Yesterday, Mrs. Cutter and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary.
We had a big day planned. We were going to go to Terrapin Adventures: an outdoor park with rope courses, zip lines, and other “extreme” activities. Afterwards, we would pick up the Cutlet from daycare and have a nice dinner together at Lia’s restaurant at Friendship Heights.
As it turned out, we didn’t really stick to that plan.
The first indication that our day would not go according to plan came when we called Terrapin Advantures in the morning. Their website says to make advance online reservations, but we couldn’t do that since we were not completely sure we would be able to go until Tuesday afternoon. When we checked their site on Tuesday night, it said that they still had 15 spots available for Wednesday, so we didn’t think it would be a problem.
But when we called them on Wednesday morning, they informed us that they were hosting school groups, and there would be no room for us to use the course. We’re still not sure why their website didn’t indicate this (we still could have made an online reservation!), but we didn’t feel like battling a bunch of kids anyway.
Mrs. Cutter quickly came up with a good alternative. After a quick stop home to grab bathing suits and some discount tickets, we headed around the Beltway to Six Flags America. (Yes, Squinty. You heard me. Six Flags America)
Six Flags enjoys taking your money
We found that at Six Flags America there are lots of hidden charges designed to separate customers from their money. For instance, it costs $15 for their general parking, but they give you the option of upgrading to “Preferred Parking” for an extra $10. Considering the regular lot was almost empty, (and the fact that we’re not horrifically lazy) we stuck the the general parking.
We also had to rent a locker – pretty much a necessity if you go to the water park – which costs $11 for a full day rental. So basically, on top of the ticket costs, they’ve stuck you with a $26 fee.
They’ve also helpfully made it so that you can pay to play the various midway games using a credit card. So now there’s one less obstacle preventing you from spending $5 in an attempt to win a giant stuffed Scooby Doo doll!
The Cutter fought Batwing and the Cutter lost
Mrs. Cutter and I are fans of roller coasters, so we generally make an attempt to try them all. At Six Flags America, one of the signature coasters is the Batwing. This coaster starts off by laying you backwards, and sending you twisting around both forward and backwards.
I have ridden the coaster twice before with poor results. When the ride first opened in 2001, we were at the park on an especially hot day. I think I was already overheated and a little dehydrated, and after riding Batwing, I felt pretty awful.
Not one to easily be discouraged, I tried Batwing again the following year. And while my symptoms were less severe, I still felt pretty bad after getting off. In all my visits to the park since then, we have skipped riding on it.
But nine years later, I thought it might be time to give Batwing another try. This turned out to be a mistake.
I started feeling really ill while on the ride, and when I got off I was left feeling dizzy and had a pounding headache. I had to sit down for awhile and drink a lot of water.
After taking some time to rest and eating lunch I felt much better, but I am certainly never going to go on Batwing again.
Mrs. Cutter suffers some damage of her own
There are two flumes at America. One of them generates a massive splash and doesn’t hide the fact that the riders get completely soaked. We decided to skip that one. The other flume is less severe and has a pirate theme, so we tried that instead.
Naturally, you’re going to get at least a little wet on any log flume, but based on the people getting off, it was hard to determine just how wet we would get. Some of the people looked like they barely got splashed, while others were quite drenched.
After the big splash at the end, I had barely gotten wet at all and remarked “That wasn’t bad. I barely got wet.” I then turned to Mrs. Cutter who had gotten soaked. Apparently, the left side of the ride is where you get the wettest.
Since she was already wet, we headed over to the water park.
The first water ride we went on was the Halfpipe. We sat in a double tube, and were dropped into a giant halfpipe. Unfortunately, as soon as we dropped down, Mrs. Cutter’s head snapped back, giving her a slight case of whiplash. She would then have to deal with a sore neck for the rest of the day.
To her credit, she toughed it out and went on several more water slides.
Sadly, we didn’t have an unlimited time to spend at the park. We had to get home, clean up, and pick up the Cutlet for dinner.
But we made some stops along the way. First, we went to McDonald’s for some McFlurries! And after that we were off to CVS to see how much money we could save.
We’ve been watching the show Extreme Couponing which shows people who utilize coupons and sales to such an degree that they can purchase several cartloads of goods from supermarkets for only a few dollars.
We might not have the time or energy to go to such extremes, but we did do a pretty good job of saving. Between some good in-store sales and a wide assortment of coupons, we were able to fill up a cart with products that we need, and save almost 50% on our bill.
Plans change again
Unfortunately, in our quest to save money, we spent a longer than expected amount of time in the store, and it would be tough to make our dinner reservation.
By the time we picked up the Cutlet from daycare and headed towards Friendship Heights, it was apparent that we weren’t going to make it in time. Fortunately, our reservation had been made via OpenTable.com, so Mrs. Cutter was able to change the reservation to the more convenient American Tap Room in Bethesda.
The Cutlet at dinner
Unlike her early days, the Cutlet has become quite the well behaved young lady at restaurants. She’ll sit quietly in a high chair, taking in the sights and sounds. She especially likes it if the restaurant has TVs on the wall. Much like her father, she can’t help but turn her attention to a sports game showing on TV.
We ordered her a quesadilla, but she didn’t seem to enjoy it too much. I had to pick quite a few quesadilla bits off the floor after we were done. Fortunately, she does enjoy fruit, and she devoured the cup of fruit that came with her meal.
She also decided that she would take a bite out of the crayon that the restaurant provides with their kids menu. The crayon was thankfully non-toxic, but she might have a more colorful diaper than usual today.
All in all, it was an excellent day. Mrs. Cutter and I got to spend some time by ourselves, as well as with the Cutlet. And although it wasn’t what we originally planned, we still enjoyed a day of fun topped off by a good meal.
Hopefully it was just the start of an great fifth year together!