Archive for August 2009

Help! There’s a Gorilla on my Roof!

August 16, 2009

    It has been twenty years since I was last there.  They still had a dolphin show and the Fun House.  The Iron Dragon was a brand spanking new ride.  We’d gone with my soon to be in laws, their two boys and my soon to be stepdaughters.   We got a hotel room, spent the entire day exploring, riding and snacking.  My son’s first trip was just over a year ago when the entire 8th grade spent their last day of school there.  He came back a roller coaster fiend.  And I mean…FIEND.  The Princess had never been but she was finally tall enough to go on everything.  It was a sort of kind of in leiu of a birthday party treat that I let her invite a friend – and her brother invite a friend – and we headed to Sandusky, Ohio for a day at Cedar Point.   

     In the days before, we had gone on the park’s website and looked at the many point-of-view videos of their rollercoasters.  You know them.  The little videos that were taken from the front of the coaster’s car??  The Princess was worried.  Plenty worried.  She wanted to know if there were any just …’regular’….rides.  We left very early in the morning to fill up the gas tank.  The ATM at the bank was not working.  The first gas station would not allow me to use my credt card.  The second had no power at all.  I borrowed some of the spending money cash, filled up the gas tank and we were off.   The kids slept most of the way.  ‘Gladys’ – our sometimes irritating GPS voice – guided us safely along our way.  It was 10:12 when we arrived.  The car had barely come to a stop when the boys were out the door and RUNNING toward the gates.  They SAID they had to go to the bathroom.  Riiiight.  I didn’t see them again until 3:30 in the afternoon.

      The girls, on the other hand, managed to contain their excitement just a little.  They walked quickly ahead of me and waited until I finally let them go.  Hang together.  Keep in touch.  And they were gone.  Their first ride?  The Raptor….a twisty inverted, outside looping coaster that travels 57 mph in 2 minutes and 16 seconds. It’s one of the longer lasting coasters in the park. 

   I met up with them shortly after.  They had downed a HUGE Icee slush and were off to another coaster.  The ‘point of view’ videos??  Totally forgotten.  They were on their way to totally experience every single thrill ride in the place.

    Cell phones are wonderful things when you are in a place like this with teenagers.  As I wandered through shops and sat through shows, I kept up with them via text messges and occasionals calls.  His were short and sweet.

   “Where are you?’   ‘In line.”

    “For a coaster?”   ‘Yup’

     “Which one?”   “Don’t know.”

     “Having fun?” “‘Yup.”

     I met the girls for lunch and listened as they detailed everything they had been on….every twisty turn and upside down adventure.  They were horrified at the cost of their lunch.  They rode the train with me to the back of the park.  One of them upchucked every bit of the expensive burger and fries as we got off.   A nice slow, rattling train ride.  Go figure.  Cedar point Hunt party 077And then we were on to the water rides.  And the swings.  And the water rides again.  And again. And again. 

     Snake River Falls.  

     Thunder Canyon. 

     Sky Hawk. 

   It was a circle.  Off one and onto another.  I finally left them and wandered through the Frontier Village shops.   

     Then I got a call from the boys.  When were we going to leave?  They had done everything they wanted.  They weren’t interested in getting….wet.  I told them to play some games or get something to eat.  The girls weren’t ready.  I called the girls to say that the lines for the coasters in the front were rather short so they should probably start making their way forward.  I found a bench and waited for the four of them to….collide or something.

    I saw the boys first.  They saw me too and came running toward me with the biggest stuffed gorillas I have  ever seen.  I mean huge.  I have asked several times since but I am still not sure what they had to do to win them.  All I could think of was HOW are we going to get them home??? 

     And they were very ready to go.  But the girls weren’t.  So they sat and waited. 

     Moved to another ride and waited. 

    Carried the gorillas with them, sat down on them and….waited.  Cedar point Hunt party 082

All the while contemplating different ideas as to how to fit their prizes into this:Vue 

     Four rollercoasters lines later and we were on our way. 

     Now, we drove down in my zippy little car…..four teenagers and me.  Three in the back and one in the front.  Not a lot of wiggle room in there.

     We managed to stuff one gorilla into the back of the car.  After several attempts to get the second one in as well, they finally pulled it into the back seat on top of them.   Smashed up against them.  And I pulled out of the Cedar Point parking lot at approximately 5:30 pm, unable to see out the back window with three teenagers in the back seat unable to move or wiggle or…..breathe.  Heh.  And we had a two and a half hour drive ahead of us. Soooooo….we went in search of a Home Depot….or a hardware…….and found a CVS Pharmacy.

    Too many dollars later, armed with one package of bungee cords  and two very small rolls of duct tape, a rain poncho, two cans of Green Tea with Gingseng and Honey, two Gatorades, an interesting looking paperback novel and a couple of candy bars, we were wrapping and taping and bungee cording the second monkey to the top of the car. 

Cedar point Hunt party 084   Cedar point Hunt party 088






     And then we were back on the road.   It was trial and error for the first couple of miles.  The arms started flapping.  The Princess grabbed them through the sunroof and hung on for dear life until we could stop.  We devised a ‘rope’ of sorts from plastic CVS bags to tie them together.  They continued to flap.  At the next stop we used the rest of the duct tape to fasten the arms together and make a rope to hold  on to them through the sun roof. 

  Now I am the first to admit that I watch too much legal eagle television.  All I could envision as I was driving down the Ohio turnpike….and two other expressways…and numerous side roads as we made our way home like thisCedar point Hunt party 092…..

 …..was a bungee cord snapping….the gorilla  flying off into the windshield of another car or truck….and me….in a police car muttering the words ‘negligent homicide.’

    My head and my hands were sweating the entire way.

   We stopped to check our bungees at every service plaza and rest stop between Sandusky and home.  And at a couple of gas stations too. 

AND  I was driving 10 miles UNDER the posted speed limit the entire way because I knew cars and trucks would pass us and not be cruising along behind us. 

    Along the way we were getting ‘looks’….and thumbs ups….and pointing fingers and laughs….as cars sped by.  And we totally made the work day of the attendant at the turn pike exit when she took our money.  Her ‘oh MY!’ when she noticed the gorilla on top of my car was hilarious.  SHE would have a tale to share about HER job.

      Even though we struggled so much with the durn things I really had NO idea how big they  actually were until the Prince’s friend had his sitting on the porch waiting for his mother to answer the door.   Or when the Prince was trying to fit his into OUR front door.

     They are HUGE.

     And I am not sure what they plan to do with them.  The Prince’s actually takes up about a quarter of the remaining floor space in his bedroom.  But after this trip, I am never going to Cedar Point again in anything smaller than a van.  Preferably someone else’s.  And I am definitely planning to make sure the gorilla in OUR house will be an invited guest at the Prince’s wedding some day. 


To Cell…..or not to Cell?

August 9, 2009

Three years ago – when I was still teaching Kindergarten – one of my students brought a cell phone to school for show and tell.   It was a special little kids’ version that was programed for just three numbers….mom’s, dad’s and a big brother’s…..but it was a cell phone none the less.  I was stunned. 

Getting a cell phone had been an ongoing battle in our home for a while.  I was very resistant.  I didn’t really see the need for the extra expense.  My husband had one.  He had to have it for the job he was doing at the time.  Then one night when he was working late and we had two kids who needed to be at two different soccer fields for practice,we had a drop off mixup that had me envisioning my son standing all alone in the middle of an empty soccer field with no one to pick him up.  I got a cell phone.  We NEEDED one at that point.

And so we got along just fine with two in the family.  The rule was that the kids would get one of their own when they NEEDED one.  Like when they were sixteen and driving.  We figured we would want them to have one by then…for safety’s sake.  Our son especially was rather insensed.  EVERYone had one but him.  Poor child.  We had made a decision and we were sticking to our guns.

However, we didn’t envision the “persuasive paper’ my son would have to write for his 8th grade English class.  It happened just before Christmas and word was that a LOT of kids were writing about the need for a family pet…or an i-pod.  My son chose to write a paper entitled “Why Teens Should Have A Cell Phone.”  Heh.

It was actually a very well done piece.  It had arguments for and against.  It was backed up with research and quotes and footnotes.  He turned it in and then had to bring it home for us to sign.  He would get extra credit points if one of us were to write a response. 

I had a lot of fun with that paper.  I read it aloud to my sister who had already weathered cell phone wars with her own teens.  We giggled.  We especially liked his stance that ‘teens should have cells phones so they could call for help in case of natural disasters’….or something like that. 

We thought about his arguments.  They were fair and well thought out.  I wrote a response.   And he got a cell phone for his 14th birthday several months later.

Well now, it’s been a year and a half .  He has been through several ‘cell phone groundings’ for various reasons..  He also had to have his phone replaced after an accident when it was smashed inside his back pack.  But all in all, having the cell has given us some peace of mind.  We can always reach him….that is IF he has his sound turned on.

Today was HER 14th birthday.   We bought HER phone several weeks ago.  It’s purple.  It has been sitting in the box waiting to be wrapped – and then unwrapped.  And pocketed.  And used and reused.  For calls and texts.  And to make an active social life even more active.  Sigh.

Nina's 14th