Table Rock 2011 Day 4: Parasailing + Max as Superman

Today’s soundtrack is eclectic and brought to you by….

Given our anchor loss, I make a quick (defined as 1 1/2 hours) trip via Jerry’s Shuttle Service (the same one we used last year to go to Silver Dollar City) to the newest Branson Wal-Mart Super Center.  I swear you can find everything there…except Hornito’s tequila.  I did snag an anchor, anchor rope, two life jacket options for Mara, strawberries, peaches, 1800 tequila, cheese dip, a pair of flip flops, and some sunscreen.  Oh, and cash from the ATM to pay for the cab. Everything, I tell you, everything.

Later that afternoon, the kids and I scratch an item off of their bucket list by going parasailing on the Patty Anne.  The boat is named after the captain’s (former) mother-in-law whom he calls a kindred spirit that helped him start the business 15 years ago.  She loved the color purple and dragons, so in addition to the name, there is a great purple dragon on the back.

Patty Anne’s dragon

Up, up and away

Not satisfied with his flying through the air under a parachute, Max decides to do a Superman impersonation when he and Mike are tandem surfing later in the day.  They are trying to be all cool for a photo op (below) – and Mike falls.  Max hangs on to the rope and body surfs.  I am so busy yelling for him to let go that I forget to stop the boat.  Good thing we’re only going about 10 mph.

Mara and I can’t stop laughing…even though we totally missed getting a pic of that.  (We find out over the course of the trip that we are not great at capturing the crashes…too bad because there are some great ones.)

Max + Mara in deep discussion
180 degrees, baby!
So cool…and then they took a dive…

Table Rock 2011 Day 3 – Part Two: Mara & Murphy Become Friends

Throughout our eventful day, we’ve kept the Van Halen coming.  Not too many pics on the water – apparently we were afraid they would look too much like yesterday’s.  Go figure.  We did get a couple of great ones during lunch at Danna’s (after losing the tooth and anchor but before the towel)…

Not to harp on the bad ju-ju from Part One of this day, but by the day’s end, Mara is crabby.  In that quiet “this sucks but I’m not saying anything” way that Mike totally attributes to my genes.  Her life jacket has rubbed raw patches on her upper arms and neck.  Which makes her not do well as either surfing or boarding. She does not take any of these things well.  (Also why you don’t see any pics of that here…)

Then Max drops the built-in cooler lid on her toe.

And, finally, something stings her finger while she is waiting for the rest of us to head back to the RV.

Mara – meet Murphy.  The equivalent of “this day is going from bad to worse, and I thought it already sucked.”  Fortunately, she manages to make it back to the RV where some air conditioning and food revive her.  Whew…bullet dodged by the rest of us.


Mara and her cool glasses

No hands – or rope!

Table Rock 2011 Day 3 – Part 1: 3 Losses & A New Business Idea

Today’s soundtrack is brought to you by Van Hagar, I mean Van Halen’s Balance.  We love Sammy!  (And, yea, Alex, Eddy and Michael…)

Given the amazing vacation so far (because we love the heat and the water), it sounds like whining to tally the losses of this particular day.  Except that they make a pretty good story, and I’m all about the story!

First loss: Max keeps his streak going and loses a tooth while on vacation.  Four teeth lost:  one in Hawaii, one in St. Louis, one at home and one at Table Rock.  We convince him to make a wish and throw in the lake.  The tooth fairy will still come, and we don’t have to try to keep track of a little baby tooth.  Win!

Max’s new gap (on the right) and his little tiny tooth

Cool straw tricks with his new “tooth” gap

Second loss:  We anchor at the back of our favorite cove when we are not boarding and surfing in it.  Apparently, there are a number of trees that have sought their final resting place in that same area.  Two of which Mike has expertly snagged on Sunday and Monday with the anchor.  We know this because they were still attached to the anchor when he pulled it up – they must have wanted to move to a different spot.  Today, the anchor is stuck and staying.  Probably jealous of the trees.

After visiting 3 different marinas and hearing the words “No one really sells anchors on the water” Mike and I start formulating a plan to do just that.  Seems like that is exactly where you’d want to sell anchors.  On the water.  Where boats might actually need an anchor – like maybe after they lose one to the lake gods.

Third loss:  Towels dry faster when hung from the boat tower (remember, it’s a competition wakeboard boat so there is a nice tall tower) AND you go really fast.  Except when they fly off and land in the lake.  Sinking remarkably quickly for something that you would think would float at least a little.

Wondering where the tales of surfing and boarding are?  Check out Part Two…

Table Rock 2011 Day 2: Jumping In + Catching A Log

It’s the first full day of vacation – or at least the first full day without travel.  Big sigh – one full of air-conditioned air courtesy of the RV.  Yep – very thankful we are not tent camping.

Today’s soundtrack was even more Jason Aldean – although I turn the music down when I’m driving.  It’s hard to hear “Hit It!” and “Down!” when the tunes are cranked.  And, boy, do those people in the water get testy when you don’t listen to them.  Geez!

Everyone got a turn today…Mike, Mara and Max.  In all sorts of ways. We are on our standard schedule – it looks pretty much like last year.  Hey – don’t fix it if ain’t broke! Simply put…

Lunch at Danna’s + Oasis Shaved Ice (at the Marina) + Water + Sun = Awesomeness!

We also manage to hook our second tree with the anchor.  This one is even bigger than the one on Sunday.  We’re all about trading up – assuming that we can still get our anchor back in the boat.  (That turns out to be a bit of a prophetic statement (hint, hint…foreshadowing…)

Mara’s first wakeboard ride…

…and Max’s first too

More tandem surfing of Mike + Max – with the high sign

Mike catching some wakeboard air…

…and then cutting it hard

It’s Table Rock Time!

We are on the road at 7 a.m. and not even to the stop sign at the end of our street when I realize one thing (and, as it eventually turns out, the only thing) we have forgotten.  My sunglasses.  When we are spending a week at the lake.  The hottest, sunniest week of the year.  Being that it is the third year in a row that we have selected said hottest, sunniest week (we even managed it last year after spending two months’ in Hawaii), we contemplate getting jobs at the Farmers’ Almanac but they don’t appear to have any openings.  And we don’t turn around or stop for my glasses.

We roll into Hollister, MO in record time (about 4 hours later) just in time for lunch at Max’s favorite “fast food” – Subway!  We put gas in the RV and the and discover that not all gas stations carry cheap sunglasses.  So I take Max’s – pulling rank is one of the advantages of being the parent.  That, and I’m the boat driver.  Two points in my favor!

This first afternoon brings the standard menu of activities:  tubing, surfing and wakeboarding by Mike and some tandem surfing by Mike and Max.  The soundtrack courtesy of Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party and Cross Canadian Ragweed’s Happiness and All the Other Things.

Max + Mara on the tube

Mike + Max tandem surfing

Copper 2011: Skiing and Riding

The rest of the days at Copper are a mix of skiing (Mara) and riding (Mike and Max).  Throw in some ski school for good measure, and it’s quite a full plate. (Side note and shout out to Colorado Ski and Golf which is where we bought Mara’s skis and boots…their Junior Trade program rocks.)

Max…prior to attempting to tackle a tree
Mara looking like a pro…loves the new gear

Of course, we are all about enjoying the food and drink, too. We do another round of Kids in the Kitchen at Pizza Carlo – surviving the latest kids’ creation of both regular and dessert pizzas.

I don’t even know what to say…

We also cap off our last night with a visit to JJ’s – specifically for apres ski happy hour with Moe Dixon (shameless affiliate link to Moe’s CD). The very same Moe who helped us capture that fabulous pic of Mike in the flashback. And who so graciously posed with us here. Whadya think of that guitar?

Us with Moe…he rocks!

Tomorrow, we venture back across Eastern Colorado and Kansas…Starbucks at the ready!


Copper 2011: Ice Skating and a Friendly Game of Pool

The thing about going to Copper in March is that the weather can vary quite a bit. You know, completely different than here in Missouri where it can snow one day, be 60 degrees with thunderstorms the next and then back to the snow.

This matters largely because if it’s been too warm there is no ice skating along with requisite falling on your butt which is handy when you need something to complain about for the remainder of the trip. There is nothing quite like the phrase “My butt hurts” coming out of the mouths of kids.

Oh, and did I mention there is an ice cream place that rents out the ice skates. I’m sure that wasn’t any sort of grand plan…

Ahhh….they almost look innocent

Ice “hockey”

Not to be kept down by skating mishaps, we continue getting out of our car claustrophobia by teaching the kids learn the finer skills in life. Like playing pool. Salsa Mountain Cantina has great Mexican food, a pretty good margarita and a pool table.

Never ones to miss out on a rousing chance at family rivalry, we (by which I mean Mike and the kids) like to take their turn playing pool. Mike has to play either one-handed or with the cue behind his back. I’m sure he’ll be ready for some sort of tournament any day now.

Pool Shark #1…
…and Pool Shark #2

We also met a new friend – Dale, who happens to be in charge of the Tubing Hill. It reminded us of meeting Ernie at Aloha Mixed Plate when we were in Hawaii. You just never know where you can make a new friend or be reminded of an old one.

I think we might all be ready to hit the slopes.  Ok, not me, but the rest of them…


Copper 2011: Day One-ish

The thing about our first day to Copper is that is really just getting out of KC and getting as far through Kansas as possible. Given that we hit Kansas a mere 10 minutes or so after leaving our house, it’s a bit of long stretch. We always stop and recharge overnight, heading out the next morning. This year we stayed in Goodland.

Yawn. WAKE UP!  (And see this lovely view outside your hotel room…)

Here are 5 things I bet you didn’t know about Kansas.
  1. The public swimming pool at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City occupies half a city block and holds 2 1/2 million gallons of water.
  2. There are 27 Walnut Creeks in the state.
  3. The Kansas Speleological Society has catalogued at least 528 caves in 37 Kansas counties. Commanche County has at least 128 caves and Barber County has at least 117 caves. (And, despite the fact that we are all about caves, we haven’t seen a single one in all the years we’ve been doing this drive.)
  4. The Geodetic Center of North America is about 40 miles south of Lebanon at Meade’s Ranch. It is the beginning point of reference for land surveying in North America. When a surveyor checks a property line, he or she is checking the position of property in relation to Meade’s Ranch in northwest Kansas.
  5. Russell Springs located in Logan County is known as the Cow Chip Capital of Kansas (which could explain why on 32 people lived there at the time of the 2000 census).

Makes you wanna visit, doesn’t it?


Staying in the US: A Keystone Run + Alligators

No! I am not talking about a cheap beer run!

Taking a break from overseas travel, Mike decides to pack in a couple of trips across the contintental U.S. in February. First stop? Denver for a team meeting. Mike decides to add a day of vacation to the trip to venture to Keystone as a warm up for our upcoming annual trip to Copper.

Hitting the slopes

He’s sore for three days after. At least he got the kinks out…

A day at home and then off to Orlando. I just roll my eyes when I see the hotel – wait, resort – he stays in. I think this may be why he doesn’t tend to talk about the hotels or the restaurants. But, that’s just guess.  Anyhow…you can judge for yourself by taking your own virtual tour of the Gaylord Palms (it already sounds fancy, doesn’t it?) 

Inside the Gaylord Palms

I can’t believe he didn’t hit the Disney properties while he was there. You’d think he was working. Just for fun, I did a little virtual sightseeing of Orlando (next best thing to being there!)…betcha you didn’t know that…

  1. According to Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s Trends Survey, Orlando is the second most popular domestic travel destination in the country (Las Vegas placed first).
  2. Orlando has the second largest number of hotel rooms in the country (after Las Vegas, Nevada). Wow…look at the coincidence with the first fact!
  3. Orlando is home to more than 100 lakes.
  4. The region sees an estimated 52 million tourists a year. And out of the estimated 52 million tourists, over 2 million are international visitors, with the majority of foreign tourists coming from the United Kingdom. (Hence the hotel room stat…)
  5. Orlando is in Orange County, which was once known as Mosquito Country. (It might have something to do with all those lakes. Bring the bug spray!)

And, yes, all this was packed within two weeks.  Home just in time to go on vacation!


Flashback: Copper Spring Break

I could have actually titled this post “flashbacks” but that starts to conjure up all other sorts of ideas, and we just can’t have that in a family blog (except, of course, for the blatant inuendo that I just made).

We started going to Copper Mountain when Max was only 10 months old.  If memory serves, it is where he took his first meaningful (e.g., more than two without hitting the ground) steps.  And, here we are 8 years later getting ready for our annual trek.  That does NOT make us old…it makes us nicely experienced.

Honestly, we cannot say enough good things about Copper.  It is a awesome for families. The terrain is nicely and naturally divided so the greens are mostly separate from the blues which are mostly away from the blacks.  Not being a skiier or boarder, I’m not so much a good judge of that, but I hear that’s pretty cool.

Mara is the skiier.  Mike and Max are boarders.  We’re all fans of the mountains and being outside.  With that, we are getting ready to pack up the Pilot, head across the great plains of Kansas and relive a few memories in the process.  Here’s to the memories….

The kids get to make their own pizza at Pizza Carlo
Max believes he’s the king of it all…
…Mara just wants to conquer all the tree runs…
…and Mike is all about the music!

Ahh…time to make some new memories!