Watching the red cars go around

The weather in these parts was fantastic last weekend, and so my family and I went to an amusement park on Sunday to take advantage of it. A friend of my older daughter’s joined us for an afternoon and evening of fun on what felt like a bonus summer day.

Lots of other people had the same idea, and as a result we didn’t get to go on as many rides as we wanted to. But we had bought season passes for this year and next, so our disappointment was tempered by the expectation that next year (and maybe even next weekend) would give us opportunities to go back there again. Now we’ll have something to look forward to as winter sets in a few months from now.

The first, and as it turned out, the only ride we all waited for together was something called the Triple Play. It wasn’t one of the well-known thrill coasters, so the wait was something like twenty minutes. By way of contrast, I later waited two hours for a Batman-themed ride that hardly lasted two minutes.

When we got to the front of the line for the Triple Play, the operator indicated there were two empty cars left, meaning that four of us could go on the ride.  My wife and younger daughter took one of the cars, and my daughter and her friend took the other one, leaving me the odd man out.  Rather than waiting for the next ride, I instictively went through to the ride’s exit, thinking that we could all go on to the next ride after theirs was finished.  Sometimes a snap decision can be one you regret later, but that wasn’t the case here.

As the lap bars were being pulled down, and the seatbelts were being fastened, I found a spot on a grassy walkway that afforded a view of the ride as it was going on. The sun was still shining, but I was in a shaded area with a pleasant breeze blowing on me.  In the middle of a crowded and busy theme park, I had found a comfortable spot to be. So far, so good.

As the ride started up, I saw why the ride was called the Triple Play. There was a circle of blue cars, and a circle of red cars, and a circle of green cars, with each one attached to an arm that was connected to the base of the ride. The ride’s hydraulic arms then lifted its riders into the air for a series of large loops.

At first, I couldn’t tell where my party was, but I spotted them in consecutive cars on the red circle of cars. As I watched them going around, again and again and again, I realized that they were all having a great time. And I couldn’t keep myself from smiling as I watched the people I care about the most go up, and come down, and go back up again, yelling with delight as they did so.

This wasn’t any big, life-changing moment, and I don’t know if they’ll remember this ride as fondly as I will. But from my vantage point, for the couple of minutes that the ride was doing its thing, I felt like the most fortunate man in the whole park. And I can’t imagine how going on the ride itself could  compare with that feeling.

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