So here it is almost the end of the year and I find myself waaaay behind on the blog posts. The summer got kind of nutty and busy and sort of threw everything out of whack. And while that shouldn't be an excuse, well, it's the best I got. So, with that said (whined) I will endeavor to catch up the year with a flurry of terribly fascinating blog posts.
The first week in August found us once again at Kingdom Bound. If you don't know what Kingdom Bound is, it's a kind of church revival meets Woodstock at an amusement park sort of a thing. It takes place at Darien Lake Theme Park and Resort and has for the past 27 or so years. We haven't been to all of them but we have been to quite a few. I'd have to sit down with the Mrs. and figure it out for sure but I'm guessing we've been to at least 10 of them. We actually have a friend who has been to every single one of them.
Kingdom Bound lasts about four days and makes for a great vacation for us. One moment we can be listening to a great band or speaker the next we can be screaming our heads off on a roller coaster. It's a lot of fun. The first year I ever went we didn't even have children yet. I helped chaperone a group of kids from our church and ended up in a tent in the "overflow" area. "Overflow" means you're in a field with no water or facilities close by. Yeah, that was fun. (I probably don't have to say it but that last sentence should be read with a fair bit of sarcasm.) Over the years I personally have slept in various RVs, pop-up campers and one year I even ended up in someone's van. The past three or four years we've just gone as a family and not as chaperones and we've rented an RV. It's kind of expensive but it's great having a whole RV to ourselves. We bring along all our own food and make our own meals which helps on the monetary side of things. The best thing about having our own RV though is the air conditioning. I'm not a huge air conditioning kind of guy but when you've been walking around outside for hours in August it's nice to be able to go back to the RV and get cooled off and have something to eat.
Our first night there this year, it was going on midnight and we were getting ready to hit the hay, when all of a sudden there was a knock at our door. Now I don't know about you but I've been around long enough to know that whenever it's almost midnight and the phone rings or there's a knock on the door it's usually not a good thing. I, being the leader of the family, thought that it might be best to have the children open the door. That way in case it was something really bad I could leap out of a window and go get help. However, after a bit of thought I realized that might not be the best course of action for future family harmony. I reluctantly shuffled slowly towards the door. When I opened the door I was greeted by two young teenagers who promptly asked me if I had anything to trade for a package of peanut butter filled cheddar crackers.
To say that I was a bit confused would be a bit of an understatement. It was late, I was tired and the old noggin' just wasn't processing this situation. I think I asked them again what it was they wanted and they once again asked if I had anything to trade for a package of peanut butter filled cheddar crackers. I'm not sure how long it was that I just stood there looking at them trying to figure out what exactly was going on but it seemed like a very long time. My family asked what it was they wanted and I said, " they want to know if we have anything to trade for a package of peanut butter filled cheddar crackers." The confused look on my family's faces told me that it wasn't just me who didn't get it. Suddenly my years of chaperoning teens came back to me and I realized that they were playing some sort of scavenger hunt trading kind of a game. I told my family what I thought was going on and we eventually grabbed a package of Ho-Hos and made the trade for the package of peanut butter filled cheddar crackers.
It was going on midnight and we were all tired from the day and were starting to get ready for bed. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. "You've got to be kidding", I thought to myself, "not more peanut butter filled cheddar crackers." I went to the door and opened it. Standing in front of me were two different teens. These teens, however, did not ask if I had anything to trade for a package of peanut butter filled cheddar crackers, no, they asked if I had anything to trade for a watermelon. "A watermelon!", I thought, "wow, that's quite a step up from a package of peanut butter filled cheddar crackers." My family hurriedly searched around the RV looking for something worthy of trading for a whole watermelon. We finally settled on a bag of apples and the teens went on their merry way. I was actually kind of happy with the trade. I could just imagine coming back for a meal after being out in the sun and having a nice piece of watermelon. That thought was short lived.
The next morning I awoke only to find that my daughters had taken a Sharpie and drawn a face on the watermelon and named it Cedric. Guess what? I found out that once a watermelon has a face and a name you are no longer allowed to eat it. "It would be like eating one of the family!" Sigh. Thankfully that was the end of our late night teen visits.
One of the highlights of this year's Kingdom Bound was our trip to the Anchor Bar. For those that don't know, the Anchor Bar is the birthplace of Buffalo Wings. (Around here we just refer to them as "wings".) The original Anchor Bar is actually located in Buffalo which is around a half an hour or so from Darien Lake. This year they opened a second location right in the Darien Lake theme park. Our youngest, Emily, was especially interested in this turn of events. She really likes wings (okay, we all do.... a lot) so much in fact that a couple of years ago about the only thing she wanted for her birthday was a chicken wing hat.
You may have seen Green Bay Packer fans wearing hats in the shape of cheese, well this is a hat somewhat like those but it's in the shape of a chicken wing. I looked all over the place for one and the only place I could find it was at the Anchor Bar online store. So after spending a more than desired amount of money on a large piece of foam rubber in the shape of a chicken wing, Emily had her hat. From that point on one of her goals in life was to go to the Anchor Bar and eat some wings while wearing her chicken wing hat. When we found out they had opened a restaurant in Darien Lake, well, that was it, we were going. So, one of the days we were there we all marched off to the Anchor Bar with Emily proudly wearing her chicken wing hat.
You get a lot of interesting looks when you walk around with a large chicken wing on your head. Emily didn't care though, this was destiny. We got our wings and Emily happily gnawed away while wearing her chicken wing hat. One bucket list item checked off.
All day long there are different concerts and speakers to go and listen to and each night there is the one big concert that wraps up the day's events. The last big concert takes place on Wednesday night. The band that was wrapping up the festival this year was a group called "Need to Breathe". Sometime Tuesday we started hearing something about the concert Wednesday night but couldn't find out exactly what was going on. We finally heard at another concert that the lead singer for Need to Breathe had been hurt in a car accident on Monday and had gotten banged up pretty bad. So much in fact that they weren't going to be able to do the final concert Wednesday night. Now I'm not sure exactly how they did this but as a replacement for Need to Breathe the organizers were able to replace them with Mercy Me.
If you're not into Contemporary Christian music you may not know who Mercy Me is but there's a pretty good chance you've heard one of their songs. Their two most popular songs are probably "I Can Only Imagine" and "So Long Self". Mercy Me has been at Kingdom Bound before but they weren't scheduled to be there this year. In fact, from what I understand, they were on hiatus (vacation) and weren't touring at all at that time. The organizers of Kingdom Bound apparently called Mercy Me on Tuesday morning, after they found out about the accident of Need to Breathe, and asked if there was any way that Mercy Me could do the final concert on Wednesday night.
Now unless you've been in a band you may not understand exactly what this means. This isn't like the local watering hole down the block giving you a call and saying the band they had scheduled for tomorrow night just cancelled and could you fill in. This is a big time act that has played all over the world and they're about 12 hours away and they're on vacation. It's sort of like giving Bon Jovi a call and seeing if there's any chance they could pop in tomorrow night and put on a show. It just doesn't happen. Once you start dealing with contracts and lawyers and logistics it's pretty much an impossibility. But, they somehow did it.
Mercy Me jumped on a bus Tuesday night around midnight drove all night from somewhere in the Carolinas (I think that's where they were) and got to Kingdom Bound sometime Wednesday afternoon for the Wednesday night concert. Since they weren't touring at the time they had to make up a song list on the bus on the way up and they also didn't have a "show" with them. They just had their instruments and voices. No computers, no choreography, no light show, just a group of guys playing music. And it was awesome! We really like Mercy Me and were thrilled we got to see them. I'm pretty sure you'd have a hard time finding another big time band out there that would have made the effort that these guys did.
On the way home we stopped in at Vidlers, an old fashioned 5 and 10 cent store in East Aurora NY. We've stopped there the past three or four years on the way home. It's a fun place with all sorts of stuff. From old time games and candy to housewares and just about anything else you can think of. This video kind of sums up the place.
And so another successful Kingdom Bound is in the books. From peanut butter filled cheddar crackers to an unexpected concert it was a great time. Who knows what interesting happenings 2014 will bring.
Home sweet temporary home.
Emily isn't exactly a morning person.
Waiting for Emily's favorite ride.
At Mercy Me concert.