie time! So many movies to watch.

10) Two months chock full of opportunities for great experiences.  Good or bad, I’ll blog about them all.

But, as The-prettiest-girl-in-the-world often says, “it’s not our job to make sure the boys aren’t bored.”

So, true, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make 2016 a fantastic summer.

What I am. Or Who I am.

And the result is….

Should I change my name to Ragnar? Bjorn? Eric the not-so-red?
Should I change my name to Ragnar? Bjorn? Eric the not-so-red?

Turns out I’m mostly Scandinavian!

Yup. Viking blood flows in these veins.

Vikings… you know, uncouth barbarians. Beserkers. The Scourge of Europe.

I think my mom would not be surprised.

So how does this change my life?

Or why my life makes sense, now…

A Top 10 List

  • First of all, I love the show The Vikings. So, yeah, that makes total sense, now. However, if I based my ancestry on the shows I like, I’d be a Dothraki. Or a hobbit.
  • Due to my heritage, it turns out that I’m not a hoarder, I am a collector. My people, the Vikings, believed that you needed to collect things. Sure, some would call it ‘looting’, but collecting is really what they were all about. So that’s why I have a love of gathering things up and keeping them forever. It’s harder to explain my love of books as my people basically burned them or ate them.
  • I have always loved the legend of Valhalla. I love the fatalistic end to that saga where every great warrior goes out to fight one last battle, a battle they are destined to lose. How epic. How sad. Well, at least now I know why I root for England in the World Cup.
  • I don’t rage-quit games, I am actually feeling the beserkergang fill me. When some asshat shoots me from some hidden sniper position on Call of Duty, I’m not being a sore loser, no, I’m calling upon my Viking ancestors to fill me with the anger of Odin so I can have my revenge upon them!
  • Crepes, croissants, ah the French do know a thing or two about food
    Crepes, croissants, cheese! Ah the French do know a thing or two about food

    It’s why I like to eat. See, my people didn’t have a lot. It’s why they raided other people. All we had were pickled fish, the odd, sad-looking turnip and mead. Now, while I do like pickled fish, turnips and mead (oddly enough, that should have been a sign of my heritage right there), imagine how my people felt when they sacked Paris and ate croissants, brie cheese and crepes. At that moment, a love of food was burned into their DNA.

  • I love to travel. See, contrary to what most people think, the Vikings loved to go sight-seeing. Everywhere. They got to the Black Sea, cruised the Mediterranean and even snuck out to see Canada. Sure, they went there to loot stuff or trade, but it’s still basically the same – My people NEEDED to see the world. Like me.

    Thor
    Thor or me, it’s hard to tell sometimes.
  • I kinda look like this guy. (if, you know, you drink a lot and forget your glasses at home.)
  • My favourite character on the Muppets was the Swedish Chef.
  • My second favourite NFL team is Minnesota.
  • Scotland was ruled by the Vikings for so long, that if you say you’re Scottish, odds are you’re the result of the Picts and Gaels, well, let’s say ‘intermixing’ with the Vikings.  And that means,  I can still be Scottish!  Whoohooo!

So, there you have it. I know what I am. I’m oddly very excited by all of this.

The actual results are below.

58% Scandinavia – Vikings!

The Muppet's Swedish Chef. How poetic.
The Muppet’s Swedish Chef. How poetic.

28% Finland/NW Russia – Kinda Vikings!

4% Asia (think Uzbekistan) – Errr, maybe where the Vikings pitched a tent once?

4% Irish – cuz, you know, as Silk said, everyone has a bit of Irish in them.

4% English – Due to the fish and chips which my people would have loved.

1% Iberian (that’s Spain) – ah, who knows what happened here.

 

So that’s it. I will still own my Scottish heritage and proudly wear my kilt, but knowing where I came from has anchored me in the world in a very unexpected way. So if you’ve ever wanting to sort out your true DNA history, I say give Ancestry.ca a look.

What are you?

10 Best Kid Smells

Calvin and Hobbs. Calvin knows something about bad smells
Calvin and Hobbs. Calvin knows something about bad smells

The list of bad kid smells could fill a book, but maybe there is another side – Smells that are awesome and you pretty much only get them around kids.

  • Crayons. Ah, crayons.
    Crayons. Ah, crayons.

    Crayons. Now this could just be me, but opening up a drawer filled with used crayons smells wonderful. Maybe it takes me back to my childhood. Maybe I like the smell of wax mixed with whatever yummy, sticky food the boys had on their hands while using them. Maybe I’m just suffering from a stroke.

  • Baby shampoo. (No more tears, stuff.) Now THIS reminds me of childhood for sure. But in an age of tangerine-oatmeal bodywashes and pear-jasmin shampoos. and moisturizing, organic, stress-relieving body butter made from the sweat of koalas, that no more tears stuff still smells the best to me. A part of me wants to go back to that, but I believe the ads that say I will get a hot woman if I use Axe (and clearly it worked!)
  • bubblegumBubblegum. Ok, adults can totally get bubblegum vodka and bubblegum flavoured condoms, apparently, but there’s nothing like the smell of bubblegum out of a pack of hockey cards or brought fresh from the local convenience store. That’s total kid stuff right there. Pure as it comes. Sometimes squishy and sometimes hard as a frozen sheet of steel.
  • New Plastic. I can’t explain why this smells so good, but open up a new lego box or tank model or the latest plastic toy and you’ll see what I mean. Was it because that new plastic smell meant I got something cool to play with back when I was a kid? Or did all the glue fumes from making models severely damage some part of my brain?

    Ah, model glue. Is it the smell or the fact it't toxic and addicting?
    Ah, model glue. Is it the smell or the fact it’t toxic and addicting?
  • Plastic Model Glue. Ok, I get why this one smells so good to me. I got high off it for years before I ever knew you could get high off it. I guess it’s like the smell of cigarettes to former addicts – it just kinda hits that part of your brain that says more please. Luckily, that addiction has now been replaced with donut cravings.
  • Pools. Now this isn’t a particularly kidish smell, but let’s face it, we don’t go to the pool that often unless we’re taking the kids. But that toxic smell of chlorine… Oh so good. But it’s a smell that could have been a total nightmare, too. I mean, my brother and I learned to swim in a chlorine pool and back when we were taught such things, they literally tossed us in the deep end, and there we were, desperately dog-paddling to stay afloat and gulping down gallons of the stuff. So it is a little odd I love the smell. It could have easily been something that sent me to therapy.
  • Playdoh.
    Playdoh.

    Play-doh. It’s in every box in which the boys have stored their toys. Little blobs of it at the bottom. Small jars underneath their cars. Giant globs stuck the sides of the Rubbermaid containers. I don’t honestly recall playing with it that much, but that smell… like cookie dough. Or an almond-vanilla thing. The more I think about it, the more likely it is that I didn’t so much play with it as eat it. I wish my mom was here to tell me what happened.

  • Cookie doh. Ha, cookie dough. Not that I haven’t eaten my weight 200 times over in cookie dough over my adult life, but it’s still a kid smell to me. I’m not talking those super-good-for-you cookies, though. Nope. We’re talking chocolate chip cookies. Maybe smartie cookies. But that sweet, doughy smell is hard to beat. Personally, I think Sesame Street should have made a cookie-dough monster except, you know, for the fact you shouldn’t really eat raw cookie doh,
  • School Books. No other book smells quite like a school book. Maybe it’s the smell of despair or panic that’s put into all of them. Maybe they use a different paper or a different binding than the Stephen King books. But there’s that new text book smell that’s just kind of hard to place. Inky. Something chemical-like. Probably the glue. Wait. Dammit, did they make those things with the same stuff I made models with?
  • Sharpies. Not only fun to draw with, but fun to smell.
    Sharpies. Not only fun to draw with, but fun to smell.

    Sharpies. OMG sometimes I think that when I’m down, I should just take off the lid of a sharpie and sniff, sniff, sniff. I’m not sure how healthy it would be, but there’s an intoxicating element to that pen. I don’t recall sharpies from my childhood, though, so the smell is a great 21st century kid smell. Probably done deliberately. Probably tested on rats or kids in China.

Oh, hey, but that’s not all. There are a lot of other smells associated with childhood or kids. Campfires. Burnt marshmallows. Fresh band-aids. Wet dog. Wet kid. Cold water on hot asphalt. Rubber dodge balls (I took a lot of those off the nose in my time.) Mothballs. Leather baseballs.

Oh the list could really be endless, as is the list of horrible smells. But as the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world reminded me, focus on the positive (and not the smell of vomit that you can’t get out of the car.)