Yesterday the kids and I went to Castle Park in Riverside for Luke’s birthday. He won’t officially turn twelve until next week, but the Castle will be switching over to their fall (well, school year) schedule next week so this was our last chance to catch the summer hours/rides.
The scorching heat kept the crowds away, so we didn’t have to stand in a single line all day. We pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Elizabeth was the only one of us with the intestinal fortitude to ride Fireball.
…Twice in a row.
They’ve added a water park since the last time I was at the Castle, and that’s where all the people were. Next time we’ll bring bathing suits and spend more time splashing around.
I was a little disappointed to see that the actual Castle building itself has suffered a decline in artsy ambience. The upstairs is closed off now; when I asked an employee she said it had been converted to offices. And the awesome old medieval decor downstairs was traded in at some point for just cramming as many arcade games into every square inch as could possibly fit. There were still air hockey and skeeball though (and air conditioning!) so we did spend a little time inside.
But where Castle Park really shines is in its miniature golf courses.
Sadly my favorite course was closed yesterday, but the one we played was almost as fun.
Confession: I’m not the world’s biggest fan of youngsters in general. But I love hanging out with these three in particular. They’re smart and funny and fun and nice.
Elizabeth’s favorite ride was the flying saucer. I didn’t think to get a pic of it because it doesn’t look like much from the outside. Riders walk into a UFO-shaped structure and stand against padded walls. There are no restraints, and none are needed. The saucer starts to spin, faster and faster, and centrifugal force makes the padded sections of wall slide up, with the people pressed flat against them so their feet leave the floor. I’ve ridden it before but I didn’t yesterday, because my 43-year-old stomach can’t handle the spinny rides the way it used to. Emma and I waited outside while Luke and Elizabeth tried it for the first time. We both marveled at how fast it was spinning. “It looks like one of those…what are they called?” I asked Emma.
“Those things they use to train astronauts for zero G?”
“No, the tiny things that scientists use in labs.”
“That’s it! How do those things work, anyway?”
Emma gave me a tidy little discourse on how and why a centrifuge can separate blood cells from plasma and so on. It was awesome. Even the ride operator was listening in. When Luke and Elizabeth stumbled out of the UFO we asked them if their blood cells were all separated from their plasma now. They said it was entirely possible. And for the rest of the day Elizabeth couldn’t stop talking about how amazing and mysterious centrifugal force is. And the thing is, I know very few adults with whom I can have those kinds of conversations and make those kinds of jokes. I do know a few, and treasure their friendship with all my heart, but why aren’t there more grownups who manage to bring their wonder and whimsy and uncomplicated enjoyment of life with them into adulthood?
Anyway, we had a ridiculous amount of fun yesterday. Happy almost-birthday, Luke! You’re one of the coolest kids I know, and I love you like crazy.