Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pullen Park, Raleigh, NC

A fun little amusement park is nestled just outside of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Pullen Park features a myriad of playgrounds, a train, a carousel, and a lake with paddle boats. We visited early one weekday morning, perhaps too early.

Pullen Park, Raleigh

The quiet entrance

We arrived at 8:30 a.m. to a mostly empty parking lot. The park was open but the rides didn't start until 10 a.m. Happily, the playgrounds were open though still damp from summer overnight condensation. We've run into this problem before and have a rag in the car suitable for drying off slides and swing seats. The rag saw a lot of action that day.

Some items didn't need drying, like this fantastic spider web climber.

We miss these from England

Toddler not yet ready for the web

King of the web

King close up

Other play equipment was more accessible to everyone, including climbers and slides.

The 5-to-12 year old climbing area

The 2-to-5 year old climbing area

My kids tried out a see-saw, but unfortunately their weight differences were enough to make it a little challenging. They persevered. 

Toddler and daughter on see-saw

While the big kids climb over most everything, the toddler found what he likes best and spent nearly 40 minutes there.

I think this shot is now mandatory in my playground posts

From our vantage point by the toddler swing set, we saw some more accomplishments by the older children.

Web king and queen

Trying out a new web

Rope-enhanced climbing!

We also saw the kiddie boats which were not that appealing to me or the kids--another case of just the wrong sizes.

Waiting for 10 a.m.

About 9:30 we decided to check the ticket office and the snack bar to see if they were open early. We wandered a little haphazardly and discovered the carousel building. The carousel was warming up but the doors weren't open yet.

Carousel building

 Nearby is a statue of Andy and Opie from The Andy Griffith Show. It was donated in 2003 by "the people of TV Land." My older son has watched the whole series so he was excited to pose with them.

Andy, son, and son

Daughter and toddler pose too!

 We discovered the snack bar didn't open until 10:30 but the ticket office was about to open. By this time the park was filling up with people young and old. We waited in line for the longest ten minutes of the morning to buy tickets, then went over to the train for a ride. We didn't know how long the train ride would go but I was sure it would be longer than the carousel. After that excruciating ten minutes, I didn't want to take any chances.

Pullen Park train ready to pull out through a tunnel

Ready riders

The train ride was a pleasant six or seven minutes around the park. We saw the stream and the lake along with many of the attractions.


Bridge over the stream

View from the bridge

After the bridge, looking on the lake


Some more lake

Flowers in the park!

The carousel again

The playground

After we got off the train, we investigated a caboose-like structure near the playground. Inside was not very impressive so we took no pictures.

Stranded caboose?

 We went over to ride the carousel. The building had an old-fashioned organ on display.

Wurlitzer organ

The carousel itself is a Dentzel Carousel, like the one we rode in Philadelphia. It was built in 1912 and is an impressive and fun ride.

A shot of the carousel

More of the rides

The official poster from yesteryear

My toddler wanted to ride on the outermost ring, which did not go up and down. We actually sat pretty far from my daughter and older son, which was fine with them.

Toddler and blogger

Back of my daughter's head (and yes, the camera is zoomed)

The art and imagination put into the figures still impresses me a lot. 

Fierce donkey

Cat with fish in mouth!

 After the carousel ride we finally had a snack and headed out for other adventures.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Boxcar Bar + Arcade, Raleigh

We visited the Boxcar Bar + Arcade in Raleigh as a bit of nostalgia and to expose our kids to the culture of our youth. While we didn't drink as children, we did spend a lot of time at the arcade playing classic coin-operated entertainment cabinets.

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

My son was naturally attracted to the origins of Mario. They had the ultimate origin, Donkey Kong, which he enjoyed. We also played Mario Bros. which is not as easy as I remember it. 

Donkey Kong!

I got my son and daughter to play one of my favorites from my arcade days, Rampage. In it, players are big movie monsters (like Godzilla and King Kong, though not named so) who destroy buildings, smash up cars, and eat anything moving. The game is cartoony enough that it isn't as anti-social as it sounds.


Playing at being monsters

In the back are more classical games like skee ball which we all tried.

Brothers working together

We had an epic game of foosball pitting daddy and toddler versus the older children. The fight was tough, especially when the toddler decided to throw in all the balls at once.


Sibling non-rivalry

"What could make this more interesting?!?"

"Uh...why are their two balls?"


The toddler also discovered a home favorite available at the arcade.


We ended the visit with some air hockey on a very smooth and fast table. We had a lot of fun slamming the puck around.

Son ready for action

Daughter ready to strike back

Game in action

I did take advantage of the bar part of the experience and tasted the lovely Trophy Milky Way (salted caramel sweet stout), which indeed has a smooth, caramel flavor that drinks so sweet. I loved it. Too bad it isn't available in bottles or cans. I've looked!

When we got back to the hotel, the kids returned to their home screens with renewed vigor, if not energy.

Relaxing in the hotel