It didn't take him long to decide where he wanted to go. Our family LOVES roller coasters and amusement parks. In fact, if we had lots of money and no jobs, I'd no doubt be a member of the Roller Coaster Enthusiast Club (or whatever it is) and would travel all over visiting the various parks. We've watched the coaster specials on the travel channel before and had seen Cedar Point. We also have friends who are originally from Ohio who have said Cedar Point was awesome. And that, my friends, is where my son wanted to go. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.
Being the type A person that I am, I started researching Cedar Point on the Internet. Sandusky is located on the north coast of Ohio about half way between Toledo and Cleveland. You can't fly into Sandusky. So I checked into flying into Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus just to see what the rates were. Toledo was the highest and Columbus was the cheapest. I also did research on what else was in those cities that we might like to experience. I ruled Toledo out real quick. But Cleveland and Columbus both offered things we would like. Ultimately I decided we would fly into Columbus, drive to Cleveland, spend a few days, drive back to Columbus and fly home. This is what the trip turned into:
Wednesday, June 25th
We woke up this morning at our normal time, but instead of heading to work, we headed to the airport. Even though we booked our tickets before the charge for checked bags started, we decided to do only carry on luggage for this trip. We each had a small rolling suitcase. My husband and son had those drawstring backpacks and I had a normal backpack (since mom's always have to carry extra stuff - like the tickets, snacks for the plane, etc). It was a bit of a challenge with the 3oz limit on liquids and the one quart size bag per person. I wear contacts, so I had to put an extra thing of lens solution in my son's bag, but we managed.
When we landed in Columbus, we got our rental car and headed to Cleveland. We took our TomTom with us and I had addresses for everywhere we needed to be, so we were good. We were amazed at the height of the trees and the farmland we saw. Real farmland. Working farmland. Not just lots of empty land. We got rained on a bit, but not much. (The forecast for the entire trip was 40% chance of rain - more on this later).
We arrived at our hotel, which was actually in Independence, checked in, let my son swim for a bit, then went to grab some dinner at the Winking Lizard. The Winking Lizard was kind of a sports bar. After a certain hour, no one under 21 was allowed unless they were with a parent. My son was ok. The 18-20 year olds that kept trying to get in were not. And they weren't happy that my son was allowed. Ha! We sat in the dining part rather than the bar part, and the vacation started. We ordered some beer-battered onion rings for an appetizers and then proceeded to eat too much food. My son even got dessert. Ugghh. We were all so stuffed that when we got back to the hotel I made myself go to the gym and get on the treadmill. And it seemed easier running on that treadmill than my one at home. What's up with that? After the run on the treadmill, it was time to sleep. We had a big day the next day.
Thursday, June 26th
We woke up and ate the free breakfast at the hotel. It was just fine for us. They even had hot chocolate for me. Then we set off for Sandusky and a full day of roller coasters. It wasn't a bad little drive - about an hour (but we are use to that here). We were very excited as we approached. We got there just a little before opening, but it gave us a good place in line.
When the park opened, we headed straight for the Milennium Force. After a 310 foot climb, you head down at 92mph. Wahoo! That's my kind of ride. Then is was on to the Maverick, the Iron Dragon, the Mantis, the Wicked Twister, the Raptor, the Corkscrew, Maxair, and the best of all - the Top Thrill Dragster.
The Top Thrill Dragster takes you 420 feet into the air, pretty much straight up, at 120mph and then plummets you down the other side, pretty much straight down. The ride lasts a whopping 17 seconds. Awesome! I was afraid my son would be scared, but he loved it.
In between all the rides, we did manage to eat lunch at Johnny Rockets and then ride the Space Spiral and Giant Wheel to let our food digest. We also let my son play a few games and win a stuffed animal for his sister. I didn't get to ride the magnum XL-200 because it was closed. I guess that just means we have to go back. We didn't really think the park was crowded and it wasn't as hot as it can get when visiting an amusement park here in the middle of summer. We were able to ride all we wanted to ride by about 5:30. And it's a good thing we did, because the wind really picked up and you could tell a storm was blowing in (the park is on a peninsula surrounded by Lake Erie). We decided to leave and find a place to eat. After burgers (veggie ones for me) and fries the past two meals, I needed salad. We found an Olive Garden and had some yummy food. Then we headed back to Cleveland.
Friday, June 27th
We slept in a little bit this morning, ate the free breakfast at the hotel and then headed off for the "A Christmas Story" museum. For those of you who have seen the movie, the actual house where the movie (at least the outside scenes) were filmed is in Cleveland. I found that out during my Internet search of things to do in Cleveland. That movie is one of my husband's all time favorite movies and we couldn't go all that way without stopping there. I felt kind of silly pulling up, wondering if we would be the only ones there. Nope someone else was already there and another person pulled up shortly thereafter. A couple of more people made it in time for our 10:30 tour. Before the tour, we visited the gift shop and museum. The museum has some neat things, but flashes weren't allowed. I can turn my flash off, but the pictures don't turn out well, so no pictures. At the house during the tour, however, flash was encouraged. We got some great pictures of and in the house, including the infamous leg lamp! Then we went back to the gift shop. I knew we wouldn't get out of there empty handed. We each got a shirt. My husband and son got the "tongue stuck to the lamppost" shirt, I got the generic boring shirt, and we got my daughter the "fra-gil-e" - it's Italian shirt. It seemed appropriate since she was in Italy.
Our next stop was suppose to be the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. We got there, went inside and saw that they wouldn't even let you take cameras (or cell phones with cameras) in. You had to check them. Ummm. Not going to happen. I don't mind not taking pictures, but I'm not going to leave my camera with you and I'm certainly not leaving my cell phone with you when my daughter is half way across the world. The Great Lakes Science Center was right next door and we figured my son would have a better time there anyway. So we went next door. We caught an Omnimax movie about Mars which was very interesting and then spent a few hours going through the exhibits and hands-on activities. I think he had fun. While we were right there, we also walked over to the Cleveland Browns stadium for a picture. Then we headed downtown.
Our activity for the evening was a Cleveland Indian baseball game vs. the Cincinnati Reds. We found parking next to Progressive field and then found a place to eat dinner. After dinner it was back to the field to watch some batting practice. My son got a ball. Once they opened the rest of the stadium, we headed to our seats. And then we found out the game was going to be rain delayed due to impending weather. We got up under the sheltered part and waited. We even bought those lovely, expensive panchos to wear. The game started an hour late. It did rain off and on throughout the game, so I'm glad we had the ponchos. We got to see a great catch in centerfield, a home run, and Ken Griffy, Jr. play for the Reds. Cleveland won 6-0. And I did just like the songs says and had some peanuts AND cracker jacks. We got back to the hotel late and went to bed.
Saturday, June 28th
Woke up this morning and ate the free breakfast again. Then we checked out and headed to Columbus. Our first stop - the Columbus Zoo. We had heard this was an awesome zoo and we were not disappointed. This is Jack Hanna's zoo for those of you familiar with Animal Planet. There were some great animals and the zoo is really laid out well. I was taking lots of pictures. I was excited because we were getting close to the gorillas (which is one of my favorites) and I got the "battery empty" message. What? I had charged it the night before knowing that I'd want a full battery today. Not sure what happened, but no more pictures after that. It took us a few hours to see everything. We stopped on our way out for a funnel cake and then headed to our hotel to check in.
When I booked hotels, I got input from my husband and son (as well as from hotels.com and tripadvisor.com). My son wanted an indoor pool at this hotel and that's what he got. And it's a good thing. I took him down to the pool and you could see from the windows a storm blowing in. It poured! And the wind gust were probably 40mph. But once it blew through, it was gone and that was a good thing. Because we had plans for the night.
Our Saturday activity was a Columbus Crew major league soccer game. My son LOVES soccer. He has jerseys of some of his favorite players and he was excited about this game. The atmosphere was awesome. When we pulled up there were many tailgaters. And almost everyone had on yellow (Columbus' color). I felt out of place and was tempted to buy me a shirt. I passed on a shirt for me, but we bought my son a jersey. We had great seats. 7th row at midfield. We could see the players up close. And we were sitting around a lot of season ticket holders. Nice. The lady next to us even gave my son a nice Columbus Crew drawstring backpack. And Columbus pulled off the win. Fun times.
Sunday, June 29th
Got up early this morning and headed back to the airport for our flight home. And then it was laundry, pay bills, wade through the 100+ emails I had, etc. I knew we were home. We had a great time. We called my daughter, who was in Rome by now. She was still having a great time, but did sound a little homesick to me. I asked if she wanted us to call again or just see her Wednesday night at the airport when she gets home. She said she would see us when she gets home. So tomorrow night at 11:30pm her flight will land (if it's on time). It will be good to have the family all together again. Even if it will be for only a couple of days (the kids leave Friday for church camp with their cousins).