Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Great America

The Demon

We went to Great America yesterday. Or, perhaps it was a wormhole to another dimension--a dimension where the off ramp to get to Great America took over an hour to traverse. It was an alternate reality where teenagers from Indiana yelled over to us from another lane because of our Obama bumper sticker, "Hey! Obama--yeah!" and gave us the thumbs up, and kept doing it until we gave the thumbs up sign back. And that's when they sucker punched us yelling that with Obama we'll get higher taxes and inflation--then they laughed uproariously. My husband and I wanted to ask them how they liked the cost of gas to get them from Indiana to Great America, and if they were planning to enlist to help fight the war in Iraq, but it didn't come up. Hoosiers...

Did you know that a large lemonade costs $4.99 at Great America? Or, that a funnel cake costs $7? Yes, in fact it does. Also, were you aware that a 42 year old woman will not always want to go on a roller coaster, if at all, and will refuse to do so even when she's at Great America with a gajillion rides? (In my daily life, I try to avoid the sensation of almost being flung out into the universe, or being slammed into the ground.) Yes, but her husband will gladly go with the kids, and so she will sit in the shade for several sporadic hours during the very long day but will have forgotten her book in the car and so will have to entertain herself instead by watching people eat $7 funnel cakes. Did you know that the wait time for some rides is 2 hours, and that a park worker proudly exclaimed that that's nothing, he's seen wait times of 5 hours?...huh. Well, we weren't going on any of those rides--just the rides with the 45 minute wait time.

The kids were so excited and happy to be going on these gianormous roller coasters and other rides with their Dad. They went on: The Demon, American Eagle, The Orbit, The Revolution, the Yankee Clipper (a water flume ride). I would only go on the Raging Rapids with everyone (which is a ride where a round rubber/metal boat takes you down water rapids and where a park worker strategically awaits on the bank to shoot a water cannon at you in the boat--we all got wet and it's not scary), the carousel with my daughter and also with my daughter twice on an old fashioned looking car that goes around a track and that my daughter both steers and manipulates the gas pedal (except not that well so we kind of jerked along, which only made us both laugh harder.) Then she would impatiently hit the steering wheel and pretend to be mad at the darn car not going like it should, and then she'd look slyly over at me and laugh. Darn car!

The reason we went to Great America is that my kids participated in a Read-to-Succeed program and for reading a certain amount, the kids and their teacher (me) got free entrance to the park. We had to buy a ticket for my husband, but he pedaled over to the store on his bike and bought himself a Sprite before we left in order to get the $20 discount on the can. Otherwise his ticket would have cost $56 or so.

I have not had the kids do the Read-to-Succeed program in the past because I didn't want any kind of reward or punishment associated with reading. Reading is its own reward. The program exists to encourage non-readers or reluctant readers and maybe it will have a positive effect on them. Maybe they'll read and start to enjoy that in itself, but maybe not. On the way out of the park I heard a kid pridefully say to his parents, "See, that reading really paid off!" I think he felt proud about getting himself into the park for free, but the reading then became what he did to get something else, rather than what you do to enjoy and connect and inform and educate yourself. My kids are such avid readers now, I felt we could take advantage of the free give away, and we would all understand what the program was about, and not be confused as to the value of their reading.

When we were in the theater with the "World's Largest 3-D screen" we watched a half hour film about shallow seas and the burgeoning life there: coral, starfish, snakes, fish, etc. There was this great speeded up segment where a large 3 ft. diameter starfish crept along trying to eat small brittle starfish and they all (or almost all) fled before it. It was comical and interesting to see. It was a persistent creature and went back and forth, to and fro scuttling across the ocean floor. As the lights came on and we all got up to leave, a girl complained with such a disgusted tone of voice , "That was educational!" Bummer.

The whole day was too loud, too jarring, too expensive, too junky and the kids and my husband and I all had a great time! We will probably go back for the reduced rate when they have a Homeschoolers Day. And then I will officially be done with amusement parks for my lifetime. No. I'm kidding. I'm sure that's not true. I'm sure the kids will want to go to others. I just will remember to bring my book next time, because I am not going to go on any ride where I turn upside down, or drop almost to my death--even if that's the most awesome thing in the world!!

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