Microadventure #91: Into the Woods at Arvada Center for the Arts with Reneya

Reneya and me at “Into the Woods” performance at Arvada Center for he Arts

One shared passion I have with my granddaughter, Reneya, is a love of Musical Theater. I’m so excited that she not only loves being in the audience, but she’s a very talented performer! I can’t wait to see her future performances!

In the mean time, it’s fun to be able to share being in the audience at a professional theater production! For her 11th birthday last month, I gave her tickets to see “Into the Woods” at the Arvada center for the Arts.

I got two tickets for the very front row. Front row seats are not desirable in a movie theater, so I was a little nervous about whether or not it would be hard for us to see being so close up. As it turned out, it was amazing to be so close up that at times, it almost seemed that the actors were talking right to us!

“She’s really crying!” Reneya whispered to me, when we could literally see the tears in Cinderella’s eyes. “She’s a really good actress!” As a budding actress, herself, Reneya notices these things.

Reneya in front of the “Into the Woods” stage.

I loved being close enough to take in all the intricate details of the stage setting and the glimmering costumes. We love the special effects and the creativity that’s involved in getting just the right props, costumes, lighting, and music to set the scenes of the story.

Usually, when I’m going to a professional production at a big theater, I’m so far in the back, I can hardly see anything without binoculars. What a treat to be up front!

“Into the Woods” was also the perfect musical for us because both Reneya and I really like stories that use classic fairy tale characters as back story. She introduced me to the Descendants movies and The Land of Stories book series.

<Spoiler Alert> If you haven’t seen “Into the Woods” and don’t want any spoilers, skip to the <End Spoiler Alert>

Neither of us had seen “Into the Woods” and when the first act ended, all the conflicts were wrapped up so neatly that we both thought the play was over! However, the second act surprised us with it’s unpredictable plot lines! It was a definite deviation from traditional fairy tale, giving it some unexpected depth (and unexpected death.)

Though darker than Disney, we’re reminded that anything can happen in story.. villains might be heroes, what we assume is good, might be bad. And even though it’s not Disney, the dead can come back to life and take part in the happy ending finale, so still appropriate for children. I’d give it a PG rating or maybe even PG13 – not because it’s inappropriate for children, but because of the mature ideas and thinking the second act requires.

The lyrics, by Stephen Sondheim, were incredible in their complexity and substance! As musicals often are, most of the script was in song, but many of these songs had thought-provoking lyrics.

An example is from the second act, Your Fault / The Last Midnight, where the characters are blaming one another for their current predicament, and the Evil Witch reminds them that good or bad, action must be taken.

<End Spoiler Alert>

Coincidentally, the Musical Theater group that I performed with last summer is having a Stephen Sondheim performance this coming up Sunday, so it’s great that I was exposed to more of his music. My good friend, Becky, suggested reading the Sondheim Wikipedia page, and I see his musical genius is more than I’d realized! There are a lot of musicals I’ll be putting on my list to watch!

Microadventure #90: Camping at RMNP with JJ

Cub Lake – Rock Mountain National Park

Senior Lifetime National Park Pass!

One of the things I’ve had on my list to do since turning 62 has been to get a Lifetime National Park Pass! Yes, one of the benefits of getting older is taking advantage of senior discounts, and when you turn 62, you’re eligible to get this lifetime pass for free entrance to any US National Park!

I also bought one of those passport books, so I could keep track of all my National Park visits. Too bad I don’t have stamps for all the parks I’ve already visited. I don’t mind starting over again and revisiting those I’ve seen before, though, starting with the park I’ve been to most often: Rocky Mountain National Park.

My first passport stamp and the Visitor’s Center at Rocky Mountain National Park

Even though I’ve been to RMNP several times before, I’ve never gone camping there… until this week! In fact, I hadn’t been camping since my divorce, almost 20 years ago!

I was very excited that my long-time friend, JJ, had offered to go with me and provide all the camping gear for this microadventure. I, of course, brought my very inefficiently-packed “stuff” so we had a carload to unpack and then pack up again. We were prepared!

Lots of gear for our one night of camping!

We even had two big coolers full of food for one dinner and one breakfast. Boy, did we feast!

Camping Feast!

We’d timed our visit with the Harvest Full Moon — a couple days short, but close enough to look beautiful and light up the sky.

Harvest Full Moon

As often happens in Colorado, we went from unseasonably hot to unseasonably cold overnight. We were prepared for it all! (Packing all that stuff paid off!)

It rained throughout the night and we heard the high-pitched cries of the elk, but we were cozy, bundled up in sleeping bags and blankets.

We were able to get in a good 5-mile out-and-back hike to Cub Lake, despite the cool, damp weather.

Cub Lake Hike

The misty weather gave a kind of ethereal effect to our surroundings, as though we were in another world. It was surprising that there were so few people around.

We saw both the last signs of the summer wildflowers and the beginnings of the fall colors. Even though we’d had a big rainfall overnight, we didn’t have any mud or bad weather on our hike.

Cub Lake filled with lily pads

When we got to the lake, it was filled with lily pads and quite beautiful!

A hollow log filled with pine cones

I’m always amazed at how gorgeous nature is.. I know hard-working humans help with creating the paths and laying the groundwork for the trails, too. We were noticing the work it must have taken people to line the trails with boulders.

It was the perfect hike – just the right length, with a variety of scenery and picture-worthy stops.

In a short 24 hours we were able to experience all the wonderfulness of camping at Rocky Mountain National Park!

Microadventure #89: Santa School Graduation with Michael Bolé

“You’re gonna love it! It’s right up your alley! And I can guarantee, you’ve never done this before.”

Those were my only clues from my friend, Michael Bolé, about our surprise Microadventure event that we enjoyed last night.

My Mystery Microadventure started with dinner, courtesy of the generous Michael Bolé

Michael had told me that a friend of his from Ohio would be in from out of town and that he would treat me to dinner first at a Panera that was close to the event in NorthGlenn.

The mystery Microadventure was already a favorite, just by virtue of the fact that it was a surprise! I love surprises!

So it should be no surprise that I also love the magic of Christmas and Santa Claus!

When we got to the hotel and saw Santas roaming around, the mystery was revealed! We were going to see the Santa School Class of 2022 Graduation Ceremony! Michael’s friend, Kevin, was one of the new Santa Graduates!

New Santa Kevin O’Brien with Santa School Founder, Susen Mesco

This was no typical Graduation ceremony. The Santas and several Mrs. Claus’s proudly entered the auditorium to the tune of “Here Comes Santa Claus” ringing their bells, and laughing with their hearty Ho Ho Ho’s.

These Santas had real beards and gorgeous velvet suits. They were authentic! They each looked like they stepped right out of a greeting card.

The ceremony was fun and entertaining! The Santas recited “The Night Before Christmas,” we sang “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

We also learned a North Pole Dance, the “Ho Ho, Pokey.” Two notes:

  1. This was Michael’s first experience with “Pole” Dancing.
  2. Our friend, Adam, thought this event would be too “Hokey” for his tastes. The “Ho Ho” is on him, because the Hokey was completely removed.

Michael told me about the movie, Becoming Santa, a documentary which features someone who went to this Denver Santa school. It’s available on Prime Video, so after I got home last night, I watched the movie. I learned so much more about the history of Santa Claus and what it takes to be a Santa Claus.

I remembered a time when my kids were young and we ran across a Santa on our summer vacation wearing shorts. He was very recognizable, though, with his belly and beard. We were all enamored and he even had candy canes on him for the kids. He must have been a graduate from a Santa School, and had become a year-round “real” Santa.

I want to go to Santa School!

I felt a little jealous, wishing I could become a Santa. I know there were Mrs. Claus’s at the graduation, and I considered going to the school to learn about being Mrs. Claus, but let’s face it… whoever heard of a single Mrs. Claus? Santa’s really the main event. That’s OK. I can still get a pretty Mrs. Claus costume.

Michael and new Santa Kevin

What a unique and very fun Microadventure! Thanks to Michael and Congratulation to new Santa Kevin! May he bring Christmas magic to us all for many years to come!

Microadventure #88: Reunion with HH Gang at The Keg in Lakewood

Kay, Deborah, Ravi, and me at the Keg in Lakewood, CO – Sept.2, 2022
The 5th Member of our HH Gang, Keith – via FaceTime from Folsom, CA

Twenty or so years ago, when we were all working at Sun Microsystems, I’d get a common email on Friday afternoon that would say something like: “HH at Village Tavern this week?”

“HH” stood for “Happy Hour” and our little group of 5, Kay, Keith, Deborah, Ravi, and I, would enjoy an end-of-week respite at a local area bar.

These Happy Hours were filled with a lot of laughter and (maybe a little too much) drinking. I always looked forward to this weekly Friday ritual. We even had a big adventure trip to Las Vegas, in 2002. (I’d say more here, but What Happened in Vegas, Stayed in Vegas!)

We were an unlikely and diverse group of friends.. almost 30 years difference between the youngest (Ravi) and the oldest (Kay). Keith stood at least a foot taller than the rest of us. They were all coders and I was a manager. (Luckily, they didn’t hold that against me.)

Ravi, who had immigrated from India, was.. and still is… one of my favorite people in the whole world. We all went to see his baby girl the day she was born and now she’s a beautiful young adult. I think Kay (and her husband, Walt) taught Ravi to ski and we all got together for skiing, golf, hockey (Keith and Ravi played) or skating.

Keith, the only single one amongst us back then, would entertain us with his single-life dating stories. I remember Ravi once said something about Keith not wanting to date anyone with too much ‘luggage’! (Yeah, those language gaffes were the best! Ravi still is so funny and innocently cracks us all up!)

Kay was a sky-diver and adventurer. Deborah was super-classy and sassy! Keith was a confident jokester. And Ravi was naive and lovable.

Over time, Keith got married to Yolanda, and I got divorced. There were moves and job changes, family responsibilities. Happy hours became few and far between.

2010 – At my 50th birthday party in 2010 – Deborah, Keith, Yolanda, Ravi, me, and Kay

Though our regular Happy Hours stopped many years ago, we occasionally kept in touch. The last time we were all together may have been in 2010 at my 50th birthday party.

Keith and Yolanda moved to Arizona and then to Folsom, California. Deborah had a baby and moved to Highlands Ranch so Happy Hour wasn’t much of an option for her anymore either.

I tried to get together with Ravi at least once a year for his birthday in August. This year, I suggested we try to get the HH Gang back together and have a FaceTime call to Keith.

Our reunion was so wonderful. Even though the call with Keith was short, he said he’d be in Colorado later this year, and we could maybe get us all together in person.

Kay, Deborah, Ravi, and I reminisced, laughed, and shared stories of the many years that had passed and the changes that we’d all been through.

Deborah still had her half of the $5 bill we split at the end of our Vegas trip

At the end of our 2002 Vegas Trip, Deborah and I split a $5 bill with the thought that one day we’d all go back to Vegas, tape together the two halves, and gamble our lucky $5 (Was the plan Black Jack or Roulette? I can’t remember.)

Well, Deborah is more organized than I am and had her half of the $5. Not me. I can’t even find the CD I’d put together or a single picture from our Vegas trip! (This has me quite upset, but I’ll resist ranting about it on this blog post.)

I have to admit, our reunion brought up a lot of nostalgic feelings for me. This little group of friends was with me to help me through a very difficult time of my life – the year I was going through my divorce. They each are so unique and different from one another, but together, we were the “HH Gang”.. a group of friends that I will forever hold dear in my heart.

Microadventure #87: 1964 the Tribute Concert at Red Rocks with JJ

Arguably, the best outdoor amphitheater in the nation is only about 40 minutes from my house: Awe-inspiring Red Rocks.

The scenery and atmosphere while listening to a concert at this stunning venue is definitely an unforgettable experience. Now that I’m thinking of moving, I’ve been making an extra effort to get out to my favorite local-area places. And then I think.. “How can I possibly move? It’s too beautiful here.”

The Beatles actually performed here at Red Rocks in 1964. Obviously, the “real” Beatles are no longer performing, but 1964 the Tribute, traditionally does a great job of giving us the whole Beatles experience, here at Red Rocks in August.

I saw them first in 2008 and remember texting a friend:

“Guess what? I’m listening to the Beatles at Red Rocks!”

to which he replied:

“And I’m listening to the Rolling Stones at Fiddler’s Green.”

1964 the Tribute at Red Rocks

The other night was the 3rd time I’ve seen 1964 the Tribute perform at Red Rocks. I know most of the songs, of course, and they encourage the audience to sing along.

The acoustics are amazing at Red Rocks. Even though we were sitting way back in the “General Admission” section, we could hear everything and see on the big projected screens.

I love how much the band members stay in character, dressing, acting, and impersonating the original Beatles, even with their banter. I never saw the actual Beatles live, but these guys sounded exactly like any recordings I’ve ever heard.

If you haven’t been to Red Rocks yet, I recommend adding it to your Bucket List. And if you’re a Beatles fan, get out and Twist and Shout at a 1964 the Tribute concert!

Microadventure #86: Tales From the Great Northern Island with Minnesota Friends

I just returned from one of my favorite traditional vacations – my reunion with Minnesota friends for an annual island retreat.

I met the host of this annual island adventure, Chris, during my stint as a contractor at Optum in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, in the summer of 2016. Since that summer (minus 2020) I’ve gotten to participate in this much-anticipated event.

The island retreat always includes playfulness! For the last few years, we’ve been coming up with a “theme” and this year we chose a Pirate theme. Our host (“Captain Chris!”) has an August birthday so we had a treasure hidden for him this year.

Brenda (always full of fun ideas) brought T-shirts and stencils along for us to create our personalized pirate attire for our photo shoot.

Nancy brought wine made from her own vineyard!

Food is always a highlight of the trip – each meal prepared with love! Both delicious and beautiful!

Can’t get much better than this!

Friends, food, and plenty of fun!

Brooke, the wonder dog, watching out for neighboring pirates!

Here are some videos and blog posts from previous island trips:

August 2021 on Antler Island
In 2020, since we had to skip, I made a video with footage from all our previous years.

2019: This was Week 33 of my 60 until 60 Project – The 60 week countdown to my 60th birthday: Week 33: Minnesota Island Adventure

2016: My first year on the Island – This group participated with me in the “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen”: GISHWHES on The Great Northern Island

2016: How I met this group, thanks to Scott: Making Friends

Microadventures #84-85: Fun with Reneya

Microadventure #84: Reneya as “Jojo” in Seussical Jr. – The Musical at Arvada Center for the Arts

A couple of weeks ago, Reneya played a LEAD role in the musical, Seussical, Jr, at the Arvada Center for the Arts! She was JoJo, the littlest Who, who was on a clover found by “Horton” of “Horton Hears a Who.” And she was AMAZING! She sang several songs, including a couple that she sang solo!

Not only does Reneya have acting and singing talent, she has such a wonderful stage presence! She’s a natural-born performer. Her smile just lights up the room. From the time she was an infant, she easily giggled and loved to be around everyone – even strangers! And, they, of course, love to be around her.

Such extraversion is a rarity in my family tree. I was extremely shy as a child, as was my daughter (her mother). I would have loved to have had the confidence to perform when I was young, and I’m still working at overcoming stage fright.

Reneya with some of the cast from Seussical, Jr. at The Arvada Center for the Arts.

I’m so excited that Reneya not only has talent, but is becoming passionate about something that I love, too – musical theater! If she’s already performing with a theater group at age 10, think of all the performances she has in her future! I can’t wait to see what the future will bring!

Microadventure #85: Reneya’s 11’th Birthday Celebration at Flatirons Mall

Yesterday, we shared another Microadventure: Our traditional birthday lunch and shopping spree at Flatirons Mall in Broomfield.

This is our 3rd year with this tradition. Thanks to Covid, I adapted to 1:1 birthday celebrations with my grandkids. I learned that we all like the individual attention that comes with these 1:1 celebrations.

Lunch at Cafe Crêpe. Can you guess what we ate?

At the mall, we have a variety of food places we can choose from, thanks to the Food Court, but my favorite is Cafe Crêpe! Reneya, enamored with all things French, decided to join me in getting crêpes for lunch and we shared both a savory (The Benedict) and a sweet (Strawberry Shortcake.)

It was the first time Reneya had ever had a Strawberry Shortcake crêpe and she raved about how good it tasted, declaring it a new item on her “favorite food list” (which also included, Donuts, Cinnabons, another sweet dessert (which I can’t remember now) and… beans! Beans? That prompted my “one of these things is not like the other” Sesame Street game play. (Reneya didn’t seem at all amused at this juvenile reference when she was well beyond Sesame Street games.)

Shopping at Old Navy

Reneya was anxious to get going with the shopping. As she declared (in her very excited way) she LOOOOVES shopping!

We went to a few clothes stores as well as Claires (accessories) and Sephora (skin care and makeup). Reneya is a very careful shopper, wanting to be sure and spend her birthday money wisely. She always noted the prices, and though she had been interested in jeans, they were almost all more than she wanted to spend.

When we looked at backpacks, most of them had Disney or StarWars scenes. Reneya explained the dilemma of the tween… finding a style that doesn’t look too young or too old. I explained that the style I most preferred probably matched the typical 5-year-old. She chuckled in agreement.

I was very proud at how Reneya made her choices with a careful eye on prices and sales. She even ended up with over $30 left in her birthday cash to save or spend at a later time.

Just like I wrote a couple of weeks ago, when I took out her brother, Diego, hanging out with my grandchildren keeps getting better and better!

Happy Birthday, Lovely Reneya!

Microadventure #83: Improv Games with Broomshticks

Mary explains the Improv game, Sales Pitch 3000

Have you ever watched “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” I am amazed at how funny and quick-witted improv comedians can be!

Performances or comedy of any sort can be intimidating for a natural introvert like me, but I’ve been making a habit of getting out of my comfort zone. I’m at the wonderful “Who Cares?” stage of life!

I’ve played Improv games a couple of times before and have wanted to try again, so when I saw this local opportunity, I jumped on it:

Broomshticks Theater Improvisation (Improv) Fun: COME PLAY TONIGHT!

Broomschticks Improv , I learned “is a comedy improv troupe that is part of the Broomfield Council on the Arts and Humanities (BCAH), a 501-c-3 organization.”

The group emphasized fun with no experience necessary. Though I got a little nervous when it was suggested we meet by the “stage” (did I mention I have massive stage fright?) it turns out, I was perfectly fine. Maybe I’ve finally gotten over that dreadful piano recital. (It also helps that there was no audience.)

When I told my friends I went to an Improv group, they said stuff like, “I’d never do that. I’d worry too much about not being funny.” (At least they didn’t say: “You know you’re not funny, right?” even if they were thinking that.)

Surprisingly, I really didn’t feel any pressure, insecurities, or performance anxiety at all. The improv games were like party games and I’ve played plenty of those.

There were about 6 of us who attended (plus 2 kids who joined at the end) and most of the others were experienced (and very funny!) but there was at least one other newbie besides me. Everyone was very welcoming and supportive. There were no ‘wrong answers’ and silliness, of course, was encouraged.

It wasn’t like stand-up comedy where you’re on your own. For most of the games, everyone’s participating, so it’s not like anyone’s really noticing who’s laughing or not laughing or who’s “funny” or who’s “not funny.”

Strike that. We’re probably all self-critiquing. But, as the very inexperienced, least funny participant, even I did not feel embarrassed. If I can do this, anyone can.

The people who were really good could quickly and easily imitate accents, emotions, and personas. So talented!

I could not do that (yet!) However, I have a huge ‘inner child’ that loves to play. I even had fun getting up on stage with the others!

One of the biggest lessons I’m learning about trying new things is this: People care a lot more about you enjoying yourself than they care about your talent.

Perhaps if the end goal is fame or fortune, there would be a little more pressure. But for me, there was only one goal: Have Fun! Mission Accomplished!

(P.S. For those who would like to order the Bald-Man’s Brush, please place your orders at 1-800-TOO-BALD. Additional taxes may apply.)

Microadventure #82: Denver Hostel Hangout at The Ember with Tina and Margi

Tina, Margi, and I at the Ember Hostel

One of the many newsletters I subscribe to is one from Nomadic Matt, a travel writer who I’ve followed for years. When I saw there was going to be a Denver Hostel Hangout event in Denver for people who liked to travel, I thought it would be a great opportunity for a Microadventure with my friend, Tina.

I also sent the information to Margi, a woman I’d met a couple of weeks ago at a Coffee Klatch Meetup. I’d found out that Margi lives in Cuenca, Ecuador for half the year, so I knew she liked to travel, too.

The event was held at the Ember Hostel, a very beautiful and upscale hostel! To be honest, I hadn’t even known there were hostels in the U.S. I always associated them with students backpacking in Europe, and imagined a dorm-like atmosphere.

When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was this elegant purple chaise lounge.

I don’t know if there would be anywhere in my house where this would fit in decor-wise, but I do love the look of an old-fashioned chaise lounge and purple is my favorite color! This did look very royal, fit for a queen.

Thea Delamater, the General Manager at the Ember Hostel gave us a tour of the boutique hostel which was filled with unique decor and helped earn its reputation as one of the best hostels in the nation.

Thea Delamater, G. Manager at the Ember Hostel in Denver

Thea told us that the Ember was not a “typical” hostel. The upscale accommodations and prime Denver location, not to mention a new 12-person hot tub, all provide opportunities for travelers to meet one another, share stories, and possibly see some of the area sights together.

This is a “loaner” hot-tub while waiting for the bigger 12-person hot-tub.

Most of the sleeping rooms were dorm-style, though there was a single-room option available. Apparently, a single-room option is true with most hostels – something I didn’t know. I’m such a light sleeper that I hadn’t really considered hostels much of an option when traveling, but these little bunks with a privacy curtain might be fun. And their bathrooms looked newly remodeled with pretty tile – quite posh!

Of course, again, the Ember Hostel, was considered the best hostel in the nation, so I couldn’t expect this elsewhere. What was most appealing about the hostel experience for me was the “community” feel. Thea said the vast majority of travelers who stay at the hostel are single and like meeting one another.

I asked whether most of those travelers were young and Thea said that while most were younger, that there were travelers of all ages including many that were in their 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s.

In fact, at this event, I think it was 6 women around my age and only 1 guy who was in his 30’s (and even he mentioned being “old” (at which the rest of us scoffed.)

It was interesting sharing stories of the nomadic or “slowmadic” (semi-nomadic?) life-style. I mentioned the GoWithLess Facebook group which has such a friendly community of travelers. One of the other women said she was familiar with the group and agreed that it’s another awesome way to connect with travelers.

After the event (which even included free wine!), Tina and I found a place around the corner for dinner.

Sitting out on an outdoor patio with yummy food and good conversation with Tina was the perfect ending to this Microadventure!

Note: As a person who loves words, I’m a bit bothered that “hostel” is pronounced the same as “hostile!” I think the English language needs to morph the word into something that conjures up welcoming feelings! Maybe pronounce the first part like “host” with a long o? And for this “boutique” hostel, how about “hostelique”?

Microadventure #81: Virtual Reality and Birthday Fun with Diego

Illegal Burger with Diego

For the past few years, I have been having a lot more 1:1 parties than big parties to celebrate birthdays. I started this with my 60-until-60 project and, like virtual parties, they became even more trendy during Covid.

I’ve especially enjoyed having individual birthday celebrations with my grandchildren who both have summer birthdays. The other day, we celebrated Diego’s 13th birthday! He’s officially a teenager!

My tradition for the past few years has been to take them to lunch and shopping at the Flatirons Mall where we go on a little shopping spree for their birthday presents.

This year Diego picked Illegal Burger for the lunch portion of our celebration. This was a burger joint I’d never been to before… always an advantage for a Microadventure!

Yummy Burger!

Another tradition is to pig out and have the silly pig-out picture!

Speaking of traditional pictures, we also have to get the silly photo booth pictures in the mall.

Photo Booth pictures from last year and this year

I have my “Carpe Diem” journal where I record the birthday boy’s “favorites” (foods, songs, hobbies, etc.) and when I opened up my book, I found our photo booth pictures from last year!

In previous years, Diego would head right to Game Stop for his shopping, but this year, we went to Dick’s Sporting Goods first where he checked out the Avs T-Shirts and caps. The Colorado Avs won the Stanley Cup this year and Diego is both an Av’s fan and a hockey player himself!

Diego picks out a Stanley Cup T-Shirt

Diego still had enough money for a video game, but instead he wanted some skateboarding shoes.

“Shoes?” I asked. “Don’t your parents buy your shoes? Are you sure you want to spend your birthday money on shoes?” I remember Scotty, even as an adult, adamantly being against getting clothes or shoes as gifts. But then, it shows in Scotty’s ragged wardrobe and shoes full of holes that clothes and shoes have never been a priority for him. It’s good to see that Diego is pickier about his appearance.

Diego picks out some cool new checkered shoes.

The next portion of our adventure is the most unique.. something neither of us had done before: A Virtual Reality Roller Coaster!

I actually had only experienced Virtual Reality one other time — with Scotty at an Escape Room convention. It really is extremely cool how realistic everything looks after you put on the special headset.

About to experience a VR Roller Coaster

Once we put on the headset, you could pick from a variety of experiences, and Diego, being the birthday boy, picked an Alien Roller Coaster. It was amazing! It really felt like we were going up and down and from side-to-side while all these aliens were jumping out.

I highly recommend experiencing Virtual Reality, but beware of this: Motion Sickness! I’m prone to motion sickness anyway and rarely go on amusement park rides – especially those that spin. I didn’t think I could be so affected by a simple 10-minute VR ride, but I was sick for about 4 hours after the ride. I still am amazed by the VR technology, but just like real-life amusement rides, I’m going to stay away from those that can cause motion sickness.

Diego and I tried a little pickle ball after the mall, and getting out in the fresh air helped a little, but we soon called it an afternoon, with the promise of playing more some other time.

I’d been worried that 13 would be the start of the “It’s not cool to hang out with Grandma”years. But Diego kept telling me that he was having so much fun and he seemed to truly enjoy the afternoon. And for me, celebrating Diego’s birthday – just the two of us – is a tradition that I treasure!

Happy Birthday, Diego!