When I was a little girl, I used to go visit my Grandma Smith in the summers. She lived in an apartment complex in Chattanooga, Tenn. Mom grew up in Chattanooga. Mom would pack me and my sister up in the red Caprice Classic station wagon and we would go spend a few days with Grandma. This was the most fun ever for my sister and I, as everyone knows that Chattanooga is the epicenter for kitschy tourist traps found on those pamphlets in motel lobbys, Howard Johnsons, and rest areas.
We would go to Rock City, ride the incline, and get candy from the candy shop at the top of the incline. See, we had the hookup, because Grandma’s best friend worked at the candy shop. Fudge and rock candy. Ahhhh. In the afternoons, we would swim at the apartment pool, while mom or Grandma and Aunt Dot watched us. Grandma and Aunt Dot did their laundry in the laundry room in a room right off the pool area while we swam. This is also, I assume, where they kept the liquor. Now, i don’t want to question my mother’s parenting, but she would let grandma watch us swim. I never ONCE saw Grandma swim in the pool. I assume she could swim, but have my doubts as to whether she could retrieve either me or my sister from the bottom of the pool if necessary, especially without putting down her drink or getting her cigarettes wet.
My favorite thing to do, though, (other than go to the castle, which was a toy store near Grandma’s, with a castle facade and an awesome board that counted down the days until Christmas, and where I would buy a Breyer horse every time we visited) was go to Lake Winnepesauka.
Lake Winnie is awesome, even though they have a really shitty website. It is an old school amusement park, and has been open since 1925 and is still run by the grandchildren of the original owners. It is pretty much a family tradition now, as my grandparents, my mom, and me and Lisa all grew up going to Lake Winnie. I have not taken the kids there yet, but can’t wait to do so.
It has a pretty famous old wooden roller coaster, the Cannonball. It has my faves the Himilaya and the Tilt-A-Whirl. It has Leelee’s fave, The Scrambler. A boat chute. An awesome merry-go-round (that was originally at Lakewood fairgrounds in Atlanta). A great haunted house fun house, skeeball, all set around a lake (that I believe used to be a swimming pool before my time) filled with the biggest damn carp ever. Paddleboats. It is very old-school, and family-oriented. I heart Lake Winnie. I cannot wait to take the next generation there. I think Dash needs a couple years and he will be ready to party with us, too.
So, all of this is to say that we took the kids to one of those temporary carnivals at a nearby mall. OH. MY. GOD. Most fun i have had in years. It was pretty awesome to see so many of my neighbors there, and kids from Rollie and Tiller’s schools. Met my sister, BIL, and nephew, Dash there, too. Dash was unimpressed by the rides, but did like the lights and the music from the Himalaya.
Lisa loves the Ferris Wheel, so she rode with my kiddos, which is great, because those things make me really nervous. Sure, it made me nervous to see my babies riding, too, but common sense tells me that they will be fine, and I should stay on the ground and try to smile. I am pretty sure that if I was up there, my fear of heights would kick in and i would have a panic attack and they would have to pry me out with a crowbar, because my fingernails would be embedded in the ride. The children would be traumatized and need years of therapy. Plus, if you stay on the ground, you can eat cotton candy and hold the baby, and what is better than smelling a baby’s head while eating spun sugar? Not one damn thing.
Rollie rode the big slide thing with one of the twins from down the street (Sydney, I believe).
Tiller was too scared to ride it, so she went with the teacups. A classic choice. She rode with the twins, Leah and Sydney, and loved it. When their cup went by the carny, he would reach down and give them a huge spin, eliciting screams and laughter, along with a slight chance of whiplash. I have seldom been happier in my life than standing by my friends Lauren and Scott at near sunset, watching our little girls smile the widest smiles and scream the screams that only happy little girls can emit, all the while holding my nephew, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds.
Money’s tight, so Todd and I picked a couple rides we wanted particularly to ride, and left the rest to the kids. When I say the kids, I really mean me, because I would have pitched the biggest fit ever if I couldn’t ride both the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Himalaya. Rollie was very brave and rode the Tilt-A-Whirl with me. I have to admit that I choked up a bit getting up there, navigating the metal platform to pick out a car with my son in hand. He was so brave! We climbed in, and all i could think of was what it was like to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl with my mom at Lake Winnie. I think I remember Lisa going one time, but now it makes her sick. (Or so she says.) There is something so cozy about leaning back with your arm around your kid and then when the ride starts, screaming your guts out and hoping he won’t puke on you. We actually rode with another kid, a little girl who had never ridden it before, about Rollie’s age, who was going to ride alone. (Her wussy mom was over there to the side with my wussy sister.) I sat in the middle and put an arm around each kid and we just laughed when we were going slow, catching our breath, and screamed when we went fast. I had forgotten that when you are little, it actually looks like you are going to run into the other cars whirling around, but Rollie and the little girl kept saying, “We almost ran into that one!” And that thing spins a lot harder than I remembered. I am sure it had nothing to do with the fact that i weigh sixty pounds more than last time I rode it. Nothing at all to do with that.
Lisa and I saved the best for last: The Himalaya. Lisa decided she would be scared and nervous to ride it. Just like the old days! I sat on the outside, so I wouldn’t crush her. We had a discussion about how the one at Lake Winnie must be bigger. Mom and Lisa and I used to all ride together. No way that we would all have fit into this new one. Again, had nothing to do with the fact that we were under ten last time we rode it. Nothing at all to do with that. Mark took pictures of us nervously waiting for it to start. Tiller and Rollie looked on with Daddy from the side, and danced to the music. Again, I felt a wave of emotion, hearing the loud music blaring and the siren going off when they hit top speed. You know how I love Kid Rock! They still play all the hits (Hey Ya!, Hot in Heerrre! Lisa, Todd? What else did they play?), but i am pretty sure they would make more money off us old fogies if they would play some Def Leppard, Van Halen, etc. I am pretty sure that the best job ever goes to the carny who gets to play DJ on the Himalaya. I mean, that, that is a job. Every time we went around, I waved at the kids, which is easy to do when your hands are in the air the whole time. Lisa had the bar in a death grip, all the while laughing maniacally. We screamed, and laughed our asses off, and discussed how we should just leave the kids and run away with the carnies.
Seriously, the most fun i have had in ages. Highly recommended for those stuck in a rut.
Can’t believe I haven’t updated in a week. Poor neglected blog.