May 21, 2006

The "Chaperone"

Well, my first trip as a chaperone went rather well.

I got to the school at a little before eight, just in time to be the first one there. Got checked in with the woman in charge, and climbed on the bus to quickly down a breakfast burrito and a gatorade that I had picked up on the way. Despite good intentions, I had stayed out late the night before visiting with a friend who had just got into town, so I was feeling a little bit rough. Anyway, it wasn't too long, and the bus was full of screaming savages. We were on our way. Thankfully, someone had brought a couple of movies, and those were thrown in on the way to and from Great America. It helped a lot in keeping the noise to a low roar.

We got to the school in Gurnee, where the choir was to perform as part of a competition. There were schools from Minnesota, Northern Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois... not sure how many, exactly, but it was a steady flow of kids in and out of the school. After a short wait, we got checked in, and the kids performed.

The choir kicked ass! I was surprised that kids, especially 6 - 8th graders, could sing like that. I got goosebumps during their last song, and, talking with some of the parents, I wasn't the only one. Beautiful. With no idea of how they might have done compared to other schools, we headed on out to the amusement park.

Here's where things got very cool.

We got to the park at around one, and we only had a few hours 'til we were supposed to meet for the awards ceremony. Chaperones were to take shifts, 20 or 30 minutes, sitting at an area they called the chaperone bench, just so the kids would always have someone there if needed. I was there with Fritz's three daughters, two of whom were to chaperon as well; however, while we were accounted for, we hadn't been added to their schedule. We were told not to worry about it. Heheheheh... the four of us took off to hit as many rides as we could. Three adults looking out for one sixth grader.

We promptly hit "Willard's Whizzer," a beginner's roller coaster, to see how well "Cheese" (Fritz's youngest) would do. After a short but nervous wait, we got on the ride... where Cheese announced that she did not like the ride one bit. This at the halfway point. Since she was sitting directly in front of me, I was thankful that she didn't dislike it enough to blow chow. We adults were all a bit worried that we might not get to go on anymore rollercoasters.

After a bit of teasing and lighthearted threatening, Cheese was willing to try one more, so we went to "The Demon," with it's two loops and two corkscrew twists. I thought that we were going to end up spending the rest of the day riding little kid's rides after this (which would have been fine), but Cheese loved it! Turns out that the reason she disliked the other one was it's fast turns on it's side... and I think the fact that it only had seatbelts, and not a harness. Going upside down four times was a blast to her. Well, to all of us.

Next stop was "The Viper," an old style wooden roller coaster. I'd never been on this ride before, but the two older girls were raving about how fun it was. Damn, they were right! You spend quite a bit of time floating just off of your seat on this one. I wanted to go back and do it again! While Cheese thought it was fun, she also said that she wasn't in a hurry to get back on it. Off to the next one!

"The Raging Bull" had been down for most of the time that we were waiting in line for the Viper, but by the time we were done, it started running again. We hurried over, and got in line just before it got really busy. As it was, we waited about forty five minutes (not that bad) for the ride.

The seats on the Bull are like saddles... your feet dangle. Now this might not be too bad, but the only thing holding you to your seat is a triangle shaped piece that fits over your lap. It looks like a bull's nose, and it's got rings for you to hold on. Nothing over your shoulders, or anything else. Just that triangle, which honestly feels very secure when you first get on. As soon as you take the first turn out of the station, and your feet sway, it doesn't feeling reassuring at all.

Now, I had been screaming like a little girl on the previous rides. I mean, dramatically screaming. It's always a blast to let out a fake yell, or falsetto shriek, when you ride these things. The girls had been doing the same. Heheheh... daughter 2 and I were riding in the very front of the Demon (this, after the ride was shut down to fix a problem) and we let loose as soon as the ride started moving. Funny... you could hear everyone waiting in line laughing... but we both were wondering if that really wasn't that bright of an idea. I mean, we WERE the first to go through after their difficulties. To get back to The Bull, after the long ascent to the top of the ride, I can guarantee that my fake scream quickly turned to a genuine "GOOOOOODDDDDDAAAMMNNNNN!!!!!" This was quickly followed by alternating insane laughter and obscenities. All at a rather high volume. Consideration for the ears of others was lost... I felt bad about it later, but at the time, I was only concerned with living through the experience.

Ever had those dreams where you jump from one thing to another, on the edge of forever, and you miss? You feel yourself flailing about, trying to speed up evolution and sprout wings, as that feeling of doom soaks through your guts. That's the feeling you get as you fall from the sky on the Bull. Don't ask me to describe the rest of the ride... I can't really remember much more than Cheese screaming "GET ME OFF OF THIS THING," and seeing daughter 1 reach over to shut her up. Yeah, that was near the end. I guarantee that none of us took our hands off of that locking bar until it was safe. I got off of that ride with my legs shaking, and made myself a vow.

Next time I'm there, I'm riding it TWICE.

From there, we stumbled our way over to "The American Eagle," another wooden coaster, and an old favorite of mine. This thing hauls ass, and will shake you to death... part of the charm of the wooden roller coasters. Nothing crazy to it, just some good hang times over the ups and downs. Always a blast. It ended up being one of Cheese's favorites.

About the time we finished there, it was time to report to the ampitheatre for the awards ceremony. What a frickin' madhouse. Rabid kids running everywhere, our's were pretty decent. Not angels, but they didn't get out of hand. We walked out with a couple of trophies, but they were awarded to everyone. We didn't do bad at all, though. Third and first for choir and orchestra. Or vice versa... I kept nodding off. Once we finished there, we had a little less than an hour to try and catch another ride. We raced towards the front gate, and "Superman."

I've gotta be honest. I wasn't too keen on the thought of going on a ride where you are lying on your stomach. Especially being the featherweight that I am. The line was long and slow moving, and the more I watched the riders fly overhead, the more nervous I got. Unfortunately, this was not unnoticed by the girls. "Suck it up, Marine." "Don't be a baby, Marine." They were all looking forward to getting home and telling stories. For some reason, the line slowed more and more. What should have taken about thirty minutes stretched out to over fifty... and counting. We ended up jumping the railings to exit the line, so that we could make it back to the bus only a few minutes late. I can't say that I was heartbroken.

Ride home was uneventful, and we made it in good time. A call had been made to Fritz's, and dinner was waiting for us when we got there. So was my video game nemesis... standing proudly beside the machine displaying "Try Joes Lil Sausage." What a dick... heheheheh. Didn't take long, and stories about me puking on the rides were going. And I know there'll be plenty more.

What a frickin' blast!

Posted by That 1 Guy at May 21, 2006 01:30 PM

... Stories of you pukin'... Suck it "back up" Marine!... My Devil Dog's do...;)

Posted by: RedNeck at May 21, 2006 02:10 PM

Dude, I can believe you puked all over the place. In fact knowing stories about Six Flags, I believe they collected it and solid it as nacho toppings.

Posted by: Contagion at May 21, 2006 05:27 PM

So glad you had a good time!!! :)

Posted by: Richmond at May 21, 2006 06:24 PM

Rollercoasters give me migraines. Which means, the next time someone wants me to go to an amusement park with them, I will point them in your direction. *grin*

Posted by: Teresa at May 22, 2006 12:02 PM

Must remember to take you to a park or two to ride with my hubby. I am NOT fond of bumpy, upside down, scary rides.

Posted by: vw bug at May 22, 2006 12:07 PM

I actually LIKE the Whizzer. It looks like a crappy kid's coaster, but it's got some good chaos on the corners.

Oh, and you really didn't miss much on Superman. The selling point on the ride is that you're "flying" stomach-down. However, they dialed back the twists & turns, so the ride isn't particularly wild.

Shockwave (the coaster they tore down to install Superman) was a LOT better.

Posted by: Harvey at May 23, 2006 06:57 AM