Thursday, August 26, 2010

Leo's first road trip

By K.J. Cardinal

The insanity that is our lives these days yielded Leo's first road trip last week and without a doubt he proved to be an unbelievably portable baby.

Over the course of six days, we traveled over 1400 miles, visited four states and stayed in four different hotels... and the little guy didn't miss a beat the entire time.

We left Hudson on Friday morning for Rochester, N.Y. A friend of mine, Jeremy Friel, was getting married on Saturday and I was the wedding videographer. Having to stop every three hours or so to feed Leo, we ended up being rather pressed for time for me to make the rehearsal. Thankfully we made it with a few minutes to spare.

The rehearsal was straight forward and didn't take too long, and then we were off to find a little local flavor for dinner. We ended up stumbling across this cool spot right on Lake Ontario, The Pelican's Nest. Anna was in such an awesome mood that she really stole the show at the entire restaurant.

At 9 p.m. a local cover band was set to play, so near the end of dinner they started their sound check. Anna was so into it. All she wanted to do was cover her ears with both hands and stand there and stare at the band. It reminded me of how she is with fireworks... you're not sure if she likes it, but then once they'd stop, she'd beg for more. It was hilarious.

Saturday was pretty much all about the wedding for me, while Angie took the kiddos to the pool at our second hotel of the trip. The wedding was great and it was fun to get to spend time with the entire Friel clan... New Hampshire's finest.

On Sunday morning, we woke up and had breakfast in the hotel with the other wedding guests. After a great breakfast, we hit the road without a plan. Those of you who know Angie and I, know that we often have the most fun when we don't have a plan... kind of like on our honeymoon when we ended up staying a night in the guest bedroom at a winemaker's house in the middle of his family vineyard in Sonoma... but I digress. Well, this wasn't quite that good, but it was still a blast.

First up, we were cruising on the highway, about to blow through Buffalo, N.Y., when I said, to Angie, "Google 'the birthplace of buffalo wings' and see what restaurant comes up." Sure enough, the first result was the Anchor Bar... so off we went.

This place was a combination of dive bar and hole in the wall... definitely right up our alley. We obviously ordered wings, which were very good... nothing earth-shattering about the wings, but tasty.

After lunch, it was back on the road again, with our destination this time being Erie, Pa. While we were at lunch, I was searching for things to do in the area and found out that the Erie County (N.Y.) Fair was ending that night.

So, Angie threw Leo in her little baby sling, we woke Anna up from her nap and put her in the stroller and off to the fair we went. Angie was once again a super good girl and was all excited to try out some of the awesome fair rides.

We quickly realized that Anna is probably at the worst age for these fair rides... too short for the rides she wants to go on and too big for the baby rides. Once she laid her eyes on the Super Slide though, that's what she wanted to do. Luckily for us, the attendant of the ride didn't bother checking Anna's height, so we snuck in and up the stairs we went.

Anna was a jabberjaws the whole way up the stairs and was visible ecstatic to go down the slide. We sat next to each other and down we went. We were about half way down, when Anna's momentum got the best of her and she banged her head on the slide pretty hard... Angie got this picture which is actually kind of funny (knowing that Anna is OK) because this is the exact moment when she fell back and smacked her head.

I knew that Anna was more scared than hurt, but she was actually pretty shooken up by the whole incident. So, I diverted her attention by pointing out the huge bouncy house obstacle course ride they had. This seemed like a good idea, but nearly turned into a huge disaster for her.

To make a long story short, she couldn't make it through the obstacle course, so the ride attendant (donning a sick mullet) helped her out of the bouncy house just a minute into going through the five minute course. Anna didn't realize that she missed out on nearly the entire ride and was eager to get in line for another ride, when over her shoulder, I saw the bouncy house attendant hollering for help because the bouncy house lost its air and was collapsing down on kids.

Thank God Anna got off that ride before that happened because she definitely would've been trapped in there. And, while she probably wouldn't have been hurt, she may have been scarred for life by fair rides after her Super Slide incident too.

Anyway, we capped our day at the fair by checking out the Stunt Dogs show. This was BY FAR Anna's favorite thing of the day... I know, shocking it was better than the near concussion or entrapment of the fair rides. But, this was actually really cool.

These dogs were  up on this small stage... probably 30' x 30'... and doing all sorts of tricks. The final trick of the show was a contest between two of the dogs to see who could jump higher. Amazingly, one of the dogs cleared 62"... I was floored to see this and as you can see, Anna was too...

We left the fair around 10 p.m. and headed to Erie. The second half of the trip wasn't nearly as good as the first half.

In a word, Erie, Pennsylvania is depressing. We checked out Presque Isle State Park, which had potential, but it was rainy and windy, so we couldn't take advantage of the dozen or so beaches and ponds. We drove around for two hours trying to find a good spot to eat and ended up settling on a chain restaurant across the street from our hotel. Pretty sad.

On Tuesday, we got up and headed to Moon Township, Pa. for a training session I had scheduled at Robert Morris University. We were able to squeeze in a lunch at this cool cafe in Sewickley and hit up an old-school candy store for Anna.

We capped off the trip by driving til about midnight and crashing at a hotel just outside of Scranton.

As you can see, there was a lot going on and the trip was a blast. Angie proved once again why I married her as she was such a trooper with the kids while I had to work and agreeing to the crazy road trip in the first place. I wasn't looking forward to being away from my family for six days straight, so we turned that potential negative into a huge positive and had a blast.

I can't believe that the new athletic season is here already. The summer went by like a blur, but at least we got to cap it off with a solid road trip.


  1. I'm so glad you guys had so much fun on your trip. I'm also VERY proud that Anna not only liked the big slide...until smacking her head...just like I did, and that she liked sound check. At this rate, she might be a bigger concert junky than me...if that's possible.
    Love you all!
    -Aunt Kate

  2. I just got a chance to catch up on the blog reading and I am so glad that I did :o) It sounds like you guys had a great time and that the kids cooperated nicely (always a bonus!). I love the pictures, though I must admit I laughed the most at this:

    "So, Angie threw Leo in her little baby sling, we woke Anna up from her nap and put her in the stroller and off to the fair we went. Angie was once again a super good girl and was all excited to try out some of the awesome fair rides."

    So glad to see Angie behaved too! LOL!

    Love you!
    Tiffany, your psychotic, proofreading sister!