Saturday, May 19, 2007

Busch Gardens - The Day After

The only reason I am able to blog today is because my fingers are about the only part of me that aren't sore, stiff, or otherwise engaged in sending electrical impulses of pain and discomfort shooting along the nerves of my bruised and battered body.

The trip was one of great fun, extreme irritation, even a little anger and thrills mixed in.

It started out fun enough; we played a prank on the kids.

It was more cruel than I would have wished, but my mother upped the ante on it before I woke up, so I played along with gritted teeth.

The gag was we did not tell the kids we were planning to go to Busch Gardens. They had no clue. What we did decided to tell them was we had a doctor's appointment at the Shriner's hospital they visit for their idiopathic toewalking. (Idiopathic basically means "arising from an unknown cause", not that they are idiots, which they can be). The hospital is almost directly next to Busch Gardens. You can see it from the top of the taller rides.

My mother, however, took it a step further (no pun intended).

Both kids have gone through therapy, casting (plaster casts on their legs for 6-8 weeks), and braces. They still toewalk, though not quite as bad. The final alternative is to either allow the toewalker to hopefully grow out of it, or for minor surgery. This involves cutting the Achilles tendon.

Well, my oh-so-loving mother decided in her infinite, and infernal, wisdom, she would tell them we were going to the Shriner's Hospital ... for their leg surgery!

The kids took it well. On one hand, they were happy to be missing school. On the other hand, they were nervous and scared about surgery.

I think they suspected something else was up because even though I had loaded most of the stuff for the trip into the back of the SUV without them seeing (with the tarp pulled over it), I gave them new baseball caps and was bringing my camera. I told them the hats were to cheer them up and I wanted to take pictures while we were there. The topper (again no pun intended) was mom bringing her famous floppy hat with her. The kids know she only brings that if she plans on being outside for any length of time.

We told them to wear comfortable clothes and shorts, and to bring their non-school shoes. This wasn't out of the ordinary because previous trips to Shriner's included them wearing shorts so the nurses and doctors could more readily see their legs for tests or therapy. The shoes threw them, though.

Driving to Busch was not an issue as it was the exact same route as to Shriners, just one street over. So I pretended I forgot which street we needed and turned down the one with Busch's entrance. Mom and I "argued" a minute over the correct route and during this "argument" I made another wrong turn into Busch Garden's parking area.

I knew the jig was up, but good ol' mom gamely tried to play it up more about how she hoped they would let us turn around and that we wouldn't have to pay a parking fee to do it.

The kids knew better by then.

You remember those commercials for that toothbrush in which they say brushing teeth would be easy if you had a flip-top head? The cartoon guy opens his mouth and his head horizontally splits in two like a hinge. Well, the kids were grinning so big they looked like that guy.

Parking was nine bucks! I was shocked. The last time I visited (6-7 years previous) it was only five dollars. Oh, well, not too bad I suppose. But it does put a damper on my plans of simply riding out there for a few hours of rides or shows every now and then. Now I have to make sure I bring ten dollars for lousy parking. =/

The good thing was since my mother is disabled, we got to park literally right up front. We were in the first and closest row to the park entrance. Still, it was an arduous journey for my mom to the front gate.

Especially since we now had to stand in line to wait for the gates to open at 9:30am. It was only about 15 minutes wait, and there were copious benches, planters, and odd things you could sit on. Unfortunately, all the benches were full, so my mom ambled over to an unoccupied planter and took up residence there.

The kids and I waited in line.

It was then I noticed something. Something that sent chills of dread racing down my spine.

Most of the others waiting to get in were kids. Kids in groups from various schools, camps, organizations, and even just clumps of free-range kids.

The park was overrun by kids in colored t-shirts emblazoned with their group's name. Running, screaming, laughing, annoying, rude, and antagonistic kids with no sense of personal space, politeness, courtesy, or volume control.

Their chaperons were small oases of befuddled and embarrassed calm within the raging maelstrom of adolescent self-indulgence. Very few chaperons tried to quell the rising storm of sound and chaos. They knew the cause was hopeless, the attempt futile, and they likely feared the ridicule and pranks that was sure to be forthcoming if they so much as opened their mouths to correct the awful behavior.

I pitied them.

I only had two monsters to control.

Eventually we made it through the turnstiles where we slipped our Fun Passes under a laser scanner and our index fingers into an optical finger print reader.

Our first stop? To pick up the ECV. (Electrical Convenience Vehicle) Mom's go-buggy. The object with which she'd never make it 10 minutes in the park.

The location to pick up this wonderful vehicle of self-propulsion was, of course, several shop fronts down and hidden.

We found it with some directions from helpful park employees, and spent five minutes filling out forms which I had previous filled out online. I asked why I had to fill out the forms again, couldn't they print them off so I could sign? They guy behind the counter smiled grimly and said he wished he could, but the online forms were the dundant forms, and these were the redundant forms.

Funny guy.

Several signatures, and a 10 minute course on correct and safe ECV operation, and we were on our way!

To the bathrooms.

This was to be a typical pattern of the day.

See a sight, hit the bathroom. Ride a ride, hit the bathroom. Eat lunch, hit the bathroom. Hit the bathroom, hit another bathroom.

Diabetes will do that to you.

Credit where credit is due ... there were copious restroom facilities, comfortably placed and kept nigh sparkling clean. Even water fountains were in abundant supply. Some even had cold water! Though you find very quickly that while cold water is seemingly more refreshing, cool water is much more physically regenerative.

The weather, too, was pleasant. It was warm and sunny, without being overly hot. The temp was around 85°F, give or take a few degrees, and there was a gentle breeze blowing from a cold front which was making it's way across the state. Too, there were copious benches to relax on, plenty of shaded areas, and the aforementioned abundant water fountains and restrooms.

And more snack and drink kiosks than you could shake a swizzle stick at.

A bottle of Dasani, the 20 ouncers, ran $2.59 each. Bottled soda was a little less, but drinking carbonated sugar water in warm weather with even mild exertion may seem refreshing, but you'll be thirstier, more tired, and in need of more fluids a short time later than if you just not had anything. We stuck to bottled water, and refilled them at the fountains as needed.

We did splurge on Lemonade Slushies, however. At $2.99 each they were reasonable in price for the amount, very refreshing, and probably the best tasting lemonade slushies I'd ever had. The problem was the sugar in them. Made us thirsty and sluggish a short time later.

I promised pictures, and I took quite a few. Some came out great, others came out not so great.

More than I care to speak of were ruined by those animals amok called school trip kids. If they weren't blithely walking in front of my shots, they were rudely bumping into me. If I wasn't being jostled, they were crowding in front to see whatever it was I was keen on snapping a picture of. More than a few were so brazen they would see me (or others) raise their camera for a shot then rush in to ruin it with wild antics, obscene gestures, or "funny" faces.

I wish I'd brought a Taser with me.

I'm fairly kind and gentle, and I'd like to think generous, but I would have corralled and electro-shocked about 50% of the kids in the park that day.

Tomorrow I'll post some of the better pics after I've cleaned them up, cropped them, and whatever else I feel like doing to them.

Right now the blog seems about as long as my trip, so I'll end it here and go soak my feet some more, apply ointment to my prickly heat, pop a few Tylenol for the various aches and pains, and maybe take a nap.

See you tomorrow! ~.^

Today's Penny Doubled Daily Cumulative Amount for 139 days is:



Swinging Sammy said...

glad you had an overall nice time. :)

Frances said...

Since you're tired and all after getting through those optical turnstiles and enjoyed the time of your lives, you surely need a well-deserved rest.