Sports

Experience 39 of 52: Skiing

Two trips to Ski Roundtop this year have exposed the gals to the skiing experience and it quickly became a favorite activity for them.  Susan is the experienced skier in the family and, I’m glad, wants to expose the gals to something that I must admit is no so exciting for me 🙂

On the first adventure both girls enrolled in a lesson which helped them to learn the basics and to gain confidence .  Both gals quickly picked up the minimum skills (controlling your downward speed and being able to slow down and stop yourself).  It’s taken me a little longer but Kate helped me on the next trip!  After spending the day learning and taking a final run down the slope, we headed for home.

On the second adventure we were joined by some of our good friends and their children which made the experience all the more fun.  We skipped the lessons this time and headed straight for the slopes where Kate did a fantastic job of teaching dad all that she had learned during our previous trip.  Grace and her friend ended the day making a few runs on their own which was a whole new level of trust and the confirmation that Grace is growing up and is certainly mature enough to be trusted in this type of environment.  Kate continued to make runs with mom and did a great job staying in control the entire time.

I have to admit that skiing isn’t exactly dad’s thing but as long as the gals want to continue I’ll go along for the ride!

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Experience 36 of 52: Xel Ha

Xel ha Park is essentially a natural aquarium that provides many activities to fill your day with adventures.  Because the entry fee pays for an all-inclusive admission, we didn’t need to bring food, towels, snorkeling equipment or even money for lockers which simplified this adventure.  We walked into the park and made our way to a tube ride which led us through a mangrove forest before expelling us into the snorkeling lagoon.

Here you could participate in numerous activities such as cliff jumping (which Susan braved) zip lining into the water (which we all braved) and other adventurous activities. Because we were pressed for time we were limited in what we could do but besides the tube ride we were able to

  • see and hear about 10 parrots
  • see a toucan close up
  • walk onto a glass bottom boat and look at the colorful fish below
  • discover many coati animals which are indigenous to the area
  • discuss what a cenote is, although we didn’t have time to see or jump into one

Some of the adventures available here that we would definitely want to investigate next time include:

  • Sea Trek® Xel-Ha – allows you to safely walk on the bottom of the lagoon without requiring scuba training
  • Snuba – combines snorkeling and scuba by allowing you to use snorkeling equipment that is attached to compressed air tanks located on the surface
  • Swim with the manatees
  • Stingray encounter (swim with them)
  • Zip Bike – a bicycle on a zip line gives you a bird’s eye view of the landscape

As is evident, there is a ton of extremely cool adventures available at Xel Ha.  We absolutely loved this adventure and would go back and spend an entire day here so that we could take part in all of the activities.  Although we were not able to squeeze in snorkeling during this trip, others in our party who did said that although they had to swim longer distances (than in Akumal) to find fish, when the schools were found they were as vibrant and plentiful as what you see on the Xel Ha brochures.

I think the biggest lesson learned here was that it is ok to, in a safe environment, step a little bit outside your comfort zone and take a calculated risk and enjoy the adventures that are in front of you. Susan set this example for the girls by jumping off the cliff even though it was intimidating. Hopefully the cliff jump planted a seed for the girls to enjoy life and to take a chance sometimes.

Categories: Educational, Entertainment, Recreation, Sports, Vacation | Leave a comment

Experience 18 of 52: Baltimore Orioles Baseball Game

The Baltimore Orioles are experiencing their best season in 15 years.  We had a fun, exciting evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards that culminated in a 5-3 victory for the hometown team.

Watching from behind the left field wall, we had an opportunity to discuss some Baltimore Orioles history as well as explain some of the nuances of the game.

  • We visited the sculpture garden featuring larger-than-life bronze sculptures of the greatest Orioles of all time: Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Frank Robinson and Eddie Murray are currently represented. Cal Ripken Jr. and Brooks Robinson will be added on future dates.  We had read about these same folks when we visited the Baltimore Sports Legends Museum during a previous experience. 
  • We learned about Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American Major League baseball player because we noticed that his jersey number 42 is retired by all teams in baseball. This led to a discussion about discrimination and how we interact with folks who are different from us.
  • We discussed nuances of the game such as how the infielders position themselves based on the batter at the plate and the art of base stealing.

And, of course, we loved celebrating the scoring of runs, dancing to “Y.M.C.A”. and, most of all, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”.

Time Spent: ~3 hours
Cost: About $100, including food and parking

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Experience 8 of 52: The Sports Legend Museum

If you have even an inkling of interest in the Baltimore sports scene, the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore is a must do experience.  The museum is extensive – we expected to spend about an hour walking through the museum but 2 hours later we were still absorbing the hundred years of Baltimore sports history!

We learned that the Baltimore Orioles:

  • moved from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1954
  • last won the World Series in 1983
  • have an “Orioles Hall of Fame” that includes former players such as Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken, Earl Weaver, Brady Anderson, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Harold Baines
  • former third baseman Brooks Robinson was nicknamed “Hoover” because he scooped up everything that came his way – kind of like a vacuum cleaner
  • former shortstop Cal Ripken wore number 8 (which happens to be our family lucky number :)) and is known as the “Iron Man” because he played in 2,632 consecutive baseball games

We learned that the Baltimore Ravens:

  • moved to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996
  • won Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001
  • first 2 draft picks were Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis and both are considered Hall of Famers
  • the previous football team in Baltimore was the Baltimore Colts and they moved to Indianapolis in 1984
  • one of the greatest players in Baltimore football history was Johnny Unitas who was known as “The Golden Arm” and holds the record of 47 consecutive games throwing a touchdown pass

We enjoyed the various movies that were available to provide us with glimpses of Baltimore’s sports history. There was also a dress up room where the girls could put on baseball gear and football gear.

This museum is probably enjoyed most by an older generation who remembers the “good old days” of the Orioles or the Baltimore football teams but we were able to introduce G & K to the Baltimore sports history which may help them understand the passion that many people feel for their home town teams.

Time spent: About 2 hours (could have spent more time but we were all getting tired)
Cost: $32 ($20 for tickets (we used a coupon from an Entertainment Book), $12 for parking)

Categories: Museum, Sports | Leave a comment

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