The thought of what to do this year for summer vacation started sometime in February when there was still snow on the ground. Our first thought was Nashville or Memphis, so I started checking out various flights, hotels and packages on Southwest Airlines, which we used two years ago when we went to Clearwater, FL.
One star hotels, one star hotels, I repeat, starting at $1500. Nicer three and four hotels starting at $3000 or more. Quite honestly, I wasn't looking to spend that kind of money this year.
I keep getting e-mails from various cruise lines trying to entice me with various specials. No matter what dates I pick, which have to be the last week of August, I can't get a good deal. We have to wait until camp ends and before school starts; our window of opportunity is very small.
The cruises I liked started at $4000 and there was no way I was spending that much money. I actually thought about leaving the kids home, but they wanted to go too. Its times like that you wonder why you had kids. Life was so much simpler before them.
It had to be within two or three hours of Long Island. I threw out the ideas of Williamsburg, VA, and Ocean City, MD but was shot down by the three female members of the household: back to the drawing board.
I came across a coupon for Camelbeach Water Park in East Stroudsburg, PA, and another one for Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, PA. Our friends, Kristen and Scott lived in the middle of both, so I figured we'd make plans to see them at some point during the trip.
I asked Kristen about those choices and she said that her family liked Dorney Park, as it was both an amusement park and waterpark. I started to look at hotels and there was a Holiday Inn Express right across the street with a reasonable rate; that's what I booked. Kristin also sent me a "Buy One, Get One Free" coupon.
Marcy put in her vacation request, and so did I. We had to wait for camp to end, and we were chomping at the bit to go away. In the middle of all this, my back was giving me trouble, as I have written about in the recent past.
I made the decision to have a spinal epidural and had the procedure the Wednesday night before. A few years ago, I had the same thing, but with anesthesia. This time I opted for just a local anesthetic, so I could drive myself to and from the hospital.
On Friday, my back started to feel much better, but I still didn't do anything to put any extra strain on my back. I wanted to be fine when we went on vacation. Saturday we had a family Bar Mitzvah, which I wrote about in the column "Smile," and I felt fine.
The drive to Allentown was uneventful, and we got to Dorney Park around 11am. It was a beautiful day; we couldn't wait to get inside. When I bought our tickets online, I didn't get one for Marcy, since she said she didn't want to go into the park.
Guess what: Marcy decided to come in with us. Luckily, I brought the BOGO coupon. As I'm waiting on line, I asked the fellow behind me if he had a coupon; he said that his son already had a ticket. Then I asked a mother and daughter in front of me if they had a coupon and they didn't.
We used the coupon and paid with two credit cards. She saved over $50 and I did my good deed for the day. Everyone is happy!
I thought Melissa and Michelle would go on the roller coasters together, but it turns out that Michelle is as big a woosie as I am. My excuse is that I'm old and scared of heights.
Melissa really surprised me. She had no fear of any of the roller coasters and she went on them all multiple times. She said only one made her scream and that was the first time. “Possessed” is about two hundred feet high at each end; it starts flat and accelerates quickly to around sixty miles an hour. Then it climbs up around a twisting track, goes backward, for a while, before going up another two hundred feet. At one point, it actually stops when it's vertical and then drops down one more time.
Melissa had a great time, and the rest of us enjoyed watching her. About 4 pm, we were tired and had enough. We left and drove across the street to the hotel.
The front desk clerk asked for my credit card and driver's license. I opened my wallet: my license was missing. Instead of totally freaking out, I figured it was in one of two places; either, I left it at the hospital the week before or it was at home in the shorts I wore to the hospital. After numerous calls to the hospital and talking to admitting and security, I couldn't figure out what I did with it.
It was only on the ride home, two days later, I realized it truly was in my shorts pocket.
I had told the family that the hotel had an indoor pool; Marcy changed and went downstairs. She was soon back, and told me that there was no pool in this hotel. Oops. I guess it was in another Holiday Inn I looked at earlier.
By this time, we were getting hungry, so we decided to go to Carrabba's, which is just down the road from the hotel. Naturally, I found a $10 off coupon, which made it that much better. The food was good and the service by our waiter was awesome, so I left a very nice tip.
After dinner, Marcy wanted to go to some outlets that she read about, so we drove and drove and drove. There were no outlets. Back to the hotel all annoyed. We soon fell asleep.
The next morning we had breakfast in the hotel and arrived at the park just before it opened at 10 am. The water park would open at 11 am, so Melissa wanted to go on the roller coasters, yet again. Marcy went to big wave pool, staked out two chaise lounges and stayed there all day.
The girls and I ventured into the water park at 11 am, and got on “Aquablast” first. This thing is fast and the girls said I almost fell out of the family size raft, but it was fun.
The newest water ride is the “Snake Pit,” with a choice of riding in a tube, or body riding. The first time I chose the Red tube, which is the longest and curviest of the three tubes. The ride operator hits the button, and the bottom drops out beneath your feet, and you plunge almost straight down and the start twisting and turning until you end up in the splash pool! It was great! Later, I went on the tube ride, which is also cool, but not as fast.
Our next big adventure was driving about forty minutes to visit our friends Kristin and Scott, who invited us over to a BBQ. The directions I had printed out were gawd awful, so we got a "little" lost. Michelle turned on her Google Navigation; with some help from Scott, we finally made it.
The also invited our mutual friend Craig, he’s the only person I know that has more radio station t-shirts than I do, along with Rich and his two kids. After some quick introductions, the kids got along famously, and traded email and cell numbers at the end of the night.
Naturally, I was talking radio and air checks with Scott, Craig and Rich most of the night, along with what we wanted to be when we grow up. The problem with working in radio, you never grow up. I think many of us prefer it that way.
I told everybody that in 2015, we'll have a BBQ on Long Island and they all should come. In fact, I'll make it a radio BBQ, which my wife will love.
When we got back to Long Island on Wednesday, we just relaxed, watched television and did laundry. On Thursday, I cleaned the inside of my car and on Friday, I detailed the outside. I got some help from Melissa and her friend Kayla. Thus, instead of working into the night, it only took me 6 hours and it was worth it. My car is now sparkling clean.
Oh yeah, my license and insurance card were in my shorts.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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