Great Wolf Lodge: Desirable Water Torture.

Idyllically situated just off Rt. 80 in the Pocono Mountains, the town of Scotrun hosts a colossal indoor/outdoor water park, the truly impressive Great Wolf Lodge.  A study in unabashed branding, wild animal motifs and the ubiquitous paw print constantly remind us of our temporary home. Take the “barely perceptible” paw handle on the condiment carrier in the Loose Moose Family Kitchen.

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Massive water park huffing behind the window.

I should say, too, although swimming in maple syrup, to the left, Reese’s untouched 50s spaceship waffle is branded with the Great Wolf Lodge paw. No surface is safe.

While I’m fascinated by the clever, nearly assaulting brand, I’m possessed by an altogether different element.  Navigating the serpentine 1 Great Wolf Drive, I’m immediately struck by the similarities between Great Wolf Lodge and the hotel featured in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining–the Overlook Hotel.  Remember those creepy girls from the movie?

stanley3

We’re looking for Danny…

They’re not alone.

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We stayed in room 237.

Aside from the macabre, this Great Wolf Lodge corporation truly has its act together.  The Pennsylvanian site is but one of 16 locations across the U.S. and Canada.  My hope is that each location equals the amenities and service.  The team behind this 78,000-square-foot colossus should be applauded.  The plastered euphoria on our kid’s faces is reason #1 why we’ll return.

Of the many, here are two impressive points with regard to organization and execution:

  1. Wristbands are both room keys and sources of purchase throughout the lodge.  Swipe–you’re good! No cards of any kind required during your stay.  Finally emerging from the water, recovering from Coyote Cannon, a 40-foot drop into a water-jet-fueled vortex?  Head back to your room for some R & R, mindlessly shrug your wrist for entry. Not ready to rest?  Blankly swipe to purchase food, drink, gifts, among other deafening options, a bowling lane at Ten Paw Alley.

It’s funny, everyone milling around, soaking, draped in raisin-like skin.  We exist in some massive sanitarium, our ever-present wristbands making us all look like aquatic patients…

 

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2. As a business owner I can’t help but think you’re asking for hell managing a water attraction.  Although dark and raw, people drown at home, miles and miles from this 1000-gallon bucket dump…

waterpark-dump-bucket

Without going too far, water is the most powerful compound in the universe–too much of it we die, not enough we die.  So where’s the happy medium?  Great Wolf Lodge has either adopted or designed an awesome regiment.  Both indoor and outdoor  attractions have lifeguards in constant motion, literally casing the joint, rescue tubes under their arms, whistles pursed for infraction.  With calculated precision, lifeguards constantly rotate from station to station so as to keep their skills fresh, free from monotony. Nice job lifesavers!

Can’t say enough about this chlorinated gem, and we didn’t even take advantage of the 4-story obstacle course.  Bananas, just bananas.  Main site is here:

Seeing as the indoor water park is kept at a constant 84 degrees, I look forward to revisiting in the dead of winter for a swim, re-admitted, an aquatic patient.

 

 

 

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(De)Vice Family.

As of this writing–in real-time–all five of us are consumed, an entire family connected to seemingly divisive devices.  Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you–everybody’s on something.  Got it.  Let’s check-in with these humans and their vices.

Subject #1

Me.  I’m on a laptop writing a blog post about my family, doing my best to remain focused, surrounded by jarring sounds, graphic images, driven to distraction.  Forgive me if this written account sucks.

In an effort to concentrate I interrupt them, interview them throughout this post, gather lurid details on their habits, fact-check assumptions, compose a hardscrabble editorial. I love making the mundane meaningful.

Subjects #2 and #3

Mommy and the boy are glued to Xbox One, his recent birthday gift, his vision quest earned by a commitment to typical childhood chores. Making his bed, feeding his grotesquely bloated goldfish, getting dressed and occasionally making his breakfast, all served this one goal–gaming.

Hollering threats and near to tears–a train wreck lack of teamwork–Mommy and Jack eventually find their groove, and boy do they!  Crushing multiple levels on Lego Jurassic World, first time out, true artists at work.

JWorld

Mommy exhumes her Nintendo youth, latent skills erupting from untold hours playing The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros.  Having dissected first-person YouTube archives, Jack deftly draws from a ridiculous memory.  His on-demand compendium serving as sage and guide, the go-to-guy for moves.

The two bond over the course of–at this point–3+ hours, and I’m cool with it because their relationship is evolving.  Mommy needs Jack’s advice, something unheard-of in life outside of gaming.  It’s soothing to hear the two flip-flop.  Jack learns, too, to keep his sh*t together, play on a team and communicate the needs required to advance.

Prior to Mommy and Jack’s obsession, Forza Motorsport 6 was the main draw, me and the boy free-playing, eviscerating track after track behind a Lamborghini Gallardo or Bugatti Veyron.  We’re exotic bastards.

Veyron

The Veyron.

I could go on and on about these cognitively and emotionally tethered players, but what about Subjects #4 and #5?

Subject #4

Roz and the iPad. Ultimate middle-child, a force to those who’ve witnessed her raw beauty and Jobsian “no blink stare.”  Currently rifling through content, Elsa videos rule Rozzie’s day.  Weirdest thing?  Spiderman shows up in a boatload of these live-action vids, rescuing Elsa across various settings, creeping me out–for real.  This genre makes me tense because costumed adults on the Internet ultimately lead to off-limits cosplay.  Party over.

In any event, here’s the Roz taking a device break, accompanying me to Home Depot.

Roz

So stylish!

Subject #5

Our youngest, Bleegs, vestige of vanishing innocence, reviews a smart phone.  Granted, she’s been given this device, which some might say is a no-no, easily a surrogate parent.  I get it.  To save us from DYFS, we’ve protectively dialed-up innocuous animal videos.  C’mon, you’ve done it, too.

Her gaze is fixed, frighteningly so, on dolphins playfully flanking a massive tanker cleaving the Pacific. No one is safe from devices and their beguiling content.

We Eventually Unplug

Each of us realize, either consciously or unconsciously–and in our own way–it’s time to unplug and reconnect.  Laptop, console and controllers power-down, iPad and smart phone lose their allure.  Something called “dinner” occurs.

I edit the remaining words you’ve read and we call it a day.  Baths, pajamas and prep for the coming week lead us to our final family device, the American staple of viewership–Television.  Remember when TV used to sign-off, too?

Sign off

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When Parenting Doesn’t Suck.

Bottom line?  Kids are maniacal, horrifying sub-humans hell bent on destroying our lives. They consistently push boundaries to the point where we lose it, consider leaving them adrift–one more word… AND YOU’RE LIVING IN THE STREETS!!  …Um, seems like I forgot the title of this post.  Got a little carried away there.  Ok.  I guess I feel guilty for complaining about my kids.  This post is my penance.

The moments where they’re civil cherubs, those moments where our hearts melt, all seems well with the world, my desire to be a parent confirmed.  But wait.  Before I get into all the mushy stuff, let’s begin with the simple, like putting your… DAMN SHOES ON!  Sorry about that.  Alright. Back to the point.

The morning routine, a ripe environment for chaos, my hope is that this goes well, a simple task…

“C’mon girls, let’s put our shoes on.”  Can’t let them leave the house without shoes, I’d be reported.  Can’t have that.

“Ok, Dad!”  They find their shoes among the miasma of footwear and actually put them on themselves–I’m overjoyed!  One more child chore I don’t have to do. It’s like we graduated from Foot Academy or something.

Then the screaming, the unholy reckoning, mortality on the line… over a plastic block?!  Really?  Sure, they have their shoes on, but the DEFCON 1 nature of this “block situation” drowns out their previous footwear victory. Someone has something someone else wants.  It’s on.  Possession is central to any problem, I’ve found.  Possession of an object, food, even possession of a thought is cause for unbridled anarchy.  There, I’ve gone and done it again, lost sight of this post’s purpose.  Let’s get to the mushy stuff.

“Dad… Dad?  Dad, I love you.” Completely out of the blue the boy hits me with a solo home run.  I’m weak.

“I love you, too, son.”  It’s the randomness of kids, their seemingly reasonless outbursts of care that get to me in the best way.

And what about the moments when I’m given a random token of affection–a leaf, an acorn, a scrap of paper, the object accompanied by, “Dis for you Daddee.”  I lose it, people.  The jacket I wear to work, a leather Indiana Jones number, my left pocket bustles with acorn hats.  My daughter gave them to me.  With the increasing cold my hands are drawn to my pockets, car keys on the right, more importantly, acorn hats on the left.  I thumb through them, reassured that I’m loved on my way to work.  Not a bad way to start the day.

And their observations, kids are just plain awesome in how they perceive things. Just this morning my son dropped an A-bomb of an idea…

“Dad.  What if E.T. was in a heavy metal band!”  He’s not asking.  It’s an utterly unique idea that has me laughing out loud.

“What did you just say?”  I’m trying to catch up to his thought process.

Not reiterating, he just comes back with a thundering, “YEAH!  He could be like, yelling and screaming PHONE HOME! …PHONE HOME!!

I’m beaming.

So, they’re a pain in the ass, kids.  But they’re everything else I need.

The kids

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Kids + BAND-AIDS = Unbridled Obsession.

I recently posted about kids and elevators highlighting their fascination with pressing buttons, transporting themselves up and down, a complete joke to adults.  But kids freaking love this vertical crap.  What else do kids dig?  BAND-AIDS.  This is totally appropriate considering their propensity for falling down.  Kids often fall in slow motion, too, revealing endless seconds of time before impact.  It’s fairly entertaining.

And what about the sheer number of BAND-AID brands?!  It’s ridiculous.   Kids gravitate to these crazy strips of grafted plastic because they’re seduced by the biblically sized monopoly of childhood representatives. Spongebob, Cinderella, Dora, Spiderman, Elmo, Curious George, the list goes on.  Hello Kitty, too.

Considering their massive appeal these badges of courage demand an in-depth study, rather than this–a passing blog post.  So let’s get scientific.  Let’s do a case study.  If you’ve come this far you’re crazy enough to read on.

Actual Scientific Case Study:

My two-year old wipes out on a regular basis, and I get it, gravity takes no prisoners, but it’s criminal that the slightest pitch in pavement is cause for a full-on face plant.  Her knees resemble crosshatching hieroglyphs.

Anyhooch, the kid is tough as nails but the need for a BAND-AID proves overriding.

AHHHH-hah-hah-haaaaa!!!”  Sounding a little like David Lee Roth, defeated by an uneven berm in the driveway, she‘s down. The result is grisly.

Rushing to her, employing one of her many ridiculous nicknames that make no sense, “I got you Beesh-kee.” I’m such a sap.

Of course, I know, she wants Mommy but I offer relief nonetheless.  Realistically, who doesn’t want Mommy when they’re hurt?  I take no offense.

“Mah–mee, mah-meeeeeeee!!”

I’m out of the picture, but not useless.  Like a savior I go for the ultimate panacea: a BAND-AID. This simple step makes me a hero, arriving astride on a fine medicinal steed, draped in a luxuriant American flag, adhesive in hand.  Fact.

Post-care triage my daughter eventually cools, returning to normal, admiring her badge of courage, constantly reminding us of her ordeal.

Bringing her knee into unmistakable view over dinner, “Boo-boo… boo-boo.”  She couldn’t be cuter.

So that’s it, kids adore BAND-AIDs.  But this gets me thinking, not so fast.  It’s not like BAND-AIDS are the sole experience whereby something covers their skin.  If we’re lucky, kids generally wear clothes.  So this must be a fascination with frequency.  Although super rare, I’m hyper-aware when I sport a BAND-AID mainly because irritation pangs from a location where none previously existed.  I’m constantly reminded of that paper-cut on my index finger, a separate droning heartbeat.  This–the adult BAND-AID situation–draws attention from both kids and adults.

Abandoning eye contact, glaring at the BAND-AID, motionless with horror, “What happened?!

“Oh, this?  There was a low-flying airplane.”  I’m a jack-ass.

People instinctively want to know why you’re hurt.  So maybe this isn’t about frequency at all.  It’s about mortality, the sight of blood.  I’m not making this stuff up, so watch your step.

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Kids and Elevators.

There’s nothing more intoxicating for kids than an elevator ride. Pressing buttons, freaking out, the range of emotions expressed during a short ride between floors is cause for drunken celebration, whacked-out posture, even inebriated fear.  They live for this sh*t.

Recently returned from Bermuda, ferried by the ridiculously well-appointed Norwegian Breakaway, we endured 16 decks of elevator Bacchanalia.  Now think about this.  Think about the uneasiness of close quarters with strangers–that staple of elevator travel–then add kids, those wildcard assassins of etiquette.  Witness.

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Cruise Creatures!

My daughter pulls off some Kurt Thomas sh*t, reverse-grasping the gymnastic mini bar, legs suspended, white bow unperturbed.  The boy succumbs to elevator music, conducting a wicked Bernstein symphony…

Leonard.

Home now, back to real life, I shuttle my 3 delinquents to an eye appointment, which, wouldn’t you know it, requires an elevator ride.  There’s a brief tussle as to who gets to press the button, 4th floor.  The doors close.  Inside the air seems deliriously thin.  Just then it’s as if they’re intravenously receiving massive amounts of Red Bull, careening off the walls, screeching like banshees.  There’s no bringing them down.  By the time we reach the 4th floor they’ve transformed into frenzied devil worshippers.

Until the next elevator ride I’m taking it all in like a sitcom.

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Wisdom Teeth: The Adult Pull.

I can’t afford to lose an ounce of wisdom, but numbers 17 and 32 have got to go.

bye-bye.

bye-bye.

I awake from the IV a dazed giddy madman, demanding my “book.”

Slobbering, a Titanic-sized bottom lip, “Bwhere’s by book?!

Genially, a tech informs me, “You didn’t bring a book.  How are you feeling?”

“Oh, ok…  bwhere’s by book?!”

“Let’s get up.  Slowly.”

She gently occupies my hands.  I hear music.  Swiveling in the dentistry recliner I rise.

“Take it slow.”  She’s like a damn angel.

Holding her hands, hearing the music, I ask, “Do you wan do dans?”

A total pro she fields my lame request, leading me to the recovery room.

“Did I ash abou by book?

“Yes.  Just relax.”

Feeling good, powers of speech emerging, “Ok.  Are you available?”

Just then Mom comes in and consoles me.  The process is simple and I’m good.  Soon after I’m on the road to recovery.

Once home, I deal.  The pain.  Man!  Although a die-hard fan of horror, spitting blood for a day or two is fairly unsettling.  I make a show of it for the kids, making this a lesson to brush your teeth. They’re properly appalled.

Now bereft, I’m ok with the loss of 17 and 32, but the aftermath is brutal.  Acetaminophen, oxycodone, gargling with salt water, this is for the birds.  And eating!  How I’ve taken for granted eating whatever I like whenever I want!  This is a real pain in the ass.  Lost a few pounds, though.  I’ll take it.

So, why did I wait so long, as this procedure is generally reserved for college-aged folk?  The teeth never gave me a problem.  Little cavities dictated their extraction.

Is there a lesson in this twisted fable?  Am I less intelligent?  Probably.  Not sure, though.  Too soon to tell.  If nothing else, I’ve been spared dry socket.  Bizarrely, I joked with the dentistry staff that I might go for the George Washington look.  Did you know he had only one natural tooth remaining when he took office?  Look at his dogs!

yikes.

yikes.

BTW, spell-check thought “oxycodone” was “oxymoron.”  Probably right.

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Counting Cars.

Always on the look-out for ways to keep the kids occupied, I institute new programs on the fly.  Some of you may remember last month’s installment, How To Control Kids: Question Quotas, a fine breach of free speech.  A far older institution, yet to be revealed until now (I’m such a tool), is Counting Cars, a fairly irresponsible practice if I’m driving.  When Mommy drives I’m like a seat-belted wolf, scanning the road for prey, quantifying victory, because in the end whomever collects the most sightings wins.  Game over.

Seems ridiculous not to identify the make and model, so here’s our list, in particular order:

The Ford Taurus

To judge by its style and frequency some might say the Taurus is plebeian, but they’d be wrong.  First introduced in 1985, the Taurus is now manufactured in its 6th generation, haughty territory for any vehicle.  If you really look you’ll see some of the old-schoolers out there, always on the road.

It's on.

It’s on.

The Ford Mustang

An audible riot, a Mustang is literally the wild west American horse, a freaking asphalt wolf! A common occurrence, each sighting is cause for unbridled celebration in my family.  This brutal equestrian rules the road.

BULLITT.

BULLITT.

The Corvette

Clearly the most exotic four wheels listed here, Chevrolet’s 2015 ZO6 makes a black hole shudder at 650 horsepower.  And the Corvette in general is a seasonal sighting–warm weather only.  It’s extremely rare to see a Corvette in winter, like a god-damned snow leopard!  Call me if you witness such an event as I’m committed to a longitudinal study.

yikes.

yikes.

I realize this is a decidedly American-made affair.  I plan to introduce the European sedan come Summer.

Again, my preoccupation with keeping the kids occupied leads to a new game.  Gradually all come aboard. Mommy mistakes a retro Camaro for a Mustang, and that’s ok (sorry purists).  They’re both American muscle cars.  To Reese everything is a Mustang, and she’s so sweet I could drive off the road.  My true competition is Jack.  Heading south, returning north on the GSP is like an Olympic event.  Shouting, grotesque posturing, unlike sportsmanship rule the day.

Closing Remarks–just learned that 10 and 2 on the wheel is considered highly unsafe–deployed airbags can send hands into the face, breaking thumbs, among other maladies. 9 and 3 is the new rule. This is my PSA.  Call me civic.

Happy motoring!

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