Months of preparation went into planning our two-and-a-half day mini vacation. It was simply a trip to Columbus, but I wanted my 3-year-old to have a good time. Finding things that he would like to do can be a challenge sometimes.
We planned to head to the Columbus Zoo and COSI. My husband, Mark, also has a cousin who lives there. We had plans to meet them for dinner one evening.
After having dinner with my inlaws, we said our goodbyes and climbed into the car to leave. Our dog, Ben (who was staying with Mark's parents), stared after us as my car headed up the driveway. His sad eyes broke my heart. He thought we were abandoning him. I was told that he continued to stare after us for hours. He didn't want to play or even eat. For the next few minutes, all we heard was "I miss Benny" coming from the back seat of the car. The talk soon moved to the hotel. More importantly, the hotel pool.
All Little Man talked about was the hotel's indoor pool, from the second he heard about it. If someone asked him where we were going on vacation, he would say the pool at the hotel.
Our first stop was checking into the hotel. What did we hear as we carried bags into our room? "I want to see the pool." "Can we go see the pool now?" After we had managed to set our bags down, we walked to to the pool. When Mark's cousin and her husband met us at the hotel to go to dinner, we had to go show them the pool.
As soon as he finished his dinner, he wanted to go swimming in the pool. We hadn't even gotten our dinner yet, but he was done and ready to leave. When we finally got back to the hotel, Little Man was taking his clothes off as soon as the door closed. He was trying to leave while I was still putting my bathing suit on.
We swam that evening for about 45 minutes, way after his bedtime. But he had a good time jumping and swimming and splashing around. He finally agreed to go back to our room after we promised him that we would swim again the following evening. He was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
When heading to the zoo, the last thing you want to see outside your window is rain. Not only rain but it was colder than we had thought it was going to be. But that didn't stop us. We put on the warmest clothes we had and headed out for our day.
It sprinkled most of the time. It was cold until we got ready to leave. The orangutans were not out. There were no giraffes or zebras. We saw (or heard) screaming monkeys and a kangaroo that tried to eat Little Man's crackers and put her head in my purse. There were pink flamingos and elephants. We saw a gorilla pick his nose and then snack on a piece of celery. The lions and tigers and bears were all sleeping. Except the polar bears. They were are favorite part.
There were two female polar bears behind the glass. The zoo guide that was there said they were sisters. One jumped in and played with a large blue barrel. She jumped on it and over it. She wrapped her arms and legs around it. Her sister watched and wanted on one, too. She jumped in and made a huge splash to get the other barrel. They chewed on the barrels. One even pulled hers out of the water and onto land. Her sister continued to play in the water. She picked up her barrel and threw it at the glass. It bounced off and made a splash in the water. The crowd loved it. The animals that interact with the guests are always the most fun.
Nothing we saw the rest of the day could compare with the polar bears. Little Man even wanted a stuffed polar bear as a souvenir of his trip.
The sun came out as soon as we left the zoo. Oh well, we had a good time despite the rain.
We found a small local restaurant to have dinner in called the Pig Iron BBQ. If you are ever in Columbus, I would higly recommend it. Next stop: the best ice cream in the state, maybe even the world: Graeter's.
I first had the experience of tasting their ice cream when I attended Capital University for my first semester of college. They had a store right across from the campus. I was super excited when the idea of getting ice cream from there was mentioned. Heck, yeah, I wanted to go. My butter pecan was awesome, as I knew it would be. I have never had anything I didn't like from them.
After dessert, we went back to the hotel. Guess what we did there? The pool. Again. And again, Little Man was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
The alarm sounded too early the next morning. We had to be out of our room. And what did Little Man say as we pulled away? "I miss the pool." Go figure. We could have vacationed right here in town at a hotel with a pool, and Little Man would have been happy.
After a quick, yet delicious breakfast, we headed for our next stop: COSI. The center was a little too much for Little Man. Most of it were things he didn't get because he was too little. He loved the water guns and robotic arm. He was most excited about riding the elevator. Go figure. We would like to go back some day, when Little Man is a little bigger.
Three hours after leaving COSI, we arrived back at my inlaws to pick up our very happy dog. I have never seen him so excited as he was when we walked in the front door. When we were ready to go home, he wanted in my car. He was afraid if he didn't get in my car, we were going to leave without him. He and Mark had to get into Mark's truck (which we had left there) before I could pull out in my car. Ben missed us. It was sweet. He usually doesn't care if Little Man and I go away. He most often only misses Mark.
So after rain and fears of abandonment, our family of four was together once again. And we were home. Even after just two days away, it was good to be home.
There is no place like home.
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(Letusick, a resident of Rayland, is a copy editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)