Sunday, July 6, 2014


I've never been a big fan of amusement parks. Once many years ago when a group of coworkers at the catering company where I cooked planned a big day-off outing to Busch Gardens, I tagged along for the company. It wasn't long before someone noticed I wasn't waiting in many of those long turnstile lines. "If you don't like rides, what are you here for?" she wondered.

"Oh, I came for the food and the shows," I replied. That cracked us up for a while.

When I was a kid, the cool, new ride was the flume. Theme parks everywhere were adding a log ride to their attractions. People loved the novelty of getting wet at the end of the thrilling plunge. Back then, the lines for the flume were always over an hour long, especially on a hot summer day. I remember waiting impatiently in such a line with my mom, brother, and sister. Even though I tried to avoid anything with a big drop, there was something about the churning water in the half pipe chute that soothed my fear. When we emerged, dripping as advertised, down the ramp at the end of the ride, my reaction was a distinct, That wasn't too bad.

Even today, there's something about a log ride that I find vaguely inviting, and so when I found myself at an amusement park this afternoon with Heidi's parents, Kyle, and Josh, I agreed to ride the flume with Kyle when no one else would. The line was maybe a quarter of an hour long, and I passed the time enjoying the shade of the pavilion, chatting with Kyle, and people watching.

I was probably the oldest person waiting to climb into a fiberglass log, and my first observation was that tattoos really seem to be here stay, at least among the western New York theme park crowd. After that, I affectionately noticed many people who reminded me of students, past and present, and then I saw folks who reminded me of me. Here a little girl waiting with her mom and siblings, there an a young girl with her cousins, and another older girl with her high school friends. In the next turnstile over, I saw a woman in her thirties with a group of kids who weren't her children, but were definitely hers.

At last it was time for me and Kyle to board our log and float off with the rushing current, and so we did, laughing as the water splashed us at the foot of each drop. "That was fun!" Kyle said as we walked down the ramp to rejoin our group. I did not disagree.

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