School Trips

My son is going to LA next week. My daughter is going to New York in June.

*Sigh* To be in high school again. In light of these trips I've been feeling a bit nostalgic about the band trip I took when I was in high school.

(Cheesy flashback effects inserted here.)

In the Midwest, there was this magical place called "Worlds of Fun". Located in Kansas City, MO, it was the closest a small town kid would get to a theme park. But that's wasn't a bad thing, because it was actually a great place. Not too big, great rides, and if you go on a non-holiday the lines are not too bad.

For whatever reason, though, when our band decided to go, it WAS a holiday. Average wait in line: 4 hours. Seriously, 4 hours.

I went on three rides - well, 2, but one of them twice.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First was the bus ride. We had actually raised enough funds to charter a bus. Which is a huge thing for a small town high school band. I don't remember what all we did for fundraisers, but for 35 kids or so, we managed to raise enough for admission to the park and for a charter bus. It was a huge thing compared to a school bus, but it had reclining high-back seats. Perfect for a long drive.

And a long drive it was. KC was about 4 hours from our little town. The park opened at 10, so we had to leave before 6. Which meant reporting at 5 to catch the bus. Being an upperclassman in high school, my two favorite hobbies were eating and sleeping. Especially on a day that school is closed. So, I drug myself out of bed, walked the 4 blocks to the school, got on the bus, and went back to sleep. I remember nothing about the drive there, except being awakened once we pulled up to the gate.

I don't remember if it was Memorial day or Labor day. Either way, it was a holiday. The place was freaking packed! There must have been a thousand people all bunched up waiting for the gate to open. Our chaperons found someone to help us, we got our bracelets and joined the crowd waiting to get it. It was 10am and it was already stinking hot.

The first ride we wanted to go on was their newest ride, just opend that day, The River Rapids (or something stupid like that - according to their website it looks like it's now called "Fury of the Nile". Basically, this was supposed to be a white-water rapids trip in a bumper boat. OOOooo. Scary.

So we got in line with I don't know how many other people. And waited. Waited. 4. Hours. And then proceeded to go on the lamest boat ride ever. We tried to spin the boat, to rock it, anything to make it more fun, but it basically just sucked.

However, the trip redeemed itself with the next ride. The guys I was with wanted to go on roller coasters. I had never been on a real roller coaster, so I was reluctant, but finally they talked me into it. But of course they picked the biggest scariest coaster - The Orient Express. (It doesn't look like it's there anymore, but this was one of the first roller coasters that did a loop. I know that's old news these days, but back in the '80s, that was a big thing!)

So, I had never been on a roller coaster before, and my friends talk me into going on one of the biggest and scariest in the world. So we got in line. And waited. 4. More. Hours. I almost took the chicken exit twice. But after waiting 4 hours, there was no turning back. I got in, the harness clamped down, and it started to rise.

And rise. And rise. Did I mention at the time that this was the tallest coaster in the midwest? I forget how high it was. I'm sure there's taller now, but it was high enough that at the top there was one of those lights to warn aircraft.

All I really remember about the ride was the first drop. As soon as we topped the rise and I could see down, I had to close my eyes. It looked like 10000 feet. In reality it was maybe a couple hundred, but still, it freaked me out. We reached top speed at the bottom, went through two loops and a corkscrew and it was done.

I laughed hysterically for the next 20 minutes. I had never felt anything like it! I immediately got back in line. (4 hour wait!) and rode it again.

I really can't describe the feeling to you. Maybe some of you can relate, but only if your very first roller coaster ride was a big scary loop-de-loop one.

I vowed to live fearlessly after that. But all that got me was trouble.

So, the moral of the story, if there is one, is: Ride the monster, but afterwards just remember the ride, don't let it change your life.