by Julianna Squicciarini
As I was just discussing with one of my friends, the attractions of one’s own city are often overlooked. For instance, you’ll find that many people who live in Asheville have never been to Biltmore Estate. Why not!? Because they live there. They recognize it for the tourist trap that it is. Whereas, I, being the naive and gullible type, will drive hours to get there, spend inordinate amounts of money to stay as long as I can and eat whatever I want, and take an obscene amount of pictures.
The same holds true for the great amusement park here in the Charlotte area – Carowinds. For some reason, although I’ve lived in Charlotte my entire life, Carowinds never figured into the family plans. Granted, our family has never been the amusement park type. But you’d think that with people driving hundreds of miles just to visit this amusement park, we would have found time to do the same. Once. But not so.
Now, this being 2009 – The Year I’m Going Crazy – I decided that a trip to Carowinds was finally in order. I have never been on a true rollercoaster, and if I visited an amusement park in my life, it was so long ago and I was so young, I don’t remember anything about it. I hate height, speed, and that feeling you get when you jump off a cliff and your stomach stays at the top and you drop to the bottom. Obviously, it was time for me to be pulled out of my box.
To that end, I mentioned my desire to my friend Katelyn Fletcher. Katelyn, gem that she is, took the ball and ran with it. She sent me all the pertinent information, told me what days she was available, and waited (for quite a while) for me to get back to her. Eventually, I did. Feeling carefree and reckless, I got myself a WOW Pass, which is a great deal right now, because Katelyn predicted I would want to go back at least once.
The ONE DAY that worked for both Katelyn and I didn’t work for too many of my other friends. You wouldn’t believe how many people skipped town around July 16. I would have thought the sight of me on a rollercoaster was enough of a draw for everyone to want to drop any preplanned vacations/trips. But apparently not. As it happened, though, we had a group of seven, which was pretty perfect. Especially since we wanted to carpool in Goose (Christine’s silver minivan), which only seats seven. So it’s all good 🙂
Katelyn had planned the entire day for us, going from one rollercoaster to the next, getting more and more intense throughout the day. We started with the Carolina Goldrusher, where I died. My stomach was churning, I was scared to death, etc. For the next two rides, I kept my eyes tightly shut and my teeth gritted together in panic. My life flashed in front of my eyes, and I silently wondered what in the world I was doing there. For the record, I hadn’t had any breakfast – if I had, I would have lost it on the first ride. 😉
Anyway, things started to get a little better. We took a few breaks, drank some water, laughed, talked…you get the picture. Then we got on the newest ride, the Carolina Cobra. Basically, it’s a fast ride with three inversions and a 360-degree loop. Then they fake you out, slow down, pull you up a hill, and send you through the whole ride again – BACKWARDS. Pretty scary stuff. You can almost hear the maniacal laughter as they release the rollercoaster at the top of the second hill. I almost passed out. I could barely walk when we got off. I don’t remember breathing for about four minutes.
But like I said – things were getting better. I was really trying to relax, because I didn’t want Katelyn to feel bad, or like she was dragging me all over the place. Although…that’s exactly what she was doing. Because honestly – I was having fun! It was just a super-intense, scary kind of fun. And I’m not used to that.
At the beginning of the day, I was positive I would ride every rollercoaster once, just so I could say I did it. You know – get it over with. But by the end of the day, we rode Top Gun four times, the Carolina Cobra twice (!), and Hurler twice – and I did one of those with no hands. This was a huge step for me, as my certainty of death had to decrease a significant amount for me to let go. But I did. Are you shocked? You should be. I was.
Oh, and for the record: WE DID NOT GO ON DROP ZONE. That is, three of our party did, but Christine, Mary, Katelyn, and I decided this was not the time for that. We were focused on rollercoasters. 😛 Perhaps when we return. But no promises. 😉
To sum things up, we had an absolute blast. It was the *perfect* first-time Carowinds experience, and this is due almost entirely to Katelyn Fletcher’s forethought, preplanning, and willingness to put up with my reluctance to tackle the rides. My hat is off to you, Katelyn – you’re the best!
So…who’s up for next time? 😉