According to the calendar and the recent warmth it seems that Spring has officially arrived. Unfortunately, so has spring fever and my desire for getting in the car and driving…anywhere. This time of year, I start getting antsy and just want to get out of town with the windows down, the music up, and only happy people in the car with me. I went too far? I know, it’s a lot to ask.
Anyway, it got me reminiscing about our childhood and some of the crazy drives we took. One that happened annually was our family day to Kings Island. For those of you who don’t live in Ohio or in the midwest, it’s THE BEST AMUSEMENT PARK besides Cedar Point, which also happens to be in Ohio. Biased you say? Perhaps, but we did live right in the middle of these two roller coaster meccas our entire young lives.
As I was saying, each year we would make the trek to Cincinnati for a day of fun. We began prepping for our big outing the night before. Our mom would make chicken salad, turkey and cheese sandwiches, and brownies. I am sure there were other things like apples, carrots and celery, but those have vanished from my memory.
Our trip would begin promptly at 6 a.m. so we could be at the park by opening. Dad was always driving and mom would ride shotgun. She controlled the radio and if there weren’t any good tunes she had to play the cassette tape that had been made specifically for the trip. Nothing like a little REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar to get you where you wanted to go. Also, with five girls in the backseat it was important to keep us all singing and smiling. Five you say? Yes, our Aunt Lisa usually went with us as well as my friend, Kim, who was a family fixture for my entire childhood, G, Baby Lisa and me. No, we didn’t have a conversion van or a fancy minivan back in the day, just a regular 5-person car driving down the highway with 7 people without seat belts. Yep, those were the days.
Now that I think more about it there must have been fighting. Surely, someone’s sweaty leg was touching someone else in our non-air conditioned car or perhaps someone looked at someone in that way that only siblings can look that might cause WWIII to begin momentarily. Funny, I only remember the wind, the laughing, the music and the brownies that mom passed to the backseat. I know what you are thinking, but they were just plain old box brownies.
Once we arrived, we had to scope out a parking spot close to a nice stretch of green grass for our picnic lunch. We were nothing if not prepared. Once parked, we were off to open and close the park. We wanted the maximum amount of time each year and everyone had to wear comfortable tennis shoes because there would be no dawdling. We had a strict no dawdlers allowed policy. You could rest while you waited in line. G was always the bravest of all of us and she would get in line for the highest, fastest roller coaster she could find. My dad was usually voted as the one to ride with her. Our all time favorite ride though was the Log Ride. I have no idea if that is the official name, but that is what we called it. It was one of the few rides that we could all go on together and it never failed to disappoint. We always emerged wet and laughing.
Our parents still have a photo somewhere in their house immortalizing that moment of impact when the water is about to come crashing down. As we are all braced for the onslaught our faces are a mixture of screams and pure bliss.
These are the faces of summertime and our childhood.
When I see that photo I am instantly 10 years old back in that car, hair blowing, music playing, having lunch on that patch of green, riding the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, eating pizza in our favorite spot in the park, and walking out exhausted at the end of the day.
I don’t remember the last time we went to Kings Island as a family, but it will always be one of my fondest memories of my childhood. I wonder what our girls will remember most about their childhood. I am thinking it won’t be the big vacations, but how something as simple as a two-hour drive to an amusement park, listening to music, laughing and talking made them feel.
At the end of the day it really is about the time we all spend together.
Thanks mom and dad for always making this trip happen and for making it so memorable. Also, a big shout out to mom who hunted down these photos at 9:30 p.m. last night so they could be in the blog. I knew they were in a frame somewhere at sometime and luckily for us, they were still hanging in my old room.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G