Bowling Is Oddly Popular In My Family…

When I grew up, we went bowling maybe once every few years and I was, of course, horrible at the game. If there was a prize for gutter balls, I suspect I would have been in the running at any alley we attended. Then along came the Nintendo Wii with its terrific bowling simulator and that turned out to be super popular with my kids, particularly the practice bowling areas where you could watch the complex physics of 100 pin bowling on the big screen.

Still, that wasn’t without precedent: My kids and I had found bowling a fun birthday party activity that proved popular with their peers too, though most of the local alleys were a bit more blue collar than most Boulder parents were comfortable with. Except the little eight-lane alley at the University of Colorado, Boulder, which used to be a great place to host birthday parties. Then they decided to charge a “bring your own cake” fee but couldn’t supply a gluten-free cake from their own catering service. That rather quickly ended up crossed off our list, unfortunately.

In the last few years, however, we seem to go bowling as a family at least 2-3 times per year, and it’s become quite fun as everyone’s gotten better at the game. Heck, I can consistently break 100 points now, and last time even got this:

bowling score - turkey - three strikes

See the third line? Turns out that three strikes in a row on the last frame is called a “turkey”. I’ve never gotten one of those before, and 158 points? Quite a decent score for a game, I’d say. It’s a game of consistency, however, and you can see that even in this game frame 8 got me a 3 + 2, pretty poor, at best. So it goes.

Here’s one thing we do to make it fun, however: Anyone who wants can add rails on their turn. Rails make it basically impossible to get a gutter ball and are usually just for the little ones, but since our philosophy is always to maximize fun, not “turn it into a lesson”, we use ’em a lot. Which is interesting because sometimes my kids have to actually argue with the alley employee to get rails enabled since they’re a long way from being 5yo. My question to the alleys is if they want to make bowling more fun, why not make rails available to everyone and, heck, why not add pinball-game sounds to make it even more exciting?

One way or the other, however, we definitely enjoy bowling, as you can see in this photo from PIck;s Bowling Center in Kalispell, Montana, one of our favorite alleys:

kids at bowling alley

Left to right, that’s my 17yo son G-, my 14yo daughter K-, and my son’s girlfriend, who shall remain nameless to protect her anonymity. 🙂

Now, when’s the last time you went bowling?

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