Archives for posts with tag: summer

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

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The newspaper I work for is putting out a Summer Camp Guide for local parents, and it made me think of how badly I wanted to go to camp as a child.

From grades 5-7, I was really good friends with a girl named Leslie.  Her parents were divorced, and her mom lived in this beautiful old house in the heart of town. It was fun to hang out with her because the park and the candy store were all within a stone’s throw to her house, whereas I lived at the far end of town close to nothing fun at all.

You could say she was privileged, even though it must have sucked to have parents that were divorced. Her mom was out a lot and they had a live-in nanny, who never seemed to be around any time I slept over. She would be “in the house” but usually was up in her room on the top floor, which was creepy to me.

Her dad lived in New York City, and every now and then we’d have a sleepover at his apartment, which was both a thrill and completely uncomfortable. I didn’t know the father all too well, hence my discomfort.

But every summer, for at least 3 weeks, Leslie would be shipped off to summer camp. I saw it as this magical place where nobody knew you, and any stigmas that might plague you in your hometown, simply vanished. You could be anyone. You were brand new.

She would come home with tales of juicy social interactions, clandestine meetings with crushes, and long nights gossiping with girlfriends. And I was pea green with envy. All I had done was hang out at the Leonia pool, trying to dodge insults while using the diving board…from my future husband.

The following year I begged my father to let me go with Leslie, even if it was for just a week. But there was no way…her camp was just too expensive. I understood, but it was still disappointing.

I especially get it now that I have kids. I would have loved to be able to send either of my girls to summer camp, even a day camp, to give them a fun summer experience while mom and dad were working. I looked into it a few years ago, but just about every camp was way out of our price range.

And it is glaringly evident if you attend one of the summer camp expos in the area. Impeccably dressed Moms and Dads usher their children with straight, white teeth from table to table and try to decide which soul-enriching camp their lucky little offspring will spend their summer at. Because money is no object.

But it’s okay. My kids have great memories of summers hiking up to Blue Hole to swim in a mountain pond, and jumping off the dock at Lake Monticello. Trips to King’s Dominion, Disney on Ice, and weeks spend in Florida visiting my dad.

Yeah, camp would’ve been great for them, and maybe even for me. But I don’t think any of us suffered greatly in the long run.

 

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It’s the first day of school for most northern children. My daughter went back to school on August 8th…they do things differently here in the kinda sorta South.

I have fond memories of the first day of school growing up – especially in my teen years. My mom would always take us “back to school” shopping, which meant a trip to Paramus Park or the Garden State Plaza for school clothes. By late August, the stores were featuring all the hot fall fashions, so we would stock up on corduroy pants, long sleeved shirts, sweater vests and blazers.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t wear any of it right after Labor Day. The society calendar might say that summer’s over, but in reality, it was still pretty hot. So your new cardigan and your argyle knee socks would have to wait until cooler climes blew in from Canada.

So you just made the best with your summer wardrobe. it was a time to show a new you…did anyone lose weight over the summer? Did the freshman freak grow into the sophomore stud? Brunettes came back as bleached blondes after months of spraying Sun-In onto wet locks. Everyone was tanned and rested.

It never lasted long. Note-taking, quizzes and homework soon began to fill brand new Mead notebooks. The mean girls remembered how much they hated you back in June, and took little time getting back into the bully swing of things. And before long, it was time to study for your first test, or hand in your first book report.

But just when you thought school really sucked, a cold front would come through, and you could finally wear that brand new “back to school” outfit…

And hope that you turned some heads.

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Today my 13 year old started high school. Sorta.

She’s actually in the 8th grade, but they attend our county’s high school. This is a good thing for many reasons.

  1. The high school is TONS closer to our house than the middle school – the drive took just about 10 minutes this morning.
  2. The 8th graders have their own wing, so they don’t interact all that much with the upperclassmen. Except for at lunch. I wonder how that will work out…
  3. They start an hour later than the middle school. This means that not only does my daughter get to sleep later, but I still get to take my morning walks. If I’m out the door by 6 in the morning, I am back in time to wake her up at 7.

Having experienced my first day with this new schedule, I was amazed at how wonderful my morning was despite the fact that I was up at 4 a.m. with killer cramps that 6 Advil and 1 Meloxicam could not conquer. I just felt like I had so much time!

The one thing that wasn’t different? My daughter’s crappy attitude. On the ride to school she was sullen, with her head against the window, not talking. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she didn’t feel well. This is the same commute I made a hundred times during the 7th grade.

My girl does not like school.

I try to tell her it’s her job…school is her 9-5 until she graduates and gets to join the real world…which isn’t nearly as fun as she thinks it is. I would kill to be done by 3:45 with nothing more to do than some homework. Try working a full day and then having to cook and do dishes. School looks like a pretty sweet deal.

But even if she’s miserable, I’m not. I LOVE this new schedule! I love High School!

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Old House

My daughter has a summer job that requires a lot of my time – she works with my husband at the outdoor event arena that he works at as well. Problem is their shifts don’t mesh, and I am stuck driving her home from most of the events she works. Like at 9:45 pm. I’m not a late night person…yes, 9:45 is late night for me.

Don’t judge – I get up at 5:00 am. Plus the venue is a 25-30 drive from my house. The other night between the travel and getting her food, it was a 90 minute excursion.

I had jobs as a kid – but I lived in a town where you could walk to everything. My first job was working as a cashier in our local supermarket. But the manager was a sour-pussed old man who glared at you from his little office perch and yelled at you each chance he got.

So I quit that job and began working as a cleaning gal in one of our town’s 200+ year old homes. One of the main reasons I took the job was for the pay…$5 an hour. Back in 1981 that was, to quote Jeff Spicoli, “righteous bucks.”

The couple who lived in the home were a nice elderly man and wife. However, they turned out to be a tad, well…eccentric. But I liked that, especially after supermarket sour puss. But it didn’t take long for me to realize these two were not your average couple.

My first day on the job they broke me in by having me clean the kitchen. This would usually mean doing some dishes, cleaning the counters, maybe sweeping the floor, right?

I walked in to see fish heads boiling on the stove. There was a thick, grey foam gathering around the sides of the pot as one fish eye stared at the beamed ceiling. They used the meat that fell off the heads to feed their cats. I really did not relish the idea of cleaning that pot.

But that was not the first of many odd jobs I would be given at that house. I would spend an entire Saturday morning oiling the old wood floors. Funny thing is, I used vegetable oil that came out of a big yellow jug – or maybe it was corn oil. I’d pour about a cup’s worth out, and spread it over the floor with a sponge mop. You know those floors would suck that stuff up almost instantaneously?

There was a small wing of the house that was the original 200 year old portion – a very small cottage that had been subsequently added on to. It was the most charming part of the home; you could imagine some little colonial family living there, and cooking over the fireplace. Yet his pleasant, historic little room was used by the cats as their litter box. It was my job twice a week to find and dispose of all their little turds. Whee!

Did I mention these two were a bit slovenly or are you starting to figure that out for yourself…

I remember one time I had to clean their bathroom & bedroom. The bath had a bidet – I remember thinking, “who the hell needs a bidet in New Jersey?” But the worst was what I found under their bed while picking up their dirty laundry. I found a stack of very old porn magazines. I’m not talking Hustler or Playboy. I’m talking about some shit from the 50s or 60s.

I was horrified. You have to remember, I was only 16 or 17 at the time, and these folks were old enough to be my grandparents. Finding this porn bummed me out – it was like walking in on your parents havng sex…I had a hard time looking either of them in the face for at least a month.

I remember another instance where I was sitting with the wife at her dining room table. I was telling her how a girlfriend of mine at school had died of Hodgkin’s Disease, and how upsetting it was to me. It was at this point that she opened her mouth and let out a very loud, very wet burp. She didn’t cover her mouth, she didn’t embarrassedly pardon herself afterwards, she just kept looking at me and listening.

It was so odd.

All these things aside, they were still a cool old couple. They helped sponsor me when I was in the New Jersey Miss National Teen Age Pageant (now there’s a blog post), and the wife actually helped me write my essay on who I admire the most. She suggested I choose Alan Alda, who I did not admire in the least, but he was from our home town and was big on feminist issues…it was a good hook.

And it was a good job – the work could be hard sometimes – washing the multitude of 12 paned windows with 100+ year old glass in them was no picnic, but you could daydream while you did it. I worked there until I graduated high school and had earned quite a tidy little sum of cash.

I think back on that job, and that kooky little couple from time to time…especially when I see a bidet, boiling fish….

or vintage porn.

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Today my girls and I are spending another day at King’s Dominion – one of the big amusement parks here in Virginia. While showering, I was thinking of what rides we might go on today- trying to think of rides we haven’t gone on a whole lot so far this year.

The first ride that came to mind is the White Water Canyon. You know the ride – it’s the giant raft that seats 6 and rushes down a rapids-filled river. I used to love this ride, but not anymore. At least not at King’s Dominion.

In the past, this ride used to be like a giant crap shoot…a watery roll of the dice. You chose your seat carefully because on this ride, some folks got wet and others didn’t. It all depended on who the fickle hand of fate felt like pointing her watery finger at. A current or a bump up against the side of the canyon could cause the raft to spin at the last minute, changing the course of someone’s day – who would wind up with crotch-rot and who would stay dry?

Many times I got off this ride with nothing more than a few droplets of water on my shorts, or just wet shoes. Other times I was soaked to the skin while my fellow riders, pointing at me and laughing,  might only have a wet sleeve. That’s what made it fun. You just never knew how you would fare by the ride’s end.

But now? You get wet. Period. King’s Dominion changed the course of the ride within the past few years and no matter where you sit, no matter how the raft bobs, spins or dips, the vessel is channeled to go under a giant waterspout, dousing every passenger. You come off that ride soaked right down to your Fruit of the Looms. Crotch-rot all around!

I don’t understand why they changed it. There was a beauty to the older ride…a randomness. The ride was different every time and that’s what I liked about it. You stood in line wondering if you were going to be walking down the exit ramp dry or dripping wet. My husband, who finds walking in wet shorts to be highly disagreeable, was never willing to risk it.

Well, darlin’…there’s no risk now. No matter what you do, no matter where you sit, the fine folks at KD have engineered it so the house wins every time.

And I think it sucks.

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Have you ever gone skinny dipping?

One summer on Martha’s Vineyard I was out with an islander dude I’d known for quite a few years. The night was hot and muggy, so we decided to go swimming, but not at the beach. We drove to a pond in the woods that only the locals seemed to know about. With the dark night air as our camouflage, we stripped down to our birthday suits and slipped into the cool, still water.

But skinny dipping in the dark is easy. Have you ever done it in broad daylight? Martha’s Vineyard has a section of beach that is clothing optional. While in my late teens and early twenties I was intrigued with the notion of laying on the beach completely nude – no tan lines, no sand in your bottoms. But the thought of being nude in public, and in broad daylight? The thought was unnerving to say the least.

But I did it. I walked so far down the beach that I was virtually alone. Every now and then some folks would walk by as I laid naked on my towel, but I’d just keep my head down and wait for them to pass by. I got used to them after a while. I have to admit that I enjoyed the experience.

Problem was, I was only on Martha’s Vineyard for a few weeks each summer. Where was I going to get my nude beach fix in New Jersey?

At Sandy Hook, of course! I cannot recall how I heard of Gunnison Beach, but when I got wind that there was a nude beach on the Jersey shore I had to give it a shot. I drove down on a Saturday morning – Sandy Hook is a rather large park, so I had to ask the ticket booth attendant which beach was clothing optional. It was embarrassing.

The parking lot for Gunnison beach was full. Hmmm, I guess you have to get here super early… it wasn’t even noon yet. I parked in the next available lot and walked dragging my chair and cooler and beach bag. Once you reached the beach, you had to walk another 1/4 mile or so to get to the nude part. I was beginning to wonder if this was worth it. Once I was knee deep in nudists, I dropped my stuff and set up camp.

This was different from the beach at Martha’s Vineyard. For one it was packed. There had to be a couple hundred people, all in various degrees of nudity, of all different shapes and sizes. On the Vineyard, you might see a dozen nudists over the span of 100 yards or so. But this beach? It was more like 100 people every dozen yards. All nude.

I didn’t stay all that long my first day. I kept getting hit on. I tried to ignore everyone by sticking my nose in a book while simultaneously blasting my Walkman (yes, Walkman – it was the 80’s), but greasy, repulsive dudes kept approaching me. And they approached me in a hard to ignore way. They would squat next to my sand chair, which would put their “junk” at right about eye level.

Ew. Time to pack up and leave.

This happened to me the next 2 or 3 times I went, until a group of regulars took me under their wing. They saw that I was relentlessly being bothered by every horn-bag on the beach and suggested I sit near them from now on. Seems when you are part of a larger group the pick-up artists leave you alone – Kind of like in the animal kingdom. The lone gazelle often falls prey to the predator – but there is safety in numbers.

After that I became a regular. I was up at 6 am on Saturday and Sunday, and on the beach no later than 8 or 9 depending on the traffic. I’d stay until 4 or 5 and drive the hour plus back up to my home. I rarely went totally nude – I preferred just going topless. But on a few occasions I did bare all, and was called “cotton tail” due to my very white fanny cheeks.

That beach was a tight knit community. They would berate gawkers – men who walked down the beach just to stare at boobs and butts, and if you weren’t a regular, using a camera was like a federal offense. I’ve seen a pack of naked men surround a gawker and demand his film. One guy tried to hide his camera inside a styrofoam cooler with a hole cut in it. His camera and his nose came close to being broken. I was a regular, so I could use my camera. I only have a few photos, but they certainly add some spice to my photo album!

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I left in a couple of fannies just to make it fun!

I was a regular for a few summers, and then I moved out of state. When I moved back I went a few more times, but the folks I knew had stopped going or just weren’t there when I was. Somehow it wasn’t as much fun sitting by myself, once again open to attack by the greasy, repulsive dudes who relentlessly prowl the beach.

If I weren’t such a lard-ass, I’d make it a point to go back. When I was young and thin, with boobs that still defied gravity, it was easy. Oh, there were women on the beach who looked like I do now, nude as the day they were born. But they are made of different stuff. I could never entertain the idea of even going topless at this point in my life.

But that’s okay. I did it then, and it was a blast.

 

our pool

We were stuck in the house for the past 3 days. From either bad weather or illness I’ve been stuck in my little house since Tuesday. Today dawned sunny and bright, and while my youngest’s tummy was still a tad rumbly today, we thought we’d risk a trip to the pool.

I spent most of my summer vacation at the pool growing up. It was only a short walk down the block from my home, and our family got a membership every year. My kids? not as lucky. Our pool is more than 2 miles away, and we only buy a passbook that lets us go around 6 times over the course of the summer.

We also have a lake that has 4 beaches, but I like the pool better. It’s cleaner – the water is clear and blue and refreshing. There aren’t leaves floating in it, and you aren’t likely to step on something that you can’t identify. Don’t get me wrong, we use the lake often – way more than the pool. I just like the pool better.

It was crowded today. We had to park in the far away lot and hoof it. There were no tables to be had, and we were lucky to find two lounger chairs that we could easily pull together to make our home base. We always get a table – I will watch like a hawk until one opens up and then snag it. But today I didn’t mind our little set up. I was poolside, and I had a lounger – I could lay on my back or my belly (in theory, anyway.)

In the past the pool was a drag. My youngest was too young to be trusted in the water without adult supervision (mommy) so someone (mommy) always had to be in there with her. Now? I love the pool! I can sit in my chair and read, and take a dip when I begin to feel like a medium rare porterhouse.

The girls? They can take care of themselves now. I just need to be in glancing distance.

The kids jumped in the water and I gingerly settled into one of the loungers – it made an uncomfortable groan, hence my use of the word “gingerly.” Nothing, and I mean nothing would be as embarrassing as me breaking a chair at the pool, unless my boobs fell out in the process. That might make me put a for sale sign in my front yard and relocate.

Plus they are low to the ground. I realized this when I tried to get up for the first time. Trying to raise my ample carcass out of that lounger was no easy feat. I tried to do it quickly and as inconspicuously as possible. By the end of the day I had a system down that gave the illusion that I had a modicum of grace.

My book, a loaner from the library, was difficult to read. It’s gigantic, first of all (Plains of Passage – book 4 in the Clan of the Cave Bear series) and therefore was hard to hold without cradling it against my body – which was wet. Thus, the pages would get soggy. I have too much respect for a library book to mistreat it that way, unlike the previous reader who thought turning pages with fingers coated in Cheez Doodle dust was A-OK.

So I put the book down and just observed humanity – fun in the sun poolside humanity.

  • There was a deeply tanned woman in a black bikini. She had to be in her last week of pregnancy, and she was absolutely beautiful. Bronzed and oiled and all belly. And in a bikini.
  • I love that run/walk thing kids do when they are trying to get to the snack bar or the diving board as quickly as possible without actually running. Because we all know running on the pool deck is usually #1 on the “no-no” list. If you run, you get the lifeguard whistle. But let’s face it, they aren’t fooling anyone. That quick-step shuffle will usually get you a whistle and a warning just as fast as you would if you were in a full-blown sprint.
  • When did kids start wearing goggles…no, requiring goggles? When I was a kid I did 7 hours worth of under water acrobatics without the help of goggles. Yes, I went home with eyes red as beets, but that was your battle scar from a day at the pool.
  • My daughter did her first front flip off the diving board today and landed flat on her back – which is pretty much what we all did when we did our first flip. She wanted to cry, but didn’t. She also lost her earring in the process. Yeah, she hit hard. I’m amazed and proud that she did it with no hesitation, though. Last year I had to bribe her with cash just to jump off the board.
  • I’m thankful for spray suntan lotion. I can re-apply in seconds.
  • Laying on your stomach in a hard plastic lounger is not comfortable, especially if you try to read at the same time. Getting up from the lounger while on your stomach is no picnic either. Duly noted – that act may not be repeated.

But now I’m home…tanned, cool and clad in shorts and a tank top. I’m burned in a few places (I guess I didn’t reapply as diligently as I should have) but that’s okay. We got out of the house, and into the sun.

It was a good afternoon.

schools-out

Today is the last day of school for my youngest daughter. My oldest, as my more loyal readers know, graduated from high school last weekend. But the rest of the school system had to endure 3 more days of school in order to make up missed days due to snow.

I will admit I hadn’t planned on sending my girl to school for any of those days, but she wants to go today because a) it’s the official last day of school, and b) they are having a pizza party. I may have wanted to go then, too.

Ah, the last day of school…do you, dear readers, remember that blissful feeling of each second that ticked by on the classroom wall clock meant you were that much closer to freedom? To a summer that seemed to be a chain of endless hot and hazy days spent at the pool, and on your bike, and on family vacation?

The walk home from school once that bell rang at 3:00 p.m. was a sweet one. Broad Avenue, lined with a mixture of stately homes and tidy, brick tudors, would offer up a shady canopy of maple trees all the way from ACS school to Oakdene Avenue, where I would turn to head home. Once inside my front door, I’d toss whatever books and papers that were left over at the end of the year in the foyer, plop on the couch, turn on Match Game and ponder over the summer before me, relishing the fact that I had almost 3 whole months of days that were my own.

My kids? They get bored during summer vacation because I’ve always had to work. Their summer would be spent sitting at home fighting with each other, or hanging out in the area of town where I work, shopping and going to the movies. But this summer I am unemployed, so we can fill our days with trips to the pool or the beach, and maybe even take a hike or visit a park we’ve never been to. It won’t be an extravagant summer, but we may have an adventure or two.

It goes by fast…even my kids think so. My summer vacations seemed like an eternity of Coppertone lotion, Good Humor ice cream, Sun-In hairspray, and Diet Pepsi. But for some reason the summer break my kids experience flies by in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, July 4th is here, and then by the end of that month they are gearing up to head back to school in mid August.

I hope that my being home will make it seem longer – they will be doing more than just watching TV and playing Wii. At least I hope they will.

I’d better start planning some outings.

 

You guys keep the sharks away, right?

After two consecutive days in the water and sun, my family and I decided to not spend the entire day at the beach and opted to go for an hour or two in the morning.

Well, that was before some unexpected company showed up.

We arrived at Flagler Beach at around 10 am or so and enjoyed over an hour of your general Atlantic Ocean horseplay – I even managed to body surf a bit with the use of a borrowed too-small for me boogie board.

I then told my husband that we should probably think about packing it up soon, and sat down to read my book. I knew it would take him and the girls a full 15 or 20 minutes to tear themselves away from the ocean. I was awakened from my reading induced coma a few minutes later by the sound of my oldest daughter calling out to me. Upon looking up, I saw an empty ocean, with throngs of people standing on the shore and pointing their fingers. It was then I saw them.

DOLPHINS!

Not just one, but a pack of four! I grabbed my camera, and ran down the beach. I shot some decent footage of my family in the foreground and the dolphins in the background. After I shot enough tape to satisfy the National Geographic, I walked the camera back up to our blankets, grabbed a boogie board and headed for the ocean. I did not want this opportunity to pass by with me holding a camera. I wanted to get OUT there!

I was afraid that the dolphins would leave before I had a chance to get into the water. Plus I was dragging two boogie boards with me. I waded out into the ocean and was in the middle of telling my oldest to grab a boogie board when a huge wave came and knocked the boards out of my hands. Shit. I then had to turn around and chase the boards that were floating back to shore. What a waste of my time! Why wasn’t anyone in my family helping me? Oh that’s right! They are watching dolphins! Let mommy chase down the boogie boards she thoughtfully brought for them!

It was no easy task I can tell you that. As soon as I’d get close to the board, a wave would come in and push it further towards the shore. Grrr! Once both boards were in my clutches, I waded back out into the ocean. I have to admit I purposefully steered clear of my family. I was a bit miffed that they didn’t bother to help me, so I hogged both boogie boards until one of them swam over to me to get it.

This man from Brooklyn and I were the farthest ones out when suddenly a dolphin popped up about 10 feet away from me! It was so thrilling! My youngest swam out to me after that on her board and we floated around watching their fins popping up out of the water here and there, closer and then farther away. It was hard to see them at times because the waves would bob you up and down and you could only see them when the waves had you up high. At one point we bobbed up and there was a dolphin fin around 7 feet away from us!

It actually scared my 9 year old who can only equate fins with sharks. I told her it was fine, and that dolphins help keep sharks away from us – I don’t know if that’s an old wives tale or what, but she felt considerably better after that, so who cares.

And then they just swam away. It was great though. We had roughly 35 minutes with them and it was free of charge. No Marineland or Sea World fee to pay – just dolphins in the wild and a bunch of awestruck humans.

The one bad thing? The hour we meant to spend at the beach turned into almost 3 hours. My face and shoulders are pretty burned, and to make matters worse I had my big black sunglasses on the whole time, so I now resemble a sunburned raccoon. Oh, and my nose looks like a plum.

But it’s sooooo worth it. My kids and I will remember that experience forever.