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Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Day of School

Here is Ella on the first day of second grade. She's grown so much since kindergarten and first grade. She was so excited for school to start, she even took an apple for her teacher. The poor apple was pretty bruised by the time it got to school I'm afraid. First I put it on the table for Ella, but Emilia climbed up on the table, stole the apple, and hid it in the bathroom. She thought it was a ball. (That doesn't explain why she hid it in the bathroom, but this is Emilia we're talking about, after all.) Then I rescued the apple and handed it to Ella, who promptly dropped it. Who knows how many times she dropped it on the way down the hall once she got to school. But it's the thought that counts, right?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Water Park New Mexico vs. Great Wolf Lodge

As you may recall, we spent at night at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City over Spring Break. For our ABQ vacation, we stayed at a Radisson hotel with an attached water park. When we were contemplating the Spring Break getaway, we debated whether to stay at the GWL or stay at a Kansas City hotel/water park combo similar to the one in New Mexico. If you have ever faced a similar dilemma (or if you're a reading teacher searching for text structure examples), here's my comparison-contrast of the two experiences.

The GWL is slightly more expensive. Their pricing also fluctuates more with the seasons and school schedules. The hotel in ABQ was priced about the same as any decent hotel would be, plus another $30 or so each day for the water park. We only got water park passes for two days, and that was plenty. (This also meant that our reservation was kind of complicated. It was a good thing we called instead of trying to place the reservation on-line.)

The GWL is bigger, Ryan thinks about twice as big. It needed to be because there were more people there than in ABQ. We didn't really think there was anything missing from the water park in ABQ. It did have one nifty feature GWL didn't have: a surf-simulator called the Flow Rider. It was a padded ramp with water shooting up it that you rode on a boogie board. Ella did it several times and thought it was fun. But there was almost always a long line, which meant there was also a big audience to watch you, so I never tried it. I thought the water park in ABQ was warmer (a good thing), but who knows if that's psychological. It was snowing over Spring Break, and we could see the snow out the windows, so that might have made me cold. I also might be more used to standing around in a wet swimming suit right now as opposed to March.

The GWL is more of an overall experience...talking animals, theme restaurants, theme decorations, all that jazz. The Radisson was just a hotel with a water park. This led to some weirdnesses. For example, there was a Hebraic Roots convention at the hotel, so there we were in our swimming suits surrounded by people blowing these bizarre ram horn instrument thingies. You don't get that at the GWL.

But all the whole experience thing at the GWL tempts you to spend more money, too. If our weekend hadn't been so rushed, we would have wound up spending more money at the arcade, spa, craft center, gift shop and so on.

Overall, I am a big fan of the hotel/water park combo, and either way you go, I think it's cheaper than staying at a hotel and going to a separate water park. And it's easier to go a water park right there without having to mess with lugging your stuff all over the place and dealing with 100 degree temperatures. You can go for just an hour or so without feeling like you have to stay all day to get your money's worth.

If you're looking for a whole experience, go to the GWL. If you don't care about that, just stay at a hotel with a water park.

Sandia Peak Tram

Riding the tram to the top of Sandia Peak was my favorite part of our ABQ vacation. The tram was super fun, and the views were absolutely beautiful. It was cool and drizzly the day we went, and while that might have been a negative for lots of people, these Kansas kids loved it. Ella especially liked being up in a cloud. We hiked around a little much as we could in the drizzle carrying Emilia, whom we bribed with a giant lollipop. She was actually good most of the time. We had hot chocolate at the restaurant at the top and then headed back down. Ella loved it. She can't wait to go hiking again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Albuquerque Recap

We spent five days vacationing in Albuquerque with my parents and Aunt Faye and Uncle Pete from California. The weather was beautiful...overcast and in the 80s most of the time. Our hotel was connected to a water park, which was perfect for us. We played in the water park when it was rainy, and I love being able to swim without worrying about sunscreen.

I'll post more details and pictures later, but here are some of the highlights of our trip:
More to come later...