We are a motley crew. Routinely as we pile out of the circa 80’s limo - which doubles as the family travel vehicle - more than a few people pull out their cameras. I’ve said on more than one occasion that we should be filming a reality TV show. But this is better than TV - this is our life, and this family - which has generously welcomed Oliver and me into their fold - know how to live.
First, let me give you the cast breakdown:
Danny - a Dad - also known as the limo driver (enough said)
Richie - a Dad - the willing copilot, with the strong city-ish accent
Me - a Mom - I’m just along for the ride :)
Chris - 15 - an athletic boy scout - in charge of camp set up & most things knot related.
Roz - 13 - aka cool teenage girl - athletic, great at wrangling the littler ones, but still willing to be a kid.
Nick - 12 - the ‘tween’ of the group - ask him anything about current sports - seriously, it’s freaky how much he knows.
Rebecca - 10 - she’s the tomboy with the blue nails, keeps up with the boys & is willing to sing in public and strike a pose.
Jenna - 9 - a girlier girl that likes fuzzy pjs and coordinated outfits (even while camping), she’s the resident gymnast.
Oliver (aka O) - 4.75 - an active, crazy boy that always wants to be on the go (aka your basic 4-5yo).
Setting the Scene:
This morning we headed out to our campsite to set up our gear and extricate the kayaks from the roof of the limo (although they do add just a bit more ambience to the overall look, they are not as aerodynamic as one would hope). We are camping at Jones Pond between Gabriels and Paul Smiths. A great spot, we have scored one of the four primitive spots that are first-come, first-serve. While I’d take some time to highlight this part of the trip - there are more exciting adventures that need discussing. And, by adventures, I mean the new Adventure Zone at Whiteface Mountain.
We pile into the family vehicle at 10:45 and head over the winding scenic backroads that lead you from Bloomingdale to the backside of Whiteface Mountain and the Memorial Highway. A few minutes later we arrive at the base of the Mountain and start the ritual unloading of children and prepping of sunscreen, snacks and some basic rules (well, at least I try to lay some ground rules for O: no jumping off of roofs, stay with ‘your people’, don’t eat anything off the ground, etc., etc.)
Adventure Zone In Sight…
You can feel the excitement of the kids as they anxiously wait on the deck overlooking the new Adventure Zone while Danny and I fill out the mandatory paperwork and waivers. They are eyeing the park, strategizing, there is a plan afoot and they are ready for the cue to take action.
We hand out the bracelets, give the okay, and they’re off. I can only imagine what the greeters think as they see this mass of children rushing them. I try to control O, ‘Wait for the man to say it’s okay…’, but the Bounce House has caught his eye, and while the other kids are drawn to the tall red structure a little further into the park, aptly named the Spider Mountain Climbing Wall & Slide, he already has his shoes off and is jumping around and squealing, ‘watch this, Mom, watch this.’ I know where he (and I) will be spending most of our time on this visit.
Luckily, Adventure Zone is set-up so that all of the activities are in fairly close proximity and monitored by several attendants. This means I can wander a bit and check out the other kids while O bounces to his heart’s content.
The boys are working their way up the climbing wall and the girls are almost to the top of the Spider Wall (for the second time) by the time I pry myself away from the, ‘watch me, watch me’ child. I don’t even know how to explain the agility that must be needed to balance on these moving criss-cross straps that you climb, pull and wiggle through, as you hoist yourself to the top with the goal of a fast ride down an inflatable slide and the chance to do it all again. Perhaps I’m just old and a bit more cautious these days, but asI notice O (who has finally taken a bouncy break) putting on his sneakers and eagerly running to join the big kids, my mom-mode kicks in - isn’t he too young?? I’m quickly overruled, and with the help of a gang of girls, O slowly makes his way to the top of the enclosure and gets to take the ride down the slide. Yes, I was horrified the whole time. Yes, I know he’s already more athletic than I ever was, but still - he’s my baby!
Safer ground… O has spotted another pair of inflatable slides - these simply require ascending a bouncy attached staircase. I am fine with this option and relieved for the distraction. He is off with Jenna and Rebecca, and I am going in search of the boys.
Chris and Nick have been weighed and strapped into the bungee assisted Freestyle Trampolines. They’re attempting back flips and soon competing to see who can do 2 or more. Not to be outdone, Roz is ready for a turn and is quickly flying through the air, a lithe teen, ponytail flying, she’s spinning round and round. Soon the younger girls are strapped in and, yes, even Oliver gets a turn. The result after everyone has had their turn - Jenna is the winner with a 2.75 flip (.75 you ask? Well, yes, she didn’t quite finish the last turn before her head met the trampoline).
Everyone joins O for another turn in the Bounce House and then they each dissipateto their favorite activity and all is well in the world. Six kids, various ages, all occupied - and not an electronic device in sight. This is a rare, rare occurrence.
And then, they spot the US AirBag Jump. I don’t understand how the Dads are so calm. I am internally screaming, ‘noooooooo’, while on the outside I’m like, ‘hey, yeah, go for it - that looks so cool.’ Basically you take a scissor lift ride up to a height of 30’ and then jump. Yeah, you jump. Free-fall style you leap onto a 50' x 50' pillow of air featuring several inflatable chambers designed to soften your landing. And, yes, you can choose to jump froma lower height - but these kids, they are dare devils and ready for the plunge. One by one they fly off the lift, landing with a whoosh. Luckily, although O wanted to take a ride on the lift, there was no chance I would have let him jump off - and he didn’t want to. Bullet dodged.
Airbag jumping complete, we detour to the concession stand, hydrate, and then it’s time for another visit to the Adventure Zone. The boys hit the Slackline Park, the girls head to the Bungee Trampolines, O heads to… you guessed it - the Bounce House, the adults settle into the Adirondack Chairs. Time passes, and then the unheard of: O exits the House and makes a show-stopping announcement - he doesn’t want to bounce anymore. He is bounced-out. The lack of a time-limit on the activities has worked their magic - this 4 year-old for the first time in his history has expended his limitless bounce-ability. He is done. Thank You, Adventure Zone!
Granola - then - Gondola...
The troops gather, and after a quick trip to the limo to have a snack break and apply more sunscreen, the Gondola is next on the agenda. We break up into two groups and sit back to enjoy the ride. Somehow O has managed to avoid riding in the same car as me - and I can only imagine the non-stop, over-tired, over-excited chatter the other group is enduring. But, hey, they have the snack bag, so that seems like a fair deal. Our ride is relaxing, we have a chance to talk while enjoying a blue-sky ride to the top of Whiteface.
We reconvene and explore the viewing area while discussing the merits of the Zone: consensus puts the Freestyle Bungee Trampolines as the favorite (although the harnesses weren’t super comfy), with the Airbag a close second. The debate turns to who could ski down which trails, and who would be brave enough to mountain bike down Whiteface. Nick and Chris were more than willing to take on the challenge, but were outvoted for today. We’ll save that ride for another visit.
I stop to take a picture of a group of friendly tourists and when they find out I live in Lake Placid, the questions start - while camping in Wilmington they are planning to venture through the notch for a few hours: where should we eat, what should we do, what do the locals like… I gave a few general opinions, based on their likes, and then directed them to the lakeplacid.com website with the reassurance they would find answers to all of their questions there.
The ride down the mountain is quieter - the rhythmic motion of the Gondola almost lulling O (and several others - myself included) into a nap. This trip was, without a doubt, two-thumbs up. Make that 18 thumbs up. In my book, a certain win. Entertaining such a wide variety of ages and personalities for 3 hours - in one location - is without a doubt an achievement. Well done, Whiteface. Well done.
What’s Next, Wilmington?
A very satisfied group, we pile into the limo, and bid adieu to Whiteface Mountain. But, the day is not over, there is still plenty more on the agenda. Wilmington is a great spot for summer fun. Next up is lunch for the masses - which undoubtedly means Rootbeer Floats at A & W. Then the plan is to cool off with a bit of swim/play time at the Wilmington Town Beach before we head back over the mountains to camp. I’m sure there will be more pictures, and a lot more laughter.
We roll down the windows to wave at the staring tourists, honk the horn a few times for good measure, and we’re off to our next adventure. Watch out Wilmington, we’re coming for you.