Saturday, August 5, 2017

Splash n' Putt | What to Do With Kids



It's been a long time since I have set foot in Splash n' Putt but it's something I remember from childhood... and what I remember is passing it on the Trans Canada Highway on a regular basis. 

It was a blistering hot day in July and my family just finished an adventure in Terra Nova National Park.  This water park was exactly what we needed to finish off our mini vacation. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and we definitely had a great time enjoying most things Splash n' Putt had to offer.

Location:// Located in Glovertown, just outside the west side of Terra Nova National Park. It's a solid two and a half hours from St. John's. See directions here: Splash n' Putt Directions.

Price:// While the price seemed steep in my mind at $190 for a family of four plus tax, considering the lack of similar acitivities on the island made it seem reasonable.  There are other options such as arriving after 3pm to a reduced price with unlimited rides or limiting yourself to the water portion of the park. You can see the Price List on the website here: Splash n' Putt Price List

What to Bring:// Although you may not want to carry anything around, there's definitely some things I would recommend.  There's plenty of green space and spots around the pool for you to store your belongings but I wouldn't recommend bringing your Sunday's Best or any valuables. And if you do forget anything in the car, it's not a big deal because the parking lot is not far and it's easy to go in and out.

1. Beach Towels
2. Flip Flops
3. Sunscreen
4. Beach Bag to carry all your belongings
5. Beach Chairs (although there's some around the pool, there aren't many so bring your own)
6. A water proof case for your phone
7. Change of Clothes (not neccessary if you want to just change in the car)
8. Water and Snacks: Many people brought pinics so make a day of it!

What to Do:// The park includes all of the following activities.  I would highly recommend doing the dry activities like the mini golf and go karts first but on a hot day you won't get too cold running around between the activities.


1. 360 Foot Water Slide:// This is fun for all ages!  This water slide does not splash into a huge pool so knowing how to swim is not a requirement.  This was a huge relief for my little one and my nerves.  My non-swimmer and I slid down in tantum and I listened to him giggling the whole way down.  I would have paid $50 just for that.  He loved it and went down several times.  On the day we went to Splash n' Putt, it was a busy day and we waited between 15 to 20 minutes each time.  It wasn't a big deal for us because the view of the water park and surrounding area was entertaining.


2. Swimming Pool + Splash Pad:// This is fun for all ages!  The Splash pad is set in a small pool of about a foot of water.  We loved every minute of it.  The Splash Pad is in the same area as the swimming pool. The problem in this area was the water was incredibly cold.  Apparently the heat pump was not working the week we arrived; however, upon hearing murmurs from the crowds this is an ongoing problem.


3. Go Karts:// All ages can ride but children under 10 years old and 52" must ride along with an adult. Helmets are provided and must be worn.  My husband and daughter waited for a good hour in this line.  The line is very fast if you are a single rider but there's only a couple go karts with double seats so they ended up waiting much longer than anticipated.  However, the course is long, windy and fun. They both had a blast!


4. Kiddy Go Karts:// Kids can ride above 42". There are only two vehicles. One vehicle allows two riders. They must wear helmets that are provided. While my son was tall enough and old enough, I can honestly say he had a "car accident" where he accidentally slammed on the gas and into a wall. His chest went into the steering wheel and he got a fright although he is completely fine.  Because of my experience while this looked fun for my seven year old, I would not recommend these go karts for children under 6 unless they are used to riding motorized vehicles with their feet and steering. 


5. Bumper Boats:// All ages can ride but any child under 7 years old and 42" cannot ride alone.  As an adult I found these boats difficult to maneuver.  I had to pull the cord to start the motor a couple times and I found that the motor was very hot on my leg.  For anyone riding with a child, put them on your left side.  It was fun though and you were on the boats for at least a couple minutes.


6. Bumper Cars:// This wasn't an activity that we did but it's not for kids under seven years of age or 46". It's inside and tucked away so it's easy to miss. Be sure to check it out!

7. Playground:// If all else fails, there's a playground for any kids not feeling the water. Yup. I've got a kid like that depending on the day of the week.


8. Mini Golf:// Grab your golf putter and ball when you enter but you can always come back and get your equipment when you are ready.

Other Things to Know://

1. There's a well equiped store if you forgot something.

2. Changing rooms and bathrooms are close to the entrance.  They weren't special in any way but they did the trick.  There was also a family changing room.

3. The park was clean and had lots of space to move. That's a big deal in my world.

4. Mary Browns is on spot for something to eat after the park but also during the park if you like.  You can go inside and bring out your food for a picnic in the park or you can eat inside the restaurant.  There is also a balcony to eat while watching your own family enjoy the waterpark. That's the best of both worlds. 


5. Ice Cream - oh yeah, no water park is complete without an ice cream cone and this location does not disappoint. 

Splash n' Putt exceeded my expectations.  I was expecting a run down unfulfilling amusement park but what I got was a clean area with entertainment for everyone.

Happy Adventuring!
Cathy

Friday, August 4, 2017

Beautiful Brigus | An Adventure in Newfoundland


I had no idea what I was in for on this beautiful Wednesday. It was Regatta Day in St. John's, Newfoundland but it was a little too dreary for my taste.  Wanting to take advantage of the gorgeous weather, we decided to head to the Brigus Tunnel instead of the Quidi Vidi crowds.

Visiting Brigus was my husband's idea. Last summer, he mentioned there was a tunnel in Brigus that he went to as a child that he'd like to show us.  You have to understand that my husband does not have an "up and at 'em" attitude so this is already quite an accomplishment - to suggest somewhere to go. Truthfully, I was unimpressed as I was picturing a giant rock with a hole in it.


As we escaped the city with Starbucks in hand, we headed up through the Conception Bay Highway to the Baccalieu Trail Route 70.  We passed through Kelligrews and Seal cove, then Holyrood making sure to remember to go to the swimming hole at Holy Cross Park on another day.  On through the little towns of Conception Harbour and Colliers.  The drive is beautiful as you wind around the Avalon coastline.  We skipped off the main road to explore Kitchuses and Bacon Cove where we found an amazing site to see: this sunken ship, the Old Whaler... and well, that's about all I know.


Brigus is about one hour's drive from St. John's and if I didn't hear the whining and complaining in the backseat of our Jeep, I would have said the drive went by fast. Soon, we were entering the narrow streets of the tiny town. It reminded me of the Quidi Vidi gut yet it was clear this place is rich with culture.


Our first stop was when we noticed the street name "Jane's Hill".  Our daughter's name is Jane so it was fitting that we would stop here directly in front of the St. George's Heritage Church.  If my four year old son wasn't such a sloth, I would have just parked the car right there and wandered around. Instead we got back into the car and followed the signs to "The Tunnel".  It's not a big town, you won't get lost.  Not for long anyway.


When we turned down the little street towards the Brigus Tunnel we had to pull over almost into the brick wall on the right hand side to let a truck go by.  That was narrow.  A close call really.  I would be a little weary during winter here.  The parking lot had a couple cars - again, I was surprised to see actual humans wandering around.  I wondered why people were here today - a random Wednesday.  You see, I didn't know what I was in for.  I noticed the rock picnic tables right away as my daughter did cartwheels up and over top of them.


The view was incredible as we looked into the Atlantic Ocean at Bishop's Beach.  On the left you could see the houses of the little town up along the hill and to the right you could see the narrows where inevitably boats would come into the harbour.  It would seem that Brigus was where Captain Bob Bartlett, famous for his Artic Exploration, would call home.



This tunnel was handmade over the course of four months and would be how the vessels could board their ships.  I will admit, its super cool as you can almost feel the history as you walk the short distance.


If picnics are your jam, then this place is for you. Not to mention if skimming rocks is up your alley, then these beach rocks were made just for you. Of course, it goes without saying Ryan Caines impresses every time with this. He's got a ways to go to help his offspring.



As we left the Brigus Tunnel area, we entered into the small narrow streets again.  I saw the greenery and could smell the salt ocean in the air.  To my left we saw the lobster traps and couldn't help but take a picture. Wow. Simply gorgeous.



Soon we would find the Hawthorne Cottage National Historic Site where Captain Bob Bartlett and his family lived in the 20th century.  The exterior of the home was beautiful and the gardens were breathtaking. Admission was free to enter the cottage so our family of four went inside. The cottage was perfectly preserved and there was an incredibly helpful guide was on site.  The furniture and the artifacts, as well as the pictures on the wall of famous presidents and politicians told a story.  However, with a seven year old and four year old, you won't be here long.  A simple drop by is enough for us.




In the same area was the Town Hall, the John Leaman Museum and the Country Corner, where you can find their World Famous Blueberry Crisp. Of course, this was something I had to try for myself. When you enter the building you first enter a craft store. Inside were Foggy Island Candles and gorgeous hand blown glass. I picked up a wooden puffin ornament and a pencil case for my son who would be starting school soon by Purple Day Designs.  




Through the craft store was a small ice cream bar but this is where you can get your blueberry crisp and select pastries.  Looking back, I wish I had gotten some of their chowder or fish and chips but that's only an excuse to go back to this beautiful town. My husband had the chocolate chip cookies and was very impressed, giving me a two thumbs up. Across the street is a baseball field with some picnic tables and some gardens so it's a great place to stop and have your messy eats.


We were told by many people to try E&E Drive-in, previously known as Ernie's.  This take-out restaurant is known for their chicken and fries. Of course, this is what I tried - a wing and fries combo.  My husband would have the fish and chips and my kids had the nuggets.  They were really friendly and informative as I always have questions... "what's the best thing on the menu?" There was also ice cream and I've been told they make an amazing milk shake.  E&E Drive-in is not anything special to look at.  It was busy when I got there as almost a dozen people were waiting or placing orders. You have to be specific in what you want like the number of forks and ketchup packages. It does not have any tables inside but there are two outside. With that said, it seems to hold some kind of small town charm. Note that there's no kids meals from what I could tell and drink choices were limited: Pepsi, Diet Pesi, Orange Crush or Birch Beer. Odd, I know but seemed to fit the "personality" of the diner.



As with many of our adventures by the time we've hit a couple hours, we all need a break.  We scoped out a park with a picnic table to check out what was inside our brown paper packages. The food was greasy and plentiful.  The chicken, which was a full wing was better than the fish despite being the same batter. It certainly was different but not quite my cup of tea.  I'd highly recommend the park, which was on the main road.



Next time, I'd like to visit the Paint Cafe and the John Leaman Musuem: Ye Old Stone Barn.

What a beautiful day it turned out to be in Brigus.  You should go.  I will add that there is a Brigus Blueberry Festival every year in mid August. It might be a great time to enjoy all of this and so much more.

Happy adventuring.
Cathy


Sunday, July 30, 2017

oTentiks at Newman Sound, Terra Nova Park | what to do with kids


Parks Canada has temporary accommodations in some of it's National Parks called oTentiks.  In my own words, I'd describe them as an oversized tent to the point where you wonder whether you are actually in a cabin. While you don't have a washroom or fridge, it's spacious and definitely more comfortable than a tent.

Be sure to make your reservations early on the Parks Canada website.  Also be sure to know that you need a park pass as well - this is a day pass that goes in your window.  In terms of price, I paid $100 per night and it's well worth it.


Overall, my family of four oTentiks adventure was amazing.  The Newman Sound camping grounds are perfect in every way and the accommodations made everything seem that much better.  However, there are things you should know and certainly things you should bring in order to make your stay a little easier.

WHAT TO KNOW:

1. There are no washrooms in your oTentik.  In order to use the washroom, you need to go to a 'comfort' station.  Around our loop, there was 2 comfort stations within a short distance of our oTentik.  I couldn't believe how clean these washrooms were.  I recently travelled to Mexico and it blew my mind that I would be camping in a National Park with bears and the washrooms were cleaner than my 4.5 star resort. Oh, and yes - I had a warm shower.


2. You cannot eat inside your oTentik. Yes, there is a table. But there's a picnic table outside for your eats.  They want to keep the oTentiks clean and reduce the chance of a bear wandering into your sanctuary.  But this is some important information because now you should bring a tablecloth and a screen house to go over your picnic table is useful to keep the squirrels and bugs out.

3. There is some electricity in your oTentik.  I am no electrician but we had dim lights inside and outside our oTentik, as well as a small heater... and a plug including some USB ports.  Yup.  we sure are roughing it.


4. You can sleep up to 8 people.  There are 6 normal human size mattresses on the bottom and then 2 mattresses on the top.  Honestly though, if you wanted to squeeze even ten little humans on the bottom, you could.  It might not be perfect but you definitely could.  You should know that there's no double mattress so if you like to cuddle then you may be falling into a little gap between the mattresses.


5. There are no campfires on your oTentiks site.  You have to go to a communal 'campfire' pit to enjoy s'mores and roasted weinies. I decided like the thought at fire but it's not so bad. In the campfire areas there are several pits so it seemed that most families just wandered over to a pit and set up.  If you aren't a social butterfly, you don't have to share.  You'll be OK.  Keep in mind that the National Parks watch the fire index so there could be nights where you can't have a fire at all.


6. The BBQ is good and has a side burner. You can't live without your eggs and bacon every morning?  No problem. The size burner is perfect


7. Your coolers and food must stay in your vehicle.  Be sure to keep this in mind because it means you need to go back and forth all the time.  Having it in the trunk is the most accessible.

WHAT TO BRING:

1. Food. Yup, you need food obviously. Make a meal plan. See below for mine. For a two day trip, I like to have 3 coolers. One cooler for your stuff that needs to stay cold or you are doomed like milk, cheese slices, carnation milk, eggs. Another cooler for your condiments like butter, mayo, BBQ sauce, ketchup, yogurt drinks, bacon, etc. A third cooler for your drinks. An electric cooler would be amazing.  I didn't have an electric cooler but you'll be able to stock up on ice from the Newman Sound store.  Bring another box of food for your non-perishables like bananas, peanut butter, bread, hot dog buns, potato chips, sugar and tea bags, your kids box of snacks, marshmallows, Pam, and s'mores kit.


2. Food prep. Paper plates, paper cups, plastic forks, spoons and knives, couple rolls of paper towels and a couple mugs for the adults in the camping party. Bring a couple knives for cutting but try to bring the ones with a cover. Tablecloth, screen house, frying pan, flipper, kettle if you love your coffee and tea.  Always. Always. Always bring some tupperware containers and ziplock bags. This goes for any travel. You always need this to cover the bacon or to move the fruit to a smaller container or to hold the goldfish. All this gear goes in its own Costco Bag.

3. Toiletries + Beach gear. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, hair brush, and mouthwash. Bring a couple hand towels and face clothes. Bring a towel for every person especially if you intend to go to the beach. If showers are for you then you should bring shower shoes and a small shower caddy with your shampoo and soap. Don't forget goggles, a beach blanket, a beach bag that you can carry easily, floats, sand toys, and your favourite book for any day you are heading to the water.

4. Outdoor Play. Bikes, scooters, bubbles, hola hoops, water guns, sand toys.. Now might be the time to try out that oversized bubble wand or to get those training wheels off. I put all this in a Costco Bag.


5. Disinfectant and Cleaning Gear.  Hand sanitizer. Bring a dish pan, kitchen clothes and some dish liquid so you can quickly clean up. Bring Lysol wipes to always wipe down the table cloth - you do know that the squirrels like to play in your eating area, right?  Bring a couple rolls of paper towels.  Bring a couple packs of moist wipes to bring to the campfire with you for quick clean up of melted marshmallows.  I like to put all this in a Costco Bag.

6. A water container.  It's not necessary but its nice to have a bucket of water for quick clean up of hands and dishes.


7. Medical Kit.  I make my own medical kits in a big container.  It will contain kids and adult medicine.  Here's my list; sunscreen, fly dope, after bite (vagisal is more effective if you ask me... serious.), aloe, water proof bandaids, allergy meds for adults + kids, ibuprofen for adults + kids (chewable for kids), polysporin, baby powder and/or diaper rash cream, and heat/cold packs. This will go everywhere with me in the car. Keep in mind civilization is not far and there are two hospitals no more than an hour away in Clarenville and Gander.

8. Lots of drinks.  You will want a cooler for drinks alone that can stay on the patio of your oTentik.  Lots of water, gatorade, alcohol, juice boxes and soda pop.  Stock up on ice each day from the Newman Store.

9. Campfire gear. Bring a re-usable shopping bag to cart back and forth to the fire pit. Be sure to have matches or a lighter and some kindling. Fire wood should come only from the Newman Sound store.  They don't like to spread wood diseases apparently. Consider bringing some mystic fire or sparklers for extra fire fun! Always have marshmallow roasters and s'mores kit.  You should also have camping chairs and/or a folding beach.  Although there's a small bench at each pit, it can only fit a couple people comfortably.


10. Laundry Basket. Your clothes will get dirty fast so be sure bring a laundry basket so you can throw everything that's dirty right away in the basket.  Use the basket to bring bedding when you pack up your car too.

11. Bedding. Sleeping bags for each kid and pillows.  Bring the adults sleeping bags or heavy blankets.  Sheets are a plus for sure but not necessary. Don't forget pillows for the adults.  Favourite stuffs and sleeping comforts for the kiddos. Keep in mind mattresses are not necessary. Bring some kids books to read to them before they head off into a slumber.  Bring a lap blanket so you can sit outside on the adirondack chairs with your partner for a moments peace when the kids go to sleep.

12. Clothes. Pack a bag for each person so that you know where everything is. Remember flip flops and sneakers, socks, undies, pyjamas, shorts and tees, plus one set of long pants and a hoodie for the night campfire. My rule of thumb for the kids is bring double the number of nights for socks, underwear, tees and shorts.


13. Flashlights.  You'll need a flashlight when you need to run to the comfort station in the middle of the night to see the path as you sprint with blistering speed to avoid the bears lurking in the woods... But try to remember a couple soft lights for the kids at night. Plus every kid wants to hold their own light so be sure to accommodate.

14. Ropes and Clothespins.  Believe me, you'll wish you brought a simple line to tie between two trees to put up your wet or sandy gear.

15. Other.  Don't forget your camera and charging cords. Bring a deck of cards and a crib board.

WHAT TO DO


1. Hiking Trails + Look-out. There are 4 hiking trails near Newman Sound.  The Coastal Trail, Sandy Pond, Dunphy's Walk and a fourth.  Although I never explored them, it seems that the Coastal Trail and Sandy Pond are beautiful.  The Coastal Trail goes around the Newman Sound camp ground so if you have kids that could do a hike without complaining this is the one for you.  It's easy to hop on a off.  If you want to hike with your kids, take the Beaver Trail from the Newman Sound store and walk down to the Look Out.  There is a playground and picnic area here that can make a great reward.  Not to mention it's filled with dragon flies.


2. Kids Activity Centre. Be sure to check the daily schedule of the events happening at the Activity Centre. This is where you might want to go in the event of rain. Theres lots of arts and crafts as well as board games and things to make the time pass.  You can leave your children who are over 4 years of age for a little while although I wouldn't go far.  They have some amazing acitivities here if you catch the right day so take advantage. Did I mention it's free?


3. Touch Tank. If its a rainy day head to the touch tank to ride it out - it's only about a 10 minute drive to the west.  Otherwise I wouldn't waste your time or money.  It's cute but it's not going to be a day long activity.  Grab a coffee and pastry here - Honestly, the cookies, cakes and muffins have always left my mouth wanting more.  These ladies know how to bake.


4. Sandy Pond. A MUST do. This is by far my favourite and I can go here for several days.  The pond is super low and super soft so bringing kids here isn't stressful.  You can let them catch little fish all day while you tan on the beach.  It's a perfect setting for a perfect day.  There are boat rentals and some washrooms, as well as a hiking trail that goes all around.


5. Splash n' Putt. Located right outside the park to the west, this can be a pricy adventure, it definitely has something for all.  I'll do a separate post on this but generally its $190 plus tax for a family of four for a swimming pool, splash pad, mini golf, bumper cars and boats, as well as go karts.  Of course, the water slide is perfect for babies to oldies.

6. Visit Eastport. Located to the west about 20 minutes to the west of Newman Sound. Eastport has plenty of things to do including visiting their art museum, taking a dip in the salt water of Eastport Beach, let the kids ride a Newfoundland Pony and grab a delicious ice cream.

MY CAMPING oTENTIKS MEAL PLAN:

Day 1: Arrival Day.
Breakfast - Not even out the door yet.  You are on your own kids!
Lunch - Eatin' on the Road.  Better make this one healthy folks. Think Subway.
Supper - Steak, Caesar Salad, Baked Potato
Snacks - Campfire Marshmallows + Chips


Day 2: Sandy Pond + Exploring at Newman Sound
Breakfast - yogurt drinks + fruit tray for kids until eggs + bacon ready on the BBQ
Lunch - Make your own sub sandwiches + fruit tray
Supper - Hot Dogs + Burgers and potato salad

Day 3: Check out at 11am + Splash n' Putt
Breakfast - yogurt drinks + fruit tray for kids until eggs + bacon ready on the BBQ
Lunch - Mary Browns at Splash n' Putt or Fish and Chips in Charlottetown
Supper - Who knows

Thanks for dropping by and hope you have an amazing oTentik adventure!  Be sure to comment if you have questions or if this was helpful to you!

Cathy