Sometimes what a family needs is a nice, simple day trip to some area within driving distance to get away and refresh. Over Thanksgiving weekend, we were reminiscing about our long weekend last year at Disney World. Some part of us was sad knowing that rather than sitting and eating with our families, we were enjoying the Disney magic last year at the same time. Last years Thanksgiving was one we will never forget, but we wanted to make some new memories for ourselves this Thanksgiving.
My wife had heard that the Toledo Zoo had a great Christmas light display this holiday season, and since our zoo stopped having any several years ago, it sounded like an excellent option. My wife had also planned on a stop at the Port Clinton African Safari on the ride out, as well as some other surprises along the way. I am all about road trips, so lets go driving.
The Toledo Zoo did not open until 5:00 PM, so we had plenty of time earlier in the day to plan additional stops. We left around 11:00 AM and on the drive out towards the Safari, we decided to stop in a little lake town community called Vermilion. The City had a small, old-fashioned downtown area, and we decided to have lunch at a place called Woodstock Cafe. The whole theme was based upon those days from the 1960’s based upon that one concert in history that set the stage for future music festivals for years to come. We tried their Phish tacos and Cajun shrimp BLT, and both were tremendously incredible. We also ordered for Bug (2-year old) the grilled cheese sandwich, which was HUGE, and he devoured almost every last bite of it.
Afterwards, we walked around the downtown area, and purchased a small selection from the old-fashioned Brummer’s Chocolates, which is a third generation, locally owned small business. While we do not have Amererican Express credit cards, we still partook in Small Business Saturday, and it felt good giving back to the small businesses that might not get all of the hype from the traditional Black Friday promotions.
On the way out of town, we also stopped at the Papermoon Winery to sample some of the local wines, as well as pick up some Christmas gifts. All of that, and it was barely after noon. Onward we go to see where the GPS can take us.
Following our lunch, we went to the Port Clinton Safari Park. I have written about our travels there before, and it never gets old. How is not funny to have a giant animal that you normally would have no involvement around sticking their heads in your vehicle to get to the food. I know at least Shark (the 10-month old) loves it; Bug, the 2-1/2 year old seems to have a more enjoyable time sitting on daddy’s lap as we drive through the park. (Note: You literally inch along and it is far from “driving” in case anyone is concerned.)
The next stop on our agenda was the Bass Pro Shop (BPS) store located in Rossford, OH. First let me clarify. We were not going to the BPS because I am some manly male that feels the need to shoot something. Quite the contrary actually as I have no interest in hunting, or anything involving stalking some prey (except my wife). We were headed to the BPS for of all things, Christmas Wonderland. Mrs. InACents had read that there was a whole area inside the BPS decorated for Christmas, complete with FREE photos with Santa, and various stations for kids to out different products and activities. Kids could make Christmas crafts (at the time it was a Santa bobber), color various pictures, and have a fake snowball fight inside a special tented area. It was wonderful and really helped us get into the Christmas spirit! We had never been to a BPS before, and were quite impressed overall. It actually dawned on me while walking among the stuffed bears and pheasants that quite possibly outdoors-man are excellent conservationists in that they are all about maintaining animal environments so they can continue to hunt. Outdoors-man have no interest in cutting down all the forest or depleting the animal population as it would take away from their time outside. It is not my thing, but to each their own.
I had never been inside of a Bass Pro Shop before, only their counterpart, Cabela’s. It is quite incredible to say the least at not only the square footage of the building (they are huge) but also what they manage to fit inside and display. The BPS had an indoor electronic Shoot ‘n Range, which the Mrs. and I both tried. It was the type where you shoot an electric light at sensors that then trigger animation. I felt like a kid again, and all of this inside a store. The boys loved seeing all of the large river fish swimming through the streams. For a moment, I felt the urge to go out and catch something, even if it was just a couple containers of sausage gravy mix.
Afterwards, it was finally time to head off to the zoo. While getting our tickets, we gave the attendant our Cleveland Zoo and Port Clinton Safari Park passes because of the reciprocal benefit of 50% at the Toledo Zoo. However, we were turned down because the Lights Before Christmas event did not qualify for the discount. Prior to leaving home, we had researched the Toledo Zoo website, and there was no mention of the reciprocal zoo discount not being applicable, despite the gate agent telling us it must be on there. When I got home, I searched again, and it was not on the page for the Lights Before Christmas, but hidden on the Toledo Zoo reciprocal list. I am hoping after writing a note to the Toledo Zoo that they consider adding language to all the pages associated with the Lights Before Christmas that reciprocal zoo benefits will not be honored. I do not know if it was a simply overlook on the zoo’s part or deliberate poor marketing, but I hope they correct it so others do not show up at the gate to be surprised that there is no discount for reciprocal zoo members. Besides the gate issue, once inside, we were actually quite blown away at the amount of Christmas lights, over a million.
The boys loved the cheap ($1 and $1.50 respectively) train and carousel rides. What also really added to the enjoyment of the night was the fabulous weather we were experiencing. At the point when we left at 9:00 PM, the weather was still 66 degrees, which for Ohio, is warm in November.
In addition, Bug really enjoyed the large train layout that was the last thing we saw of the night. Thank goodness it was, because by that point the Christmas spirit of the boys was growing old, and it was time to pack it in the for night. My wife planned an awesome day out, and on the drive back home, we felt relaxed, connected, and confident the feelings associated with the Christmas holiday had started to settle into the boys memories.
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