Water Park Hazards

Water parks are awesome. The first one I really remember experiencing was way back when I was about ten and we went to one in New Jersey with my cousins. It was great. Each of the slides had the names of rivers and each one had a different degree of difficulty. The Amazon was really long, the Blue Danube was really fast, the Hudson was really dirty, etc.

I really haven’t been to a really cool water park in a long time. And this one down in the Ozarks is pretty cool. Wave pool, lazy river, kiddie pool with kiddie slides, some really easy beginner slides and then there’s the slides that even stagger the grown ups. One is this nasty half-pipe. It feels like falling off a cliff. But the scariest part is that the half-pipe is bordered by these tiny one foot borders. And they look pretty small when you’re headed at them at the speed of sound and you can count the leaves on the TOP of the oak tree directly behind the slide. Riley, Kinsey and Mom did that one a few times.

Then there’s the toilet bowl. Seriously. You go down this ridiculously steep drop to pick up speed and you get spit out into this bowl. You circle around the bowl until you literally drop through a hole into an 8 foot pool. If you get enough speed, its awesome. If you don’t, you end up like my brother-in-law and me and you slow down so much you need to roll out through the hole.

Then there are the rapids where you go through a series of small slides into small pools. Except the physics and currents present in these pools at the bottoms of the “rapids” tend to trap people who have a large amount of mass and a small amount of mass. So the really big folks and the really small kids are getting stuck in these big groups and the rest us are honking for the right of way. Kinsey got stuck until I came down, completely inverted my tube, righted myself and slammed into Kinz. I felt kinda cool until I realized most of the contents of my nose had evacuated along a path down the right side of my face.

Then there was the yellow and blue slides. Yellow slide is open while the blue is totally enclosed. The blue is faster. It’s also really hard to judge how close you are to the end in total darkness. Veterans of water parks will tell you, as they told me, that if you arch your back really high and only have the backs of your heels and shoulders touching the slide you can approach NASCAR qualifying speeds.

Which is awesome. Until you hit the water at the bottom. You’re so amazed at your ability to approach terminal velocity you forget that upon entering the water at that speed, your nose is vulnerable.

Yup, it was nasty.

But I made such a big splash that Bails decided she wanted to try it. And Bails is in the 25th percentile for height and weight for kids about to enter kindergarten. She’s small. We climb back up to the top of the slide and she goes first. She sat up on her bottom the whole way down and you couldn’t even tell she hit water because her splash was so small. I go down and attempt to sit up the whole way. I hit turn one and firmly introduce the side of face to the side of the slide. The recoil knocks me onto my stomach. This is the point where I remember reading the sign at the top of the slide that read, “No riding on your stomach.” So I correct my position just as I’m hitting the corkscrew. This of course just turned me into this runaway spiraling depth charge. I’m sure if they checked the inside of the slide and my back the ballistics would match.

After my splashdown, Bails suggested that we ride the yellow one next.

We eventually made to the wave pool and skipped the lazy river because the lazy river was, well, just too lazy. I mean by the time made it all the way around the leaves started to change. But the wave pool is fun. Grandma got caught right at the exact spot where the largest waves break. It may have been because she was nudged into it. Eyewitnesses can’t confirm the culprit. Watching her was like watching the perfect storm. She just got pounded. And it’s a wave pool so there is no pause button. They just keep coming.

If you can manage to swim out past all the humanity and get up to the front of the pool where the waves begin, it’s pretty cool. You are going up and down about ten feet. It’s work to stay above water. But you’re also so far out there the kids won’t follow you. So it’s kind of a break even though you’re at serious risk of drowning. But it’s totally worth it.

Tubing is also fun. Especially for kids. This morning we went back into a fairly quiet cove and let six of the girls take turns tubing. Kinsey, Bailey and two of their cousins went first. It was fairly uneventful for a while if you dismiss Kinsey barking out orders and directions throughout the entire episode. She looked like a gunnery sergeant. Then my brother-in-law skipped them over a small wake and caught his first grader to be a little off balance. It was like he caught her leaning towards second base and picked her off. The only part of her body still in contact with the tube were her two hands clutching the handles. The rest of her body was airborne.

But the best part was the girls thought it was hilarious so nobody was crying. And that’s always a good thing.

We’re headed home tomorrow but with only one kid. Grandma decided she’d take Kinsey and Bailey home with her for Grandma camp for a few days. Which will be weird and cool. Bails starts her new day care on Friday and then school starts on the 20th. It’ll be Bails first day of kindergarten. We can’t wait.


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