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Birthdays and Roller Coasters
Sunday, Jul. 11, 2004, 5:37 p.m.

QUESTION: Who needs a plan?

WHAT I LEARNED: Pay attention when the ride has hypersonic in the name.

I have been remise in reporting on the birthday adventure undertaken by myself and now 15-year old son at the tail end of last week. This is the kind of birthday adventure that I like because it is necessary but spontaneous. Necessary, because birthday adventures are required on some level - simple or fancy. Spontaneous, because some birthday adventures aren’t even in the works but just pop to the surface of the mind like cheerful little champagne bubbles in a plastic stemmed cup.

I like the theme parks. I like wooden roller coasters, and carousels, and corn dogs on sticks, and dippin’ dots (the ice cream of the future). I like 3-D Sponge Bob rides, and music revue shows, and games of chance where everyone is a winner, and steel roller coasters that flip you upside down. I like shopping in the souvenir shop, and laser tag guns on Scooby Do rides, and steering putt-putt cars along the auto-trail path twice because the line is short, and being one of the last people out of the park.

As you can guess, the champagne bubble idea, the sparkling result of boundless spontaneity, was an unplanned trip to a local theme park. So for my son’s 15th birthday, he and I took off and put in some mom and son time. For a few hours we were free to just loiter about without any sibling arguments, or coordination of 4 people’s theme park ride requirements – a daunting effort under the best of circumstances. Especially considering that my husband prefers to walk about the park without riding anything and preferable doing this while on a diet – a real damper on the roller-coaster riding, hot dog and fries eating members of the family who are stuck wandering around the park with the no-roller-coaster-or-fast-foods fellow.

As I figure it, we had a roller coaster day – riding some twice, including: one that had hypersonic in the name, one that had fire belching out of the top of it, 3 venerable wooden roller coasters, a kid coaster, and a luge style quasi-coaster. We saw a show, rode non-coaster and 3-D rides, and enjoyed snacking on park fare. My son won a few cool prizes at the arcade - including a present for good old mom which was some bright and beautiful plush sunflowers. How perfect is that. We were one of the last to leave the park, of course. On the way home we stopped at Burger King (the last customers in the drive-through line) to add a little icing to the birthday adventure. Now if that’s not a perfect impromptu day, then I don’t know what is?

It should only take me a few more visits to the chiropractor to fully recover. What’s a little neck pain anyway. Roller coaster riding kicks butt. I wouldn’t have missed the day of rides and fun together for the world.

Happy 15th Birthday, kid!

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