With recently financial difficulties Nationwide, Many Americans (myself included), have found it difficult to go anywhere and do anything. Let’s face it, without a job, you can’t even afford the overpriced gasoline to go anywhere-much less, do anything.
I did manage to find a few gems that I would like to pass along, that may be an affordable break from the awful conditions that we are all experiencing. Chiefly, the relentless 110 degree Midwest temperatures and the lack of financial ability.
I have a family of 4; which consists of one boy (age 5), and one girl (age 12). We reside in the Greater Louisville Kentucky/Southern Indiana area; “Pert Near the middle of the Great Midwest Dustbowl”.
It has been my family’s long goal to go to Disneyland, The Smithsonian, The Grand Canyon, and well you get the idea. Our finances have gone from Bad to worse over the years, making it difficult to do anything. Employers are offering lesser salaries; while prices are still going up. I guess, I am probably preaching to the choir, so I will get on with the gist of my article.
Some folks view that vacations are a waste of money and a poor investment. I believe that vacations are an investment in a family’s memories. You should do your level best, to provide at least some form of morale boosting recreation, especially in these trying times.
I wanted to give my family a Happy July 4th this year. My larger extended Family wasn’t planning anything reunion related; which would have consisted of back-yard fireworks and burgers anyway. So, it was my chance to do something different.
I decided to take my family to Deam’s Lake for the 4th; for a day of hiking, fishing, lake swimming, watermelon and yeah the same burgers. I invited along my Dad’s family and a family friend. Park admission is $5.00 per car-load. Everything else we brought with us, except in that there was no hand-soap in the rest-rooms. I had to pay $2.50, for a small size pump that normally would have cost $1.25, but that was all.
We found a great place near the lake with shade trees and picnic tables and a grill, all for our $5.00 admission (for the whole car-load)! I had spent some time there as a boy with my family. I remember when the open grass was full of bikini clad women working on their tans, when I was about 7 or 8 yrs old in 1970 something.
My uncle, who shall remain nameless, was 5 years older than me. He used to have me chase him with a bucket of water. The goal was to miss him, and hit the young ladies with the water so, that they would jump up, and with their tops un-done for tan line issues; they would expose heavenly morsels to sunlight-or something of the sort. So, the amount and type of folks at the lake are forever burned in my memoirs.
I later spent time there as a 12 year old Boy Scout, and then again as a 1980s teenager with my Pals from High School. During my teen years, I can assure you that I noticed the young ladies that were there. Not quite as many as age 8, but it was about quality, not quantity.
I noticed something unusual, about our 2012 July 4th. First off, there were no sun-bathers at all. The open grass was a dessert wasteland. The type of folks there was different as well. The amount of Hispanics was overwhelming. I minored in Spanish in college, and like the culture, Food and Sangria very much. While there were a few Senoritas there that were strikingly attractive; I couldn’t help but wonder if Arizona had lost, it’s border battle.
All kidding aside, the Caucasian population doesn’t go outdoors anymore. And when they do, they shouldn’t be wearing Bikinis. It appeared that my red bandana and I had time travelled back-all alone.
My kids had an absolute blast. My 5 year old led us on an adventure hike. My daughter caught a fish. We all swam in the lake, and no one drowned. We ate watermelon and had a very “Retro” July 4th that will be emblazoned in the minds for eternity.
I strongly suggest getting your family to the lake, or “A Lake” in the near future. The physical activity will do your family well in the waistline, and the close knit morale that comes from being a “Shope” or a “Thomas” or a Whatever you are, will be priceless.
Another Retro alternative for “The Great Midwest Dustbowl of 2012” was a personal favorite of mine… King’s Island.
The park opened in 1970. That’s me with my Mother in about 1973 or 1974, I am guessing 5 years old. Yes, I am sporting “Herb Tarlic” pants and a Bowl-cut, Mom was as beautiful as ever, may she rest in piece (Don’t Smoke).
At any rate, I remember the park had the most wonderful shops, with Family Crests and knick-knacks that you couldn’t find anywhere else. I remember that the flowers were always beautiful and thick everywhere impatiens galore. You used to be able to play in the fountains at the front entrance.
I expected the park to me more packed than it was, especially with the closing of 6 Flags over Kentucky Kingdom, just 90 minutes away. There was a decent turn out, however there was a break in the heat from 105 degree temperatures down to a more comfortable 88 degrees on the day that we went.
The flowers aren’t quite as impressive as they used to be, and the fountain is now fenced off; but they have added a new water park in 1989 now called Soak City. I haven’t been to it since 1993 or so, and it hasn’t changed much, except for some of the names. Soak City is triple the fountain fun and is included with park admission for free. You can even ride the train to it.
The park has dozens of roller coasters, and the old Hannah Barbara land is now “Planet Snoopy”. Since, I’m another “Joe Cool”, I’m good with most of the changes, except for the antique cars; which are now a tombstone in the graveyard of dead rides-literally they have a graveyard! My Antique cars are now a smoking park, where you can apparently walk your smoker (again-Don’t Smoke).
My family and I decided to go, and try not to spend a dime in the park. Except for admission (we got free media passes). General park admission costs $36.99 per person.
We brought in a bottle of water each, with generic propel fitness packet for electrolytes and a granola bar-non chocolate “Retro” type. We got to the park at opening 10am. The kids were wide-eyed. They were intimidated by many rides, but soon began having a blast.
Most of the rides are included with park admission, and free. We did not purchase fast line cutting passes, and avoided all shops and pay games.
We had a blast in Planet Snoopy. We shot Zombies in the Haunted Hill, and did not pay $8.99 for our picture. We also, did not pay $8.99 for an Icee/Slurpy frozen drink. We ate our granola bar and drank our fitness water, and spent nothing. We had a small backpack to put our drinks, granola bars and camera in. This is necessary for some rides, that ask-do you have any fluids with you.
We got our hand stamped, and ate lunch in the car. We had packet a cooler with sandwich fixins, Veggi sticks and drinks waiting for us. We did not spend $29.99 for 1 pizza.
After lunch, we carried in a second water, packet, and granola bar for another pit stop snack for later in the day. We did not spend $6.00 for popcorn, and $5.00 for a coke.
We did attend a free concert, called of all things, The Retro 1970’s. They played that Funky music White-Boy! Did the Disco Duck, and Freaked-Out to “Freak-Out”. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, and after walking 20 miles through the park, it was a welcome change to sit for 30 minutes in the shade.
The disco ball dancing was in tune with my 1970s expenses. I spent $12.00 to park, and $15.00 for a large locker at soak city, to hold 4 pair of shoes and a bag. I let the kids play 1 game to try to win a 4′ tall red dragon; they spent $1 each-and basically threw those dollar bills away. (stay away from all shops and pay games).
Basically, we spent $29.00 for a family of 4, for a full day of activity, rides, water park fun and even got in a show. Of course the park admission would have cost us $147.69 had I not received my Eagle Eye Productions Freelance Media passes.
We also got drive through on the way home, with a 90+ minute car ride from Ohio at 9pm, it was the only real option. The moral of the story, for under $200.00 you can have a Disney style day trip on a recession budget, and beat the Dustbowl Heat at the same time.
On both occasions, I got to feel like a good parent for taking care of my kids, as best I could, and did not spend a fortune. Their spirits were renewed somewhat, in the midst of “Dust-Bowl fever”.