We had a blast on our mini-family vacation this past weekend! My God we needed it. Needed some family time. I will admit I was sucking back the crankiness the first day. I was just tired and burnt out from my previous week of single parenting. Then I shooed the family away so I could sit and read by myself for awhile. Felt much better and ready to have fun after that. And it was so nice to watch the kids laugh and play with their dad.
We went to Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort and Waterpark in Utica, IL. I got a big thrill when we checked in and found out that Stan and Terry, DJ's from the local Chicago station WCKG, would be at the resort for the St. Patrick's Day party. I love listening to this show while I do dishes or run errands. Just the buzz of their pleasant debating in the background makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Stan and Terry are my virtual husbands during the day. And yes, like a dork I went up to Stan to tell him how much I loved his show. I was wet and large in my dress/swimsuit and he and his wife were very gracious and friendly.
The hotel is pretty new and squeaky clean. A little under decorated, but cute with log like furniture in the family suite. We stayed on the same floor as the waterpark which got a little noisy. But it was worth it to be able to stroll down to the water every day and then head back for naps when we needed to. The changing rooms were terrible. One wee bench and lockers that you had to rent $8 locks for at the front desk. LOTS of naked people standing around waiting to get into their lockers because there wasn't enough room to squeeze by. Once again, impressed with people's willingness to be naked in public. I'm just not there. Me, God, my husband and the boys I drunkenly mashed with are the only ones that get to see me in my full nekid glory.
The waterpark itself was setup shotgun style. This made it kind of hard to participate in everything without walking through mazes of roped off bridges. I must admit I preferred Blue Harbor Resort in Wisconsin for it's sprawl like set up. I also wasn't keen on how few lifeguards they had at the pool. There was a big wave pool right next to the kiddy area and the proximity made me afraid to blink when the waves were rocking. The kiddy pool was lovely though. Very warm water and they had some great slides for the younger kids. My son went up and down this big yellow slide all day long.
Also, nice big hot tub and the grown up slides were terrifying and fun. Sadly, the lazy river sucked wads. There was not a good place to get into the tubes and the force of the water really sucked you in while you were standing there trying to figure out how to jump into your tube. Again, Blue Harbor (the only other water resort we've gone to) wins as their lazy river is indeed lazy and easy. I'm a fan of lazy rivers since I've given up tubing in the real river. The last time husband's family went (without my very pregnant self) they found a human HEAD in the water. I shit you not. There was an area of the river where the police were dragging the water for MORE BODY PARTS. What slays me is that husband's family KEPT ON GOING even after they knew there were decapitated bits in the water. There is not enough beer in the world to make me float on by a CSI scene. I would have been screaming and running atop the water to get to shore.
Grizzly Jack's has an indoor amusement park that was located in a big metal warehouse building on the lot. Very fun, with lots of Kiddy Land type rides. They were all free for the St. Patty's party so we had a blast riding them all a few times over. I particularly enjoyed the rifle target practice game they had. It was a life sized rifle and actual metal targets that you hit with your laser "bullet". But I'm a sucker for any shooting type game, especially ones like Police Trainer where you shoot for skill rather than gore. Try me, I'll kick your ass with my precision shots!
I only have two other whines about Grizzly. Ok three.
1.) They are pretty expensive and they don't offer package deals. The resort is set up for larger groups to rent cabins (Around $400 and up) with a few suites inside the hotel. So for a family of 4 to try and get one of the smaller rooms it costs $249 A NIGHT and up. Considering they charge you for everything once your in the door this is crazy. At least for our budget. I channelled my mother in law and nagged at the reservations manager till he found us a room for $169 a night and then used said mother in laws gift certificate.
2.) The food sucks. I mean really sucks. Even simple stuff like pizza was gaggingly awful. (Though daughter did enjoy the free chocolate cake that came with the kids meals). Luckily we figured out there was a Cracker Barrel nearby and so we had a big brunch every morning. Yum. Grits. Yum.
3.) They short sheeted the beds. I get really skeevy about touching hotel blankets and mattresses. I want nothing but the bleached within an inch of it's life sheets between me and the mystery stains. Grizzly's used a flat sheet so small you couldn't even tuck the sides under the mattress. This type of bedmaking means you will be laying on bare mattress at 3 AM. Shudder. Whenever I got up to pee I would come back and pull the bottom sheet towards my side of the bed. Sliding husband and son across the mattress. Then I would scooch as close to the middle as I could. Call me crazy, but I've seen the blacklight hotel test!
Don't get me wrong, we had an awesome time. It was so nice to be together, to play together and every night we rented a movie and chilled out in our room. And this week husband has come home from work every night. No overtime! Joy! Though his boss called him over the weekend to let him know they were opening champagne in the office. They just got selected to be the architects for a big school project in the city. This means a big job, and more likely to get other school contracts with this in their history. I totally hid his cell phone when I saw the boss's number come through. But he thwarted me when he checked it before bedtime. Well, at least the overtime will pay for a visit to Blue Harbor Resort next month.