Monday, July 19, 2010

Ticket to Ride

No, this is not a post about the popular song released by the Carpenters in 1969. I am not offering you free passage on an airline of your choice. Or an amusement park ride for that matter.

On the contrary, I am finally getting around to telling you about the game I wrote about in this post. Hopefully you didn't hold your breath too long waiting for a review. So, without further adieu...

Ticket to Ride Europe is a fun, entertaining game for all ages. It is a lot like the USA version, with a few variations. After reading the directions, Mom and I played. The instructions were easy to understand, and this could have been partly due to the fact that we already knew the basic rules of the game.

While looking at the game board, I decided that I should look at a map of Europe to learn what the cities are. Several of them are easy to guess, such a Kyiv (Kiev), Roma (Rome), and Athina (Athens), while others are more difficult to know what the "modern-day" name is--names like Brindisi, Dieppe, and Sevastopol. I guess I'm not too up on my European cities. Hmmmm... I guess this game is also educational--if I took the time to look up the names!

The game board is a map of Europe with various routes between cities. Each route requires a certain number of a player's trains to be played to connect the cities--as few as one train or as many as eight trains.

Destination tickets (pictured above) show a train route between two cities. Each route is worth a certain number of points (the minimum number of trains required to connect the two cities) and there is no limit to the number of destinations you can gather during the game.

At the end of the game, points are awarded for each destination you successfully complete; however, points are deducted if you don't complete a destination.

The player having the longest continuous train at the end of the game receives ten bonus points. As my niece Callie found out the hard way, make sure you are familiar where the cities are or you may end up going to Stockholm when you really needed to go to Smolensk. Oops! I'm sure she'll remember that part of geography the next time she plays.

After all our points for destinations and longest train were calculated at the end of the game, you'll see how Mom and I ended the first game.
Yes, it was a tie!! However, because I had the longest train, that was the tie breaker. This is definitely a game I would recommend, and I can't wait to play it when we go camping next week!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A House-Building Contest

What is there to do on such a hot, sweltering day in Kansas City? We broke open Ryan's Lincoln Logs and proceeded to hold a building contest. I was to be the judge. Erin and Samantha formed one team, while Ben and Ryan joined forces on the other team.

Let the construction begin!

Progressing nicely!

After construction was complete, each team presented their project, adding miscellaneous details in an attempt to convince me to choose their team as the winner. They sure knew their audience well.

Samantha and Erin's dwelling boasts two bedrooms and one bathroom. The retractable roof on the left and right sides of the house allow you to see the sky. Large windows offer a wonderful view of the gorgeous mountains in Estes Park, Colorado (one of my favorite places, by the way). A serious contender for the grand prize.

Ben and Ryan's house is actually a duplex. The microscopic windows give the illusion that the house is larger. The back entrance easily accesses the pool, overlooking the gorgeous landscape of Italy (my lifelong dream is to visit Italy someday. Good call, Ben.). The highly-coveted award may be within your grasp!

Being the wonderful judge I am, I actually awarded two prizes in this tough competition. Samantha and Erin received the $3 million prize for best artistic design. Their home will be featured as HGTV's Dream Home. Including large windows in this spacious house make it a photographer's paradise.

Ben and Ryan were the winners of the "Green Home" award. With the simplistic yet ingenious design, this house uses little energy to heat or cool. No trees were logged to construct this home, as the trees were already cut. Their $3 million prize will undoubtedly be used for installing solar panels to conserve energy, re-planting the rainforests, and of course, saving the whales.

Congratulations to both teams on a job well done!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

There She Stands

Today is July 4th. America's Independence Day. To those in other countries, it is just another day. The fourth day in the seventh month on the calendar. Nothing special.

But for me, an American living in this great country, it is a day of remembering how blessed I am to live in the United States of America. On this day, I'll see Old Glory flying with her brilliant red and stark white stripes and a field of royal blue boasting fifty stars representing our states. I may hear the familiar strains of My Country 'Tis of Thee and even hum along.

On this, our Independence Day, I'm so grateful to God for the liberties I enjoy, many of which I take for granted. I am extremely thankful for those who have sacrificed so much so I can live in the greatest country on the planet. Today as I see our nation's flag flying in the breeze, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and a sense of pride that I can call myself an American.

Inspired by the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, Michael W. Smith wrote a song called There She Stands. In the weeks that followed the attacks, our country was unified in a way it never had been in its history. When I see the red, white, and blue, it's more than a symbol of my country. It's a reminder of the many blessings that God has given me! Happy Independence Day!