So much fun, it hurts

Posted: Sunday, September 19, 2010

Like many Alaskans, my wife and I like to take the kids for an occasional trip someplace warm, just to get away from the nasty weather for a week.

This summer was the first time we've take such a trip in August.

Indeed, while the Peninsula was experiencing a bit of a wet streak in early August, my family and I were in New Jersey and New Hampshire, where temperatures were above 90 degrees for most of our trip, and the only rain we saw came during a very exciting thunder and lightning storm. My only complaint was that I had to get up early to get a run in before it got "too hot." I know, woe is me.

Here's some other thoughts from our East Coast adventures:

What goes around, comes around -- and around, and around

When I was 11 or 12, my parents sent me and my sister cross-country to visit my grandparents in Los Angeles. They took us to Disneyland and Knot's Berry Farm, where I discovered the joy of roller coasters. We happened to hit the amusement parks on days when they weren't too crowded, which meant we could get onto the big rides with minimal waiting time.

I think it was the third or fourth ride on "The Revolution" that my grandfather decided I could probably go on the ride by myself.

This summer, we took our kids to Dorney Park in Pennsylvania, where my son, Billy, discovered the joy of roller coasters -- and I discovered they're not necessarily as fun as I remembered.

We started on "The Talon." "The Talon" is one of those roller coasters where the cars are suspended from above. After you're strapped in, the floor in the loading zone drops away, and your legs are left dangling below you -- or above you, beside you or who knows where else as you careen around the track.

Screaming like a girl was only partially for Billy's benefit.

Later, while I waited in a slow-moving line with my daughter, Grace, for a kiddie-sized coaster, my Billy dragged my wife -- he's now big enough and strong enough to actually drag us if he wants to -- on the "Hydra." The "Hydra" did not have a very long line, and they did it two or three times. When we met up again, my wife informed that any more roller coasters would be my turn to ride.

I had a couple more turns on "The Talon," and am thinking Billy is big enough to ride on his own the next time around.

My son is hard-headed, but this is ridiculous

There is a coming-of-age moment for most boys when they are able to claim some sort of competitive superiority over their father. Usually, it comes in the form of winning at a game of horse or one-on-one, or maybe beating Dad at a card game. Generally, the only thing hurt is Dad's pride.

Billy's moment came during our vacation, and for nearly a month, I was reminded of it every time I moved.

We were playing in a lake in New Hampshire, tossing around a football in waist-deep water. I don't know if Billy was trying to tackle me or block my pass, but he ended up head-butting me square on my sternum.

Upon our return to Alaska, the doctor had to pop three ribs back into place. Billy remains proud of this accomplishment, and in fact has it at the top of his "what I did on my summer vacation" list.

Meanwhile, I've taken the double hit -- physical injury and emotional anguish. Ouch.

Our next getaway is scheduled for next March. We're going to Hawaii, specifically Kauai, which is supposed to be the more laid back of the islands. There's no roller coasters, and we'll leave the football at home. What could happen?

Will Morrow is managing editor at the Peninsula Clarion.

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