We had So Much Fun on our little family vacation to New Hampshire. To be honest, I wasn't sure how it was going to go; Natalie doesn't exactly have the best track record of good behavior on car trips, the weather forecast looked like rain, and Mike had already been away from home for a full week (and the weekend before we'd been on a different family trip), so in some ways the Story Land getaway was a little daunting.
The trip was great, though, and we definitely want to go back again next year. We hit the road around 8am on Saturday, shooting to get to North Conway around by lunchtime. Natalie slept for the first half of the trip (perfect!) and watched movies for the rest of the time. I will never, ever apologize for having a portable dvd player on-hand for long road trips. We are so cautious about Natalie & television, but the minute we head south of Portland all rules go out the window. I hope she remembers family trips like this as special not only for the time we spent together and the places we saw, but also for the way rules went out the window--you want spaghetti & melts for every meal? Sure. You'd like me to sing "I'm Bringin Home My Baby Bumblebee [the version with the mimed puking]" for 45 minutes? Consider it done. The first five minutes of every movie we packed? No problem.
We checked into our hotel around noon (the North Colony Motel and Cottages), a place which didn't look like any great shakes online, but was the only place we could find within 15 miles of Story Land that was not already booked (and didn't cost $250 a night). The place ended up being perfect for our needs--it had a gorgeous playground and heated pool, and was clean & had free coffee in the morning. Perfectly satisfactory. We were also pumped to see that they had a DVD player right in the room, so if it rained we knew that we could all settle in for family movie night and takeout.
We drove the couple of miles to Story Land and grabbed some park food for lunch (I gotta say, amusement park prices or no, it was pretty awesome to be able to order a cheeseburger and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the same food stand). Natalie spotted Humpty Dumpty the second we walked in, and was immediately transfixed. We had just missed the window of time when it would be Dumpty sitting in the meet & greet station, so Natalie instead chased him around the park until he was officially off his shift. The rest of our afternoon was spent trying to explain where Dumpty had gone, which ended up being most easily settled by telling her that he had gone to the bathroom and might be back later... a lie, but the only one that did the trick at giving the rest of the park a fair shake at her attention.
We were probably a year early in really getting the full experience of the park, but we had already talked about just letting the time be filled in ways that would make Nat the happiest--I would have liked to ride the paddle boat or see Natalie spin in the teacups, but she just wasn't interested. Next year, for sure.
Instead, we stuck mainly to the end of the park designed for younger kids, which Natalie really loved. She banged away on an oversized piano, threw pennies in a fountain, rode down the slides about a hundred times, poked around all of the mini-houses, and admired the live animals (pigs! geese! goats!).
Overall, Natalie's favorite parts of the park were: Humpty Dumpty (of course), the Big Bad Wolf statue, and Miss Muffet's tuffet (which she probably would have stayed seated on for an hour to watch the spider move up and down).
We got a couple of hours of fun in before she'd had enough. There was lots more to see and do, but we decided to quit while we were ahead and get back to the hotel playground before forcing our kid to sit still in a restaurant. It was the right move, but one of those parenting decisions that is always tougher in real life--we definitely would have preferred to stay longer, but the experience was for her, anyway, so we did what was best for our kid.
I'll have some more pictures & stories (& a couple of recommendations) from our trip in an upcoming post.
Have any of you ever been to Story Land? I found Sarah's post really helpful before we made our trip, if you're thinking about going with your kids!