Monday, January 14, 2008

The Happiest Place On Earth ** Updated

The Conejo Valley Shuttle (AKA Marty and Ann) departs chez moi around ten a.m. Saturday morning. En route, equipped with a new GPS system, we only get lost once (on a journey Marty’s made about a million times), detouring through Norwalk where Marty learns--to his delight--a Ralley’s Burger can be found on Imperial Highway.

We arrive at the Carousel Inn around 12:30 to find a beautifully updated 50’s style hotel worth every penny we shell out, and after dropping our stuff in the rooms, we hot foot it across the street to the park.

Decisions, decisions. Turn left into California Adventure? Or, right into Disneyland? We opt for the former since I’ve never been there. The line on this “newer” park isn’t stellar, so I’m not even that excited. But the instant we step foot inside, the sound of Bing Crosby singing “and I’ll make the San Fernando Valley my home” puts a smile on my face.

I’m ready for California Adventure.

To the strains of “Do You Know The Way to San Jose,” “California Dreaming,” and “Avalon,” we make our first stop at “A Bug’s Life.” Cute. You know. Just cute. Next we grab a fast pass for Soaring Over California and while we’re waiting for our “appointment” we check out some sort of roaring rapids thing (I forget the name). After getting thoroughly drenched, we hightail it back over to Soaring (where Ann gets her first case of “the pokies”) and I FINALLY get to experience a ride I’ve been hearing about forever.

Well, it’s okay. I mean, maybe it depends on which row you’re in. Personally, I’m a bit distracted by seeing the bottom of the screen and the row of feet hanging over my head. Whatever. It’s pretty cool.

Next, we wander further into the park where the “big girl” rides are. All along, I’ve been under the impression Marty will accompany me on “Screaming Over California.” Not so. The big chicken buck-bucks at the last minute. There I am, publicly committed to going on this ride, and my ego doesn’t let me change my mind.

I puff out my chest, assume an air of nonchalance I don’t feel at all, and march off to get a “single rider” pass. The closer I get to the front of the line, the harder and faster my heart pounds. Finally, I’m in the staging area. Courteously, I allow several riders to go ahead of me. Meanwhile, I’m nervously discussing the whole situation with strangers.

I feel so alone.

I feel like I do right before a pitch appointment.

The rational part of my brain starts in with you don’t have to do this. Just walk to the exit.

Another part of my brain—the part seldom heard from—says: think how proud you’ll be when you overcome your fears and successfully complete the ride.

Then a young nerdy kid—about ten years old with hair falling in his eyes and pants three sizes too big—says: “Can I give you a piece of advice?”

Yeah, that’s what I want. Advice from a ten-year old.

“The quicker you get on, the quicker it’ll be over,” he says sagely.

That does it. I take the next spot in line. Turns out I’m sitting next to a big, burly guy which somehow calms my nerves…like maybe he’ll save me if anything bad happens. The fact that his wife and kid are in the seat behind us and that he’ll likely save them first, I choose to ignore.

We prepare for takeoff.

I look up to see Ann poised to take a picture. I wave casually.

Zoom! We accelerate faster than…well…pretty fast. (Update: We're talking 0 to 55 in 4 seconds according to Wikipedia. Also, PLEASE NOTE all you Space Mountain fans: top speed is 32 measly miles an hour vs. Screaming's SIXTY-ONE. Wheeeeeeee!)

It feels…neat. Not scary at all. We climb and climb and I prepare for a sickening drop but instead we go into a banking curve and I relax. This is fun. This feels good. Seconds before we enter the loop, I feel a sense of eager anticipation.

Yes. Euphoria!

The ride is over before I know it. Adrenaline is pumping, I’m ready to celebrate. I meet up with Ann and Marty who are laughing hysterically at a screen with photographs taken automatically on the last drop. “Look at that lady!” they cry with tears in their eyes. “Look at her hair,” Marty says, pointing.

“Uh, guys? That’s me.”

Normally, I would NEVER post such an unflattering picture. Please, please, please, remind yourself that we’re talking g-forces here. Oh, hell…maybe I really look like that with my hair blown back. It’s not a comforting thought.

More tomorrow…

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