Aug 01

After our fun-filled day at the Henry Doorly Zoo and the disaster at the Cheesecake Factory, we drove back to Mahoney State park and our camper for another good night of sleep.  So far, our family’s summer vacation was getting off with mixed reviews.  The wife and two boys were having a blast.  I was having a moderately good time, but the stupid apple cider incident at the Cheesecake Factory had left a bad taste in my mouth (which I’m sure a refill of apple cider would have washed away).

Day three of the vacation was designated as our day to spend in the state park.  Just a day to relax and maybe enjoy the park’s water park.  We actually slept in this day, which was nice.  After a late lunch at the camper, we donned our swimming attire and drove to the pool.

Mahoney State Park has a very nice water park/pool.  We actually spent most of the day there, and we all got a little sunburned.  There was a crowded wave pool, a kiddie area, a diving board and like three decent water slides.  All of the areas were fun, but I learned to hate people on tubes.  The wave pool was a blast when you weren’t dodging some idiot on a tube, and I can’t count the number of times I had some tubed jerkwad’s feet in my face.  Apparently, when you are on a tube, you don’t have to display common courtesy to anyone.  Everyone else is responsible for getting out of your way.  Guess I should have forked over a few bucks and rented a tube myself so I could have been a rude jerkwad.

After a cooling day at the pool, we retreated to the camper and enjoyed another camper meal.  In the evening, we played a round of mini golf (which is the only kind of golf non-rich people play).  Earlier in the day, a group of college-aged kids walked by our campsite with golf bags on their shoulders, obviously on there way to the driving range.

“There go the rich kids,” I snarled as they sauntered past.

“How do you know they are rich?” asked the wife.

“Because they’re carrying golf clubs,” I pointed out.

“They look like college kids, and they are camping, so I doubt they are rich,” said the wife.

“Yeah, whatever… it is obvious they have rich parents,” I said.

“How can you know that?” asked the wife.

“Because they play golf,” I stated.  Sometimes I just don’t understand the wife’s naiveté.

“And we’re camping, and we don’t golf, thus we are poor?” asks the wife.

“You’re starting to catch on,” I said, smiling with the knowledge that the wife was grasping a major life lesson.  Apparently, she rolls her eyes as she learns…

Another night in the camper was followed by our fourth day of vacation.  This day was another to be spent in Omaha.  After a light lunch at camp, we drove back in to Omaha and straight to Fun-Plex.  Fun-Plex is a small amusement park with both amusement park rides and a small water park.  It was so stinking hot that we tried to include some form of water activity on any day we actually spent a considerable amount of time outside.  Even the zoo had water misters placed conveniently throughout.

Fun-Plex was pretty okay.  We bumper boated and roller coasted and tilt-o-whirled and go carted before the heat started to get to us and we retreated to the water park.  The water was a little dirtier here than at Mahoney, and the waves in the wave pool weren’t quite as ferocious, but there were just as many little old men and fat ladies in tubes sticking their feet in my face.  Again, there were also slides, and a nice “lazy river” that was fun to swim in.

Two days in a bathing suit surrounded by young people in bathing suits made me realize something: I am old and fat… and I’m not too certain I was ever anything different!

I’ve always been a fatty, and I don’t remember ever hanging out with shapely people at a pool anywhere.  I think that’s because the shapely people all hang out with other shapely people, and they leave us fatties to ourselves.  It’s almost a form of discrimination, I think.  I’d see a bunch of shapely girls in bikinis walk by with a group of muscular young men, and then I’d see two fat kids walk by the other direction.  And it’s kind of funny, ’cause the skinny people are always looking around and laughing and talking, while the fat people pretty much just stare at the ground.  I would probably have other observations about how the skinny people discriminate against (and have more fun than) the fat people, but I spent a lot of time looking at the ground, so I’m sure I missed a lot.

Young people upset me.  Especially young, fit people.  Even my own kids are often the objects of my jealousy.  Both of my boys are relatively fit and healthy.  They are also pretty smart, and they aren’t ugly.  Because of their fitness and intelligence, I’m sure they will have an advantage in life that my ugly fat belly and ignorance didn’t permit.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I want the best for them.  I want them to be successful and happy with whatever they decide to do with their lives.  I just wish that I would have been given the advantages of fitness and good looks and intelligence (or at least one of them), but apparently God wanted to put some hurdles in front of me to develop some sort of character trait that I wouldn’t have found if things had been easier for me.  I’m sure God is now shaking His head as He realizes that I don’t learn from obstacles (I retreat like a Frenchman), but I think He’s still working with me….

So, after a fun yet somewhat degrading day at Fun-Plex, we let the youngest boy decide on what kind of restaurant to go to for supper.  The youngest loves Chinese and Mexican, but he settled on Mexican.  I found the closest decent-looking Mexican place and we ate.  I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was pretty typical.  We got chips and salsa, and the waiter was great at refilling our glasses.  I had some sort of fajita-type-stuff, and it was good.  Nothing out of this world (at least not enough to remember the name), but everyone seemed satisfied.  And I didn’t get screwed on the refills…

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Jul 31

As I last wrote, I was preparing for a wonderful week of vacation in and around Omaha, Nebraska.  The wife and I packed up the kids and our travel trailer and headed east.  We selected Omaha as our summer vacation destination for a myriad of reasons, all of which I touched on in my last post, but the major reason is: we’re poor and cheap.

The first thing I leaned about pulling a trailer to Omaha in an effort to save money on the old summer vacation is that pulling a trailer when gas is over $3.50 per gallon and you are lucky to be getting 8 miles per gallon is not really saving anyone anything.  The second thing I learned is that summer on any interstate is going mean many, many, many road construction delays.  So, yeah, our little drive, which should have taken around 7 hours, took more like 10.  Ten hours in a vehicle pulling a trailer with outside temperatures of well over 100 degrees F and two kids who love to terrorize each other whenever they get bored spells F-U-N!

So, our first day ends setting up camp (or  camper) in Mahoney State Park just outside Omaha.  Neat place, except it looks to me like making a reservation was kind of like inviting the State of Nebraska to gently screw us.  We made reservations to make sure we had a spot to camp, but the portion of the campground that was set aside for reservations was definitely the suckier part of the campground.  If we would have just showed up and grabbed a spot, we would have been in the shaded area next to the bathroom/shower house and we would have been able to pick up the WiFi.  Instead, we were in pretty much direct sunlight all day long and were like a quarter of a mile from the shower house (and nearest bathrooms).  Sure, we have a toilet in the camper, but there were no sewage hook-ups at this park, and a camper with a sewage storage tank full of poop and pee sitting out in the 105°F sun isn’t somewhere anyone could really spend a week. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time driving to the pooper on the other side of the campground… you know… where the WiFi and shade were.

So, after a decent night sleep, we drive into Omaha and head to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.  The wife was there as a little girl, but none of the rest of us had ever been there.  Heard it was cool, so we thought we would check it out.  It was cool.  Best zoo I have ever been to… not that I’ve been to that many.  The Denver Zoo, a zoo in Memphis, and our local excuse for a zoo in Scottsbluff (which isn’t really too bad for a zoo in a town that is way to small to have a zoo).  The Omaha Zoo was (according to one of the volunteers that wouldn’t leave us alone) recently named the “best zoo in America”.  Apparently, Omaha’s Zoo is always in the top three, but this is the first time it has been named number one.  I don’t know what agency ranks the zoos or how credible the volunteer was, but I will admit that I don’t have a hard time believing that the Henry Doorly Zoo is the best zoo in the nation.

For lunch, we ate at one of the cafeterias in the zoo.  Overpriced burgers and fries, but not bad food.  The zoo took us pretty much the entire day to get through, and it was a lot of walking.  By the time we left, we were starving again, and I had special plans for supper.

My family members are big fans of iCarly, and there was an episode where the show kind of poked fun at the portion sizes at the Cheesecake Factory (although they gave it a different name).  Ever since that episode, we have wanted to try out a Cheesecake Factory, and Omaha happens to have one.  I didn’t tell the family where we were going, so when we pulled up, it was a surprise.  We were all excited.

We got seated and the waitress took our drink orders.  The oldest boy ordered a pop, and the wife asked if there were free refills on the strawberry lemonade.

“Oh, yeah, all the drinks have free refills,” said the waitress.

So, the youngest boy and the wife got the strawberry lemonades.  I, after hearing the waitress make her statement about all of the drinks coming with free refills, decide on the $3.50 glass of chilled spiced cider.  Usually, I would have just ordered a pop or an iced tea, but cold apple cider sounded kind of good.

The waitress brought the drinks, and the pop and lemonades are in these monster glasses.  My cider is in a much smaller glass, but I’m thinking “guess that means she’ll just have to refill it more often.”  The oldest boy and I finished off our drinks before the waitress returned to take our food orders (walking around the zoo all day in the heat makes a guy thirsty).  She asked the boy if he would like a refill to which he replied in the affirmative.  She then left.  She returned shortly with a new pop for the kid and… a glass of water for me.  She leaned over and whispered, “I thought you might like this.  The cider is the only thing we don’t have free refills on.”

What the…

So I’m going to be drinking freaking water with my Cheesecake Factory meal?  I must have had a look on my face that indicated to the wife my displeasure.

“Just order a pop or something,” said the wife.

“No, I’m good,” I pouted.

The waitress hurried away.

“Don’t get all pouty and ruin this for everyone,” said the wife.

“I’m not pouty,” I pouted.  “They already got my $3.50 for that little glass of apple juice.  They don’t need any more money for drinks from me.”

For your information, apple juice is the cheapest of the juices.  I have no research to back that up (because I’m incredibly lazy), but I’m pretty sure it’s true.  Whenever you buy a juice that is “100% juice”, it usually isn’t really 100% juice of the kind advertised on the label, especially if it has “cocktail” or “blend” in the title.  Usually, it is mostly apple juice with a hint of whatever kind of juice you think you are buying.  This is because apple juice is the cheapest juice they can add, yet they can still put “100% juice” on the label.  Yet, I gotta pay $3.50 for one tiny glass of cheap apple juice with no free refills!  Needless to say, my entire experience at the Cheesecake Factory was ruined at that particular moment.  I don’t even really remember what I ordered (some kind of burger I think) or if it was any good (but I know it would have been better with free refills on the cheap apple juice).

By the time the waitress had come around to take our dessert orders, I was so pissed that I skipped dessert entirely.  Everyone else ordered cheesecake (because that’s what you do at the Chesecake Factory, right?) and I just sat there being all kinds of pissed off.  Myself excluded, I think everyone enjoyed the Cheesecake Factory.  My youngest said it was the “best cheesecake ever”… and he doesn’t even like cheesecake… but I personally will never set foot in that particular chain again.  Screw me on the apple juice, will you…

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Jul 22

Last summer, the family and I went on a cruise for our summer vacation.  It took almost 3 years of scrimping and saving to accumulate enough money to go on this cruise.  It was an awesome experience and we had a good time.  However, since we went on the expensive cruise last summer, our plans for this summer’s vacation are a little less… well, less.

I had really hoped that by the time I reached my forties, I would be in a financial position to be able to take a decent vacation every summer.  Life and the panhandle of Nebraska had different plans for me, and we have to save up for a decent vacation every two or three years.  But, with our oldest son entering high school this fall and our youngest not really that far behind, we want to do something fun over the summer to create some memories before the boys are all grown up and far away from the panhandle leading their own successful lives.

This summer, for our family vacation, we are going camping.  Camping vacations are kind of our go-to vacation during the summers where we are saving up for a real vacation.  Now, we have been camping in Yellowstone National Park and Tetons National Park in Wyoming.  We have been camping in Estes Park, Colorado.   This summer, we thought we might do something different than a beautiful mountain retreat.  This summer, we are going camping near… Omaha.

Okay, we really didn’t plan on going to Omaha on purpose… not really.  The oldest boy is in this AYSO soccer thing and the one tournament that it looked like he would actually be able to participate in was in North Platte, NE the same week we were planning our vacation.  We still wanted to take a vacation, but we wanted the boy to be able to play in this tournament, so we decided to go camping in Mahoney State Park outside of Omaha.  We figured we could visit the Omaha Zoo and whatnot and stop in North Platte on our way back so the kid could get his soccer on.

Well, it turns out that the oldest boy’s age group didn’t have enough kids that could go to North Platte… that and the fact that they didn’t really have a coach.  I, being Johnny on the spot, already had made non-refundable reservations at Mahoney, so it looks like eastern Nebraska is our destination for this summer’s vacation.

Omaha…

Nebraska…

Does anyone really take a vacation in stinking Omaha?!?  Well, Adventurer Rich and his family are.  We’re trend setters like that.  Oh, who am I kidding…

Okay, so I’m sure we will have a good time on our vacation.  Any time spent with the family is fun… until the boys start fighting… and I lose it and yell at everyone… but there will be good moments.  Still, a vacation in Omaha seems a bit oxymoron-ish, but it is what it is.  It is an eye-opening exclamation that I need to make more money.

So, Adventurer Rich is looking for a way to make some additional income. I need to do something so the family and I can take real vacations every summer.  I’ve thought about delivering pizzas in the evening or something like that, but I’d like to make more money doing something that doesn’t completely suck.  I’ve tried a couple of different multi-level marketing things, and I just don’t have what it takes to be successful with those (people who are successful with MLM seem, to me, to be a touch annoying).  I don’t mind making people mad, but I really don’t want to annoy anyone…

I’ve messed around on Mechanical Turk, and the work there is kind of fun, but I really need to make more than a couple of bucks an hour or it’s really not worth my time doing it.  I’ve thought about writing articles for eHow or about.com, but I don’t really  know enough about anything to be able to write any articles that would benefit anyone.  “How to Put Your Walmart Shopping Cart in the Cart Corral, You Flipping Moron” probably wouldn’t get a lot of hits and, thus, would not really be a money maker.

sigh

Well, I’ll keep thinking on it.  Something will come to me, I hope.  In the meantime, I need to go pack.  Omaha awaits…

sigh

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