Braving the ups and downs of Elitch Gardens |

Braving the ups and downs of Elitch Gardens

I thought I was prepared to take nine Girl Scouts to Six Flags at Elitch Gardens in Denver. I thought I knew the limits of my own fear factor. I was wrong.

It wasn’t the nine little girls who pushed me over the edge: Let’s go on Mind Eraser! No! No! The Chinese swings! Fly Coaster! Yeah, Fly Coaster! Boomerang! Bungee jumping!

It was that they wanted me to go with them.

The last time I went to an amusement park was three years ago in New Jersey. I remember thinking it looked like one of those fly-by-night places carnival hawkers erect overnight without the blessing of the local safety board. But I went on some of the rides anyway.

And I spent the rest of the week knowing that I’d feel a lot better if you just get sick and get it over with. Blech. Two years later, the memory of that afternoon still sends me rushing to the bathroom.

I was pretty excited to go to Elitch’s. I’d never been before, but every time our daughter returned from there, she had this look of wild-eyed excitement.

There are a few rides I cannot take. They involve anything that falls and anything that whirls. I do not like the feeling of falling. I do not like twist-o-pukes.

You will not find me in line for the Tower of Doom, where they take riders up about two miles and drop them so they can feel what it’s like to fall to their death.

You will not find me on the Flying Teacups.

So, the nine girls and four frazzled adults waited in line for the Mind Eraser, a roller coaster ride. The one major difference was that instead of riding on a track, you hang in chairs from a track. It’s kind of like a chairlift – on hallucinogens.

That your feet are dangling below you is where the similarities between “chairlift” and “Mind Eraser” end – although the price to access either is similar. We flew through the air, upside down, inside out, all the while keeping our feet tightly tucked up away from the ground at which we lunged at Mach 4.

I survived Mind Eraser.

Then we went to Fly Coaster. I climbed up a ladder and held onto the two bars in front of my face while the operator – who couldn’t have been more than 15 years old – secures a cage over my back. Then he lowered us from an upright position to our bellies, and we flew – up, down, upside down – on the ride.

I survived Fly Coaster.

I was really looking forward to Twister II, the traditional, rickety, noisy, clacking wooden roller coaster of my youth. I was disappointed to see that Elitch’s wooden roller coaster didn’t sway from side to side when the cars passed by. But it had even steeper falls, darker tunnels and lots of jerks and tosses.

I survived Twister II.

That afternoon, we headed to the water park, where I was determined to talk a very anxious friend – I’ll call her … “Martha” – into hiking into the stratosphere to go on the waterslide. She’s one brave woman, is all I have to say after that experience.

There are three slides at the top of the ladder in the clouds. The first is very winding and enclosed so you don’t mimic your own Tower of Doom. The second is open and features two humps en route to terra firma. The third, called Acapulco Dive, is enclosed at the top – until it releases you to the care of gravity.

We chose the tubed slide. We should have walked right back down those steps and sat on the “beach.”

I inched my body into the tube, at which point the water flushed me down a steep pitch. All I remember after that is water up my nose, not being able to breathe, water up my nose, not being able to lift up my head, water up my nose and a lot of laughter in the air.

“Don’t forget the massive wedgie at the end,” Martha reminded me later. Wedgie, smedgie. I’m still draining water from my nose.

The girls, in the meantime, were surfing on waves in the pool. The other adults opted to risk life and limb in a raft slide. I sat on the “beach” and watched little kids play on the waterslides in the kiddie pool. That’s where I’ll be next time.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or Her column appears Wednesdays.

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