I was texting with my pal Laura about how bored and sad we are in our covid bubbles, and it made me start thinking of all the fun we had when she was still living in Pittsburgh. Yes, she’s one of the many who escaped! Good for her! This place is….just ok.
Waaaaay back in 2011, I had this brilliant idea that we should go to two amusement parks in one day. Granted, the parks I had in mind are super piddly and can barely even be considered full-fledged amusement parks, but it still seemed like a super fun to say CIAO FOR NOW to summer of 2011.
I remember having a huge row with Henry over this (lol, not really: it was basically like this: he said no, I screamed, he said fine) because we had just come back from a week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and this was back when I was still working part time and money was tight yo, and not as in “cool” but as in “barely there.”
But in the end, I won and Janna and Laura came along for the ride. It ended up being a really fucking fun day even though the parks are lame (I typed lamesauce and then yelled, “EW WHO AM I” and deleted).
Anyway, please enjoy these old photos of Chooch sans-front teeth while I go back to painting 740187408734087315 tigers on my front door. #CovidArtProject
First Stop: DelGrosso’s
All you really need to know about DelGrosso’s is that I got really fucking sick. I had just rode back-to-back spinny rides with Chooch, Laura and Janna (one of which was the Tilt-a-Whirl, and Chooch and I kept laughing because Janna rode alone; I am raising my child right, in case you haven’t noticed) before agreeing immediately to ride this thing called the Casino with Chooch.
Laura and Janna opted out.
First, Chooch and I had to stand next to an unoccupied seat, waiting for the girl running the ride to help us unlatch it while everyone who was already situated stared at us like they couldn’t believe it was our first time at an amusement park. The girl kept getting distracted, or she was just pointedly ignoring us, who knows; but I should have taken it as a sign and walked away.
Instead, we stood there like idiots until the door was unlatched for us (there were like, three whole steps to unlock it; no way would I have ever cracked that code) and then within one and half revolutions, I felt my equilibrium throat-fucking me.
Really, it wasn’t so bad: just some slight undulating motions as the roulette wheel spun us around, but then, joy of joys, it went BACKWARDS.
And that is where my first trimester of pregnancy came back to haunt me. I instinctively reached into my pocket for a peppermint disc, but I didn’t have any on account that I am not actually pregnant anymore.
Oh, look at Little Miss Thrill Ride Queen, nearly barfing all over the occupants of the Casino.
One more revolution, and it would have been that puking scene in Problem Child all up in DelGrosso’s.
After the ride ended and we waited to be released from our maximum security cell, Chooch skipped off into the horizon while I staggered slowly after him, finally nailing the zombie gait that I so pathetically pantomimed during my zombie self-defense class last spring.
Without a word to Janna, Laura and Henry, I slowly took a supine position on a bench.
“Maybe the train will be a nice break for you,” Laura suggested, so we all got in line for the most lamest amusement park train ride of all time. We didn’t make it on right away and had to stay in line for one more go-around. I considered sliding down the wall into a heap of sweat, stomach acid and minced stomach lining instead of standing with everyone else.
I was that nauseated that even standing was giving me the spins.
However, I was not too nauseated to laugh evilly when an older woman got out of her seat before the train started to take a picture of her family, only to lose her balance and fall back into the seat, sprawling across her embarrassed husband’s lap and absolutely cracking the fuck out of her shin.
It was a pure delight to witness. I guess it wasn’t all that exciting though because Laura and Janna admitted afterward that they must have missed it. It gave me tears, that’s how much I enjoyed myself.
The train ride did not help my churning stomach. I clutched the front of the seat with whitened knuckles, wishing the sunshine would un-blanch my complexion instead of coaxing the bile up my throat.
Afterward, I waved the white flag and collapsed on a bench. I urged Henry to take Chooch to kiddieland and encouraged Janna and Laura to ride the Crazy Mouse again without me.
“Don’t worry about me,” I moaned in the stoic tone of a fallen soldier. “I’ll be fine.” And then I wept behind the privacy of my sunglasses.
Everyone rejoined me after about 15 minutes and I decided that I needed to try and eat, so we all trooped back over to the food area, where Chooch and I sat alone on a bench, me with my head between my knees.
“Let’s go on the Wacky Worm again,” Chooch cheered.
I started to say, but then on second thought, I said, “Yeah, OK. Let’s do it.” And damn if that fucking ride didn’t make me feel better.
“Where were you?” Henry said when we found him holding a plate of pizza.
“On the Wacky Worm!” I shouted happily.
“But you’re sick…” he started.
“NOT ANYMORE, MOTHERFUCKER!”
Laura and Henry both wore black shirts because they’re in a pigment race gang.
We rode the Wacky Worm one more time before we left, while Henry stood sullenly off to the side and stared with disapproval.
“So, what did you think of the Wacky Worm?” I interrogated Laura on the way back to the car.
“It’s a…ride,” she answered uncertainly.
I’ll say! THE BEST RIDE EVER!
NOW LET’S GO TO LAKEMONT OMG
The thing about Lakemont is that as far as amusement parks go, it’s puny. Nothing about it is really “new,” except this time when we were there, we noticed that one of the rides had been removed so maybe next year there will be an upgrade in its place. And how shocking that would be. Especially if it was anything manufactured post-1980.
But for some reason, I love the hell out of this park! People-watching is prime, the rides they do have are an amalgamation of bizarre and retro, and best of all—it’s cheap. Extremely cheap. We always go on the same weekend in September when Lakemont hosts some sort of Altoona craft bazaar, because it’s only $5 that weekend and there is almost no lines to stand in at all.
NOT EVEN FOR THE WINE SLUSHIES.
One of the bigger draws at Lakemont is a small wooden coaster called Leap the Dips, which also happens to be the oldest running coaster in the WORLD.
THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD.
It costs an extra $2.50 to ride it. They didn’t charge extra the last time, but I guess this is their effort to do everything possible to maintain and preserve it for future use. The old man who sold us the tickets was hilarious and teased us mercilessly. He wouldn’t hand over the tickets until I was able to tell him how much it would cost for three. This of course caused sweat-on-the-brain but I was able to answer before Janna and that’s all that matters.
It’s so old that the young farm-handish employee had to actually run and push our car to give it momentum. But not before making fun of my iCarly messenger bag. (He accused it of being Hannah Montana and I felt the vinyl flap featuring Carly and Sam’s mug heat up as it rejected his insinuation. )
Janna and Laura quickly learned the meaning behind “Leap the Dips” as they were nearly catapulted out of their seats when we went over the first dip and our car became airborne.
It’s one fucking rough ride. Henry won’t ride it due to the fact that it agitates his hemorrhoids.
Lakemont’s Wacky Worm is definitely the Toboggan (I finally learned how to spell it! Gold stars all around!). This was Chooch’s first time riding it and he took to it immediately. We must have been ejected from that vertical tube 20 times that evening. Such a stupid yet fun ride.
If we’re being honest, it was the guys running the thing that kept me coming back for me. They were hilarious and cute and coveted my iCarly messenger bag. The thing with the Toboggan is that there is a lot of sitting around in the cars, waiting for your turn to be carried up through the tube and then waiting for all of the other cars to come back before being unlatched and set free. But these two guys would walk back and forth, antagoning us, showing us stupid magic tricks and just being all-around completely entertaining.
It made me remember why I enjoy Lakemont so much — the kids working there actually give a shit about their jobs and have fun doing it! What a novel concept!
OK good, I did spell it right.
Isn’t it majestic?
Moments later, I almost lost an arm and leg when Chooch stamped down on the gas pedal before I was all the way inside the car. It was a pretty great scene for all the people standing in line.
This was the first time I was actually proud of my kid. Not for nearly spontaneously amputating me (though I would finally have weighed less!), but as far as riding things at amusement parks go. Of course I’m already proud of his sarcastic, biting words; knowledge of horror movies; and independence in the kitchen. He rode the shit out of everything he was tall enough to ride and I felt like we were really in sync with each other that day as we frolicked from ride to ride; even Henry rode his fair share AND EVEN SMILED AT TIMES.
Considering we had spent the morning screaming at each other over money, the day ended up being pretty spectacular and Henry even held my hand at one point (!!!) and said he was glad he came along after all. See that? My brilliant day trip ideas SAVE RELATIONSHIPS.
Can’t wait to do this again next September! WHO’S IN?
On the drive home, Janna admitted to not being able to see, provoking Laura and me to nervously suggest in tandem for her to pull the fuck over. Since I was now driving, I told Janna it was her turn to entertain us, and after whining for awhile about not having any stories, she launched into this shoddily-detailed narrative about going to a party when she lived in DC but then ended up getting a chili dog instead and then parking in a loading dock by her apartment and eating it in the car. I kept waiting for the climax, at the very least a car-jacking, but nothing ever happened other than her eating a chili dog while illegally parked.
Kids, don’t blow off parties for chili dogs or you too will grow up to not have any stories to tell.
[Read Henry’s harrowing account of the day here.]