You have to understand that I am a middle of the road kind of person when it comes to almost anything in my life. I think and decide, and then re-think and re-decide, and then kind of come up with an opinion and then I definitely make a decision. And then I re-think it again. I’m hardly ever sure that I am absolutely correct in a situation and more often than not that theory has been proven true. When I was a kid I used to love Choose Your Own Adventure stories and I would read them ad nauseam. Only problem was that whenever I had to choose a prompt on where to take the story next, I could never commit. By the time I got to the juicy part of one story I could hardly continue because all of my fingers were marking the pages of the choices I had already made that I might want to change again later. Hmmm, my personality in a nut shell, ladies and gentlemen.
One thing I have always felt strongly about is my desire for excitement and fun. I can’t honestly say that I feel 100% ready to do crazy, frightening things every minute of the day, but for the most part, I’m up for a thrill. Wooden coasters? They’re fun and all, but too rickety for me to truly enjoy them. Steel coasters? Right up my alley! I could ride them all day and still feel great at the end of the day. Hamster ball, bungee thingies that shoot you up into the sky and bounce you around like a wooden paddle ball? Uh, I don’t know, haven’t tried any of those yet, but I think I’m leaning towards no. Giant swings that almost flip you over? Yes, those are fun! I love that tickling feeling I get in my stomach. No problem.
Cut to Glenwood Caverns Springs Adventure Park in the good old rocky mountains of Colorado. It is a smallish amusement park that features an alpine slide, caverns, a roller coaster and a giant swing, all on the edge of a mountain. You actually have to ride a gondola to get to the top. It is quite the sight to see and one of the most fun places to visit if you’re ever up that way. The first time I ever visited I was ready to try everything the park had to offer, and then some. I had heard about the giant swing from my aunt and uncle who lived in the area but they had never ridden it and had no great perspective on whether it was a fun ride or not. It was up to Greg and me to decide whether or not we were going to give it a try.
We had arrived very early that day because we knew that the swing was popular and the longer we waited to try it, the longer the wait would be and we aren’t exactly known for being patient in line. So, as soon as we got up to the park, we bee-lined straight to the swing. It was a small distance away from the gondola drop off and as we started following the signs directing us where to go we could start to hear some faint screaming. I wasn’t really alarmed because I knew it was a pretty intense ride and it was only natural to hear the screams. Then we turned the corner and I saw exactly where those screams were coming from. The swing was only large enough to hold four people at a time, but it was tall! The arm that the seats were attached to seemed to stretch forever into the sky. And, heaven help me, it was perched right on the edge of a cliff.
Uh, I don’t think so, ma’am. Not gonna happen. Not gonna happen. Not gonna EVER happen. My body pretty much froze and I wasn’t able to move forward. I’d like to think it was the thin air from being in the mountains that made me feel dizzy, but who am I kidding? The blood in my head dropped straight to my toes. Greg gave me a big smile and said, “Alright, let’s do this!” I had nothing to say back. I couldn’t believe he was serious, but he walked right up to the gate and straight into a seat. There was an overlook about fifty feet up from where he was sitting and I rushed up to get a good viewing spot. Now, neither of us had previously seen how the ride started, and we both kind of assumed (smh) that the swing would gradually go higher and higher, like you would see at a “normal” amusement park. Ha. Ha ha. We were so stupid.
That thing went almost full speed from the very beginning and it arced right into the sky. Greg started whooping and hollering and was having the best damn time of his life. And it seemed that the ride went on forever. I was horrified and amused at the same time. Was I really thinking of riding that death trap? Well, Greg was doing it and I said I would do it and I’m freaking terrified, but I said I was going to do it. I’ll live, right? I didn’t even see Greg’s ride end because I was too busy arguing with myself on that deck. My legs finally made the decision that I was going to ride and walked me down the stairs and towards the line. Now that I think about it, they may have been heading for the entrance to the park and back down the mountain, but my head intervened and decided that I said I was going to ride, and that was that.
My glasses were stowed in the little box near the ride controls and I was seated next to a young man who was riding for his second time. I know this because I asked if he had been dumb enough to try the ride before and he said yes. I was going to love it, he said. Effing liar. (I’m sure that he had someone recording our ride and that he still watches it from time to time just to see me freak the hell out.) They buckled me in, and I asked them to push down harder on the harness. No free floating time for me. I wanted them to make it hurt but good. The ride operator walked over to the controls and pushed the button. She pushed the freaking button.
I still remember my heart trying to jump out of throat and into the canyon. I can still recall my lack of breath and my inability to enjoy (?) the moment. I can still visualize my body being flung out of my seat and onto the major highway hundreds of feet below. I thought I was going to die. Straight up. I had nowhere to grab so I ended up putting my hands behind my head and gripping my headrest. As if my puny arm strength was going to save me from sudden death. I heard the kid next to me screaming and laughing as I squeezed my eyes shut and held on to the seat as hard as I could. I started to chant to myself, “Make it stop, Oh God, please make it stop! I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.” I swear that I was on that ride for seven hours. It. Would. Not. Stop. And then, miraculously, it did.
By this time there were about fifteen people in line and they were all pretty much laughing at me. I’m sure I was hella entertaining, but I was also wrung out, scared to death, and I could barely get out of the chair and walk away. I forgot my glasses and the kid that had been next to me brought them over and I could barely muster a thank you. My head was pounding and I could barely hear through the blood rushing through my ears. I had made it but I didn’t have fun. I thought that I had made just about the worst decision ever by going on that machine. I was never going to do that again.
Of course, I’m pretty middle of the road when it comes to my decisions and I wasn’t really sure that I had made the right one concerning the big giant swing. I have always tried to teach my son that he should at least try something twice just to make sure he really doesn’t like it. Eating spinach, going roller skating, playing Uno, etc…so I wanted to set a good example. The next time we went to the Adventure Park, I rode that giant swing again. I knew what to expect and I knew I wouldn’t die and I managed to keep my eyes open and experience the whole thing in a different way. It was scary as hell, but it was spectacular, and I can’t wait to try it again.
© DRB 2015