A record breaking heat wave swept through the Midwest during the summer of 1988. Between May and August, there were 45 days where the temperature rose above 90 degrees. Out of those 45 days, there were 7 days where the temperature rose above 100. Adding in the heat index on those days, the temperature sometimes felt like it was 111.
As luck would have it, I was married on one of the hottest days that summer. On July 16th the temperature reached 106 degrees with a heat index of, you guessed it, 111 degrees. But that’s a story….. I will have to share with you another day.
My sister and her family had come in from Pennsylvania for the wedding and were staying at my parent’s house. From the time I was little, I always looked forward to the times when my sister and brother-in-law would come home to visit. Anywhere they went, I went. I was their sidekick. At the drop of a hat, they would say “Come with us, we’re going on an adventure!” So needless to say, three days before I was getting married, we went on an adventure. This time, there were eight of us going (5 adults and three kids). The destination…..Six Flags Great America.
“Wow! Look at all the rides. Can we go on the swings first,” begged my nieces and nephew. Getting a game plan together, we decided that my sister and sister-in-law would take the kids on the swings. My brother, brother-in-law and I would go on a roller coaster called The Demon. We would meet at the park benches after our rides were over.
So into the queue line, the three of us went. We chatted about this and that as we inched forward slowly. Up one way, back the other way. Up one set of stairs. Thank goodness there were fans stationed along the way to keep the air flowing while patrons waited. “So where do you want to sit when we get up there?” I asked. “We’re going to sit at the back,” answered the guys. “Oh! I see how it is. You guys don’t want to be first to go down that drop. Chicken! bak bak bak, ” I said. Up one way, back the other way. Getting closer. Last set of stairs.
“Enjoy the ride,” I said as we went to stand in the separate queues for each car. As the ride pulled in and came to a stop, a voice said “Thank you for riding The Demon. Please wait for the harness to raise and exit to your right.” ” How many?” asked the attendant. “Just Me,” I said. Usually if there is one person riding by themselves, they try to put another person in the same car with you.
No such luck. So into the third car from the front I went ……by myself. I have to admit I was a little nervous sitting there, but before I knew it, down came the harness and the ride started to move. With senses heightened, I heard that unmistakable sound coming from beneath me. Click… click …click ..click. Up, up, up in the air the car went. I was getting ready to scream as soon as we reached the top but then something happened. The ride stopped! Remember that heat wave I was talking about earlier? Well, it caused the power to go out on half the park. I was stuck at the top of the roller coaster. I hoped the ride would start again but it didn’t. I sat up there for 45 minutes, with the hot sun beating down, before the park decided to walk us down from the roller coaster. I remember how hard it was to stand upright in that car and get out onto the staircase. I was shaking like a leaf because I’m afraid of heights. In my mind I kept saying “Focus on the person who is helping you. Don’t look down at the space between the car and the staircase. Just take one step at a time. It’s going to be ok.” I was so relieved when I finally reached the bottom.
“We are so sorry for the inconvenience. Here’s a coupon for a free small drink.” said a park employee. “Really?” said my brother-in-law. “You could at least give us a free coupon for an extra large drink!” People were pretty upset that they didn’t get us down sooner so they finally gave us an upgraded drink voucher.
“Wow! That was intense walking down those stairs. I’m still a little shook up.” I said to my brother and brother-in-law. With a smirk on his face, my brother-in-law said, “You know if you sat by us, at the end of the ride, you wouldn’t have had to walk down so many steps.” “You’re funny, very funny!” I said. We all started to laugh. This definitely was one adventure for the books.