ZipZone Adventure Park

I’ve been a big fan of ZipZone since they opened in 2013.  I’ve gone ziplining there several times and have thoroughly enjoyed every time.  So when they announced the new Adventure Park was now open, I knew I needed to go check it out.  My son’s 16th birthday provided just the opportunity!

ZipZone opened their new adventure park in August (2017).  This new area features a Kid’s Park section and the Adventure Park section.  The Kid’s Park is designed for children aged 4 – 7 with an adult to supervise/help them out.  The Adventure Park is for 7 and up. Continue reading “ZipZone Adventure Park”

Road Trip: A Day on Kelleys Island

May 19 – 20 – For a spring camping trip, we decided to hit up Kelleys Island.  This small island in Lake Erie is just under 4 1/2 square Miles.  It has a nice mix of natural areas to explore, restaurants to check out, and touristy things to do.  It has a little something for everybody.  The Chamber of Commerce site is a good starting point for planning what to see.

Getting There

Half of the fun of a trip is the journey, right?  That was the certainly the case for us.

We headed out of North Columbus at about 4:00 Friday afternoon.  The Kelleys Island Ferry out of Marblehead was the best route for us.  It took us just under 2 1/2 hours to get there and we arrived just before 6:30.  Most of the drive is on two- lane country highway with the occasional small town.  Tip: there are, like, no good food options on this route,  at all, not even a McDonald’s.  Eat before you take off and pack snacks.   (You might find a restaurant/diner/bar in downtown Bucyrus if you want to sit down.)

KI Ferry Boat from the KI Shore

The Ferry

When I was planning the trip, I saw that in mid-May, the ferry leaves Marblehead every 30 minutes until about 7:00.  Then it’s every hour.  (Check their schedule before you go.)  We were aiming for that 6:30 ferry so we could get our camp setup and cook dinner when we got there.  I did not account for the amount of people heading over after work on Fridays…and we were ahead of the busy season.  We didn’t get onto a ferry until after 7:30.  Since we were camping, we needed to take our car across so we just had to wait.  (If you aren’t camping, park at the ferry lot and just go across on foot or with your bicycle.  There is no need for a car.)

View from the Ferry

Living in the middle of Ohio, a ferry is very novel experience for all of us.  Waiting to get on the ferry is a lot of just waiting.  We were able to kill the time by watching the ferries come and go, watching people move around, and a quick trip into the restroom/vending machine.

The ferry ride is about 30 minutes or so.  We really enjoyed watching the shore line disappear, seeing the waves crash over the side of the boat 😱, and watching Cedar Point appear.  The cars were so packed in and the waves were so choppy, no one got out of the cars at all.  It was quite a ride! The waves were coming up enough that some splashed in my open car window.

On the Island

The campground is just a short drive from the ferry landing.  All of the island is a short drive from the ferry landing.  It’s a small island.   If you are driving, stay aware.  There are lots of people on bicycles, in golf carts, and on foot in the roadway.

Camping

Our campsite, close to the lake

We opted to stay at the Kelleys Island State Park Campground for a couple of reasons: We enjoy camping and it’s a whole lot cheaper than a hotel.  The Kelleys Island Campground is a pretty decent spot as far as state park camping goes.  There are a number of sites very near the lake, sites around a couple different loops, and a handful of yurts to rent.

We opted for a site very near the lake, which would have been super cool if it was better weather.  We had strong winds coming off the lake that made a fire impossible Friday night.  About half of the folks setting up tents Friday night bailed out at some point.  Saturday our weather was better and I was able to get a breakfast fire going.  Pay attention to the weather if you’re choosing the lake view sites.  There is no protection from the wind.

There are houses to rent and other places to stay if you don’t want to camp but want to stay on the island.

Dining on the Island

Camp breakfast on point!

The weather was so windy Friday night and it was after 8:00 when we got to the camp site.  My patience ran out and trying to cook our planned meal wasn’t going to happen.   We ended up running back into the main area and having dinner at a restaurant.    I made up for it the next morning with an amazing camp breakfast!

Island House for Dinner

There are several places to eat on the island if cooking over a campfire isn’t your thing.  We opted for the Island House because it looked less bar like than some of the other options.  I’m very grateful that they held the kitchen open for us for a few extra minutes so we could eat.

 

Exploring the Island

We spent Saturday bicycling around the island and checking things out.  Many people bike or use golf carts and the little bit of car traffic is aware of this. So riding in the road, even for the kids, is very comfortable.

From the campground, we headed down to check out the Historical Museum and Church to learn a little about the island’s history.  The museum is pretty small but has a lot to look at.

From there, we biked down along the southern coast checking out things as we went.  Inscription Rock is one of my favorites.   After we got tired of checking out the coast (and fighting the wind), we decided to go in search of Ice Cream.  We were a bit early for the ice cream places to be open, but finally found some back up by the campground.

Restored with some ice cream, and a break from the bicycle seat, we went on up to check out the glacial grooves.  The KI Glacial Grooves are the best example of glacial grooves in the world that you can actually get to.  They are pretty cool if you are into Geologic features.  However the chain link fence and slightly worn down nature of the park leaves something to be desired.

After checking out the beach at the north end of the island, we headed back to camp to eat some lunch and decide our next steps.

Bailing Out

We watched the forecast for a bit and decided to bail out a day early.  It was predicted to rain most of the next 24 hours.  Based on the previous nights wind and inability to start a fire, we decided we’d rather miss out on a little fun than be miserable just sitting in the tent, wet.  We were all a little disappointed, but I think it was the right call.   (And… honestly, my thought process was this: “If it gets really bad, I can’t get off this damn island until morning.  There is no driving home in the middle of the night.”  Sometimes you just have to walk away.)

Last Views

On the way out we took in a short hike at the North Pond State Nature Preserve and on the East Quarry Trails.   Both were great hikes and we really enjoyed them.  The East Quarry is almost other-worldly.  We only walked part way around the East Quarry area due to threatening weather.  But we got a good feel for it.

The rain started coming down just as we finished up hiking, so back to the ferry we went.  The trip back across the lake was more choppy than the way over.  We were all pretty happy to land on solid ground back in Marblehead.

Marblehead

While in Marblehead, we headed over to check out the Marblehead Lighthouse.   Marblehead is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation in the Great Lakes.  The park takes only a few minutes to explore but is worth a stop.

Heading Home

We headed on back to Columbus after the lighthouse.  We all had a good time but were happy to be out of the weather and back in our own beds.  We made our planned campfire food at home when we got there, which was a lot of fun.  S’mores made under the broiler worked out quite nicely!

Yummmmmm!!!!!

What We Spent

We were $92, round trip for the ferry ride (1 car, 3 people 12 and over)
Campsite $70 for 2 nights ahead of the season
Dinner due to lack of fire – $35
Ice Cream – $12ish for 3 cones

Otherwise our costs were limited to the food we took up with us, which wasn’t much more than I would normally spend for groceries if we were at home.  And about a tank of gas.  The Museum was free the day we went (normally it’s a couple of dollars), and everything else we did was free.

Final Thoughts

There are other things on the island that we didn’t see.  There are a couple of other hiking trails that are short.  And there is a winery and a brewery to check out.  I went to both of those on a previous trip with a girl friend.  They are both good, though not anything super special, if you are into that kind of thing.

We all felt like we got a good taste and overview of the island on our adventure.  The weather was a bit of a bummer for us, but we all had fun.

 

 

Cosi – Sherlock Holmes Exhibit

 

COSI logo
Logo downloaded from cosi.org

COSI is a Columbus classic destination. If you were a child in the 80s, you likely have fond memories of “the old COSI” on Broad Street: the Great Gravity Gizmo in the entry way, the animatronic presidents,  the hard plastic seats in the planetarium, walking across the street to the first Wendy’s Restaurant (Wanna take a trip down memory lane? Check this out.… ) To enjoy “the new COSI”, you need to forget about the old one and enjoy it in it’s own right. With traveling exhibits, updated technology, and lots of hands on; COSI is a great cold day ‘get the kids out’ activity. Just make sure to bring your credit card.

With yet another day off school, we decided to go and check out the newly opened Sherlock Holmes Exhibit (officially “The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes”.) Note, this special exhibit is an extra fee on top of the regular entrance fee.

The Crew:

I took four kids to this exhibit – ages 3, 6, 9, and 12.

The Experience:

You will receive a timed ticket to enter exhibit, so plan accordingly. We opted for the very next time slot so that we could go straight to the exhibit and go through it before the kids started to melt and so that I didn’t have to pull them out of something to get there on time. Upon entering the exhibit, you are told that there are no cameras/photography allowed, which is pretty standard for a traveling exhibit. Also, no cell phones. You are asked to step outside if you need to make/take a phone call/text.  (You can handle it…it took us about 90 minutes to get through… just long enough that your texting fingers will get twitchy, but hang in there… remember It’s quality time with the kids.)

This exhibit is nicely broken up into a few different sections. You’ll learn about the history of the Sherlock stories, see some movie artifacts, explore early forensic techniques, and try to solve the mystery of a crime scene. You are each given a little notebook to track your progress through the exhibit and to participate in the different displays. There are several different stations where you stop and figure something out then mark the book with a stamp, punch, rubbing, or impression. And, like any good exhibit, there is a gift shop at the end.

The kids got a little bored with the museum style part of the exhibit in the first section. They aren’t much for reading placards and history, so we moved through this section a bit quicker than I would have liked. There was a good bit of information on why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote what he did.

The middle of the exhibit is much more hands on.  There are a variety of stations where you will learn about various developments of the period (ballistics, cosmetics, Scotland Yard.) The 3-year old enjoyed stamping her book at each station. The older three seemed to give it some effort and hopefully learned something.IMG_20140217_125222_106

Eventually you come upon a crime scene. You are given different elements of the scene to observe and record in your notebook. Then you head off to different stations to learn and try to deduce what really happened.  If you figure out all of the right answers you get a secret message at the end.

The three older kids seemed to really get into the process. They were able to figure out most of the stations with just a little direction from me. There is one chemistry station that none of them seemed to get (and, honestly, i found rather confusing and overwhelming). Several times I caught them talking to each other trying to work out what they think happened. The 3 year old had fun stamping her book with help from the big ones. This exhibit held my attention as well. You should note that Blood Spatter Analysis is one section of this. There are machines that spray colored water to show different blood spatter patterns so I didn’t find it to be graphic. There is also talk of someone getting shot and possibly murdered.

At the end there was a bit of a “that’s it?” feeling for the kids. There is a long narrative that explains what really happened and pulls everything together.  This was too much reading for the kids and was written in the style of Sherlock Holmes, which they didn’t really understand.

We explored some of the other exhibits after lunch and made a full day of it.  COSI has a new exhibit on Energy which is nicely done. More on it in a future post.

Tips We Learned:

  • This exhibit took about 90 minutes for us to go through. This was a good chuck of our day at COSI and we didn’t have time to see some of the other exhibits we wanted to.
  • Little kids won’t get too much out of this one, but there seems to be enough stamping of paper and pushing of buttons to keep them occupied.
  • If you are sensitive to crime scenes, stab wounds, and blood (or if you wish to keep your kids away from these things), this exhibit may not be for you. Go with solo before hand to see it if you are concerned. My personal opinion was that it was handled well and scientifically.
  • Cheap Child Care?Use the lockers. Then you aren’t trying to carry your coats with you in the exhibit. It’s a $1 well spent. The lockers are plenty large enough. … and if need be serve as child care..kidding.

What It Cost:
One problem I have with COSI is that I find it to be too expensive. We don’t go all that often because of the cost. If you do go frequently a membership is well worth it. We had one for a couple of years and got COSI’d out. So now we just go once or twice a year.

Here is what we spent this trip:

  • General Parking in the lot – $5 (take your parking ticket in with you to get it validated. The lot is a public parking lot and costs a bit more if you don’t pay for parking inside COSI.)
  • 1 Adult – $25.95 (General exhibits are $17.95, Sherlock is another $8.)
  • 4 Kids – $20.95 each (General exhibits are $12.95, Sherlock is another $8)
  • 1 Locker – $1
  • We packed our lunch to save there.  There is a decent cafe onsite. – $0
  • But I caved on snacks. There is a really cool machine that does frozen yogurt…for $5/each.  – $20

I had a coupon for one free kid which saved us $12.95.  So our total for 5 of us was $122.80. This is definitely on the high end for us for entertainment but it was a great day and worth the splurge.

 

Skiing Adventures – Mad River Mountain

Mommy Points:  4

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For our first Family Adventure, I took the kids skiing at Mad River Mountain. We had a blast!

I took the kids skiing for the first time almost 2 years ago.  At that time, I made them participate in the Kids Adventure Place program.  I thought the programs was great, but the kids were adamant about not taking a lesson this time around.
Pros: The program teaches them to Ski and was well done, they get Hot Cocoa in the middle, I would get a couple of hours to ski on something other than the bunny hill.
Cons: the kids were already fighting it, it costs about $10 per kid over just a lift ticket and equipment rental.

In the end, we agreed that we would try skiing without the lesson first. But if we were having a lot of problems then they would have to take a lesson.  With this decision, I had to set my own expectations for the day – I wouldn’t “really get to ski” and would be on the beginner hill the whole day and I would have to be extra patient.  And, our day went really well! Setting my own expectations was the key to my being happy with the day.  If I had gone in hoping to go down the bigger hills, I would have been frustrated and disappointed.

We arrived at about 2:00 p.m. It took us about 30 minutes to get boots fitted, snow pants on, and skis rented.  Then we headed off to the beginner hill. The kids seemed to remember the basics right away.  Perhaps skiing is a lot like riding a bike – you never forget how to do it and you can jump right back to where you left off rather quickly.

The beginner area has a carpet lift, which is by far the easiest to manage but is also the slowest. There is also a “Discovery” area with a tow rope.  The 8 year old mastered that, but the 11 year old struggled a bit.  By the end of our day, the kids were skiing well enough that I could have taken them down the longer easy (Green Circle) hills, but I was not ready to manage the chair lift or the big hill with both kids at the same time.  We had moments of really really busy and then times when we had much more space. After about 4:30, it got steadily busier.  We were there on a Friday, so the Friday Night crowd (groups of high school and college kids) started coming in after dinner time.

The day we went was really quite cold and had a fairly low wind chill.  It was pretty breezy and our exposed skin got really cold. We skied for about 90 minutes then needed to go in and warm up.  We had a snack at the bar which is a nice place to hang out and people watch.  We went back out for another hour or so and decided we were all hungry and cold and tired and starting to get mean.  So, back into the bar for a pizza and hot cocoa (and a beer for mom). After about an hour inside, we were in much better moods and headed back out.  We ended up staying out skiing until 9:30.  The wind died down after dark and it was a little more comfortable.

The food in the bar was pretty good for bar food.  Popcorn and nachos was the standard concession stand fare.  The pizza was made on a frozen crust but the toppings were added there.  It wasn’t too bad.  The hot cocoa was best deal – it even came with whipped cream. The beer prices were not outrageous and were about what I expected and they had an OK selection.

Tips from our Adventure:

  • Two kids and one adult worked out OK for us, but it would have been helpful to have another adult around.  I would have liked to take the kids down the bigger hill, but I really didn’t think I could safely manage the chair lift and a longer hill with two kids at once, and I wasn’t going to leave one standing alone at the bottom.
  • My son and I had some problems with our feet hurting in our boots. I think we needed one size bigger boots than we had.  Make sure boots are comfy when you try them on!
  • After our dinner, someone accidentally took my rental skis. I was happily surprised that it was no problem to just go and get another pair. Just go back to the rental building and tell them what happened.
  • I forgot to charge my point & shoot camera battery. Using my phone as a camera was difficult – I wanted to keep my gloves on which doesn’t work with the phone, and the phone camera is slower at taking pictures than the point and shoot.

What we spent:

This was a fairly expensive adventure for us.  I’ve resolved this year to have more adventures and spending on adventures is OK (rather than spending on stuff), but I’m also trying to get out of credit card debt. We were there a total of 7 1/2 hours with 30 minutes of getting ready, 5 hours worth of skiing, and about 2 hours of taking breaks to eat/warm up).  Looking quickly at the season passes, we would need to go 8 times per season (with rentals) to make the costs work out.   Here was the break down of our day:

  • Lift tickets and ski rental for 2 kids and 1 adult –  $165 total (Kids lift tickets were $25 and rental was $25, My lift ticket was $35 and rental was $30)
  • Snack of popcorn, nachos, and water (we shared) – $7
  • Dinner of regular pizza with 1/2 cheese, 1/2 peperoni and 2 hot cocoas – $20
  • Beer for mom (large Yuengling..mmmm) – $6
  • Total for the day was just about $200

I think I’m going to try the Snow Angels program at Mad River for a mommy only adventure! I’d love to try snow boarding, and this looks like a good way to do it.

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