Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Florida & Disney World - Day 3

Warning: Amusement park travelogue ahead. Proceed with caution!

Day 3 in Florida took us to Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Our hotel was just over a mile from Animal Kingdom, but we still drove and paid the $15 to park.  The facilities are lacking for walking from off-site onto Disney property...

We started with a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safaris.  This is a 15 minute jeep ride through a bunch of different animal enclosures.  There were hippos, giraffe, gazelles, elephants, rhinos and lions all roaming freely (at least that's what the cast members think...). 

After the safari, we went to the Lion King show and the Bug's Life shown in the base of the Tree of Life.  The Bug's Life show is a little on the scary show for Kate, but it's sure fun to watch her scream at the 3D elements.  Is that mean?

We were excited that both Ada and Kate were tall enough to go on the Kali River Rapids.  We played the rider swap card and Alison, Ada and Kate went on the ride (and got drenched) and then me, Ada and Kate went on the ride (and got drenched). 

The next stop was Finding Nemo - The Musical, which the girls also seemed to enjoy.  We enjoyed spending the afternoon in the air conditioned theater. After the show, both Alison and I went on Expedition Everest with Ada which was another fun ride. 

We let the girls play in the dinosaur boneyard before making one last stop in Animal Kingdom at the DINOSAUR ride.  I took Ada and Kate on this ride, it was another ride that was probably a little too scary for Kate, but she was a good sport.

We gave the girls Disney giftcards for their birthdays in July and they were excited to spend them on the way out of the park.  Ada picked a baby Dumbo stuffed toy and Kate picked a Polly Pocket Rapunzel set.  There was a little money left over for Lyla to get a stuffed piglet.

Animal Kingdom closes early, so we grabbed some pizza and were going to spend a quiet evening in the hotel, but I couldn't let my $15 parking go unused.  I convinced Ada to come with me to Epcot to ride Soarin', which is a fairly new attraction at Disney World.  We waited for just a hair under an hour to fly over California on a ride we've been on a bunch of times at California Adventure Land.  By the time we got off that ride, Epcot was closing and it was time for us to head back to the hotel.

Coming Up: Epcot Center with the whole family!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Google, Google, Radiohead

This compilation was all made from a single Charlie Rose interview:

Edit: For a bonus, I figured I throw in a little Ghostbusters, Gangnam style:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Disney World & Florida - Day 2

Warning: Amusement park travelogue ahead. Proceed with caution!

Day 2 found us at Universal Studios Florida.  We started the day with a 20 minute walk from the parking garage to Universal's Islands of Adventure.  We purchased our day-pass to Universal (Jordan and Morgan went with a 4-day pass that they got a great deal on) and then we headed right on over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I was super impressed with this area of the park.  From our pictures, you can see that when you are in Hogsmeade or Hogwarts you can't see any other parts of the park.  It really makes you feel like you are in a different place.

Next, butterbeer.  Specifically the iced butterbeer. This stuff was fantastic.  It was a root beer meets butter rum slurpee.  I can see why the Hogwarts kids loved that stuff.

We rode the roller coasters in this area and then went on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (the ride in Hogwarts).  This ride is what the future of amusement park rides will be like.  It was a great mix of 4D elements and was really fun.

We have very few pictures from the rest of our day, but after Harry Potter, we continued on around the lagoon.  Ada took both Alison and I on the Jurassic Park ride (ps. don't wear you hat on this ride.  Some d-bag right in front of this put her hat on as the ride was moving and they had to shut it down, and then they couldn't get it started again for a long time...).

We ate an overpriced lunch near Jurassic Park before moving on through the park to the Incredible Hulk.  After that, while Lyla napped, I took Ada and Kate to Suess Landing with all of the kid rides.

We then departed from Universal Islands of Adventures and made our way over to Universal Studios Florida.  The kids loved Shrek 4D, the parade and Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone, while we had fun on the Mummy (we walked on the ride 3x right in a row), MIB and the Rip Ride Rockit Roller Coaster (which was actually a bit disappointing).

We left a lot of things undone, but when you've only got one day in the park with tired kids and tired legs, we were satisfied with the things that we were able to squeeze in.

Coming up: Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Disney World & Florida - Day 1

We had a fantastic summer, but I'm going to skip July and most of August and move right onto our next trip at the end of August.  My brother and his wife found a great deal on priceline packages that had flights and a hotel at Disney World for a great price.  Alison and I talked about it for a couple of hours before signing up.  It ended up being just over $400/per person for the flight and 8 nights at a hotel. We had to purchase the park tickets separately.

The flight took us through Denver and the girls were pretty good.  We arrived late Tuesday, August 28th, picked up our rental car and headed to our hotel, that was about 1.5 miles from Disney's Animal Kingdom.

We arrived so late at the hotel, that housekeeping wasn't available to get us a portable crib.  We improvised with the extra blankets and Lyla found herself sleeping in the tub.  She actually slept great, but we moved her into a crib for the rest of our stay.

We spent the first day at Disney's Magic Kingdom.  We hit all of the usual rides, Small World, Dumbo (in the new Fantasyland area), Pooh, Peter Pan, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, etc.

The girls had a great time and were especially excited once we hooked up with Jordan, Morgan and their daughters Brynlee and Avery.

We came prepared for afternoon thunderstorms with ponchos and umbrellas.  Amazingly, this was the only day of our whole trip where we had any rain and it probably only rained for about 10 minutes and we had already taken cover at a children's play area near Splash Mountain.

The girls were great. We only brought one umbrella stroller, but rather than rent a second stroller for Ada and Kate to share, we picked up a second umbrella stroller for the same price that it would have cost us to rent a stroller for a single day at any of the parks.  We ended up just leaving the stroller in the parking lot at the end of our trip (but we left a FREE sign on it...).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dog Poo

This sign in a park near our house has always given me a chuckle.  What's wrong with a simple "No Dogs Allowed?"

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Bad Flight

Flying home with Kate from Houston was an adventure.  We were flying on Southwest Airlines and I logged onto the in-flight wifi to send Alison the following email:
Hey Al.

So we're somewhere over Arizona (I paid for the wifi) and let me tell you a story...

Kate was complaining the whole time that her tummy hurt. I looked in the seatbacks of the "brand new plane" for a barf bag but there weren't any. She kept complaining so I decided to take the crayons out of the ziplock and have that ready just in case. Every once in a while she would complain, but she really just seemed miserable the whole time. She hasn't colored, played games or anything. Just restless and whiny. It looks like she might be dozing now. I'll make sure that we are the last off the plane...

Somewhere over the western half of New Mexico, just after the captain instructed the flight attendants to buckle into their jump seats because of some imminent turbulence, Kate, out of nowhere starts barfing all over my legs, my shorts and her. I grab the ziplock and catch a lot of it (the bag ends up about 70% full) and the rest is on me and here, all down the front of her shirt.

I push the call attendant button and the guy sitting next to us (who honestly was rather patient with Kate continually kicking him), stands up trying to get away from the little girl vomiting a deep brown substance from the bowels of her tummy. Now the flight attendants start to get mad and keep coming on the intercom to remind him to sit down and for me to turn off my call light. He eventually sits in a seat far away ( there are a handful of empty seats) and after another request from the flight attendants to turn off my call light unless it is an emergency, I comply and turn it off. We don't really hit any turbulence, but for the next twenty minutes we are flying through clouds, and Kate and I are sitting in puke.

I remember some Kleenexes in the front of my bag and soak up much of the vomit with them and then we sit and wait for the attendant to be allowed to come and assist. The attendant is a guy who earlier was a jerk to a lady that was trying to change her baby's diaper, and he kind of looked at me with disgust, then went and got a stack of napkins and a bag for me to throw Kate's puke bag in. I mentioned that the barf bags were missing and he apologized but no other offer if assistance and no new puke bags were offered.

Anyways. I think we'll be landing in another half hour or so. I'll buy Kate a new shirt in Vegas and we'll wait for our next flight which was delayed 45 minutes - putting us into SLC after midnight.

Once we landed in Las Vegas, we grabbed some dinner at Popeyes Chicken.  Kate wasn't hungry but was begging for some milk, so against my better judgement I finally relented and bought her some milk (I was thinking that her puking earlier was a fluke).  We then went and waited for our plane at the gate.

After a little while Kate was dozing on my lap, when out of nowhere she started puking all over me, all over our bags and her carseat that were sitting on the floor and then all over the chair and floor.  I had a puke bag with me, but no warning to get it out and ready.  There was a skanky-looking girl talking foul-mouthed on her cell phone sitting next to us when this all went down and she started freaking out cursing and yelling. 

It was super disgusting because of the milk that Kate had earlier.  We were covered in white chunks.  Some good Samaritans came over and offered help, I just asked them to alert the staff of the mess and to watch my stuff while we ran to a restroom in an attempt to clean up before boarding the flight.

I did my best to wipe us down, but man did we stink.  When we finally boarded the plane, I could overhear people around us complaining about the smell while I just cowered in my seat praying that the puking was over with.  Bless her heart, we made it home without any further incidents.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Houston, June 2012

Late one Thursday evening in June we were sitting around lamenting the fact that we didn't have any plans for the weekend.  Angie and Hyrum had talked about coming to Utah for a quick visit, but it wasn't going to work out.  Instead, they offered their buddy passes to us and we decided to try and fly stand-by the next morning to visit them in Houston.

The girls were great on the flight.  They were excited to be back on an airplane (their first time was last year when we took a trip to Seattle).

Angie and Hyrum enjoy the heat.  Alison and I, not so much.  We loved swimming in the pool just outside their apartment, but we didn't love the Houston temperatures and humidity that stretched above 100 degrees most of the days, reaching 111 degrees during one especially hot afternoon.

One of the Marston's friends was having a birthday party and the girls were excited to try and help bust open the soccer ball pinata. 

At dusk that evening we went to watch the bats fly out from under the Waugh Street Bridge.  It is estimated that there are 250,000 bats that live under the bridge. Seeing the bats was pretty cool. Smelling the bats was disgusting.

On Saturday, we went out to the Johnson Space Center.  While a little pricy, we all enjoyed the museum, activities, the tram tour, etc.  They are working on a Space Shuttle replica just outside the museum.  Most Houstonians are disappointed that they were not selected as a final resting spot for one of the decommissioned shuttles.

 Ada touching a space rock.
 Lyla loving life.

They have a Saturn V rocket that you can see on one of the tram stops. 
We celebrated Alison's birthday while we were there.
Kate loving her chocolate ice cream.
Kate would wake up early (like usual), here she is terrorizing Hyrum while he still attempts to catch some shut-eye.
We went to the Houston Aquarium.  It wasn't too large, but the exhibits were well done.
They had a Siberian tiger that was very active.  I'm not sure what a tiger is doing at the aquarium either...
 The picture is fuzzy, but the tiger was out to get us.
 While Alison and Angie went shopping at an enormous mall (The Galleria - 2.4 million sq ft, 380 stores), Hyrum and I took a walk with the girls to the Williams Waterfall.
You can see just how big it is from this picture.
Lucky for us, the Astros were in town.  We got in for less than $5 each, the stadium was air conditioned and we sat in some great seats.  This was my 15th MLB ballpark and Alison's 9th. 
Ang was kind enough to take the girls home early, so we were able to stay and watch the game go into extra innings.

Angie and Hyrum are some of the best hosts.  The girls slept in their home office, we slept in their bedroom, Lyla slept in their closet and the hosts were forced to sleep in the kitchen/family/dining room.

It was a bit of a struggle getting home.  We tried getting home on Tuesday, but the flights were full. I ended up buying one-way tickets for me and Kate to get home on Southwest, so I could get back to work.  Alison then stayed in Houston and tried to get home on standby Wednesday with no luck, but finally made it on a flight with Lyla and Ada on Thursday.

Kate and I had an adventure getting home.  That journey deserves a post of its own, but here's a picture of my shorts while we were on layover in Vegas. That should hold ya over!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Name that Video Game

I didn't grow up playing video games unless I was at a friends' house, but I was able to name a bunch of these.  This is from the Ohio State/Nebraska game yesterday:

I'm super-impressed with the band's production.

As a bonus, here are a couple of other videos that have made me laugh lately:

I So Pale:

Al Roker Frozen:

There was one other video that I wanted to share, but I can't find it. Maybe next time...

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The First 5,000 Miles

I passed the 5,000 mile mark in my Volt on September 25, 2012.  It took me 143 days driving an average of 35 miles per day to make it to this milestone.

One cool thing about this car is that I can download an insane amount of data collected by the vehicle.  The plot above was made using just a small portion of the data. 

You can see from the graph (click on it to make it larger) that I drove very, very few gas miles during the first 5-6 weeks that I had the vehicle.  That allowed my lifetime mpg to make it all the way above 500 mpg.  In early September I drove to Ceday City and Logan in a single day which which knocked 30+ mpg off my total.  I'm now ranging between 107 and 109 mpg.

I still love the car.  I miss it when we're out traveling and driving in our rental cars.  Our electric bill has probably increased around $30/month, but that amount will decrease with the lower winter rates. While the Volt is still somewhat controversial, the truth is that most of the people complaining about that car have never driven one and would never consider purchasing a Volt because of political reasons.  Their reasoning has nothing to do with the quality or design of the vehicle. /rant

Anyways, here's a fantastic article from Forbes.com about the increasing popularity of the Chevrolet Volt: Rants Aside, The Volt is Actually Earning Raves -- And it's a Hit. If you're looking for a new car, I would recommend the Volt. :)