Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kalahari Water Park "NOT-Back-To-School" Gathering

On Wednesday and Thursday, we attended a "Not-Back-To-School" gathering at Kalahari Water Park in Sandusky, Ohio, consisting of homeschoolers from various groups around northeast Ohio - around 120 people total. We got an amazing group rate, plus the park was nearly deserted because all the other kids are in school now. We had never been before but had heard from friends that the place is a blast - and they were right! At first, both kids were a bit overwhelmed by the place and not too sure about it. So we started off in the toddler area, and gradually the kids warmed up to it and started having fun. The toddler area is covered in about a foot of water and has various small waterslides, climbing structures, and fountains. I wasn't sure how much Monkeyman was going to enjoy the water park experience, because he had a fear of having water splashed in his face, and of going under water even for a second. He started out on the little slides...

(Disclaimer: I purchased a disposable waterproof camera and most of the pics didn't turn out very well. I was kind of disappointed with the quality of the pics overall but there are a few decent ones.)

And then Monkeyman & I went over to the bigger kids' area while Daddy stayed with Bug, and he began warming up to that. The water is a bit deeper and the climbing structure is more elaborate with spray guns you can aim, buckets of water to fill until they tip & dump out, and a huge, gushing waterfall pouring down over the whole thing every 10 minutes or so. There are two moderate-sized tall, twisty waterslides there too. We watched other kids slide for a while, and he was still not too sure about it. I asked Monkey if he wanted to see me go down first, to show him that it's not too scary and he said yes. I told him to wait right there, and I went up and slid down. When I got to the bottom, I looked around and he was nowhere in sight. And then - my favorite moment of our whole trip: I turned around and there he was coming out of the chute at the bottom of the waterslide! He went all by himself! He immediately conquered his fear of getting water in his face, and really began having a blast. He went down those two slides many, many, many times. Unfortunately this is the best pic of him at the bottom of the slide...

After these slides, we tried some even bigger ones. Monkey was allowed on the ones for kids 42" and up, but he wasn't tall enough for the ones for kids 48" and up. I'm sure there is some reasoning for which rides are classified for which height requirements, but it didn't make a lot of sense to us. Some of the ones that didn't look too intense were restricted to bigger kids, and some of the ones that were okay for littler kids were pretty hairy in my opinion. We went down one that he was permitted on, and it was SCARY! Okay, maybe I'm a big chicken, but I was just not expecting the entire tube to be pitch black inside - I mistakenly assumed that the tubes would be translucent and let some light through. It was a creepy, disorienting, claustrophobic experience. Monkey & I started off at the same time on two slides that were side-by-side, and as I was going down, I was thinking yelling,


I think in reality it was only a little scary, but knowing that Monkeyman was experiencing the same thing at that moment and imagining how terrified he must be, multiplied my fear exponentially. As soon as I got to the bottom I leapt out of the chute and ran over to where he came out, expecting him to be in full freakout mode. He simply looked a bit shaken and calmly said, "Um, I don't wanna do that again," so we went back to the less-terrifying moderate-sized slides and pretty much remained there for the duration. I tried talking him into going on a few other things with me but was unsuccessful.

Here we are at the wave pool. This pic is very special for two reasons: 1. all four of us are in it which is quite rare, and 2. it is a photo of me in a bathing suit that I don't hate. Priceless!

Here is Bug in a ridiculously adorable wetsuit, a hand-me-down gift from a fellow homeschooler.

My little fishie quite enjoyed playing in the wave pool. As he has not yet been to the ocean, I was happy to see him experience this next-best-thing.

Overall, a really fun trip, although we ended up cutting it a bit short on the second day because Bug had picked up a little stomach bug. While we were there, I did see some familiar faces and was able to introduce Shane to some of the people I know, and we met a few new people too. As usual though, we were too busy watching/chasing the kids to be able to socialize very much. But the kids did get to play with lots of other kids and had fun, and that's what mattered most to me. There is so much we didn't get to: the game room, bowling alley, miniature golf course, indoor (dry) playground... but there's another homeschool gathering there in February and we are planning on going again - can't wait!

Oh, and here are the kids on the way home. Proof that the trip was a success!:

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