Monday, February 15, 2010

Vacation & Snow

Okay so Brenda is taking entirely too long to blog about the snow and our vacation. I mean we have been back for over a week and still no blog. To make matters worse, we just found out the gender of our next child (no I'm not going to tell you'll just have to wait until Brenda blogs about it) and with Shaylee's baptism this Saturday, those things will take precedent over the vacation and snow and they will just get lost in the background of our busy life. So I guess it is up to me to document these important events in the Whipple families lives.

Part 1: SNOW
This story really goes back to just before Christmas when we got the first big snow storm of the winter season. At the time I was thinking "okay in Maryland we usually get one big storm every three to four years so it looks like this should last us for the winter." This was really frustrating because the storm hit on a Friday afternoon and I didn't get a single snow day out of it!

Quick Aside: For those of you reading this who have never lived in Maryland you must understand that one of the best things about living in Maryland is the snow days. I mean the ice-cream is sub-par at best, the canned chili is horrible, and I have yet to find a place that serves a decent pastrami hamburger! But on those magical days when it snows more than two inches they close down the state and I get an impromptu vacation. It almost makes up for the lack of good Utah ice-cream. (But not the pastrami hamburgers I'll never forgive Maryland for that!)

So when January was coming to a close and everybody started talking about snow, I could hardly believe my luck at a another chance for snow days. I mean two snow storms where we get more than a foot of snow in a single winter? With 8 years as a Marylander I have never seen such a thing. Then it became clear that this storm would hit us on a Friday again I couldn't believe it! I would also like to point out that I was not the only one at work complaining that this was hitting us on a Friday afternoon again! I can't stress how much we look forward to our impromptu vacations out here. As it turns out the snow storm was serious enough that I ended up getting Monday off! Finally a snow day!

The following are pictures from the snow storm. Enjoy (see below for part 2)

View from our front door Saturday morning (it was still snowing at this point)

A view of how deep the snow was when I first started shoveling

Measurement of the snow

Two of my little cuties in the snow

I thought it would be fun to throw Ashtyn into the snow
She didn't agree.

Even though Ashtyn didn't like it I just had to do it again

Part 2a - Vacation plans
This story starts about six years ago when we first heard about this fun place called Great Wolf Lodge. It is this hotel with a indoor water park attached to it. We looked it up and decided that we really wanted to take our family, then we noticed the price and thought better of it. For the past six winters Brenda and I have had the following conversation:

Brian: We should take the kids to great wolf lodge this year
Brenda: That sounds fun lets look into it
Brian (after looking at the prices again): I just don't see how we can afford it
Brenda: Yeah maybe next year

Well this January we were talking with some friends in our ward and they mentioned a sale going on during the month of February. We looked it up and the sale did not apply to weekend dates. We are really loath to take our kids out of school for vacation so at first gave it us as another winter without great wolf lodge. However, Brenda does not give up so easily, she looked at the school calendar for any good times in February that we could do this. She found a couple days just before valentines day where the kids had half days. Taking the kinds out for half days isn't so bad right? Well at least that was our justification and we scheduled our vacation for this time. The price was still a little high but we had enough of our tax return leftover after paying for a deck to cover the costs.

Another quick aside: I love paying too much in taxes throughout the year and then getting a killer return at tax time. It's my way of giving myself a bonus. The financial expert that write articles on the internet, most people that I talk to, and turbo tax all tell me my return is too large and I should have less taken out throughout the year. But I love the sudden influx of money the return provides. For one month a year I feel rich and get to buy things like large televisions, decks, couches, and fun vacations. For those who are screaming "but you are giving the government a interest free loan!" All I can say is I know but I don't care, so there.

Part 2b: Getting out of town.
With our reservation made we spent the next month building up excitement for the vacation. I still felt a little guilty for taking our kids out of school, but if I kept repeating to myself enough times "it's only half days" I could push the guilt far enough to the back of my mind to get excited for the vacation again. Then came the snow, see above, the Friday before the Tuesday that we were planning on leaving. As the snow continued to fall through Saturday we assured each other that our street would be plowed before the Tuesday morning that we were planning on leaving. I don't know if we actually believed it but it felt better to say it and hear someone else say it. Eventually the snow stopped and we continue to convince ourselves that we will be okay to leave on Tuesday, when the weather reports indicated another large snow storm was coming. Sunday we spent looking out our windows at our neighbors frantically digging themselves out so that they could get to their Superbowl parties. A few people were able to dig themselves out to the main street which was plowed, but most had to change their Superbowl plans. With half the day Monday gone and still no plow, I was starting to get nervous so out I headed with my shovel to dig a path for our car to get to the main road. By mid afternoon I had a path just wide enough for our van to pass through when wouldn't you know it the plow came and dug us out. Tuesday morning we were able to get out of town before the next storm hit. The drive south was a bit dicey but we made it to Williamsburg without any incidents.

Part 2c: Vacation

We had been building expectations for so long that I was a little worried that the real deal wouldn't be able to live up to our expectations. However, I was wrong. Great wolf lodge not only met our expectation but it probably beat them. They had a fun lazy river, some really fun slides, a fun playhouse, a wave pool that Raegan and I had fun with and a little child pool. And the best part was that with the snow storm they closed the schools so we didn't actually take our children out of school. Below are some pictures of the play area.

The Lodge

The front lobby they had a story time here each night

The cabin in our room where the kids slept

Raegie looking out the window of her cabin

Fun play area in the middle of the water area

Shaylee and Teralyn at the bottom of two of the slides

Teralyn and Ashtyn in the wave pool

My little Raegie playing in the water

Tera and shay earning a candy bar by going across the padded logs

Part 3: Back to Snow

We were worried about the drive home. After watching CNN in our room we were worried that the roads wouldn't be clear enough for us to make it all the way home. We were thinking of staying in a hotel another night to be sure, but after checking Howard county site we determined that most of the roads were plowed so we decided to try to make it home on Thursday. The drive home was uneventful with no problems getting right up to our house we actually got stuck trying to pull into our parking space, but it wasn't too much of an issue to push the van back into the road and dig out our spot.

Raegie and Dad in our snow cave

Tera and Ash in our snow cave

Tera and Shay in the snow cave

A snow bank in our parking lot