At the beginning of this summer, my son said he wanted to go "on vacation". Somewhere along the line he picked up this notion about going somewhere else and doing something - one of those things you learn about at school, I guess, because ever since we had him, we haven't been able to afford a vacation and didn't know he even knew what one was.
As scary as it sounded, his requests were actually quite reasonable. No demands for Disney or traveling halfway around the world to throw money into some hole... He wanted to go to SeaWorld or to Wild Adventures. So I said, "Sure! We'll do that this summer!"
Only summer got away from us. We moved; we did work so sell the old house; we registered for the new school; we visited the library a lot; there were 5 weeks of camp; we're still trying to settle into our new house. School starts on Monday, and after orientation last Friday, he rather weepily mourned that we hadn't "gone on vacation". DH and I put our heads together and decided to go to Wild Adventures. It was less than 100 miles away, could be a day trip, and surely wouldn't cost much, being a small amusement park/zoo stuck out in the southern middle of nowhere just outside Valdosta, GA.
Did I tell you I was good at self-delusion? And that at times, I can pull other people into my delusions?
So Saturday morning, we set off for Wild Adventures. After driving for about an hour and a half, we arrived at a gigantic parking lot, which we paid $7 for the priviledge of entering. Then we got out and walked. And walked. I'm glad it was early and not too hot yet because the trip slightly uphill in heat and humidity might have done us in right there. We entered a cattle grid and handed over another $122 for the thrill of walking INTO the park. Now, to be fair, the price is much better than Disney's (probably), and once you were in the park, the rides and such didn't cost anything extra. And the rides were pretty much the right speed for a 7-year old and his slightly aging parents. The first ride was a small rollercoaster. Being early, the guys didn't have to wait long for their turn. I do not DO rollercoasters, so I became the "keeper of the stuff."
It was absolutely thrilling for Z-boy. Next we did the ferris wheel (we ALL got to do that one), which he spent cringing against me on the way up, then coming up for air at the top and on the way down. Four times we went around, and four times he did this. We wound up sampling a lot of the rides and Z had decided that he liked rollercoasters until he tried the Cheetah, which is a wooden coaster. Very tall, very jerky, very noisy. Thank goodness it only went around once. DH said that at one point, Z was so scared that he wanted to climb out - on the way up one of the hills. They zoomed past me about a minute into the ride, and both were huddled down in the seats like a bomb was about to go off. When it was all over, Z yelled out that that was the WORST ride ever! So we headed off to the water rides and something a little gentler. The Tasmanian River Rapids was great. The line wasn't. But we got one of those boat things to ourselves and once we were on "the river", the noise of the park faded away and it was just us, drifting down the water. It was like magic. After "shooting the rapids", the noise came back and we emerged a little damp but re-energized and ready to do something else.
When it started raining, it seemed like a good time to eat lunch and by the time we finished, the rain did too. Since we were already wet, we headed over to the log flume. DH got to be "keeper of the stuff" for this one, and Z and I got in line. It took a while, but we finally got there. It's very simple. A large roller-coaster type car takes about 15 people up a big hill, you go around a curve and down the flume. It was an enormous drop, which was rather terrifying, but the payoff at the bottom made it all worthwhile. We were drenched! and so was anyone else standing within 50 feet of the thing. The water smelled a bit funky, but after wearing it for a while, you get used to it.
It was pretty darned hot by now, so we headed over to Splash Island. I, of course, didn't realize that there was an actual water park there, so I didn't bring a suit, but the boys did, so again, I was keeper of the stuff. Which was okay, because I didn't really wish to inflict the horror of me in a bathing suit on the public at large. I spent most of my time people watching... and realized that for the most part, the public IS large! It was a real eye opener. Fat people. Tatooed people. Pierced people. Fat, pierced, tatooed people. Lots of them. I didn't dare take out my camera, or I'd be squashed flat in no time, I'm sure. I did see one lovely young lady. Nice shape, nice hair, good bathing suit. She was walking rapidly after a normal-looking young man and yelling. Half an hour later, she passed by again... still at it. I felt sorry for the guy.
There were lots of other things we did. The Safari Train was really neat, wending through the animal habitats. The Pridelands habitats of lions and tigers was cool. But today was Z-boy's vacation, so I wrote about the things HE thought were coolness defined. It was an expensive day, not something I'd want to do often, but overall, it was a small amusement park done well.
Finally, very tired, sunburned and hungry, we left the park (over Z's protests that he wasn't ready and great big tears rolling down his pink face). Found the car, fired up the AC and headed back towards the interstate. Z promptly fell asleep in the back seat.