Following along with this tradition of my mother seeking out her lost idyllic youth by dragging me to every fair and festival that came our way, she also took me every summer to the Centreville Amusement Park. She always said it was for me, but I suspect she probably enjoyed it even more than I did. Every year she bought us matching t-shirts so that we could find each other. Yes we were one of those cheesy matching-outfit people.
My mother preferred the rides that would spin you like crazy. She'd take her hair down and it would always whip in my face. She'd laugh like a little kid while we went in the spinning barrels (her favorite), the whirlagig, the tea cups. Anything that would make you barf, she was all for that. We'd get there really early to avoid the lines and wait for them to open. She had this system down where we divided the park into four sections so that we wouldn't miss anything.
Our system was that we wouldn't eat until after lunch time. We would only drink water. Coffee, pop, anything else was forbidden because it might interfere with our digestion. This was serious science! We would get a map (later download it) and check for new rides. Then we'd meticulously plan the entire day.
By the time lunch came around, we'd been spun, flipped and hung upside down, twirled, hurled into space and beyond. We were ready for food. This was one of the few days in our lives that we literally gorged on junk food. We'd eat calzones and cotton candy, then top it off with coke and a candy apple. This rarely varied.
We'd do the non-spinning gravtational defying rides for a while like the bumper cars and the antique cars until our stomachs settled. Go through the fun house and the haunted house. We'd play a few games on the midway (always losing) letting my mother try to win me stuffed animals. She'd always make the guys working there laugh a lot so they usually gave her one anyway. I've got a pile of them still. Goofy dogs, striped tigers, fluffy bunnies.
Then we got down to MY business, starting around dinner time. We'd eat something light (well as "light" as you can get at an amusement park). Then we'd hit the rollercoasters. I loved them ALL. From the log ride to the wooden rollercoaster to the thin, sleek, super tall one that looked as though the cars would fall right off the sides. The first hill always made me sick to my stomach with fear and anticipation. That moment that you hang on the very top, the first cars hanging down, the back cars still coming over the hump. It's slow, it's painful, you KNOW what's coming. The cars pick up speed and your stomach flies into your mouth while your heart skips a beat. After the initial first big hill the rides is so fast and whips you all around. It's so fun.
My favourites were the roller coasters, and the antique cars and the antique train! I loved riding that train through the park. Especially the one part where the settlers adn the Indian shot at each other. It never failed to make me jump. That was one of the last things we did, sort of a tour to make sure we hadn't missed anything (we never had) and say goodbye with satisfaction.
Mother always got one trinket with the year on it for every trip. She kept them in a box with other memorabilia.
I haven't been back to the amusement park in a long time. A few years now. It seems cheesy and loud and for kids. And I have no excuse to go. The last few times I went I started feeling beat up after the rides. Like someone gave me a few good punches to the back, arms, head. The food just seems so greasy and atrocious and the lines! Some of the lines during busy season can be up to three HOURS for one ride. And they won't let you line jump.
If I have kids some day I'll take them. Right now I just prefer to let the memories reside in my head.