King's Dominion Is Great

My husband and I left our toddler at grandma's house today, and spent the day at King's Dominion, just north of Richmond. The whole experience was so much fun, we've been married over ten years, but felt like we were dating again. Here's my quick impressions of the rides I went on today. Bear in mind, these are being reviewed by an out-of-shape middle-aged woman who has no fear. I'll include a short description lifted from the park's website before my commentary.

Intimidator 305
Biggest, Baddest and Meanest Coaster to hit the Mid-Atlantic!

This one went so fast, it even went fast UPHILL. And the drop was spectacular, at least until I started to black out from the G-forces. That part was a bit uncool, in my opinion. It happens to a lot of people on that ride, so you might want to be prepared for that should you choose to ride it. Apart from that few seconds of weirdness, the ride was exhilarating. Nevertheless, I'm not certain I'll go on it again. The line wasn't too long.

El Dorado
This high-in-the-sky swinging pendulum ride is a family friendly thrill ride that sits up to 40 riders in a blue 1950’s style El Dorado convertible car. The car acts as a pendulum, as it rotates riders to a height of 85 feet in the air in two different directions during an approximately two minute ride. El Dorado takes the concept of the family “going for a spin” to a whole new level.

I thought this was a peaceful ride. You're way up high over the park, enjoying the fresh air, cool breezes, and views. The motion is smooth, yet you are high enough that there is a little bit of thrill as you go through the rotation.

Anaconda
Get wrapped in coils of this awesome coaster and prepare for the 144 foot drop into the depths of the Anaconda. The Anaconda was the first looping coaster in the world that showcased an underwater tunnel.

Anaconda? More like the avocado. It was a fun coaster, but it didn't seem to be in the same league as the others in that section of the park.

Drop Tower
The largest drop ride in North America, a 305-foot tower of thrills that promises daring riders a 272-foot descent at 72 miles-per-hour! This adrenaline-pumping adventure simulates the sensation of skydiving.

This was awesome. My husband was afraid to go on this, and if you have any problem with heights, you'll do well to avoid it, also. It is HIGH. WAY up there in the sky. But for me, it's in the category of "peaceful" ride. You're up in the clouds, it's quiet, cool, breezy. And the drop? Well, it only takes a few seconds. Before you know it, you're done. Easy-peasy, not worth getting scared about. It's the slow ascent into the clouds that could freak people out if you're afraid of heights.

Flight of Fear
You asked; we answered! Your favorite indoor roller coaster, Flight of Fear, is back to thrill you! Linear induction magnets propel you into almost total darkness. You’ll fly through a cobra roll, a sidewinder, a corkscrew, and dozens of terrifying twist and turns. It’s two and a half minutes of sheer, pulse-pounding fear!

This one was pretty fun. The induction start gets you going fast, and it's nonstop action from there.

Grizzly
Hiding away in the backwoods of Old Virginia is the Grizzly. This beastly wooden coaster's double figure-eight configuration was modeled after Coney Island's Wildcat.

This is probably the scariest wooden coaster. I like to put my arms up, but there are several places where the cars go under crossbars or into tunnels that seem not only like you ought to keep your arms down, but it would probably be prudent to duck down as well. Like all the wooden coasters, the lines were very short.

Hurler
The Hurler is one of the best wooden coasters around!

It's worth it if you are partial to the wooden coasters (they don't offer as smooth a ride as the newer coasters, you get banged around a bit), but I preferred both the Grizzly and Rebel Yell over this.

Rebel Yell
With a Rebel Yell, you'll cry MORE, MORE, MORE! On this wooden roller coaster, two trains travel on twin tracks.

This is one of the oldest rollercoasters in the park, but it's still a goodie. I went on this a lot in my youth, but it's even better than I remember. Classic action-- no upside down, no magnetic induction, just a wonderfully designed thrill ride.

The Crypt
The Crypt takes you on an adventure filled with fire, water – and a few flips and turns high into the air.

This was the first ride of the day, since it's near the entrance and there was no line. I thought it was a lot of fun-- you go up, you go down, you flip around in both directions (forward flips are scarier!). But it's more comfortable for women, for sure. Men must protect themselves, due to the shape of the restraining seat.

Volcano, The Blast Coaster
It's the only coaster in the world to shoot you straight out of a raging volcano! Suspended from a steel track, you'll fly in and out of the rumbling mountain at speeds over 70 mph, then rocket 155 feet out of the top of the crater into a series of heart stopping inversions before a final 80-foot plummet. This is one of the world's most exciting suspended coasters!

This was my favorite of the more-recent rollercoasters. By more-recent, I mean since I was last at King's Dominion many years ago, this ride has probably been around a few years. Blasting out of the volcano was pretty cool. It's an exhilarating ride, fast and exciting without being brutal. The line was one of the longer ones, but I thought it was worth it.

Americana
The first Ferris wheel to be introduced at Kings Dominion in the park’s 35-year history, will feature 24 six-person gondolas that the entire family, including adventuresome grandparents can enjoy. Kings Dominion’s new Americana Ferris wheel will bring the history and romance of a boardwalk favorite to the park’s midway in 2009.

The individual cabins are big enough for an entire family to ride at once. My husband and I rode together on the same side in an otherwise empty car, and it was a little tippy, but not much. Overall the ride was very relaxing. I think we went around 4 times, with plenty of pauses for loading and unloading passengers in other cars during the process. Don't go on this if you are in a hurry to move on to the next attraction, but it's a wonderful way to take a break from the wilder rides.

Avalanche
An exhilarating ride on the only bobsled style ride of its kind in North America!

This was interesting because there is no track-- the cars just ride in a flume-type tube. It built up a surprising amount of speed toward the end of the ride, making it more exciting than anticipated. It's more comfortable if the heavier of the two people riding is in the back.

Shenandoah Lumber Company
When it comes to fun it can be found right here on our Log Flume. Float down river in a log-shaped boat headed for another gigantic drop.

This water ride uses the perfect amount of splash for a hot day. You don't get so wet that you'll be cold or soaked to the bone, but just wet enough that you'll be cool as you walk to the next attraction and stand in line.

Wave Swinger
For an exhilarating ride experience, take a high-flying twirl 40 feet above the park on our Wave Swinger.

This is another "peaceful" ride. It can be a little monotonous, but I've enjoyed it since I was a kid. The swings now feel too small, so I sit up when I ride.

Adding A Border To Your Blog Photo

I use google's picasaweb to embed photos on my blog, since it's really easy (I cut and paste the code from the picasaweb into my blog entry, et voila, a photo shows up in my post).

But I wanted to jazz them up a bit, and discovered the code to add a border. First find within the embedded code the image source part. It will start with < img src="http:// then have a bunch of gobbledygook with the address of your photo, then it will end with .JPG"/>.

Within that grouping, type in style="border:7px solid black" after the last quotation and before the forward slash. You can change the number before the px to make the border thinner or fatter, and just type in the name of whatever html color you'd like. In the photo below, I used darkkhaki. Here is a link to a chart of the html color names.

Ventana Doesn't Have A Highchair

Terry and I are planning to take William out with us one evening for a meal during Charlottesville's "Restaurant Week". It's mostly nicer places participating, but I saw from the website photo that Ventana didn't have tablecloths, which makes it baby-friendly in my estimation (we don't take William anywhere he could yank off a tablecloth). We hadn't been there before (I think it's new, but I don't keep up with this sort of thing as much anymore so I'm not sure just how new), so I'm glad I asked about a highchair when I called for a reservation.

Because THEY DON'T HAVE A HIGHCHAIR! The guy on the phone offered to put us at a banquette so William could sit between my husband and I, but I said that wouldn't be useful since he's too short to sit at the table, so I canceled the reservation.

Now I'm not nearly as interested in trying them out-- I'll not go there unless I hear from friends that it's really good. In the meantime, I'll give my business to more family-friendly establishments.

"Despicable Me" Was Entertaining

I just got home from the 3D version of "Despicable Me". I enjoyed the film, and recommend it to anyone. I didn't know much about it before I saw it-- the film got good reviews overall, Steve Carell did a good job with the main character, and the minions are cute.

It's animated, and in some theaters it's in 3D. I enjoyed it in 3D, and when I got home our babysitter asked if it was worth the $3.50 surcharge to see it in 3D. I figured it was, although it occurs to me now (hours later) that I might be less willing to spend the $3.50 if we weren't in such a secure financial situation. It would still be a really good film in 2D, if that's an issue for you. The charm of the film was not in the 3D special effects, it was the story and characters.

It's about a villain who is getting a little over the hill, and being challenged by a young upstart villain. So the older guy figures out a way to steal the moon as a way to get back on top. He winds up adopting three orphan girls to use to get a shrink ray, but they become a distraction to his mission. I won't give away more, but you get the gist; the film is not about unexpected plot twists, and they all live happily ever after.

Terry always laughed when he saw the upstart villain, Vector, because of his physical appearance. He was a pretty nerdy villain. I liked the main villain, Dr. Gru, largely because of his silly accent and word choices. He used some modern slang, but then had some idiosyncratic phrasing, like a non-native speaker. It was a fresh take on the usual tone of animated villains.

I'm glad I went out to see the show in the theater-- not that it won't be good on DVD, but it was so enjoyable I'm glad I didn't have to wait months to see it.

Bare Escentuals/bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation - So Far So Good

Sephora was giving out free 10-day samples of the minerals foundation and powder, so I gave it a try.

So far, I like it. I chose the color "Fairly Light" based on some online reviews that recommended you go with a slightly lighter color than you'd think, since after a few minutes the minerals oxidize on your skin to a darker color. I'm not sure that the color changed on me, but it looks fine.

Today was the first day I've used it, so this review is basically my first impression. I'll update it later if my opinion changes. I've never used a powder foundation before (I've used liquid foundation, and solid foundation), but it's effective.

I applied it over bare skin, using the miniature brush that came with my sample kit. It did a great job of evening out my skin tone, with a really natural-looking finish, neither matte nor shiny. It didn't cover up my large pores, but relatively few foundations do that well for me, so that's not a huge issue. Tomorrow I will use my foundation primer first, then the powder foundation. If my pores still look large even after using primer, then this foundation might not work for me.

One of the things I'm liking about it, is that I don't feel like I'm wearing foundation. The powder is very lightweight, and my skin doesn't feel like it's coated with anything. This is not usually a problem with good liquid foundations for most of the year, but I find that in the summer, sometimes I feel like the makeup is sliding off my face in the heat. Not so with the bareMinerals, although I suspect in reality it is more likely to actually slide off, not less. I base this on a single observation that some color came off on the tissue when I blew my nose this afternoon, and that usually doesn't happen when I use my regular liquid foundation.

But it's now five hours after I applied the makeup, and while my face has a bit of shine (I'll dust some of the translucent setting powder on before I leave the house again), the main color is still in place, keeping my skin tone even.

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