Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Throwback Park

I spent this past weekend with my family in a place I didn't know still existed.  Imagine a grove amidst rolling, forested hills with a crystal clear stream running through it.  A stream so clear, you can see the rainbow trout resting within the shade cast by a wooden bridge built one hundred years earlier.  Trout whose ancestors undoubtedly watched the birth of a family's farm slowly, carefully, transform into a gathering place for hundreds of families.  From the simple gesture of a picnic table placed under the canopy of an old oak tree, sprung a park unlike any other in America.  Imagine an amusement park that charges no entrance fee.  Allowing for generations to play together without having to break the bank.  Imagine an amusement park that welcomes the family pet, yet is impeccably clean and recycles everything from pizza boxes to soda cups within it's own grounds.  
The rides are carnival-like.  You pay for tickets for the rides you want to go on.  All the staples of amusement parks can be found within the park.  The Ferris Wheel is grandiose and beautiful.  The sides of the baskets are completely open and the backs are low.  There are rides from your childhood which you won't see at any other "modern" amusement parks even though they are as thrilling as the highly engineered rides of today.  Some of the rides are believed to be no longer in existence at any other amusement park in America.  As a matter of fact, the most thrilling ride for me was a slide.  In the kiddie park.  No kidding.  It's a light-house type building where you climb up a long and steep spiral staircase to get to the top.  Once there, you sit on a reed mat, knees bent, arms locked around your knees and then you slide.  Sounds benign enough, right?  Far from it.  The sides of the slide only come up to your waist, the slide itself only being wide enough for one person.  Remember the steep staircase?  Well now you're sliding down around and around in just as steep a decline.  You pick up so much velocity that at the bottom of the slide, there is a runway about twenty feet long for your momentum to expire.  And believe me it takes all twenty feet!  Proof that kids are braver and more resilient than adults by an outrageous degree.
So you've ridden for half a day, exhilarated by the rides of a throwback time, thrilled to have the chance to introduce your own child to your favorite rides, and now it's time for a break and a bite to eat.  Here, you take another sigh of relief.  All the junk-food favorites are here: hot dogs, pizza, burgers, funnel cakes, hand-dipped ice cream, and cotton candy (here they still call it floss) yet, you are not bombarded by the marketing emblems of the fast-food chain empire.  The only thing you'll find with a label is the soda.  If you're craving a little more substantial meal, there is a sit-down restaurant and a pavilion with a wide variety of food; Chinese, Mexican, Southern, International.  The choices are endless.  They even serve an inexpensive breakfast until 2 pm!
The breakfast comes in handy if you've chosen to stay at the park's campground, which adds exponentially to the awesome experience of this park.  There are hundreds of tent and RV sites available in a Pine grove as well as several log cabins.  We stayed in an adorable cabin, rustic but cozy.  A double bed on the main floor and two doubles on the loft that you get to by climbing a log ladder.  Each cabin has a covered porch and all sites have their own campfire pit.  The campground sells wood and there is a store that sells absolutely everything you may need to enjoy a night at the park.
Since we are big water people, the pool and waterpark was the cherry on top.  They have a kiddie splash park area that is as good as any other I've ever seen.  But if you're past the floaties stage you'll love the massive pool.  From the beach entry to a 12 foot deep diving area, is nearly one million gallons of crystal clear stream water!  There are even two 3.3 meter high dives which I haven't seen in a pool since I was young.  One bit of warning, pike dives off the high dive are not as easy as they once were-I have a bruise to prove it!  There are also two water slides, one is a fast and furious mat slide the other slide actually has two slides side by side that twist and turn and allow up to two people at a time on a raft.  You will get a wonderful workout climbing all those steps to the top, holding an inflatable tube over your head, and soon work up an appetite that you can satisfy at the pool snack shack.  Again, the staples: hot dogs, nachos, soft pretzels.  You won't find fries though, as the elderly lady behind the counter explained to me, "although he's dead know, it was always the owner's wish that there was no grease around the pool for the kids safety.  We continue to honor his wish even though people want the fries.  He was a good man, a good boss to work for."
And the feeling you get after a little time at this throwback park, is that she's right.  The people who have nurtured this park into the 21st century with all of our family values intact, must be good people-it shows.     

No comments:

Post a Comment

Musings Feed