– Ben Martens

EV Charging Network

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

Over the last few weeks, a flood of car makers and charging networks have stated that they will adopt the NACS charging connector, otherwise known as the Tesla connector. Previously there were two main standards for fast charging: NACS and CCS. There were also a flood of slower chargers.

Having all the automakers in North America adopt the NACS connector means that Tesla will proceed with opening their supercharging network to all electric vehicles as they’ve done in other parts of the globe. That’s great for non-Tesla owners as the Tesla supercharger network is in a different league compared to other networks. It’s extremely rare to pull up to any Tesla charger and find it working. Conversely, it’s rare to pull up to something like Electrify America and find all the chargers working. We just completed a 2500-mile road trip in our Model Y, and while I was confident in the Tesla network, I don’t know that I would have even attempted it with a non-Tesla purely because of the lack of reliability in non-Tesla charging networks.

Having all the networks use the same plug is great, but it doesn’t mean that the other networks are going to be any more reliable. That needs to be a major focus for them in the coming years. The infrastructure needs to be rock solid for people to trust it. They need to not only adopt the charging standard, but the reliability standard that Tesla has set.

As a Tesla owner, I want to see the industry grow and build standards, but it’s a bit of a bummer to have “muggles” at my supercharger. Part of the reason I paid a premium for a Tesla is specifically because of the fantastic charging network. Now it’s more likely that I’ll pull up to a station with no empty chargers. That should be a temporary problem, and with a single standard, we should start to see more people getting creative with their charging stations. I look forward to the day when I can pull into a standard travel plaza on my road trip and charge my car while I use the restroom, get some food, and clean my windshield.

JBLM Airshow and Warrior Expo

As a child, I remember going to some big airshows, and I still have a poster on the wall in this room of the Thunderbirds. Dad stood in line with me to get it signed by all six pilots. So when I heard that Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) was bringing back its airshow after a seven year break, I really wanted to go.

We booked a hotel the night before even though it’s only 60 miles away with the thought of making our morning a little less hectic. Plus, Tyla and Elijah love hotel pools and hotel breakfasts. Elijah thinks Best Western is the most amazing hotel chain ever, and I’m not in any hurry to dissuade him! We did have a relaxing evening on Friday and then Saturday morning, we drove about 5 minutes across the interstate and onto the base. We were directed to park in a field and hopped on a shuttle quickly after that.

The airshow area was huge and there were so many static displays that we couldn’t see them all in the ~2.5 hours before the show started.

The show started off with a “joint force demonstration” since it’s a joint army and air force base. The list of planes that flew included B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25, C-17, Focke-Wulf 190, P-51 Hope, Tora Tora Tora Mitsubishi A6M “Zero”, Undaunted Air Act (Vans RV-7 and RV-8’s), and Yellow Thunder (twin AT-6 Texans). The army also had Apache, Blackhawk, and Chinook helicopters along with a Striker vehicle. I’m sure I’m missing some more!

It was the first time I remember seeing the Tora Tora Tora act. They reenacted the attack on Pearl Harbor with eight planes. Even with only a few planes, it felt like chaos because they had lots of big pyrotechnic explosions happening on the ground while the announcer talked about the attack. It’s impossible to imagine what it would have felt like with 20 times that many planes attack constantly for TWO HOURS.

Of course, the highlight of the whole show was the Thunderbirds! All the acts were fun to watch but the Thunderbirds are the pinnacle of air acts. It was beautiful to watch them with Mt. Rainier standing proudly in the background, and I was so happy to share the experience with Tyla and Elijah!

I was also really happy that we remembered to bring ear protection. It’s LOUD and sitting out there all day in the hot sun is a recipe for a headache even without the loud planes.

While I don’t know if I would have enjoyed lugging my dSLR around all day, I do wish I had it for taking pictures of the airshow. We had a beautiful view with Rainier in the background and while there are plenty of photos online, it’s always fun to snap “the shot” yourself.

We had gone extra fancy for this event and paid for reserved seating. It was really nice to have “saved seats” and not have to fight for position. We also had easy access to bathrooms and food. I’d make that same choice again.

I’ve been wanting to go to an airshow for years and I’m so thankful that it finally happened!

Ok so that’s the happy side of the day. Let’s talk about the downsides.

  • It was HOT. Temps were up around 90 and since you’re on an airfield, there’s no shade. We brought water bottles and refilled them multiple times at bottle filling stations that they had cleverly hooked up to fire hydrants.
  • Traffic was bonkers. The news said that the airshow hit capacity around 1:30pm (about halfway through the air acts). Thankfully we missed it going in but it bit us leaving.
  • We had to take a shuttle back since our car was ~8 miles away. I made the tough decision to leave the show about 2/3 of the way through the Thunderbirds act because I knew the shuttles were going to be a mess. While I hated leaving early, we were able to still see most of the maneuvers as we walked back. We arrived to CHAOS. It was unclear where the busses were going to stop and which line was for which shuttle. The lines were already enormous, but thankfully the line for our shuttle was shorter. This was part of my plan by picking the shuttle on the south end because I knew the north end would be swamped with all the people from Seattle. We waited baking in the hot sun in a line of angry people for an hour. That got us on the THIRD BUS. Yes, the busses were incredibly slow because they were getting caught up in all the traffic leaving the show. I’d estimate that we were about 5-10% of the way from the front of the line and it took us an hour to leave. People must have been there for hours. Thankfully, there were quite a few military personnel there to help sort out line cutters and other squabbles.
  • They did have limited parking on base so I suppose we could have tried that, but then you’re resigning yourself to sitting in traffic for hours trying to squeeze out of the one lane gate off the base.

I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I could do this again. I think the winning move was probably parking at the closest shuttle stop (SR-512 Park and Ride) and then just walking the ~3 miles back to that shuttle stop after the show. But then again, the line for that shuttle stop was enormous in the morning because the city buses went to the wrong location to start the day!

Both our bodies and nerves were fried by the end of the day, but I was so proud of Elijah for sticking with it all day! If anyone in our family had given into a bad attitude, it would have been miserable for all of us, but we all left thankful that we saw what we saw, but also very thankful to be sitting in air conditioning and driving home. I’m not eager to go again, but I’m glad we went!

GPT and LLMs

ChatGPT made a big splash last fall and large language models (LLMs) in general continue to be a hot topic. My current favorite is using Bing AI ( because it combines current search results with the information it already has in its model.

But there’s still a lot of confusion about what is powering these sites. How do they know things? Are they sentient? Stuff You Know Should Know did a great episode called Large Language Models and You and I think it’s worth a listen. I’ve heard LLMs previously described as “word salad”, and this episode gives another good example of explaining that it’s like an iteration on autocomplete in a text box. The algorithm just knows what words are most likely to come next and which words are related to each other. It has no concept of what it is saying. It only knows that those words are most likely to go together when it sees your prompt. So there’s no sentience or actual knowledge happening here, which is probably good but it’s also bad because it means that ridiculous answers can come out and be presented as fact.

The episode covers all of this and then also does a good job of how incredibly fast things are improving. Give it a listen if this topic interests (or scares) you.

1100 Miles in a Tesla

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

Up until our trip to Moab, we had never done a trip that required multiple charges away from home, but we sure put that behind us with this trip. Our total drive was around 2500 miles there and back. The video at the end of this post covers the drive to Moab.

There are a few things that I didn’t cover in the video:

  • Supercharging is almost irrelevant for daily life. I wrote this whole post and made a video about this because we’ve gone 20,000 miles in our car, and we’ve only used a supercharger a few times. Charging like this is a novel experience for us! I often hear people say, “Oh I can’t get an electric car because there are no chargers around me.” The chargers near you don’t matter. You’ll probably never use a charger within 100 miles of your house because you constantly have a charged car when you wake up (assuming you can charge where you park.) The only time you need a good charger network is if you decide to take your EV on a long road trip, and even then, if you have two cars, you could just drive your gas car. So the “what’s it like to charge an EV?” question is something I thought a lot about before I got the car, and now I hardly think about it at all. My car is always charged and it requires about 5 seconds to plug it in when I get home. It only comes into play when we’re taking a long road trip.
  • Charing at a supercharger is extremely easy. When we stopped to charge, the car was charging before my family even got out of the car. I’d park, hop out, grab the charger, and plug it in. There’s no fumbling with a credit card or an app. The charger communicates with the car and automatically charges the credit card associated with the car. The car knows how far it needs to charge before you’re ready for the next leg of your trip or you can manually set your own limit.
  • Very little of the planning that I show in the video is something a normal Tesla driver would do. You could easily complete this trip while being completely oblivious of all the optimizations that I made. When you punch in your destination, the car tells you where to stop and how long to charge at each stop. It will give you many warnings if you try to leave the charger too soon or if something changes en-route and you’re unlikely to make it. This short video from Tesla explains how that works:

I had a data logger recording every datapoint from our car every few seconds and I took some video during each leg of the trip. I put it all together into a video about the trip along with my thoughts about whether I’d do it the same way again. Enjoy!

One Week in Moab

This year, we decided to visit some of the national parks in southern Utah for our family vacation. It started as an idea to hit all five, but we scaled back to spending a week in Moab, Utah for easy access to two of the parks. In the end, we were glad we simplified our plan because there was a lot to keep us busy and it was more relaxing than trying to cram in a bunch of different stops.

Moab is about 1100 miles from our house, and I’ll write a detailed post about our road trip, but in short, we took two days to drive down there and two days back. So after two long days in the car, we rolled into Moab late on Sunday afternoon.

I’m happy to promote the Airbnb that we rented. It was a duplex so we had our own garage (with a charger for our electric car) along with way more beds than we needed. It also had a private hot tub along with a full washer and dryer. There was a community pool a short walk away too. It was a great home base for our adventures.

I had tried to pre-plan as much of the trip as possible so that I wouldn’t have to be doing logistics and figuring things out while I was on vacation. Plus, Moab is an incredibly busy place and many of the things we wanted to do required reservations months in advance. Moab is a town of about 5000 people with around 2 million people who visit every year! The economy is defined by tourism which is good for business but it’s also wreaking havoc on the people who live there. They simultaneously can’t make a living without the tourists and they often can’t afford basic necessities like housing because of the tourists.


For our first full day in Moab, we started with Arches National Park which is just on the north end of town. It was about a 15 minute drive from our house. Arches is using timed entry reservations. Months in advance, I registered for entry into the park between 7am and 8am on the day we were planning to go in. We arrived right at 7am in hopes of beating the crowds a bit and also beating the heat. Our plan each day was to be mostly done with planned activities by noon to avoid the hottest part of the day and leave ~half the day open for random activities. This meant getting up early each morning on vacation, but I think we’d do it the same way if we went back.

I have seen plenty of pictures of some of the arches in the park, but I was surprised how different it felt to be there in person. A picture can’t communicate the enormity of the scenery. It feels like the opposite of a green, cool place like Seattle!

We came prepared with an itinerary for our park days thanks to For a few bucks, I purchased her guide to Arches and we followed her two day itinerary. I won’t repeat the details here since I don’t want to give a free summary of her great content, but we were very happy with the info she provided! Despite the extreme visitor load, we never found a trailhead that was full, we ate lunch in a completely empty picnic area each day, and we even had some of the arch views to ourselves!

The highlight of our first day in the park was the Devil’s Garden area. Landscape Arch is enormous and the hike from there to the Double O arch was one of our favorite hikes of the trip. It required climbing up and walking along big rock fins.


Tuesday was our first of two paid adventures: off roading! Moab is a world-renowned mecca for offroad fun and we didn’t want to miss the opportunity. We chose a 2.5 hour with the cleverly named “Moab Tourism Center” tour company. I drove the UTV/side-by-side for our family and there were a total of 5 vehicles in our group including our guide.

It’s hard to put into words what this trip was like! The vehicles were extremely capable and the terrain was incredible. We drove up steep narrow fins, down steep inclines, and over all sorts of terrain that I would never have imagined was possible.

A huge portion of Utah is “BLM land” (Bureau of Land Management) and you can do pretty much anything you want there. Our tour took us through the “Hell’s Revenge” area which had a additional rules because of the high traffic. If you’ve watched any rock crawling videos on the internet, you’ve probably seen some of the main features in this area. We stopped at “Hell’s Gate” and watched four vehicles try to climb it. Three made it up fine but the fourth flipped up and over! Everyone was fine, but it was quite a sight. All of this is just a short drive out of town so part of our tour involved a ~10 minute UTV drive on the roads to and from the business where we started. UTVs can be road legal in Moab and you see lots of them!

If I could go back for one day, I’d do another UTV trip!


We got up early again to get into Arches right at 7am since it had been working so well for us the previous two days. This day involved more highly trafficked parts of the park, but our early start gave us easy parking and ok-ish crowds. Highlights were Delicate Arch, both of The Windows, and the Double Arch. When I had been researching this trip, I saw Double Arch and immediately recognized it as from the opening scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. While the arch was covered in people, it was still neat to see the area in person. We again ate lunch at a completely empty picnic area with a great view of Balanced Rock.


Our second scheduled excursion was a half day rafting trip from Adrift Adventures. Their web presence and signup process was less polished than our other excursion, but everything went smoothly. There were three small groups like ours that got put together in one boat and then there was an enormous group of dads and sons that filled up about four or five other boats. They were pretty wild so our guides did a good job of keeping us separated from them on the river so we could have our own fun.

The trip mostly hits “bumpy water” Class 1 and 2 rapids but there was one short Class 3 section too. This felt just about right for our family. There were a couple areas where Tyla and I both jumped out of the boat to swim, and Elijah even got to row the boat for a while.

The river had about 2.5 times as much water flowing through it as it did last year so everything was moving faster than normal. We got to do the whole 12-mile stretch that they normally divide up into two different 6-mile tours.


For our last day in the parks, we drove about 50 minutes to Canyonlands National Park. This park is divided into three distinct areas and the entrances are hours apart. We chose the Island in the Sky district. The name comes from the fact that this part of the park is mostly on top of a large mesa.

The site we used for he Arches Itinerary had some guidance for Canyonlands but not a full itinerary, but our early arrival paid off again and we were able to see everything without overwhelming crowds. Our first stop was Mesa Arch and it might have been our favorite one of the trip! It’s quite a trippy experience walking up to the arch because it’s right on the edge of the mesa so there’s an enormous drop off beyond the arch. We also had the whole thing to ourselves for quite a while so we got some good pictures and enjoyed the view.

We did one longer hike out to Murphy Point and thoroughly enjoyed the view there. Again, we had the whole viewpoint to ourselves for almost the whole time!

The remaining stops were a couple that we could drive to which mean that they were much busier, and while the views were awesome, our first two private stops were much more enjoyable due to lesser crowds. We found another private picnic spot with shade and a great view for lunch.


Our plan to finish each day around 12 or 1 worked out well. We got to beat the heat and crowds, and we also had the afternoon free for relaxing and spending time in the community pool.

We saved a lot of time and money by eating breakfast and lunch at the house every day (or packing a picnic lunch.) We did go out to dinner each night and our favorite spots were the Moab Brewery, El Tapatio, Moab Food Truck Park, and Spitfire Smokehouse. Utah has some confusing liquor laws which means that good draft beer is hard to find, but I did sample quite a few new ones.

We played the license plate game on our drive and made it amazingly close to collecting them all! We ended without seeing Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Delaware, but we did get a few Canadian provinces, D.C., and two Mexican states (Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon.)


This is long post already, but we have so many memories that I haven’t touched on here like lizards, base jumpers, frisbee plates, the Tree Penguins, the filming location for Horizon, meeting people from Woodinville on our first day in Moab, Lops ice cream, and a lot more. What an amazing trip!

I did a lot of research and planning ahead of time, fully expecting to only use it as a rough guide, but almost the entire trip went flawlessly according to plan. The return trip had some hiccups mostly due to extra traffic on the weekend before the Fourth of July, but it wasn’t a big deal. I’m so thankful for the smooth adventure and the fun family memories. When’s our next road trip?! Let’s do it again!

Tesla Charging Curve

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

We are back from a 2500-mile road trip with our Model Y. I was collecting data from the whole trip, and I have a couple more posts coming to detail the experience, but while I work on that, I want to start by devoting an entire post to explaining the charging curve of a Tesla.

The key point here is that when you are supercharging, the speed of your charging depends on how full your battery is. The battery can be charged much faster from 10% to 30% than from 70%-90%.

The above chart shows the curve for a 250kW charger. Most superchargers are 150kW max output, but newer ones are 250kW. (A few of them are 70kW but those are rare.) For a 150kW charger, imagine the same curve but it is capped at 150kW. So it’s slower at first, but by the time you hit ~40% charge, the two chargers give you the same speed (…usually. More on this later.)

Imagine you could fill your gas tank faster the emptier it was. You’d only want to put in as much gas as you needed to get to your next fueling stop. So whichever speed you’re using to charge, the key takeaway is that if you’re trying to spend the least amount of time possible at a charger, you want to start at around 10-15% and charge as little as you need to get to the next charger.

This becomes important if you’re trying to optimize the charging stops on a long road trip. There’s a tradeoff between getting enough juice to skip over a charging stop and the slower charging speeds you that give you that extra juice. Thankfully, you don’t have to think about this as most EV trip planners (including the one built into Teslas) take this into account automatically.

Here’s a chart from all the supercharges we’ve done on our Model Y:

Click to open that in a new tab. You should see three basic curves. The top one is 250kW chargers, the second one is 150kW chargers, and the bottom one is from one use of a 70kW charger, but mostly it’s from lower output at a 150kW charger. This is because the older 150kW superchargers are paired. When you pull up to a charger, the stalls are labeled 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc. If you are sharing an A/B with another car, you split the 150kW. As a supercharger gets busier, this means it takes longer to charge causing longer waits to for people to get a stall. Obviously this isn’t ideal so the newer 250kW chargers are all isolated. No matter how busy the charger is, you’ll get the full firehose of electrons shooting into your car.

If this sounds complicated, I assure you that you can happily drive an EV without knowing any of this. In fact, it’s obvious that a lot of Tesla owners are clueless to the differences between chargers and the pairing of the 150kW chargers. I love this stuff and I want to be as efficient as possible so I geek out with all this data. And if you think this was geeky, wait until I detail how I planned our trip in a future post!

Disc Golf

When I started playing disc golf towards the end of last summer, I started learning that I was right in the middle of a big surge of interest in the sport. It really spiked when COVID hit and the interest has continued. UDisc is the most popular app for tracking scores and finding courses. They have an annual report about the growth of the sport if you’re interested in stats.

It’s been a big hit in our house because it’s something that all three of us can enjoy, and it’s generally free. UDisc says that 90% of all disc golf courses are free to play. You can get a starter set of three discs for about $30 and I used my starter set for a very long time before buying some specific, fancier discs for $15-20/each.

I’m writing this post because I realized there have only be a couple blog posts that mention disc golf. Considering how much I have been playing, that feels a bit off, so I thought I’d use this post to answer some of the questions I had as I got into it:

Where do you play? There are courses at lots of local parks. UDisc says that 28% of Americans live within 2 miles of a course and 88% are within 10 miles. You can find them by going to or searching on internet maps. I’m lucky to live near a great course at Blyth Park in Bothell.

It seems intimidating. How do I not look like a moron? This is the biggest thing that held me back from playing. I regret the time I lost worrying about this. Disc golfers are generally super friendly! With so many people joining the sport, you’re probably not the only newbie out there. If you don’t know what to do, find somebody else who is playing and just ask them. Or if you look confused, someone will probably offer to help.

What do you do? When you get to the course, find the first tee. Sometimes there’s a map showing all the holes. Or if you have the UDisc app, it will show you a map of the course with your current location noted. That app is really helpful as you go from hole to hole looking for the next tee. Once you’ve found the first tee (usually some kind of a concrete or dirt pad about 2 feet by 6 feet), throw your first shot. Walk up to your disc, make sure one foot is right behind where your disc landed, and throw your next shot. Eventually you’ll make it to the basket and your disc must end up in the basket. Count your strokes and move on to the next tee.

How long does it take? My local course has 10 holes. (9 and 18 hole courses are the most common but it’s not super rare to have a different number of holes.) I can play a round by myself in 30-40 minutes, but obviously if there’s a lot of traffic on the course that can slow things down a bit.

What is the etiquette? If you’ve ever played traditional ball golf, a lot of etiquette is very similar. Some general guidelines are:

  • Wait until the people in front of you are out of range before you throw. Generally this means waiting until they’re done with the hole.
  • Yell “Fore!” if your disc is heading toward someone else.
  • Whoever is farthest from the hole throws next.
  • Play “ready golf” by knowing which disc you’re going to use and being ready to throw when it is your turn.
  • Be aware of people throwing on holes near you. Disc golf courses can be tight and it’s easy for errant shots to veer into neighboring holes.

What’s the difference between a disc golf course and a traditional/ball golf course? While both have “tees” and “fairways” and conceptually are similar, the physical appearance can differ in a few ways:

  • Disc golf holes are shorter. Most holes will range between 200-350 feet if they are beginner-friendly while long/pro holes can stretch over 1000 feet in some extreme cases.
  • Disc golf courses have a lot more variety. Courses might be set in thick woods, an open field, zig zagging across an old golf course, etc.
  • Disc golf courses make a lot more use of natural terrain and obstacles and some will even include man-made obstacles like a tall fence stationed at a key point in the middle of the fairway to make the hole more interesting.
  • Some disc golf holes include a “mando” (short for “mandatory”) which means that you must go to the right or left of a specific obstacle.
  • There’s no “green” for disc golf. There’s an imaginary circle around the basket with a radius of 30 feet and there are slightly special rules in that zone, but generally this isn’t explicitly marked.

Why do my discs always go to the left? Because of the physics of a disc, most discs will curve to the left, especially at the end of their flight. As people get better and can put more speed and spin into the disc, they can have different flight characteristics depending on the disc. As a beginner, I just plan for the curve.

Do discs get lost? Yes. Most people write their name and phone number on the back of the disc and people are pretty good about calling or texting if they find your disc. Thankfully I haven’t lost a disc yet, but I’ve probably spent more time than is reasonable looking for lost discs. Losing a disc isn’t as common as losing a golf ball though which is good because people get more attached to their discs as they learn how each specific disc flies.

What are some good sources for learning? I subscribe to quite a few disc golf channels on YouTube. Here are three of my favorites. All of these have a lot of videos so click on their playlists section to zero in on content that interests you.

  • Robbie C Disc Golf – Robbie has a lot of beginner friendly videos and always focuses on mechanics that are helpful to average players.
  • Overthrow Disc Golf – Josh was a full time professional tennis coach before switching primarily to teach disc golf. He is excellent at breaking down body mechanics into simple steps.
  • Foundation Disc Golf – Foundation is mainly an online store that sells discs, but they have a fun YouTube channel as well. There is a ton of content of them playing rounds with various tweaks to the rules (like only using the worst selling discs in their store, playing doubles but taking the worst shot, etc.)
  • JomezPro – Over the past few months, Elijah and I have started watching the final round of the touring pro tournament series. JomezPro posts very nicely produced coverage of the rounds 12-24 hours after they finish. It’s wild to see what the pros can do and it’s interesting to get to know the various players in the game.

Can you be a professional? I guess I answered this with the JomezPro recommendation above, but one of the most interesting parts about disc golf for me is that anybody can be ranked on the same charts as people who get paid to play the game. If you join the PDGA for $50/year, as soon as you play in a sanctioned tournament, you’ll be assigned a rating. Your rating goes up and down every time you play in a sanctioned tournament so you can directly compare your skill level against the pros. On the PDGA website, you can see how much money everyone makes in tournaments. As a local player, you’d be doing very well to make a couple hundred bucks a year. The highest level pros would do well to make $100,000/year from tournaments, but they are likely to have additional sponsorships that make them more than that. Estimates are that the highest paid pros may be making around $500,000/year but that’s a guess.

It’s a deep rabbit hole, but you can easily play casually and have lots of fun. According to my UDisc app, I’ve already played 19 rounds this year (39 last year). With the longer days and drier weather, I’m able to head to the park quickly after Elijah goes to bed to play a round in the evenings. It’s a relaxing way to get away from the computer screen for a while and get some fresh air. I’m more than happy to play a round with you if you live near me and are interested!

Family Fun Center Review

We don’t have birthday parties for Elijah with his friends every year, but we told him he could do one this year. As he went through various ideas, we’d talk about how many people he could invite to that kind of party based on how much it costs. At some point, the idea of the Family Fun Center in Tukwilla came up and we said that if it was just the three of us, we could all get unlimited wristbands and do everything. He was excited by that idea and we were excited not to have to try to plan something for a bunch of kids.

We’ve driving by the Family Fun Center a hundred times, but none of us have ever been inside. As a one-line summary I’d compare it to a souped-up Chuck E. Cheese with a bit of low-end amusement park thrown in.

Elijah loved it! He thought it was amazing being able to do things repeatedly with no limits. He was able to pick from bumper cars, bumper boats (with spray guns… but not enough to soak you), two mini golf courses, go karts (he had to ride with me), a ride where you go up and down to feel like you’re weightless (like an extra fast elevator), a “4d” theater (3d glasses plus a seat that moves), and… laser tag. He did them all and many of them he did multiple times, but he did laser tag the most. We also bought some tokens to play arcade games, but mostly he just wanted to play laser tag. We stayed there for seven hours, and I think he would have stayed longer if Tyla and I weren’t wiped out and ready to go home.

Elijah declared it one of the best days of his life which made me happy, but I sure hope we don’t do it again soon. Here’s the rest of the story…

We showed up right at opening time on a Friday and were greeted by a dozen buses in the parking lot. Numerous schools were having field trips that day and they got in early. From what we picked up, it seemed like all the classes were 8th graders so take a minute to imagine the noise generated by ~800 8th graders running around in an arcade with limited supervision. It was unbelievably loud, and we spent our time waiting in the line getting run into by kids. Thankfully, I spotted an employee schedule and saw that they would be gone by 1-2pm. At that point, the tenor of the day switched to something more reasonable. The lines were short/non-existent for all the rides and the place was full of mostly well-behaved families. By that point I had quite a headache though and it never went away. In the pictures you’ll see that we did end up wearing masks as we thought about being around hundreds of kids. We figured it was worth the masks to try to avoid getting sick right before our big stretch of summer fun.

Overall, I would say that the unlimited wrist band is a good deal if you’re going to stay there for more than a couple of hours and if you’re more interested in rides/activities than in arcade games. It’s not worth going on a rainy day since many of the activities are outdoors.

But the important thing for that day is that Elijah loved it. He was worn out at the end, and he had a blast.

Grayland Beach State Park Camping

Nine months ago, we booked a camping trip to Grayland Beach State Park with Tyla’s family. Booking in mid-June is generally a bit risky in this area, but thankfully we have had a wonderfully dry and warm spring. Even though we were on the coast, we had highs in the low 60s and lows around 50.

Don and the crew brought their camper as usual, but instead of staying in a tent, Tyla, Elijah and I stayed in a yurt! It was the first time we’d rented one and it was convenient. Aside from the benefit of not having to set up or take down a tent, there’s also a lot more space to move around, get dressed, etc. There was also a small electric heater which we used a little bit.

The walk to the beach is quite long (about 2/3 of a mile to the high tide point or over a mile if it’s low tide.) Most of that is over dunes and if you’re carrying some chairs and shovels, it’s a hike. So after doing the hike a time or two, I decided it was time to drive the truck onto the beach. It’s legal in this area, but of course it’s your own fault if you end up getting stuck. We’ve done it once before but the access road I used before was pretty sketchy. Thankfully, this time I found a better access point about a mile down the road and we ended up using that a couple times.

We also took a couple trips about 20 minutes north to the town of Westport. They have a very long jetty up there and we also stopped in shops for ice cream and candy. Our time at the campsite was filled with digging on the beach, cornhole, reading books, and lots of delicious food.

Considering that the whole trip could easily have been rainy and 40 degrees, I’m very thankful for the easy, fun weekend!