Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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Daughter Roller Coaster Trip Day 4: City of Ventura, Calabasas, and Santa Monica Pier

Roller Coaster Trip Day 4

Day 4 of our Roller Coaster Adventure Trip was spent sleeping in (until 8 am) and relaxing. Even in vacation mode, I don’t sleep in.  Sleeping in until 8 am is a big deal for me.  Please keep in mind,  we hit two amusement parks in two days and needed a bit of a break from our adventures in California. Instead of a roller coaster amusement park on Tuesday, we went to the beach in the City of Ventura, had ice cream for lunch, and then met up with my old college friend Julie and her twin three year old sons in Calabasas, California.

Even in California, people love the Seattle Seahawks.

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Even in California, people love the Seattle Seahawks.

 

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Dig a hole to bury all your secrets in!

This is the first time we have had a chance to meet her twin sons. She is married to my other friend Chris who happened to be out of town working. I’m pretty sure he planned to be out of town on purpose.  Chris likes to mess with my head that way.

I do miss that age of youth and discovery with three year old kids. Julie thought that was amusing because sometimes her boys drive her nuts. But honestly, what kids don’t drive their parents a little bit nuts once in a while.  My kids drive me nuts all the time.  The dog and cat drive me nuts.  Heck, I think you have figure out by now that everyone and everything drives me nuts.  But I love people, really, I do love them.

Time flies by and it was fun to have a glimpse of the past (when my kids were younger) and I enjoy the three year old twins.  We had a great time with Duplos.  I discover that I am by far still a lot better at building than some twin crazy three old boys.  Ah ha!  Old age wins again!

Now, you know what doesn’t drive me nuts?  This whole Dad and Daughter Roller Coaster Trip!  One of my clients mentioned he did a Dad and Daughter trip and had an awesome time with his daughter to Disneyland.  It inspired me to do this trip.  I was delighted that I could take my daughter (the only one that really enjoys roller coasters and scary rides) on this trip.  I finally had someone in my family that wanted to do the rides with me!   I’m selfishly happy she is now 11 years old and likes to ride the scary rides.  Roller coasters all the way, everyday!

A safe harbor?

A safe harbor?

On a brief side note: She has always loved those scary amusement rides since she was a little toddler. For the past two summers, as a family we have gone to Silverwood Amusement Park in Idaho, and she is my thrill ride partner. Silverwood is very affordable and well worth the visit to Idaho if you have the time, that’s my worthless advice for northwest amusement parks.

Ok, back to California and our roller coaster adventure. Julie and I and figured out earlier that we wanted to go to Santa Monica Pier and have dinner down there. We rode the Ferris wheel with the kids, spent some time in the arcade, and had a great pizza dinner. We had a great time (well, at least I had an awesome time!). I forgot how much I miss my friends that have moved out of Washington State. This dinner and catch up session was well worth the flight to California. Plus anytime I can tell other parents how to be a better parent (because I’m an awesome parent role model and everyone wants to learn from the master of worthless parenting advice…..that’s me by the way).

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Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

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The twins...one is a bit of a worse driver than the other one.

The twins…one is a bit of a worse driver than the other one.

View from the Ferris Wheel.

View from the Ferris Wheel.

Paradise Park at Santa Monica Pier

Paradise Park at Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica

Santa Monica

I liked Paradise Park on Santa Monica Pier. Besides it being a bit windy and cold that evening, the Santa Monica Pier was fun to visit. It has a small amusement ride area, a boardwalk with shops, an arcade, and some food booths. It only has a few homeless people to bother you as you walk around; not too different from over beach towns we have been too. Nothing like the warmth of Southern California to keep you in a reality check of everyday life, am I not speaking the truth?

Overall, Day 4 was a great day to relax and catch our breath. Day 5: Knott’s Berry Farm!

Thanks for reading and pretending to care.

Artwork by the twins….

A drawing by Erb boys.  Thank goodness they got the hair on the side of my head correct!

A drawing by Erb boys. Thank goodness they got the hair on the side of my head correct!

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How to Lose Your Girl Scout Troop in Seattle

Girl Scout Adventure to the Smith Tower and MOHAI!

Excuse any mistakes….this blog is from my phone!

On Friday, our Girl Scout Trip had a little adventure to the Smith Tower located in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle via the Sound Transit’s light rail train. All eight of our Girl Scouts showed up for the trip to the top of Smith Tower and the Chinese Room.

We were able to catch the light rail train from the Tukwila station directly to the Pioneer Square neighborhood where the famous Smith Tower (42 stories tall and at one time the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River) is located. Being from the South King County city of Kent, we have quite a few options to get into Seattle. Instead of driving on Friday morning, we took Sound Transit’s light rail train into Seattle.

My son also came along so we had a total of 12 people on this outing: 8 Girl Scouts, one Boy Scout, and three adults. If anyone is keeping track or needs to plan a trip into Seattle, I’ll be giving you costs for each of travel legs. One of our scouts met us there so our train fare was $34 for our group of 11 people.

Smith Tower is the only place in the Seattle area that has elevator operators. The elevators are staffed by actual human beings that will take you to the observation floor of Smith Tower from the beautiful lobby. The doors on each floor and the elevator’s doors are glass. This allows you and your fellow passengers the treat of seeing each floor as you pass by as you race to the top.

Cost on this part of the trip was lower than normal because Groupon had a deal for four tickets for $14.99. We used three Groupon certificates for the group of 12 we had.

The Smith Tower offers an excellent view to the south, southeast, and southwest of it. The industrial area lays to the south and I-5 freeway to the east. You can see the downtown Seattle business core to the north plus other landmarks like the Space Needle, CenturyLink Field, Safeco Field, and the cranes on the Port of Seattle waterfront. If you have time, you can watch the Washington State Ferries come and go into and back out of Coleman Dock. While the weather wasn’t too clear for us on Friday, I’m sure on a sunny day with blue skies, Mt. Rainier would be visible.

After we had explored the 35th floor observation deck, we descended back down to lobby and returned to the metro tunnel to catch another link rail train to the Westlake Mall area. The transit tunnel was built roughly 25-30 years for buses with the idea that it would one day have trains running through it. Currently, our transit tunnel allows both the light rail trains and buses to run through it and is handy when you know where you want to go.

We got back in the light rail train and rode the it to Westlake, got off and had lunch at the food court. To keep costs down, we had the girls bring a sack lunch. However, there is a small selection of restaurants and smoothie stands in the food court to choose from. The dining area is clean and well lit. Lots of places to eat at and we just made it in before the big lunch rush.

We then went back down to street level and caught the South Lake Union Streetcar north to The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). The Seattle Streetcar is different from the Sound Transit Light Rail system. The street car is run by King Country Metro which is our local county transit authority and the light rail train system is run by Sound Transit, our regional transit system. Confused? I bet. If you live in the area and travel on both frequently you may want to purchase an ORCA pass. However, for a short day trip, we opted to pay the general fair for the ride. Your ticket is good for the ride and you have a two hour transfer that you can use for the return trip. Cost for the streetcar is $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for youth. You can purchase tickets at the kiosk at each stop and on board the streetcar.

One problem I noticed is that the ticket kiosk is designed for you to purchase one ticket at a time. Not a big hassle until you have to purchase 12 tickets and you have to do it one at a time. One of the moms and I spent half the ride purchasing the tickets for all 12 of us. At one point I was tempted to skip it but what kind of example does that set?

We finally made it to the MOHAI and the weather had turned to sunshine. It was a marvelous sunny day in Seattle and one that makes you love Seattle. MOHAI is a beautiful museum and offers so much of the way of Seattle’s history. It moved to this location a year or two ago and it is well thought out. I wasn’t able to finish the whole museum myself. The nice part about the MOHAI is the cost is free for kids under 14. It is pricey for adults at $14 each. Of course they offer a teacher rate and senior rate as well. Luckily for us, I had planned ahead and asked the parents to look for Entertainment Book coupons and we got the four adults in for $24. Not a bad price for a group of 12!!

Our age for our Girl Scout troop is 11-12 years and this seems like a prefect age for the MOHAI. They were busy but not bored. Again, I could have spent a few more hours reading and enjoying the museum. I didn’t get to finish the whole thing but I definitely give it a thumbs up!! My favorite display was the Great Seattle Fire display. It has a little show you can watch and enjoy. Quite well thought out and keeps all ages entertained.

After we finished up there, we headed back home. You would have thought I planned it perfectly because as soon as we walked to the streetcar stop the streetcar was arriving. We hopped onto it and rode it back to Westlake Center. Then we went straight to the light rail stop and waited a few moments for the light rail and hopped on that. A quick fun ride back on the light rail to the Tukwila station and we were almost home.

Now before we left the Tukwila light rail station we had to park in the parking lot which doesn’t have enough parking for the ridership this station produces. They do have a special parking section that is marked S.O.V. Permit parking from 6 am to 10 am. I’m not sure what or who S.O.V parking is but we used two of their spots. The rest of the time it is open to general parking. We had arrived at 9:20 am and parked there. My troop moms were worried about their cars getting towed but our cars were there when we returned. For forty minutes, we were breaking the rules but it did work out in the end. No cars or cats were towed and I didn’t have to pay to get two vehicles out of the impound lot.

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