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Water Parks, Girls, and Your Favorite Daughter

Updated on February 26, 2011
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Sam has been a foreign war soldier, a writer of books and articles, an illustrator and a graphic artist. He also reads and plays the piano.

After my divorce, I faithfully visited with my 14-year-old daughter, and I bent over backwards to make her happy. She was the highlight of my life.

For Father's Day, Jeni invited me to the water park in Provo, Utah. Near the start of our adventure there, she asked me if I had ever been on the Death Plunge, or whatever that ride was called, which started in the clouds, and ended up in Loch Ness. I had never been to a water park before, so my answer was no; furthermore, I did not know what awaited me; I only knew that I was with my daughter, and we were going to have fun.

We rented our riding tubes, got into a line that promised an exciting ride, and (I, for one) enjoyed the "scenery." It was a sunny day, as the "violins played." Women wearing little were everywhere, and I was enjoying my daughter's company. This was a paradise-on-earth. Everyone was happy, and I was determined to enjoy a bit of water to refresh me from the sizzling sun. In this line, we gradually ascended the steps. I didn't notice it too much at the time, but we seemed to spend about two days in this ascent.

Finally, we got to the top, and we were next in line. A waterfall entered into a tunnel, and people were joyously disappearing into that hole. Jeni invited me to be first. I did what the person in front of me did; I put the riding tube on the starting spot, waved good-bye to my daughter, then climbed aboard, initiating the downward plunge. Suddenly, there was no longer any violin music. It was replaced with the shark theme from Jaws.

At this point in time, several things hit me at once: First, I realized that there was no turning back, should I decide to change my mind. Next, I was on my own, and my daughter's assuring smile was no longer there, to remind me that I was still in Paradise. Furthermore, there were no brakes on this set-up; I was at the mercy of gravity, and it appeared that I was engaging in free-fall. In addition, about a half a nano-second after the launch, my riding tube began to turn sideways.

When you hear people talk about the ideal time to correct a certain tendency, saying that it works best if you start right at the beginning - nip it in the bud, I have found that there are certain exceptions to this rule. This was a prime example; for this is what I did: right from the beginning of this ride, I tried like you've never seen me try before, to correct the rotation of this craft. But there was no way my efforts were at all effective. Fate was doing something with me, and I had no control: I was doomed to take this task going backwards, and upside-down.

My failing efforts to right this tragic twist, in connection with a certain blood-curdling scream which I heard from some poor person ahead of me, made me realize that I was going to die. It was going to be one of two or three ways: The guy ahead of me probably screamed because two sections of this tunnel had separated, and the lower section raised up and undoubtedly caught his arm, and yanked it off. This meant for me, going backwards, that it was going to divide my head in two. Well, at least, I'd probably go quickly.

The other way I was going to die, was that there was going to be a sudden turn in this tunnel which I wasn't going to expect. Already, it was quite smartly whipping my head back and forth. Recently, I had undergone an operation where they removed a disc from my neck. Well, I still carried a phobia in regards to that, and I was afraid to let my head sway too much. But I figured there was going to be a sudden whipping turn - which direction I couldn't know, because it was dark in here, now, and I couldn't see ahead, for being backwards. I imagined the sudden turn wherein I went one direction, and my head went another, rolling off my body, and landing in front of some vacationing people below, ruining their newly-injested pizza. So in addition to trying - still - to turn around, I held my head and neck stiff enough to pass as a railroad tie.

After about 35 minutes of this torture, there was sudden light, and also sudden water. Water all around me. Choking water.

At this point, another thing occurred to me: I had been holding my breath the whole time I descended that long tunnel. I was now out of breath, but trapped under about twelve feet of water. I tried desperately to find the bottom of the lake I was in, so I could push myself upwards. I couldn't find it! I thrashed, as I fought against time and my failing lungs, which wanted so badly to inhale! I knew I had only one or two more seconds before sure death was going to come, if I couldn't get air!

My foot finally came in sudden and forceful contact with some cement under me. With a final desperate twist, I replanted that foot under me, then pushed harder than I've ever pushed before!
Well, the surface came miraculously faster than I had expected; air was all around me, and I gulped in oxygen with the throaty gasp of a long deprived soul. After I recovered and opened my eyes, I noticed that I was not only standing on the concrete I had pushed up on, but that my head was out of the water.

So was my chest.

So was my stomach.

I had nearly drowned in less than three feet of water.

My awareness expanded, now that my life was no longer threatened. I looked around me, only to see that everyone around this little pond was staring back at me, speechless. Finally, a park attendant asked me in astonishment, "Are you okay, Sir?"

Sheepishly, I said that I was, and climbed out of the pool, noting that my foot - and my pride - was bleeding a little.

Jeni came splashing merrily into the pool, climbed out laughing, and said something like, "Wasn't that fun?"

I responded, "Oh, yeah. Sure."

Jeni invited sweetly and happily, with big, expectant eyes, "Wanna do it again?"

I must have somehow agreed to it, for I found myself climbing that austere framework a second time!


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