Monday, July 11, 2011

Have a Dutch Wonderful Day

On Wednesday, we packed up and headed into the lobby of the Steamboat Inn. Daniel was more than disappointed that there weren't any chocolate chip cookies in the lobby at 9:00 a.m., but after asking nicely, the clerk brought out a few fresh ones for him to share with his siblings. Because we're on vacation and if there are no Pop Tarts available, we'll settle for cookies for breakfast.

They must have been good cookies because by the time we had gotten down the road, I noticed Daniel's blankets were missing.

A quick note about Daniel's blankets: They used to be white. He has had one since he was a newborn. He acquired the second one, a replica of the first, because the first was falling apart. I fixed the older one (now gray) and he carries it around with his newer one (more than off-white, like the teeth of a coffee-drinking chain smoker). He knows my mom will not be making any more blankets for him if these get lost.

Dan loves his blankets. Dan is Linus.

Apparently he was so enamored with these cookies, he left his blankets in the lobby of the hotel. I'm about as ready to part with these blankets as Daniel is- that is to say, I NEED his blankets. These blankets, when placed in his arms at night, are like Benadryl and Dramamine combined.

I called the hotel and they found the blankets and would have them waiting for us after we finished breakfast. Which was a fabulous breakfast at the kids' first trip to Waffle House. I honestly don't know how Natalie has gotten to the age of six before we brought her to one.

(Maybe some of us forget they are open during the day and not just after a late night when you desperately need something scattered, smothered, and covered.)

We went back to the hotel and recovered the blankets, which were waiting in a bag behind the front desk with a note that referred to them as baby blankets. "Why did they call my blankets baby blankets? These blankets are for five-year-olds!"

After the successful completion of that mission, we arrived at Dutch Wonderland. The Dutch were famous for their castles.

Before our visit, Matt had picked up a Dutch Wonderland map at the hotel. Eve saw the picture of Huck Finn's Leapin' Frogs on the cover and had been excited to ride it. We decided it would be the first thing we did once we got to the park.

This is a low-thrill ride that goes around in a circle with little bumps as the frogs hop over puddles. Or something like that.

It's just a dizzy kiddie ride.

Eve was excited.
The ride is getting ready to start!

It's starting...
It started.
And this is the point where we jointly reclaim the title of Parents of the Year as we laugh and take pictures.

Don't worry. Eve found some rides afterward that didn't make her use that face again. We rode lots of rides well past lunchtime and had to force ourselves to make time to eat.

They had a food court! With Chinese food! And pizza! And hot dogs! And nachos!


Supreme nachos, please! Supreme nachos in Dutch Wonderland is a pile of chips covered in chili, accompanied by a container each of cheese, salsa, sour cream, and jalapenos, all together in a Ziploc sandwich bag. It was weirdly awesome, though, even if I did have to assemble my lunch of champions.

I see you lookin' at my nacho cheese.

After lunch, we decided to ride and ride and ride more rides. There were no lines to anything, so we watched as the kids indulged over and over and over again.

Eve was content not to ride anything. She was happy with just sitting in her stroller and watching all the action. After a while, Matt decided to take her to see a couple of princess shows while I took Nat and Dan around the park.

Daniel actually got his head stuck in this, but regretfully I did not get a picture.

First order of business was riding something called the Crazy Plane, which did little more than to make me turn green after all those nachos. No, kids, I don't care how much you liked it. We CANNOT ride that again. Let's find something else that doesn't make me want to be bulimic.

How about the roller coaster? I did fine with that before lunch!

Except before and after lunch are two different things, as I found out by riding in the front car. The people behind me don't know how close they came to a costume change.

The sky ride should be just right for someone who has eaten this many cheesy jalapenos.

Until it turns into the sky ride of death.

Me: This is nice!
Natalie: Yeah, but what if I jumped out?
Me: Then you would be leaping to your death.
Natalie: But what if the whole car fell down?
Me: Then we would all be dead.
Natalie: But what if I fell over top of that tree and tried to land on that pony?
Me: Then you would break every bone in your body before landing on top of the pony and killing it.
Daniel: Are we jumping out of this ride?

We made it across the park with no jumpers, Praise Jesus.

The three of us did spot a ride from the sky that we wanted to try. It looked like a hang glider and didn't appear to be going in circles too fast.

I saw other adults riding it and they seemed to have difficulty getting in and out of it. The attendant swore I wasn't too big to ride it. I think she has a marvelous sense of humor.

It's definitely made for the 5' and under club. There are few things as comfortable as metal foot rests hitting you in the shins. And it's definitely going a lot faster than you would think. You know the promise you made to yourself in college that you're NEVER going to drink that much again when the room spins as you lay down in bed? That's the promise I was making to myself as I stumbled out of the exit, trying not to fall into that big, purple dragon I'm either really seeing or imagining in my dizzy-brained haze.

Well, the good thing about actually stumbling into a big, purple dragon is that he'll be so surprised, he'll stop for a photo op.

We rode the sky ride back to the other side of the park and saw people base jumping. I heard a splash afterward, so I'm relieved to find out there was a pool underneath.

Like a bunch of crazy people, Nat, Dan, and I screamed as loud as we could below to get Matt's attention. But he must have been feeling like the crazy one when all he saw above his head was a tree that seemed to know his name.

We caught back up with the rest of the crew and went for a train ride. Trains, I can handle after nachos.
Eve was still terrified of any ride that did not go in a circle, so she stayed in random kiddie ride #8 for several rides while the rest of us took turns exploring the virtual reality rides Dutch Wonderland had to offer.

I took Nat and Dan into the Astroliner which had been there since 1978. The sign said it was one of the first virtual reality rides in the country. The Astroliner was a spaceship that fit twelve people with a television screen the size of a large microwave. On the television was a movie (the first part that made it "virtual reality") which utilized things such as toasted marshmallows and pipe cleaners to portray the surface of Mars. I couldn't hear the audio very well because Daniel kept yelling, This isn't a ride! Why is that TV so small? What's going on in here? Oh wait, we're moving! Which was the second part that made it virtual reality- it slowly rocked to the right and left, just like you're going through space.

I think they have a good sense of humor to keep that ride in there. I think Eve could have even handled it.

Speaking of Eve in space, look! I had my camera ready the next time someone's head got stuck.

We went souvenir shopping afterward to get Daniel to stop asking if we could leave, just so he could pick out his light-up sword. I spotted a keeper within seconds.

(This is actually funny in four different ways.)

We ran into the Princess and the Knight after shopping. Looks like the princess is the only one aware that I was the one with the camera.

We went to the aqua stadium, otherwise known as the place where people were not leaping to their deaths as I had momentarily thought. We sat in the splash zone, because, well, I'm not sure why. We were assured we would get soaked, which is why I had my camera away where it would stay safe and dry and have no pictures of frog princes scaling tall structures and diving off. We spent the first fifteen minutes completely dry. Just long enough for me to think that we weren't going to get wet like all these other poor saps on either side of us.

Actually, I didn't even have time to finish that thought before I was dripping and thankful that my t-shirt wasn't white.

We did what anyone else would do- get on some more rides to dry off. Matt took Nat and Dan to the bumper cars and I stayed with Eve as she found yet another spinny kiddie ride.

She literally rode it ten times in a row.

It looked like such a rush.

If Momma Eve ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Luckily for us, Eve was happy.

When 9:00 p.m. rolled around and the rides all shut down, we made our way to the exit where an impromptu dance party was underway with a Dutch Wonderful band. These kids can party.
This would be the closest I would come to dancing to anything in the Top 40.

The music ended about twenty minutes later, and we made our way outside to try and find the van. The parking lot was so crowded.

I guess that's what happens when you close down another theme park.

One very interesting item to consider is that Daniel did not complain of being hungry the entire day. Those who know Daniel know that this is one of his catchphrases that he uses every few minutes during waking hours. He didn't even seem to mind that we weren't going out for dinner until 10:00 p.m.

But who would be upset about hot dogs and ice cream at 10:00, anyway? Certainly not a Griffith on vacation.


  1. Christy, I am crying from laughing so hard at this post and the pictures...PRICELESS!
    Everyone in my office is wondering what is wrong with me. Oh well, back to work!
    Dawn Russell

  2. Christy it looks like you guys had a great vacation! We live in Delaware so you weren't too far from our neck of the woods (Philly is only about 30 min away).

    So did you ever get over to Intercourse during your trip? It's a nice little tourist town. We usually go once or twice a year :-) They have a gift store there as well with all kind of I heart Intercourse stuff there as well. They also have a Kitchen Kettle Village Store that you would LOVE. They have sample jars open of all their jellies and dips etc for you to try!

    Dana Keeler