This summer I flew to Santa Cruz to go camping with a good friend and her family. They kindly invited my sorry self along for what turned out to be a very memorable week.
On the third day of the trip we went to the Santa Cruz boardwalk for dinner. It was like I imagined it would be in the movies.
There was a humongous arcade and a beach with volleyball nets. Roller coasters and hot dog stands cluttered the boardwalk. Expensive shops lined the street and restaurants threw open their doors to let the delicious smells of chowder, burgers, and seafood waft into the noses of innocent bystanders.
We settled into our seats at Ideal Bar & Grill where I had the best clam chowder of my life. It got a little chilly, so I ran into one of the boardwalk shops and bought a $40 sweatshirt.
After dinner we staggered through the arcade to the amusement park.
Music was blaring, and people crowded the sidewalks as dinner came to a close and the night life emerged. Lights flashed all around us, enough to make my already tossing stomach turn a little faster.
We purchased our tickets and to our dismay realized the rides would be closing in an hour. My friend, Melynne, has three rides she goes on loyally every year. She was determined to not miss out on any of them this year.
We ran to the first roller coaster, The Giant Dipper, the fifth oldest roller coaster in the United States. The creator of The Giant Dipper, Arthur Loof, wanted his roller coaster to be “a combination earthquake, balloon ascension, and aero plane drop.”
My stomach did just that.
But I held in my beloved clam chowder and drunkenly walked to the next ride, Fireball. It uses G-forces to spin its riders out of oblivion—or at least their stomachs.
But I stayed strong! I held it in for my friend and for my own sense of dignity. That was my first mistake.
We had to run to the last ride—Typhoon. That was my second mistake. As I ran the frozen banana and hot dog smells blended with the sour stench of alcohol and sweat. My stomach recoiled, and my head pounded harder than my feet on the pavement.
I hoped I would find reprieve in the line of our final ride, but, to my horror, there was no line.
We ran straight onto the ride as it’s last victims. We ran around the whole thing trying to find two seats next to each other and I secretly prayed we wouldn’t find one.
As we were trapped in, I looked at the 8 or 9-year-old boy sitting across from me. He looked so calm. I imagine he was riding the last ride of the night before heading home and was tired after a long day, but excited for one more thrill. He had no idea what a thrill he was about to get.
To say I felt terrible was an understatement. I sent up a silent plea to heaven begging for help to hold in the turmoil in my belly. Heaven answered back, “You did this to yourself.”
And the ride began.
To be continued…
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