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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Travellers Tales 2012 Supplemental: Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky, OH

Only a month late on this… I had to break it up into parts as to… um.. not… ramble….

Yeah, I’m doing that trick where you used to expand the spacing to get an eight page paper to look like a 10 page one.

So… the long time coming, hardly anticipated post is here.

Labor Day Weekend of 2011, I took my wife and daughter up to Erie to visit Splash Lagoon. We take our normal summer vacation in the first week of June, but it leaves a lot of summer left without a getaway of any kind. Labor Day Weekend is the last chance to have any fun before the pool closes and it gets all rainy and chilly around our place.

This year, Splash Lagoon was booked, so I turned to my old stomping ground of Sandusky, OH. I spent two summers working at Cedar Point. And for a moment, I thought about saying, “Let’s just go there.” However, with a five year old in tow, it seems like an awful waste of money to go to a coaster heavy amusement park and spend your whole day in Kiddieland. Yes, they do have a water park on site, but it’s outdoors and even though the weather was still warm, it rained or was cloudy most of the weekend. So, we opted to go to an indoor joint, instead.

Great Wolf Lodge is another one of those indoor water parks like Splash Lagoon. This one has a forest theme, complete with log cabin motif. As I started to look for the best deal, my wife chimed in saying, “You better get a King room with a whirlpool.” Now, this is the same girl that was all gung ho to go camping and sleep on the ground the week before, stating I was being a sissy for having some reservations about sleeping in a tent. The fact that I had to book a King room for her, just proved my point.

The trip has been a point of excitement for my kid who has been chomping at the bit to go. She just started kindergarten and was excited to get away for the weekend. I was, too. I think we all were. That weekend was also her parents’ wedding anniversary and that’s still a sore subject after losing her mom two years ago. We felt bad, at first, leaving her father at home. He had been sort of sedentary all summer with a bad leg. We had no idea what we were coming back to with that. But, he put on a brave face and said go. I’m sure my wife had some pangs of guilt about leaving him at home, but after two years, the pain is more like a dull ache that acts up every once in awhile.

After getting on the road we wanted to stop for a restroom break and decided on the Portage service area on the Ohio turnpike. We had thought about Boardman as that is the closest exit to the border, but I ballsed that up and missed the exit. We ended up on a back road near some college and said, “Screw it! Get back on the turnpike. Boardman IHOP will just have to be skipped.” After that roundabout we realized that we desperately needed lunch, as our kid’s mood was starting to reach critical mass, so we stopped at the next service area which was 27 miles away. As we pulled in, my kid says, “Great, we’re back where we started!” We had to explain to her that most service areas on the turnpike are almost identical.

We had a pretty decent meal as I had opted for Panera. Gotta love the Bacon Turkey Bravo. I had even got some chuckles from the guys working there as they noticed I was wearing my Callahan Auto shirt. I really had no ulterior motive to wearing it into Ohio. It had just came up in the rotation of shirts. Still, I did the “business card” thing and gave them one to go and get their own. After that we were on the road towards the Great Wolf Lodge.

You can always tell when you’re close to Sandusky. The quarry smell sort of gives it away. After awhile you become indifferent from it, but I can always tell when I’m close to being back there. Some of it looked different. I guess 15 years will do that. The Great Wolf Lodge used to be called The Great Bear Lodge when I worked at the Point. Eventually, they got absorbed into a corporate location and now operated as Great Wolf, though I’m sure that most of the exterior resembled what it used to way back when.

Once we arrived, the kid could barely contain herself, but we were too busy checking out the digs. The lobby which looked like a log cabin as if a log cabin was built by Donald Trump in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The huge fireplace took up almost one wall and the chimney went floor to ceiling, three floors high. There was a huge set piece in the lobby which we weren’t sure what to make of when we saw it. Apparently, they had some kind of animatronic show, a la Chuck E. Cheese. That would be a nice wind down moment for our kid after dinner.

And with that we went to our room. Next up… the amenities.

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