Sunday, January 26 2020

cousin water slide day

Dear Journal,

Hello everyone! I have to resist the temptation to start off the entry with "good morning", as that ship has sailed. Kelly and Jeremy spent the morning hanging out with us, and I decided to forego the usual morning entry and instead eat breakfast and polish of three pots of coffee with them while we watched the kids play. They hit the road right before noon, and now that Rodney and Marissa are on the couch watching the Lion King, things have wound down to the point where I feel like I can recuse myself to write a journal entry without missing much.

Yesterday was a much earlier, more focused effort of a morning. We woke early, and after setting up the kids with cereal, we immediately began packing for our water park trip. I resided in the kitchen, bagging peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, carrots, apple slices, and leftover pizza in a cooler while Marissa, Kelly, and Jeremy gathered swimsuits, towels, and flip flops. Our collective speed and efficiency in packing and hitting the road impressed me. I felt like a member of some elite special ops force shoving off for a well-planned assault on a secret enemy base.

After arriving at the Kalahari, we parked and rendezvoused at the lobby, then found a cafeteria table on which to unpack our food. We cautiously set the kids of up with sandwiches and sides, ignoring the numerous signs that surrounded us that read NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINKS. There was even a smaller sign on our table. Marissa dropped her purse on it, obscuring the warning. "I didn't see anything," she said smirking. We quickly ate our lunch, and thankfully no Barney Fife type of employees called us out on the infraction. Out of gratitude, we left the cafeteria booth even cleaner than we found it.

We changed into our suits, and immediately Rodney led Alice by the hand to some smaller water slides. The kids splashed and played while we mingled around the perimeter, like a pride of lions guarding our young. I brought some wine and tequila cleverly disguised as to-go coffee for us to sip on. Eventually, the kids wandered further into the park. For Alice's first time at a water park, she demonstrated admirable bravery, although I might have to credit her water slide obsessed cousin Rodney also for getting her in the right head space. The kids wandered further into the park, and before long, Alice was riding the big slides right behind Rodney like a pro.

Marissa meekly agreed to keep an eye on the kids, excusing Me, Kelly, and Jeremy to take turns riding The Screaming Hyena, which towered menacingly over the park with it's ninety degree drop. I climbed the stare flights with Jeremy, which went beyond the ceiling into a little perch that overlooked the Wisconsin expressway. Even though it was just a rural highway, it was oddly beautiful. "You have a nice view up here," I said to the lifeguard. "It's good for counting cars, I guess," she said without turning her head.

"Can we ride together?" Jeremy asked the lifeguard, gesturing at the capsule and trapdoor that opened up into the hellish slide. I nodded in agreement, adding "Yeah, we can just sort of clutch each other, right?" Jeremy and I embraced, demonstrating what we were talking about.

"No," said the lifeguard rolling her eyes behind her dark sunglasses.

"It's OK," Jeremy interjected. "I'm a lifeguard too."

"Then you should no the rules," the lifeguard replied smugly, cracking a smile. After a thirty mile and hour drop and a fire-hose full of water flooded my sinuses, I met Jeremy at the bottom of the slide.

Next I rode the slide with Kelly. When we reached the top, there were more kids in line than before. We reminisced about water slides and amusement parks we used to attend as kids, and I told her about Jeremy pushing the lifeguard's buttons. "Jeremy needs to stop telling people he's a lifeguard," she laughed. "His certification expired a long time ago."

Kelly rode the slide and waited for me at the bottom. "I didn't even enjoy that," she said wincing, "but the Dutchness in me is happy, because now I feel I got my money's worth."

We walked back to check in on Marissa and the kids. Rodney and Alice repeatedly ran up the same set of stairs and descended on the same slide, keeping perfectly in sync as if stuck in a loop. Frankie was waddling around in the shallow water. "You should have seen Frankie," Marissa reported. "She looked at me, pointed at something, then just fell backwards like her head was too heavy to hold up."

With time for one more ride, Jeremy suggested the body board machine in the corner, which sat beside the bar in plain view of a set of tables and chairs arranged around it like a theater. "It's kind of nerve racking," he said, "because everyone is staring at you expecting you to put on a show." We queued up in line on a long gentle slope that ran up the side of the machine. One by one, guest jumped on the rubber mat with a yellow body board, and if they could hold their balance just right, they would ride the crest of the spraying water like a never-ending wave. In front of the attraction, a lifeguard sat with his own board, gesturing at the riders. "This guy is trying to get people to do stupid stuff so they wipe out," Jeremy said. Sure enough, the lifeguard challenged a little girl to climb forward and ride on the board sitting up. She tried, and the board slipped out from under her, sending her rocketing up the mat and rolling into the back wall.

Jeremy was up first. He grabbed the board and leapt into the water doing a 360 spin. He centered himself, did a somersault, then recovered his balance. If people at the bar weren't watching before, they were certainly watching after. He put on a great show.

I was up next. I leapt forward, flopping into the water. Not to underscore Jeremy's athleticism, but the ride wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Soon, I too gathered my composure, and even did some lesser, intermediate tricks. Being on the taller side, I felt I had more control of the board on the water. If I was sliding backwards too quickly, I could just extend my legs and angle them, keeping me at the sweet spot of the wave. If this ride meant anything, I think I could have made a pretty good surfer.

We packed up the kids, who at that point in the afternoon were delirious with the desire to sleep. I nodded off myself, even in the fifteen minutes of driving between the highway exit and hour house, shooting my head up as we pulled into the driveway.

The rest of the night, in all our best interest, was low key. Marissa and I picked up groceries, and I made soup. We ate at the table, put the kids to bed, then enjoyed a movie on the couch before turning in for bed at weeknight hours.

We had a wonderful weekend with Kelly and Jeremy, and it left plenty of fun memories to reflect on as we wind down for a productive Sunday evening and a relaxing remainder to the weekend.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today.