Monday, July 13, 2009


After almost a week at my Mom's house in East Bangor, it was time for Brandi, Rowan and me to get out for a little excitement.

Just about 10 miles over the state line into New Jersey is Land of Make Believe, a little amusement and water park designed especially for younger kids. Mom claims that both Brandi and I were here years ago when we were little kids, but neither of us remembers it.

Almost all the rides and slides are for kids 36 inches or taller, and Rowan is exactly 36 inches...just in time!

Rowan had never really been to an amusement park before, so all these rides were new to him. Needless to say, he was pretty stoked. New thrills around every corner!

For some rides he wanted Aunt Brandi to accompany him.

For other rides, it just had to be Daddy...even though Daddy could barely fit into this mini roller coaster!

Sometimes we had to wait in line for our turn...

...but it was always worth it!

There was also a little petting zoo with goats and sheep...

...and even a cow!

After an hour or so, it was time to change into our swimsuits for the main event:

The Pirate's Cove water park was dominated by this giant wading pool full of sights and slides, an aquatic paradise for toddlers.

Up on the pirate ship, there was just one place to go:

Back into the pool!

There were lots of other little water slides and fun stuff around the wading pool, including the Frog's Mouth (which Rowan went down several dozen times in a row!)...

...and the Turtle Fountain.

After thoroughly exploring the wading pool, we took a relaxing "river tube ride" around the park. We also checked out the "splash dungeon", which is chock-full of ways to get splashed, sprayed and soaked from every direction, including from the giant wooden bucket that you can see on top in the above photo.

Eventually it was time for the grand finale:

A couple of trips with Daddy down the big slides!

First we had to get our tube - a double-rider special with plenty of handles. Then it was time to wait in line on the stairs. And then...

Woohooooo!! (Notice that at least Rowan had his hands on the handles)

After a couple of trips down the slides, it was well into Rowan's usual nap time, so we changed back into dry clothes and headed back toward the exit.

Along the way we stopped at the "Dukes of Hazzard" ride for one more trip in the "General Lee".

And then another ride around the park on the choo-choo train, just to take it all in one more time. Rowan was fast asleep in the car seat less than 10 minutes later. Can you tell he had a good time?

For anyone with kids 3-10 years old, Land of Make Believe is a real good time, and at $20-23 per person, it's a pretty good value compared to most other amusement parks. Maybe in a few years we'll be ready for Disney World?

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Tuesday, July 7 to Tuesday, July 14

One of the highlights of the summer for Rob was a trip with Rowan to Pennsylvania to see his mom and sister Brandi. Carley couldn't make it due to an overflowing plateful of responsibilities with her new job at Mississippi Geographic Alliance. Nevertheless, we made quite a time of it!

It was Rowan's first plane trip, and he had been talking nonstop about flying in a plane for at least a week now. In anticipation we got a toy plane and even watched plane videos on Youtube!

Rowan had no fear of take-off, landing or looking out the window during flight. After awhile, when there was nothing to look at but the tops of the clouds, he kept himself quietly entertained.

After a long day of travel, it was nice to finally arrive at GiGi's house! GiGi is Rowan's name for Rob's mom, and we hadn't seen her since Christmas 2007, over a year-and-a-half ago. She's been laid up the past 6 months with a torn-up ankle, and had yet another surgery the morning after we arrived...hopefully the last one!

Rowan quickly bonded with Brandi, who kept him entertained with sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls and various other little amusements.

Another of Aunt Brandi's creative amusements. How fitting that Brandi's enrolled in a program for prospective elementary art teachers...she'll be a natural!

Best of all, GiGi has a pool in her backyard! Too bad she couldn't get in with us, thanks to her messed-up ankle.

The water temperature was a little cooler than comfortable (78 degrees F, but that's Pennsylvania for ya), so Rowan mostly stayed on the raft and ordered me and Brandi to play various games with him. Nevertheless, the pool was quite often the highlight of the day.

Sometimes we headed out for one of the local playgrounds.

Once we even did a little hike through the woods... a pretty little waterfall.

The shallow pool was nice for hunting crawfish and salamanders, and for floating leaves like little boats downstream.

Overall, though, East Bangor doesn't have a lot going on. With a population of under 1000, it doesn't even have a store, let alone a traffic light. The photo above is East Bangor's main intersection around lunchtime.

A walk around East Bangor can take you past some seriously neglected properties!

And even remnants from the demolition derby?!

They sure don't seem to have any building codes around here!

East Bangor's got some nice little streets too, like the one that Rob's mom lives on. Just a short walk up the hill from the center of town, up to that tall house on the left...

...and voila! Once a serious fixer-upper, GiGi's house is beautiful these days, thanks to some major investments and extensive landscaping.

Here at the house, there was always fun to be had in the pool.

"Catch it with your HANDS, Rowan!"

There were always new discoveries to be made. And catching up. And reminiscing.

And there was plenty of good food to be grilled. (Daddy says corn-on-the-cob grills up really nice in the husk...just peel em off when they're done. Let em cool a few minutes before peeling!)

For the last full day of our visit, Rob and Brandi took Rowan to The Land Of Make Believe, a great little amusement and water park about 20 minutes away in New Jersey. Click here to check out The Land of Make Believe.

Finally it was time to head to the airport for the flight home, but not before one last attempt at a photo shoot. As it turned out, Rowan wasn't used to having his photo taken by an automated timer! Oh well.

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