Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vermont: Child's Play

Having four children under the age of 10 means we don't go anywhere without fully considering a location's 'child friendliness factor.' I visited this area of Vermont last fall on a retreat and determined that it had a couple of important factors that would make it a 'safe' place to visit with the kids--clean, modern hotels, and a McDonald's (this will become important in both today and tomorrow's blog). Those items, along with the fact that there was a Balloon Festival in the area over Father's Day weekend and a nearby Science Museum should weather wreak havoc, made it seem like a good place to visit.

Before we even got settled into our room the kids were asking about a pool. That is a VERY IMPORTANT CRITERIA in hotel selection. Ours only partly fit the bill--there was a pool at the adjacent hotel, and the two apparently had an agreement worked out that we could use it. (big sigh of relief) After our morning hike and train ride, we returned to the hotel for some swimming. The kids had a blast. Just look at those smiles as proof.

Cory eventually worked up the nerve to jump into the shallow end.

And this picture shows why I have gray hairs coming in. She would walk around the pool and dip her foot in. Nearly gave me a heart attack every time.

After the pool we headed to Pizza Chef for some dinner. They had several old-school arcade games and pinball machines--very nostalgic. Ms. Pac-Man and Super Off-Road and a few others. I remember going to Pizza Hut as a kid and playing Galaga while my dad had 'just one more cup of coffee.' And Ted confesses to spending a small fortune on Super Off-Road as a child. Behind the pizza place was a mini golf course. The kids think this will be fun, so we decided to play.

From here we could see balloons launching from the festival-fun. Unfortunately, this was the BUGGIEST place EH-VER. Plus, at every hole we had arguments over who was to go first (more gray hairs--and yes, I know that Ted and I should act like the adults we are and not fight to go first every time). 18 holes could not go quickly enough.
I know, I know, you look at these cute little kids and it's a wonder they ever disagree--they do. Lucy's idea of mini golf was to throw her golf ball from the start, hit it with the club a few times in the middle,
and then pick it up to drop it into the hole at the end.

That, and generally being in the way at any given moment.

Talk about a hazard--I can't tell you how many times she was on the course and our balls would go between her feet.

More fun in Vermont for the 10 and under set was at the Montshire Museum of Science. Having been to a few Science Museums (not exhaustive research, mind you, but a few), this one sets the standard. It was big enough to have interesting exhibits, yet small enough to not be overwhelming. The exhibits were well-maintained, the daily happenings were well staffed, and the outdoor extension was all bonus. We had a lovely Sunday morning there exploring the inner workings of popular toys, feeling fossils, watching leaf-cutter ants (and supplying them with leaves)

and experimenting in a 'river.' That, along with a stroll through the woods along the Connecticut River to top off the morning, made it a perfect end to the weekend.

This next part is what makes that McDonald's I mentioned so important. So, the museum is near Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Surely, we decide, there must be some sort of restaurant that we can stop in to grab a bite before heading home. Doesn't every college town have a Taco Bell or something? Both our Garmin and my iphone bring up little in the way of encouragement, but we decide to drive around a little hopeful that we will happen upon something. We don' fact, we don't until we're back at the exit where our hotel was and that McDonald's I mentioned earlier. Somehow, neither of us is very surprised. That's New England for you. Thankful for something, we stop here for a very late lunch before returning home...

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