I went to the Park yesterday for the first time since I got an orange soda on my break nearly ten years ago. My son Sean and I were there for my nephew's birthday party. We had to go to group check in to get our wristbands. I don't remember where it was before, but it's in Cobblestone Village now where Fitzgerald's Ice Cream used to be.
As soon as I cross under the archway, I immediately become pissed off and cranky. It was odd really. Nothing happened to make me angry. None of the hundred guests milling around without direction did anything to make me annoyed. It was just walking through the Park again. Of course, I did have to hoof it in the heat and humidity from a bottom dusty, rocky lot with a four- year-old that refused to hold my hand with cars and buses driving by not paying any attention. Personally, I think if you're there as an invited "guest" for a party they should reserve you spots near the entrance. Seriously, it's not like I was going there of my own free will. If I was just popping in as a regular old guest patronising the Park, fine. I'd park wherever the parking attendants half-heartedly pointed me. But since I haven't been there in ten years, I think it's safe to assume that I wouldn't have been going there on my own recognisance.
But enough for now of the snobby side of me; I'm digressing.
Sean and I go into Group Check In. They're very nice, despite the fact that a horde of people are heading their way. We sign in, they give us our wristbands, they even cut the excess off. They're very friendly 16-year-olds. Then one goes to point out on the map where Tristen's party is. Turtle Island or something like that, the kiddie park's called now. So I immediately look for the kiddie park where it was when I worked there, but she's pointing below towards the base area.
"Oh, the old Roaring Springs?" I say. I also want her to know that I've been in her shoes and I'm not there because I want to be. It was code, you see.
But I shouldn't have tried to use code with someone who would have been about six when Roaring Springs was there.
"Wha?" says Ms. Not-Yet-Jaded-By-Her-Job, complete with head tilt and all.
"Yeah, the old Roaring Springs." comes a mysterious voice from the back door. I look over and I swear I could hear that old western music they play when it's high noon and two cowboys are squaring off for a duel. The guy's, I'm not kidding you, smoking a cigarette and leaning up the against the railing, obviously on break. I wonder for a minute if it's Indian or Wacky. Whoever he is, is definitely a throwback to the old days. Maybe he was a washed up Gladiator, I'm not sure. But he disappears, remembering the old rule about not allowing guests to see you smoke in uniform.
But we understood each other, so it was okay.
Off Sean and I go to cross the footbridge and head into the park. I'm met in the base area with Janie's Got A Gun playing out of Sirius radio. I won't bother trying to explain Alpine Center; we all know it's gone. The base area is looking not too bad. They're obviously putting some money into the park and it's starting to gain a Great Adventure feel to it. I think this might disprove my husband's theory. You can, in fact, shine a turd.
You have to get your bag "checked" before you can go up the hill. Imagine my surprise when the black teenager in front of me gets completely searched and the guy hardly gives my scrappy sac a jiggle.
I hoof it all the way up past the Wave Pool to the lockers to stash some stuff. My husband will be disheartened, I think, to learn that one of First Aid's favorite hang outs no longer exists. You can no longer hide out and watch women go down Surf Hill and lose their bikini tops. Surf Hill I believe is still there, but I didn't see the hang out.
Sean's playing around in Turtleland, or whatever it was called, for, like, 15 minutes when we head up to the old Tiki Bar for lunch. No Bob Marley playing that I used to hear incessantly as I worked that little retail gift shop by the wave pool.
We're there for a few minutes when Melissa and her son Nathan join us. Melissa greets my brother in law and I with a "I hate this fucking place," grumble or something along those lines (the same misery acknowledgement that I had earlier) and I tell her about the cloud of annoyance that settled over me when I walked through the Cobblestone Village archway. She understands.
After pizza, I take Sean to the old rock pool which has been mostly filled in to make a little splash pond that's about a foot and a half deep for the little kids. But, of course, teenagers thinking they're hysterical and the first ones to think of it, wander in to get their pictures taken on the animal fountains, invariably getting whistled at by the lifeguard who hooked the cush assignment that day.
There's a frog slide that Sean was taken with. The slide itself is about five feet long, so it's just enough for a kid his size to get some serious speed going into this little pool. After a little while, he starts bouncing a bit when he hits the water, then starts falling back a little bit, coming awfully close to hitting his head on the bottom of the slide. Now, I highly doubt he would have been seriously injured, but it did remind me of the scalpings guests used to get on the Aqua Skoot.
As soon as I'm reminded of that, we're outta there, heading back down the hill for the 20 MINUTE trek back to my car in the stifling heat, humidity and sun.
As I pull out of the parking lot the depressing and annoyed shroud I had for the last few hours lifts like the morning mist and I turn towards home with my climate control waiting.