Well, helloooo there.
Good to see the Internet has not changed in my absence.
Since we last spoke, much has happened – none of it entirely unexpected: The show opened and was awesome, I was immediately stricken with the grossest summer cold that is just now leaving me, the show closed and I was unnaturally sad, and Sadie is overjoyed that I am once again available each and every evening to fulfill her constant requests for jokes and cuddles.
I tried really hard to fend off the post-show sads, and I really, really thought it wouldn’t be so bad this time. I have plenty lined up to keep me busy through the fall, and I was 100% totally fucking exhausted from the month of performances. I never really had an opportunity to properly rest after getting sick, and the Sunday after the closing day of shows (one at 2pm and one at 8pm), I was DESTROYED. I actually got sleepy behind the wheel of the car on the way home from the annual Labor Day/family reunion in WV – something that has never happened to me before and skeert the shit out of me, especially because I had just ingested half a Red Bull (I know, I know – that shit’ll kill me, but I prefer to drive on road trips because I pretty much HATE ROAD TRIPS). I pulled over and let
Jesus Brad take the wheel, so I could (immediately) pass out in the back seat. I was totally wiped.
This week has begun with less melancholy about the show, thanks in part to the mini-vacation we took over the weekend, whisking our party of three an hour away to spend a few lovely days gadding about the Laurel Highlands. Brad & I will actually be going back next month to the same place we celebrated his birthday last year for an adults-only joint, but this weekend was all about the three of us.
Sadie is a fucking DELIGHT to travel with these days. Not that she ever wasn’t, but nowadays she gets so damn excited, which kicks the enjoyment factor of each little activity up to eleven. She has inherited our love for staying in hotels (“It’s so BEAUTIFUL!” she exclaimed as she swept through our suite at the lodge on Thursday night – more on THAT PLACE later), and—not to sound like every parenting cliché in the entire fucking world—it’s so much fun to see everything through her eyes.
We picked her up at school on Thursday evening, and—after stopping by the house to finish packing up (or, in my case, to pack eight varieties of the same t-shirt and only one pair of socks like a goddamn genius)—we kicked off vacation weekend with a pasta dinner for the shorty at a restaurant on the way to the turnpike. This particular restaurant is always pretty predictable (in a good way) with its food, but it was another instance of asking for a booster seat TWENTY-THOUSAND TIMES from MULTIPLE STAFF MEMBERS and STILL having to get up and track one down our damn selves. Does this ever happen to anyone else?! My kid looks like fucking Kilroy sitting at the table but this never seems to faze the server, who always promises to return with a booster but never does. Y U WANT MY KID TO RIDE SO LOW, WAITSTAFF OF AMERICA?!
After dinner, we got on the road for what seemed like an interminable ride for both me and the hyped-beyond-belief four-year-old, but was really only about an hour’s worth of turnpike and back road driving. We arrived at the lodge around 8pm.
A word about THE LODGE.
We booked a (NOT CHEAP) room at THE LODGE because we were hoping for a bit more out of our stay than we might get from a regular old hotel. THE LODGE promised a lake, an activity center, paddle-boating, playgrounds, hiking trails – all that shit. It was about 15 minutes past all the other hotels and, therefore, past all the other restaurants and destinations we planned to visit, but THE LODGE seemed to be worth it. Plus, there was free breakfast and two separate restaurants at THE LODGE. This gon’ be good.
At first, things seemed pretty sweet. The place was pretty empty due to the post-Labor Day/pre-pretty-leaves-fall lull, and the front desk guy bumped us up to a suite that was right next to the playground. Awesome!
We got to our room, and Sadie was ELECTRIC. She bounced around from room to room, and her excitement was enough to make up for the fact that we found the place a little…bleak. It was clean and everything, just OLD. And not really impressive enough to justify what we were paying per night, not to mention two of the windows had been broken, and they had replaced the glass but left the broken layer of glass there (????) BUT WHATEVER. Vacation!
This went on for…a while.
Sadie’s vacation adrenalin finally decreased enough for her to drift off to sleep after 10pm, at which point Brad & I moved out to the living room to open a bottle of wine and declare ourselves exhausted by 11pm. VACATION!!1!!11
The next morning, Brad graciously let me sleep in while he took Sadie up to the main building for breakfast. The next thing I knew, there was a loud, angry knocking at the door. I stumbled half-awake to see what the hell was going on, and on the other side of the door was a surly looking Brad and a somewhat stunned-looking Sadie. TURNS OUT the milk that THE LODGE had provided on their continental breakfast spread was so fucking spoiled there were FUCKING CHUNKS IN IT, OH MY FUCKING GOD, so…NEEDLESS TO SAY we were in the car five minutes later, driving away from THE LODGE and towards the closest breakfast place, 10 miles down the road. While Sadie drew on her placement and waited patiently for pancakes, Brad cancelled our stay at THE LODGE and moved us into a brand fucking new Holiday Inn Express that had everything we needed, including CHUNK-LESS MILK, CHRIST IN A NIGHTIE.
Once we got everything moved from THE LODGE to our new place, we went to bustling downtown Ligonier, PA, where our first stop was an old Victorian house turned toy store, with each room in the place overflowing with stuff. Sadie chose to spend her piggybank dollars on a giant butterfly puzzle and (WHAT ELSE) three tiny plush kittens, complete with carrying case. If you don’t think that thing accompanied her everywhere (including to bed each night and to school this morning), you are a bigger fool than I imagined.
After lunch in the tiny town square and a visit to an antique store where I bought a miniature telephone for 50 cents (let me tell you how much the manager VISIBLY enjoyed manually writing out the receipt for a 50-cent purchase), my daughter defied logic and agreed to bypass a trip to the ice cream parlor in favor of heading back to the “Living Treasures” animal park, where we were lured by the promise of feeding LIVE BABY DEER and LIVE BABY ZEBRAS and LIVE BABY CAMELS oh my god chest pains.
This place was—as you have probably guessed—as much fun for me as it was for Sadie.
Although I was apparently “too big” for the pony ride WHATEVER BOGUS WEIGHT LIMIT. (Let us also take this time to recognize the $2.99 that gave its life for that hideous straw hat in the gift shop because this child’s loving mother somehow FORGOT to prepare her lily-white daughter for a day in the BLINDING SUN.)
You could feed the goats, ponies, llamas, camels, and zebras by hand, and the other animals (INCLUDING BEARS, WUT) by way of a little tube that shot the feed/carrots into their enclosure. It was pretty awesome.
Sadie was toast after a few hours of watching her mother squee over wildlife (Sadie actually preferred feeding the free-roaming ducks to anything else), so we went back to the hotel before our 6pm dinner reservation. The idea was for Sadie to catch a quick nap, but…what may have happened is that her mother may have fallen asleep face-first on the bed while her child watched Little Einsteins. VACATION!
Our dinner that night was at a place that had some ricockulously good food, but—as happens so often—sometimes places with amazing food get a little too creative with the kids’ menu. Sadie wanted macaroni & cheese, but at this place, the “cheese” was smoked gouda, and…no. GO ORANGE CHEESE OR GO HOME, FOLKS. Thankfully, there was a hummus appetizer that she loved and more than enough from our plates to share, so I swapped her bites of the (FUCKING DELICIOUS OMG) noodles for some of my Portobello mushroom cap, and all was good. She crawled into my lap as soon as she was done eating, because we had once again run the wheels off the girl. She was pretty much through, and although I know she was beat, it sure was nice to cradle her and her giant gangly limbs as we sat on the chilly patio overlooking the mountains. Good stuff.
We all went to bed pretty early (which was good, because most of my night was spent rearranging my flailing child back into the center of the bed, MY GOD this kid sleeps like a rabid raccoon), and woke up on Saturday ready for our big day at Idlewild. Breakfast at the new hotel included hot cinnamon rolls (score) and biscuits and gravy (DOUBLE-SCORE) and a marked lack of spoiled milk (LODGE), which was a pretty strong way to start the day. We began our trek through Idelwild at Storybook Forest, a.k.a. the place where I done lost my shit when I was Sadie’s age. See, Storybook Forest is kinda old, and you may have noticed that generations past had a really strange idea of what children like…
…so, yeah, Storybook Forest is kinda like that in a lot of ways. Personally, I lost my shit when my parents made me take a picture with the poor old lady dressed up as the Woman Who Lived in a Shoe or whatever. I could tell that Sadie (who is so very similar to Young Me in her reactions to these types of things) was a little unnerved and confused by some of the Forest, so we breezed through, got a few photos, and proceeded to the rides.
I have a photo of myself in this giant cheese when I was around Sadie’s age. Sunrise, sunset, giant knives in close proximity to children.
Sadie was all about the train and the Mister Rogers trolley and the carousel, but she was a little less brave about the stuff she had to ride on her own. She did OK, but much preferred when we could ride with her, which seemed to be not so much about being scared as it was about being lonely. Our one mistake of the day, though, was taking her on the park’s rollercoaster (or Rollo Coaster, as it was named, although it sadly had nothing to do with waxy caramel-filled chocolates). It was your standard small-scale wooden rollercoaster–built during the Depression when no one cared about spine safety—and although Brad rode it first to determine its Sadie-friendliness, and although Sadie more than met the height requirement, and although she seemed totally fine with riding it while we were in line, AND ALTHOUGH she rode a similar coaster last summer, SHE. FUCKING. HATED IT. I think maybe we underprepared her for how fast and jerky and loud it would seem next to the merry-go-round and all the other amateur hour stuff she’d spent the day on, but…yeah. HATED IT. As soon as it started, she began to wail (no tears, just CRIES OF WOE), and there I was sitting alone in the seat in front of Sadie & Brad, saying WEEEE like an asshole and trying to distract her from her utter terror. I have to say, it was the best ride in the whole place. Two Asshole Parent Thumbs Up.
By about 4pm, we were done with the park. We headed back to Ligonier to make good on our promise of ice cream from the day before, and I ate a scoop of pumpkin pie ice cream the size of a small dog. I am still thinking about it.
Back at the hotel, we took advantage of the empty pool and went for a swim. Although her neglectful parents forgot her water wings, she was much braver than she usually is in the water (this is entirely thanks to Brad, who always nudges her to step outside her comfort zone, and whose mere presence emboldens the kid). We were having so much fun we barely noticed it was coming up on 7pm and, you know, we might want to think about feeding Sadie some dinner. We ordered pizza while I washed Sadie up in our room’s Jacuzzi tub (watching TV while bathing = mind-blowing for the child (OK me too)), and once we were all dried off and warmed up with pizza in our bellies, I realized that we had double-barreled a four-year-old with both an amusement park AND a pool in one day. Kid. Was. Toast.
Waking up on Sunday morning was a little sad. Sadie had slept in until around 8:30 (vacation adrenalin was no match for vacation exhaustion), and after we had breakfast, Brad took her to the pool for one last hurrah before getting on the road. Like I said, our little vacation was practically in our own backyard and didn’t really involve anything fancy or special, but SWEET HOT MOTHER OF HAM did we need it. I am a little ashamed to tell you that this is the SECOND week in a row that I’ve mourned the end of Fun Times, but that’s just how I am. I remain entirely incapable of seeing that MORE fun awaits, I’d rather just sit here and think about what’s over for a little bit. And as long as what’s over is as happy as this little weekend trip, I’m OK with that.
Yes. She is wearing a tutu. To an amusement park. It was the only way I could get her to wear shorts.