Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Enough talk about the aquatics - we're UNDERWATER!!!

This blog will take a short break while the citizens of Bismarck and Mandan along the Missouri River battle flooding caused in part by an ice jam - can you believe they're trying to blow it up with explosives!!! As bad as the flooding is, that part is kind of cool! They should get the Navy SEALS here to go underwater in their scuba gear and place explosives - it would be great training!!! But perhaps scuba divers don't move so well in the ice....

To get updates on the flood and volunteer efforts, visit: - actually helping connect volunteers to people who need them
or the local TV stations (KFYR, KXMB)
School cancellations and updates are on radio stations and websites (i.e.

To all of you out there sandbagging or evacuating: GODSPEED.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Indoor Playground!!

Snow, snow and more snow...winter's "outdoor playground" a town where the temperature has been subzero for months and the snow is packed so high we're at risk of our first flood in decades - how many indoor playgrounds do we have? Counting Snoopers, fast food joints and the Gateway Mall: about 3. (unless something is hiding in Bismarck that I don't know about...) Embarrassing, isn't it?

So, the Park Board is building it's very first indoor playground inside the Aquatic Center!!! As a mom of little kids, this makes me VERY EXCITED (hear me cheer!)!!! Finally, a place to go during that too-short-but-too-long hour while Big Kid is at after-school activities, or I find myself with a restless Tiny Girl and Little Guy during yet another snowy day...

So, what exactly are the specifics? Well, that's debatable - a final design is not set in stone, but I can tell you what I know:

1. About 1500 square feet of playspace with a ramp leading down leaving about 10 feet in height - high enough for 6-7 foot slides

2. Seating for moms and dads, as well as cubbies to stash the kids' stuff

3. Located directly behind the reception desk, adjacent to the Community Rooms - so birthday parties may be an option during off-peak times

4. A preliminary plan shows a movable wall revealing windows to the warm pool - this should allow parents to sit in the Community Room area and have eyes on both the lesson pool and the playground simultaneously - NICE!

5. The same plan also shows a Family Restroom - the door is just up the ramp from the play area - a potential nursing area may be located here (yay for forward thinking park planners!)

6. Big Kids and Little Kids should be happy with the final design - it is not yet available, but park planners are trying their best to provide a "big kid" bouldering section in addition to little kiddo slides and climbing equipment

7. The park system is NOT planning "gerbil cages" such as climbing tubes and places inaccessible to parents - making the area easy to keep clean and handicapped accessible - also eliminating the need for me to climb through 50 feet of tubes to catch Little Guy when he doesn't want to come out (yes, this has happened!!!)

The design and theme are still under debate, but some fun possibilities (at least I think they'd be fun) would be a theme such as "Under the Sea" or "Mr Bubble's Tub" (see Why "The Bubble?" post below) or even an island theme - kind of an escape from the winter blahs. What do you think???

To see the playground's location, view the layout of the aquatic center - visit and scroll to the bottom of the page, click on the picture of the Aquatic Center and visit the 2nd page. Keep in mind the area between the community rooms and playground is NOT THE FINAL plan - park planners are still coming up with the best situation for the use of the space for both parents and kids. Go Park Board!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So what's inside?

Picture of a diving platform from the U of MN pool - highest is 10 meters, the new Aquatic Center can accomodate a 7.5 meter platform (second from the top)
Inside of the U of MN pool - the new Aquatic center will be very similar to this - ceilings not quite as high, and spectators just on one side, but distance and position of pools pretty close to what we will have here!
to link to the U of M pool site:

Question of the day: what exactly is inside this new Aquatics/Wellness center?
Okay, make that Question of the week. Today: the pool area itself.
I've been to a few swim meets in my day - my siblings and I swam competitively for years, and even went to a few Zone and larger meets, so I have a pretty good idea of what makes a good competitition pool. I also have kids - so definitely know what makes a good lesson pool!

#1 - 50 meter pool with diving well - bulkheads at each end slide together to convert to 2x25 yard pools
50 meters is the distance USS swimmers use in the summertime, and is the official "Olympic size" pool. Zone swim meets are summertime meets, so will use the 50 meter pool (bringing 800 age-group swimmers and their families to our city!)
25 yards is the distance for winter USS meets, and both girls and boys high school meets. They also run short course nationals and regional meets in the 25 yard pools. This makes it possible for Bismarck to host dozens of state-caliber meets yearly while the rest of the pool area is still available for lap swimming and lessons.
(The pool is also 25 yards wide so a 3rd configuration could be 3 x 8 lane 25 yard pools or 2 x 8 lanes and an open diving well)

#2 - 25 yard x 6 lane warm pool
This is a primarily recreational (fun and laps) and lesson pool - great for little kids who would get too chilly in the colder, larger pool! This pool is also for aquasize, as it is not nearly as deep as a competition pool. With 50 meters of pool space in the larger pool, this will likely be open to the public most of the time, unless it's full of families and kids for swimming lessons. Warm pools are fabulous for people with arthritis as well as a nice place to get some exercise when you are pregnant (been there, done that!).
(just a plug: I'm also hoping someday they will put a small modular waterslide in there - think the small ones at the Elks pool)

#3 - Diving well - appears to be part of the 50 meter pool
The plan is to have a 7.5 meter diving platform at the highest point of this pool, necessitating a VERY deep pool (think 16-20 feet) - think Olympic diving you've seen on TV. Not as high as the highest 10 meter platform, but high enough to host regional youth diving meets. Depth of the pool lends itself to scuba diving classes!

Above are pictures of the U of M pool - representative of the larger pools used for swim teams and recreation as well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why "The Bubble?"

Why am I calling the building and blog "The Bubble?" you ask...

Because Mr. Bubble is from Bismarck, ND!!!!

Back in the 1960's, Harold Schafer, well-known businessman, philanthropist, and father to future ND governor Ed Schafer, invented Mr. Bubble - a favorite bubble bath of generations of families! My kiddos (especially Tiny Girl) love the picture of the bubble dude on the front of the Mr. Bubble container - it's cute and instantly recognizable!

I think nicknaming the building "The Bubble" is a great tribute to a great man and to the future of ND aquatics!!! Imagine: The Bismarck Bubbles Swim Team!!! (okay, maybe not quite what they are going for in a name, but cute nonetheless) They ought to at least put a huge Mr. Bubble logo on a wall somewhere in tribute to a North Dakota legacy!

The Bismarck Tribune had a great article in its Progress edition 2 weekends ago, but the internet link is nonfunctional. You can, however, read about Mr. Bubble here and Harold Schafer here as not only creator of Mr. Bubble and Gold Seal floor wax, but also a great supporter of the historic projects in Medora.

Happy reading! (didn't think you'd get a history lesson today, did ya?)

Check out this cute Mr. Bubble commercial from back in the day!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Now that's a big crane!

Girders look to be 20-30 feet tall! (just a guess...)
Facing east from Community bowl parking

From east - big crane!

From just behind High Prairie Center

Greetings! Drove by the aquatic center site today again to take some pictures! The wind was blowing pretty briskly, but the sight of the crane was too much for Little Guy to bear - he wanted to climb on it! No such luck, buddy!
Enjoy these pictures from the construction site! Most of them are from the north on Canary Avenue facing south - just SW of the High Prairie Arts and Science Center (

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Under construction!!!

Took the little kids (heretofore known as little guy and tiny girl) on a drive past the pool construction site yesterday - Little Guy LOVED looking at the enormous cranes. "There's dudes way up there, mom!" he said! Amazing how long a preschooler can watch construction equipment without getting bored. He thought it was just like Lofty from Bob the Builder ;)

Tiny Girl liked the big hole they have dug - she also liked the snow around - I can't imagine doing that kind of construction in this kind of snow! Kudos to the construction dudes!

If you have little construction lovers yourself, drive up and check it out! If you know where the Community Bowl is by BSC, just drive near that and it's just to the east of the bowl. If you don't know where that is (I didn't!) here's a better idea:

Head toward BSC from Divide Avenue on Schafer St. Take a right on Canary Ave and head back behind the High Prairie Arts and Science building (great stuff there, too!). Just over the rise you'll see enormous metal girders and the BIGGEST CRANES YOU'LL EVER SEE! That would be it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

Here I am in a city that snows 6 months out of the year (or more - we're at 70+ inches so far this year) that doesn't have a whole lot of "indoor" stuff for little kids to do. Well, folks, that is about to change!!! An indoor playground is planned as part of a much larger Parks and Rec project here in Bismarck!!!

There has been lots of talk about creating a ginormous Aquatics and Wellness Center for years, and it has been at the top of the lists of things the citizens of Bismarck want - the park board is finally putting this desire into action!

From perusing the park board website ( I gather these to be the high points of the new facility:
- 50 meter (Olympic sized) pool with room at one end for a diving well (I'm thinking platform diving!)
- 25 yard separate, warmer pool for lessons and leisure - may someday have a waterslide, but not yet :(
- easy viewing of both pools from the deck and TONS of seating above
- family changing rooms (yay!) and neato womens/mens locker rooms
- an INDOOR PLAYGROUND directly adjacent to the leisure/lesson pool - looks like parents can simultaneously watch a kid at swimming lessons (through the window) and watch little ones on the playground by sitting in the raised portion just at the top of the ramp into the playground (super-convenient!)
- lobby/lounge near the playground - I'm thinking mini coffee shop type
- Upstairs, a 6000 sq ft wellness center (work out while your kid swims lessons!)
- Aerobics/dance studio upstairs (maybe they'll have mommy/baby classes someday!)
- Concessions and store upstairs (swimwear, perhaps?) - hope they'll have WiFi!

Seriously, this sounds like a great building, and could really bring some big events to Bismarck. OK, swimming doesn't sound like the most exciting sport, but from having attended a Zone meet in the past, all they'd have to do is get one Zone (or bigger!) swim meet here to bring in, literally, hundreds of swimmers and their families for a week - who, by the way, need a place to stay, restaurants to eat in, and will probably do some shopping! Hello, local economy stimulus!

But, nearest and dearest to my heart, of course, is the indoor playground - I've tried out a few in the Cities area, and it's a great place to run off steam and get the kids some exercise during the winter months (which can get seriously loooooong!).