Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wonderland trip - August 19, 2014

I have a trip log to post from our recent trip to Kingscote Lake in Algonquin, I'm just procrastinating putting the pictures in because my laptops memory is full again.  So I thought I'd share our decidedly non-wilderness trip from yesterday...which has no pictures because I didn't take a camera or even my phone.

Chris and I had bought tickets to Canada's Wonderland at Costco and the plan was to surprise the kids. We got them out of bed and told them there was a big sale on fishing tackle at Bass Pro.  Boy were they excited.  Ever since they got to go all wild in the clearance bins at SAIL last week, it's all they've talked about.  So we get down there, and we point out Leviathan and the mountain.  They start talking about the rides they liked from when we were there in the spring with the school for band/choir.

They had no idea we'd gotten off Highway 400 at the wrong exit to go to Bass Pro.  Even when we were passing signs for "passenger drop off and pick up" for Wonderland, they didn't figure it out.  I kept making comments about how expensive it was, and it's too bad we didn't have extra money this pay check to go.  Then we turn into the entrance and they realize we were actually going in.  Squatch freaked!  He tried to jump up out of his seat and ended up falling back because of his seat belt.  I'm pretty sure he squealed like a little girl.  Bubbie wasn't as excited.  She had fun last time, but Chris kind of pesters her to try coasters she was afraid to try, so she was a little nervous.

I pull out the tickets and admit I'd lied about REALLY needing to buy granola bars a few weeks back for our Kingscote lake trip.  I did buy a few big boxes of bars, but only to hide the tickets.

The place was crazy busy.  I'd have thought August would be a bit quieter, since the CNE had started, but it was insane.  We were there for almost two hours and only managed 2 rides because of the lines.  First we hit Thunder Run, one of our favourites, then Back Lot Stunt Coaster.  Somehow we managed to hit White Water Canyon when the line had died, and got on it fairly quickly (ten minute wait rather than 45) then we went to Splash Works.  The water park hadn't been open when we came in the spring, so the kids hadn't gotten to go.  They'd been there when they were really little with Chris's parents but were too young to do any of the slides.

Not that Bubbie did any slides anyway.  We all did the Lazy River, then Bubbie and I went to the wave pool while Chris and Squatch hit a few slides.  The Black Hole was their favourite.  Unfortunately, after about 15 minutes of sitting in the shallows of the wave pool, they instructed everyone to vacate the water.  I had my suspicions that a kid had pooped in the water...but the lifeguard herding us all behind the green line said it was just a routine cleaning...uh huh.  When they came out with a net, scooped something out, then you could see several spots where the water was clearly being drained out...yeah, it had to be poop.

We decided to do the Lazy river one more time then the boys wanted to do the Bat.  Bubbie and I shared a huge ice cream cookiewich, then watched the show at the big pool near Dragon Fire.  That was pretty incredible.  The diving and trampoline tricks were amazing.

Tired, hungry and ready to head home, we stopped at McDonalds for dollar drinks, and made it home by 7:30.  We didn't get to go on as many rides as we'd have liked, the lines were just too long.  We also didn't get to try out the new Wonder Mountain's Guardian ride, and we all kind of regret that.  The longest line of the day?  Subway!  We stood in line for 45 minutes to get lunch, and it really wasn't worth it.  Should have gotten a hot dog, or brought a lunch.  Even without the wait, the prices were crazy, $12.49 for a footlong Melt.

Wonderland is lots of fun, but going in the summer can feel like kind of a waste of money.  Because of the long wait times for rides, you often feel like you aren't getting your money's worth.  We had talked about getting a season's pass, and we all feel that if we did, we could make shorter trips, get in a few rides or spend a few hours at SplashWorks and not feel like we weren't making it worth the price of we'd go in spring and fall more!  Skip school, ride coasters!

I read somewhere that the company that owns Wonderland now is working towards making it an international destination.  Leviathan and Behemoth are two steps towards that goal (big coasters that will attract thrill seekers from around the globe) but considering the crowds already there, I'm thinking if they did that, they'd really have to expand it, total size wise, because it got really hard to just walk at times.  Worse than trying to shop in the mall on Christmas Eve.  It's already the most visited seasonal park in all of North America...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day Trip: Algonquin Park - Logging Days - July 26, 2014

After four years of trying and failing to make it to the park for Logging Days, we finally got our act together.

As we expected the parking lot was packed, and they had a team of guys directing us to available parking spots.  We chatted with one of them for a minute as somehow Biscuit managed to escape the car.  I had clipped his leash on, and then unclipped his seatbelt from the ring and it popped the leash clip back open.  Chris caught him quickly, and the volunteer asked us about what kind of dog he was (we got this a lot through the day.)

I admit I had been leery of taking Biscuit.  At home when I take him for walks, he doesn't like it when people come up to him, and the trail was really busy.  I had visions of him biting children, nipping people on the butt and getting loose and eating the logger's lunch.  He was actually really good.  He pulled a lot at first because he was excited, but calmed down eventually.  People came up to him and let him sniff their hand and he let them pet him!  I was shocked!  He went a little nutty when other dogs got close, but we kept a good distance and it was okay.

The first demonstration wasn't so much a demonstration as a performance.  We arrived just in time to see the start of the Waikimi Wailers start playing.  It was really cool.  Some of the people in the crowd were singing along, and more and more people were piling into the Camboose so we headed out after a few songs to let more people in.

At the stables, they were giving out free temporary tattoos, and scavenger hunt sheets for the kids.  I'm not sure what the prize was, but the kids had fun looking for the answers.  There were people demonstrating how logs were squared off, how a cadge crib worked, and how the alligator boats worked.  It was really cool.  We've walked this trail many times and though there is information there on the display boards, it was nice to get a more detailed description of what it was like to actually do these things. You really get a new appreciation for just how hard these men worked.   For example, it took a team of 6 men a full day to square a log, and it took 18 men, about 28 hours to haul a boom of logs across Cedar lake using a cadge crib.  The Alligator took about 6 hours and less men, but was only really useful on big lakes, of which there aren't many in Algonquin (comparatively speaking)

Squatch got to try out using a cross cut saw, and brought home his timber cookie home.  A booth further up the trail had people branding them, but the wood was too wet, so they had pieces of lumber there to brand and hand out.  Kids could also try their hand at making rope but the line ups in these two spots was really crazy, so Squatch only did one.

We didn't have time for the Logger's Lunch (and the kids wouldn't have eaten it anyway) but it did look good.  Beans, potatoes, fried bologna, homemade bread and a butter tart.  Next year we will try and get Chris to take the day off so we can come back and have time for lunch...and maybe Biscuit will be better behaved around food by then.  Because we were in a bit of a rush, we had to skip some of the demonstrations too, but like I year...

All in all, this is a really fun and educational day with activities that keep the kids from being bored.  I highly recommend it.  It's also dog friendly.  There were "dog water" stations throughout the trail.  Even though it wasn't super hot out, it was nice to have.  We actually had thought they might make the trail dog free for the event, since there were so many people there.