Friday, July 8, 2011

Thrill seekers


On our last trip to Magic Springs a year two years ago, we introduced the kids to their first roller coaster -- the Diamond Mine Run, a kid-sized version of a classic runaway mine train ride.  They adored it. Cady Gray especially took to my advice about riding in the last car to get maximum whip-crack action, and we had multiple rides to close out our trip.

This year we headed for the Diamond Mine Run as soon as we were done with the family section of the park.  Cady Gray was keen to ride on her own, without an adult, so I rode in the last car while she and Archer took up the first car as a duo.  Then we rode again with Mom and Dad, and the kids' huge smiles gave us a crazy idea -- were they ready for their first full-sized coaster?

The fact that Big Bad John, the regular-scale runaway mine train ride, was rated only "Mild Thrill" gave us confidence that we weren't over our heads.  I rode next to Cady Gray twice, and she screamed in pure glee from start to finish.  "OH YEAH!!" she yelled with a full-throated rasp I have never before heard from her.  So far, from that last trip to this, her reaction to roller coasters was unbridled laughter throughout.

When Dad mentioned that Mom wanted to ride the Arkansas Twister, a classic wooden out-and-back coaster (pictured above) that's without a doubt the most bone-rattling ride in the state, both kids were adamant that they wanted to join me. Dad was out, since his go at it some years back convinced him this is not a ride for folks with a family history of heart disease. Given Cady Gray's unqualified enjoyment of the mine trains, I took her first; Archer was willing to ride in a car by himself, but I wanted him to wait until I could go with him rather than risk him freaking out without someone beside him to talk him through it.

As we crested the turn at the end of the "out" portion of the ride, I turned to look at my seatmate.  She had a shocked look on her face, and the rattling was causing her cheeks to shake like someone in a centrifuge.  I was momentarily concerned that the funnel cake she had eaten recently was on its way back up.  To my shout of "are you okay?" she managed a gasping "okay" before we were on our way down and back.   Fast and fun is all well and good, it seems, but this was an order of magnitude more than she was prepared for.  When we stopped short of the station, she was finally able to release her clenched grip on the lap bar.  Her smile wasn't so much pleasure but relief.  "I stayed on all the way to the end," she announced, and I couldn't help pointing out that she had had little choice.  As we exited, she admitted that it was scary and decided to advise Archer not to go.

But Archer was not to be deterred.  He urged me to head back into the queue as quickly as possible so we didn't miss the next ride.  I told him how long it would last and how many steep drops there were.  And then we were off.  To my utter surprise, he was much less fazed by the height, the speed, and the boneshaking vibration as I thought he would be.  When I checked with him at the halfway point, he was able to answer readily that he was okay, and as we went over the small hills at the end, he was even cracking a smile.  As we got off, he was visibly proud of conquering the ride, and grilled me about what speeds he thought we had reached.

I've always loved roller coasters; Noel has never been a fan.  Looks like the kids have inherited my mild thrillseeking tendencies.  I'm excited about having someone to ride with for all our amusement park trips to come.

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