Monday, June 29, 2009

This morning started at about 5:45 AM, because I’m just such a slacker, what with sleeping in so late these days.

Sleep — I suck at it.

Last night, though, was rough. I dreamt that I had been elected as supreme ruler of the planet because of my unique ability to bring peace and harmony to all. All I had to do to certify my election was to tell the world about myself in 150 words or less. Unable to do so, I caused the planet to plunge into a deep, dark despair of chaos and agony. Religious fundamentalists made up new levels of hate speech for me. Every country banished me, all at the same time. School children mocked me.

OK, so that last one was a bit of reality seeping in, perhaps.

My point, though, is that I slept terribly and woke up in a knot of sheets and with a headache. Some combination of hot showers, Tylenol, Sudafed and coffee seemed to assist with the headache, but I was left with that awful feeling one gets after a bad night of dreams. And, I was still sitting here, staring at the blank page that was supposed to have my author bio on it. 150 words or less, describing me, the author, somewhat describing why I was worthy to be a writer… and I couldn’t write it.

So, after staring at the blank page for a while, I gave up and started the long process of getting a start on the day. Thanks to the nice check out lady who took our three hundred dollars yesterday, we had plenty of cereal and yogurt for breakfast, so there were no arguments to begin the day.

We decided to spend the day at the Massanutten WaterPark. This is a really cool, indoor/outdoor water park with a lot of rides packed into a small area. By the time we got ourselves organized and ready to go down the mountain to the water park, it was already 11:30. We packed a lunch to eat in the car for the 10 minute ride and all of us got into our swimsuits ahead of time (we’re all about efficiency, of course). The water park opened the last time we were down here, three years ago. I had hoped that in the ensuing three years they might have made some improvements to the ticketing process. My hopes were dashed soon after we entered the building.

The ticket desk is on the third level down in the building, essentially the basement. It is right at the bottom of the stairs and there is not much room so when it is crowded it is hard to get onto solid ground. Luckily it was just crowded enough that we could get to the actual floor. It took like 5 hours to get to the front of the line.


Okay, it was more like 15 minutes. But still, there were only two parties ahead of us in the line. So, the way it works is you pay for your tickets. There are like four or five or maybe eight price points depending on whether or not you bought the $99 activity card that gives you discounts on things, whether or not your under forty-two inches tall, whether you want a one day, three day or six day pass, etc. Then, they print out wrist bands for each member of the party, cut them to size and then wrap them on your wrists. If you want a locker key, that’s $10 up front, with $5 refunded when you return the key. It’s really not a complicated process, it seems, but they have so many people behind the counter that there seems to be a bottleneck somewhere, whether it’s one printer for the wristbands or one pair of scissors to cut them. If you ask me, which the designers of this place clearly did not, you’d make it far more efficient by pre-printing the wrist bands (they are, in fact, all exactly the same except for the timestamp on them) and either having several pairs of scissors or by having one person do the wristbands while another took the payment.

I guess, in the end, this is a relatively minor nuisance. It just seems like mass chaos in order to pay to get into the place.

So, we bought the three day passes. Our plan is to go again on Wednesday and Friday, giving us a chance to recuperate between visits (as I’ve said, relaxing is a lot of work!). Anyway, we went to the entrance doors to gain access to the heavenly aquatic dreamland and the wristband reader was broken. No big deal, since the nice lady standing next to it knew it was broken and just looked at our bands to ensure that they were from today. One final push through the big doors and we were there.

Ahh, smell that wonderful, chlorinated air. We did not bring the camera so there are no pictures of us to share here, but I’ll just put the website in for your viewing pleasure: . If this link does not bring you right to the Massanutten WaterPark link, click "WaterPark" on the top menu of the main Massanutten site.

After we found, filled and then figured out how to lock our assigned locker, we started out on the Blue Ridge Rapids. This is known in some other water parks as a ‘lazy river’ ride, where you get into a floatation device and just let the current pull or push you around. There are also areas where people up on the platforms that the river circumnavigates can squirt you with water hoses or dump buckets of water on you, as well as little sprinkler areas that get you wet, too. Then, there’s also the giant bucket of water that dumps every few minutes and ultimately empties on top of anyone on a specific part of the river. It’s pretty awesome. So, we went around this three or four times, just to loosen up and get ready for the bigger activities.

Next up, we went up on the platforms, officially known as Massanutten Meltdown. Here, in the central feature of the indoor part of the park, is where there are waterslides, sprayers, buckets, spinners and other things to annoy passersby as well as your family. Oh, and this is the primary target for the aforementioned tipping bucket of water. We wandered around aimlessly for a little bit until the kids worked up the nerve to do the waterslides. We started with the smallest and worked to the largest of the open air waterslides (there are five). I, of course, was required to go with the kids on each of them. At first, only The Girl wanted to do them, but after she did them a couple of times she convinced The Boy to try them. One try and he was hooked. We did the slides a whole bunch of times.

It was interesting to note the different styles of the lifeguards and other attendants at these slides. In some cases, they just stood there and looked at me like the creepy beast that I am. In other cases, they’d ask the kids and me if we knew the rules, and they did this even after they had seen us and asked us this several times. One dude asked us where we were from every time he saw us, explaining that he was just curious about where everyone came from.

So, after doing this for a while, we needed to inspect the restrooms. That accomplished, we put on some sunscreen so that we could go outside to the outdoor portion of the park. But first, we had to take a swim in the Shenandoah Cove, which is an area that is like a little lagoon off of the Blue Ridge Rapids and allows kids and adults to sit or swim in a quieter, reasonably shallow area. After a few minutes of sitting and swimming here, we went outside to the wave pool. The White Caps Wave Pool is smaller than most of the wave pools I’ve experienced before but is still quite nice. The deepest part of the pool is 6 feet, but the deepest anyone is allowed to go is 5 feet. When the waves come, about every ten minutes, they get pretty high and rough which is, ofcourse, the point. My kids, being the decisive type of people they are, drove us crazy by putting on life jackets, then taking them off, then getting different ones to put on, then taking them off, too. Eventually they decided to just body surf from about the four foot mark all the way in to the point where they scraped their knees against the cement bottom of the pool. They’d bounce up and swim back out against the tide and do it all over again. It was great.

Next up was Splash-a-Nutten, an activity pool. It has some water basketball courts, some wide open swimming areas, some spray jets and the big attraction – the floating crosswalk. The floating crosswalk is a set of floating lily pads that are anchored to the bottom of the pool with a rope mesh over them. You grab the ropes and then try to walk across the pool on these floating things that move as you touch them. It’s all the excitement if you’re young and lightweight. If you’re old and fat (in other words, if you’re me) it is downright funny to watch. Last time we were here, The Girl and I did this successfully. The Boy was too small and the wife, well, she was too boring to try it. This time, The Boy was tall enough and somehow, The Girl convinced her mom to try it. THAT, my friends, was worth the price of admission.

It might be best if you don’t tell her I said that.

To be fair, I had to attempt the floating crosswalk as well. I did it twice, succeeding both times despite looking like a complete and total goofball. Did I mention that my wife didn’t make it across the walk? Maybe I shouldn’t mention that. Yeah. That’s the better plan. I won’t mention it.

I will mention that The Girl and The Boy both did the floating crosswalk several times and succeeded. As I said, it helps to be lightweight. It helps to have great balance, too, which both kids have.

Anyway, Nick and I played a little basketball in the Splash-a-Nutten court. We needed to fight for the ball a few times with the rude teenagers that were also playing, but all in all it was good. I even made some good shots despite the lack of eyeglasses. Oh, and talent – I lack that, too.

The day progressed like this at the waterpark and after a few more rounds of wave pools and waterslides we decided to pack it in and head back to the villa. Once there, we decided on the schedule for tomorrow, which will apparently include diving lessons, tennis lessons, glass etching and basket weaving.

Over dinner (Amy’s frozen pizzas), we watched "Shrek the Third," a movie which I had seen in the theater but had completely forgotten. It was quite good, of course, just as it was in the theater when I saw it the first time. There’s just something about a big, fat, hairy green ogre lying around in his underwear that makes me happy. That and references to Pinocchio wearing women’s undergarments – I find that funny, too. After the movie ended, we played a rousing game of gin rummy in which the three people who profess to love me decided to make sure I lost. Big time. It was great. Afterwards, The Boy and I played a cutthroat game of war in which he trounced me. Being the good sport, he offered me a rematch for tomorrow, which I will gladly accept.

I eventually completed my author bio and sent it off, along with a mug shot. Not sure if I’m happy with it or not but it will have to do.

Anyway, it was a relatively nice and easy day of sitting around and in pools, which was exactly what we had planned for this week. Clearly, since I have very few complaints in this post it was either a simple day or I’m losing my touch. I’m hoping that it is just that it was a simple day.