An adventure at SeaWorld, and visiting family

Our girls are growing so fast. Jadzia starts kindergarten and Ludi begins preschool this year. So while we were in San Antonio, it seemed about time to introduce them to SeaWorld.

It was Jadzia, Ludi, and Papá on this adventure. The day was going to be hot, but we packed a lot of food and water.

As we pulled into the parking lot, we were bombarded by signs and radio messages proclaiming “no outside food or drink allowed.” I sighed and let the girls eat some granola bars and drink some water before we closed up the minivan.

After a long wait to buy tickets, we got into the line to enter the park. And what do you know? Ahead of us, I could see families bringing COOLERS into the park as the security folks waved them in. I was tempted to go back and get our stuff, but we had already endured too much waiting.

We started off by riding some kids’ rides. The girls loved the carousel. But I had something bigger in store: a roller coaster.

They had never tried an honest-to-goodness roller coaster before, and they were excited to give it a go. I got a little nervous when it dawned on me that the coaster seating was two abreast, and there were three of us. But it worked out fine. The two of them sat together and I was in front of them. I was worried they might chicken out at the last minute or have a bad experience, but I shouldn’t have worried. They loved it.

We rode the coaster and the carousel several more times before moving on to other things.

We spent some time with the dolphins. Jadzia get tantalizingly close to touching one, but it stayed just out of reach.

The girls really loved the ‘Azul’ show with the dolphins, manatees, acrobats, and clown. It was funny and impressive — and more entertaining to them than the Shamu show we watched later (it is more about being splashed).

It was a fun day, but the girls started to wear down after a while. I got some ice cream for them, but they had a hard time even finishing that, which surprised (and irritated) me.

The fam

We had many opportunities to visit our relatives on this trip. Obviously we stayed with my Nan, but we also visited my Grandma Renaud and Aunt Carol; my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Ted; my Aunt Karen, Uncle Oliver, and Chelsea; and on our way back toward St. Louis we visited my Uncle Jim, Aunt Shelly and cousins Ariel and Anna. It was lots of fun to see everyone.

While visiting with Grandma and Aunt Carol, we got into a lot of family history memories. The girls got a bit restless and went to play outside. Before long, the neighbor was knocking at the door and inviting the kids to come over and play with his son. He probably didn’t realize what he was in for — we had four kids. Still, it was a nice surprise and a lot of fun for the little ones.

We enjoyed going to Aunt Karen and Uncle Oliver’s place again. They had earlier given the girls some hula hoops and grass skirts left from Chelsea’s luau-themed birthday party. The hula hoops have since seen some action in the backyard, and Jadzia and I also came up with a ball tossing game where you try to get the ball into a hoop placed on the ground.

It was our first time visiting Uncle Jim’s place, which is northwest of Fort Worth, the city of my birth. The girls were especially pleased to visit with Anna who is close to their age, and had lots of craft materials for them to color on. Unfortunately we just missed my cousin Aaron who left that very morning for a trip to Europe.

On the second day of our return drive, we stopped in Joplin. We wanted to eat lunch at a restaurant in town as a small way of helping the folks there. As we drove into the heart of the city, the devastation unfolded before our eyes. I had watched all the live video and photos from the day of the tornado, but still it was something to see it in person.

I stopped at a visitor’s center before we got to Joplin in order to get some advice on where to go. I settled on “Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs,” and it turned out to be a great choice. They had a lot of fascinating-sounding entrees. The kids ate pretty well for the most part, with Joseph being exceptionally insatiable. Yoli and I also enjoyed our choices. Mine was a hot dog in a bun, deep fried, and served with sprinkled sugar and a jelly sauce. Very tasty. Next time we pass through I’ll have to try one of their chili dog choices.

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