Music Trip to Orlando, the Heritage Music Festival and Wet ‘n Wild

A Dream…

Carrots, the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the U.S.S. Rabbit.
It’s continuing mission:
To seek out new carrot patches,
And new mates to breed with…
To boldly go where no bunny has gone before!!
Captain’s Log: Haredate 52461.352

We are presently in orbit around Cottontail IV, in the Long Ear system. We’ve spent three days on the run from Earl. After abandoning him in the Blue Carrot system twenty years ago, he has sworn revenge. He has already taken out my WarpHop drive and my Rabbit Droppings Torpedoes. Long-range Whisker sensors are also out, repair time by Snotty puts it at four days.

“CAPTAIN JERK! CAPTAIN JERK! The U.S.S. Jackrabbit is on short range whisker sensors!” calls a cadet from one side of the bridge.

“Mr. Spot! What is her status?” I ask of my Science Officer. He peers into the sensor readout, looks up (twitches his nose) and replies: “They’ve locked Carrot Cannons on us.”

“EVASIVE ACTION! RAISE FUR-WARD SHIELDS!” I order.

“Captain, the shields are not responding!” says Woof, in his low voice.

“DAMN THE TORPEDOES!!” I shout in desperation. The bridge turns dead silent, all eyes turn to me.

“Captain, you are thinking of the wrong movie.” informs Spot.

“Oh shut up!” I mumble. The ship is suddenly rocked by a tremendous explosion.

“Captain! We’ve been hit!” calls a cadet.

“NO SHIT! Tell me something I don’t know!” I retort.

“Weapons systems are down, shields will fail in thirteen seconds.” reports Woof.

“There! That I didn’t know. Mind you, I wish I still didn’t know.” I reply, not particularly liking the news.

“Sir! Decks two through six are on fire!” shouts Snotty’s interpreter (that damn accent makes Snotty impossible to understand).

“Wait! Let me guess, the fire is going up right?” I ask sarcastically.

“Yes sir.” replies the interpreter.

“Great! Just what I needed to hear.”

“Self destruct will occur in ten seconds… ” says the computer monotonically.

“SELF DESTRUCT?! WHO THE HELL ENGAGED THAT?” I demand.

“Whenever the upper six decks catch on fire, the self destruct sequence automatically activates.” replies Spot.

“WHY DOESN’T ANYONE EVER TELL ME THESE THINGS?!”

“… five… four… three… two… one… have a nice day!”

“OH FUCK YOU!”

Then I woke up, again to James’ alarm clock. However, no one moved at first, someone just punched the snooze bar. A little later on, the alarm went off again. This time I happened to look up to the clock. At first I didn’t think much of it (my brain was still recovering from my multiple memory lapses from the day before), but I quickly realized that we had only twenty-five minutes to get to the bus.

What can I say? That was the quickest any of us had moved in five days. James took a shower (he really moves when he does – ten minutes, tops), I only wetted my hair down (major case of bed-head that morning). Soon, the five of us were blurs, getting clothes, drying off, brushing our teeth (you get the picture).

Twenty minutes later, we were in the process of vacating our room. Dick was there once more, awaiting our arrival with his usual cheery morning self. The bus was loaded as quickly as possible (we didn’t have much time to waste), everyone helping. Dick hit the road, and we were on our way to the University Of Central Florida, where the choirs would perform.

Observer’s Log: Traveldate 40691.083

Day 5

This morning was off to a rather interesting start to say the very least, we woke up about 25 minutes before we had to be on our bus. Why? Because James, Stuart and Chris wouldn’t shut their traps, talking about Earl. God that pissed me off! Now we’re waiting on the bus for our progression to the music festival.

The university was some distance from our hotel (where in Orlando I’m not sure, but we seemed to follow familiar routes), so it gave some of us time to snooze. I don’t sleep on buses, it drives me crazy. Linda had brought a bag of cinnamon rolls, and offered them to several people. I declined when asked, I can’t eat too many seasonings anymore (no thanks to my mom).

Next thing I knew, I saw a sign that read University Of Central Florida. We had arrived. Dick turned up the roadway and pulled into a parking lot near some buildings. Then Beber and Roser hopped out and disappeared down a wide walkway between some buildings. A few moments later they reappeared (just as the population of our bus was about to disembark), and had Dick drive less than fifty feet down the walkway. Why? Don’t ask me (though I think it was so that some of the electrical stuff could be easily unloaded and carted off without giving anyone a hernia).

Jazz Choir was immediately herded into a small performance building (we were almost bordering on late), the rest of us remained outside. It was now getting rather warm, the sun was rising, and the humidity wasn’t helping any. While we waited outside, Jessica Wallace happened to notice my journal (I brought it with me for some reason), and asked if she could read it. I seem to have no quandaries about sharing my thoughts (as personal as they sometimes are). I gotta remember to start coming up with a few.

Allen (who incidentally was our tour guide – yes, I did finally remember his name) appeared with another man who directed into the building across from the performance hall. We were led down a few hallways until we were in a music room. Suzi led us in warm-up.

For Stuart and I, singing is not easily done without Chris (all I need is another bass to sing by, preferably a loud one), There were four “men” in the room, out of thirty or so. One of the “men” was Jess, she was a female tenor during the trip. Stuart and I faired our best with the bass line (we were much too quiet – we needed another bass). Overall, the warm-up went rather well, covering the last few bars of Saints, the one section we still screwed up.

About twenty or thirty minutes later, our warm-up was declared over by Allen, and we were hustled out of the warm-up room, and back outside into the heat. We headed right for the performance hall. We did not enter though, just lined up in our rows for singing. Then we brought Suzi to the verge of killing us for being so loud.

There’s something to be said for expectations. I honestly thought that due to the size of the festival that we would be performing in a large auditorium, filled with screaming fans (yeah, right!). Well, I could see through the windows into the auditorium, I could see Chris from where I stood. That was no large auditorium, it was down-right puny.

About ten minutes after we had exited the warm-up room, another choir appeared. There were only four choirs performing in our division (whatever that was), we had two of them. This choir scared the living shit out of me. All the guys looked identical from the neck down. Black tuxedos, blue cummerbunds (which matched the girls’ dresses), black pants and shoes. In our little group, there wasn’t one matching shirt. The girls wore dresses that looked like left-over prom gowns. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought it was too tacky.

Next thing we knew, our behinds were being hustled into the auditorium. Not even a quarter of the seats were full (not terribly surprising). For a few moments we hung around the back of the room (we couldn’t go on stage just yet) and Chris, James and J changed into their white choir shirts. Then Stothart called us to stage, and we booted right down. In about thirty seconds, we were prepped and ready.

Our adjudicator sat on the other side of the room, at the back, alone. The thought that we had only one person judging our singing left me feeling both relieved and uneasy. I had to put those feelings aside however, for I knew that if I kept thinking about it, I’d screw up a note, maybe an entire bar (or a song). Then to make me feel all the better, a few people from the other school (the Smurfs, as they were dubbed by us) came in to watch.

The songs were the same three we had been singing during the entire time in Florida, and in the same order: Ezekiel, True Colours and Saints. Stothart called out the first song, and we began. Ezekiel went without a hitch, it was the only song we could do completely in our sleep. Mine ears didst not intake sour notes from True Colours (another relief), I think that had us wound up for the final song. Once again, we screwed the ending of Saints up. James told me to stuff it when I mumbled it, but it was my comment, I was allowed to make it, even if others didn’t agree. Besides, I was probably blaming myself for losing time (the ending always pissed me off).

I thought that we would then leave. WRONG! We quickly found out why the sessions were in half-hour blocks, even though we sung for only a maximum of fifteen minutes. The adjudicator then came up to us, congratulated us on our efforts, then offered us some suggestions.

He basically stuck to Ezekiel, and not much else. He corrected our pronunciation and annunciation of the song (we weren’t that far off, but the changes were certainly apparent). I’ll say one thing for musical judges (and also teachers), they are a strange bunch. All of them are quite open and loose. I haven’t met a crabby one yet.

Once we had been grilled and sautéed, we exited in an orderly fashion to about the back of the room, where our usual mayhem resumed. Then, some people taking a piece of equipment (there were more people than pieces), returned to the buses. We had to travel (supposedly) to the other side of Orlando. Little did we know that Apopka High School was past the other side, in another county altogether.

When we got back to the bus, we had breakfast. It was either Dick, or our chaperones (though I understand it was our bitchin’ driver, Dick), but we ended up with a slew of donuts. Yes, this was our breakfast. While we chomped down on those, we headed out for our next stop. Neither of the choirs had to perform any more, they were done. Now it was the bands’ turn. It was a little past 10:00. Wind Ensemble was due up at 11:00 for their adjudication.

Traffic was not with us that day, it seemed that most of the drivers on the road wanted to own it that day. It wasn’t helping us any. At least Dick knew where he was going (we certainly did not, and I still have no idea where we went exactly).

Still curious why I named this chapter I See The Bad Mood Risin’ ? When we got on the bus that morning, I was seated near the rear of the bus, behind Stuart and Therese (by a couple rows). Yes, that was when it started. That was why I tried to stay at the front of the bus, so this wouldn’t happen. It’s not their fault, it’s mine. I should have known better. After all, what they did came naturally.

So while we were on the bus for roughly an hour, whipping through various unexplored sections of the Orlando area, my disposition had time to ferment. Unfortunately, my attitude doesn’t always improve with age. It only got worse.

After more turns than a River Oaks subdivision, we finally arrived at our destination… late. It was only by a few minutes, but we were now more pressed for time than ever. People were off like a shot. Everyone helped bringing in instruments and equipment. All the band players disappeared for warm-up, leaving the remainder of us to move the rest of the stuff to the auditorium stage for the performance.

Apopka High School was by far the largest high school I had ever seen. Their main hall was not only full of trophies, but doubled as their cafeteria. I wondered what it would be like attending that place, but I quickly remembered the homely feeling one gets from OT (most likely that feeling one gets after being knocked unconscious by falling pieces of roof).

Bird and I hauled a Harley Davidson bag full of stands (I believe they were for the cymbals, all I know is that they weighed a bloody tonne – my hands cramped up under the strain) into the auditorium, then I booted back for more stuff. There was none. So we packed up the instrument cases (which had been flung everywhere) and put them off to one side. Not really knowing what to do next, I went into the auditorium to await the performance, sitting one side to the left of Kara Coghill. This was intentional, I wanted to leave a seat for Geoff (her boyfriend). Right off, I knew that this was no ordinary high school, the auditorium was much too large for most Canadian schools.

Roughly twenty minutes later, the first signs of the band appeared on the stage. OT was the last concert band to play, all the others had gone earlier that morning. Fortunately, those in charge did not seem to care that we were late. From my position, I could see the adjudicators (as they had been pointed out by the MC), there were three this time. I couldn’t wait to see what happened.

Observer’s Log: Supplemental

Aside from a couple of foul-ups, the Choir did really well. The adjudicator gave us a few helpful hints to boot! Then we got a blast of donuts (thanks to our illustrious driver, Dick… I think). Call it a hunch, but I think I’m beginning to piss a few people off in our group. I’m still debating whether or not to go to the dance tonight. As the moment we’re listening to Wind Ensemble as they proceed to kick ass in their competition.

I’m almost certain that I was developing a couple enemies, namely Kathryn. Then again, I could be wrong. But I noticed a distinct change in the way she acted around me, and I couldn’t figure out why. It may have been that word leaked about my interest in her, but since the warning, the interest had been strongly suppressed.

Wind Ensemble played their lungs out, but only two of their three pieces. I had never timed their full performance before, but I have a funny feeling that the third piece would’ve taken them beyond the fifteen minute limit (either that or they were asked to cut it short). Despite the lack of one piece, their performance was excellent.

Then began the Jazz bands. There were only three to listen to, and two of them were from OT. The first band was American, from which State I don’t recall (not that I forgot, I just wasn’t that interested at the time), they virtually got a standing ovation (accompanied by very loud, screeching cheers) from the back of the auditorium.

The band was fairly small, about ten people at the most. Right off I noticed one of the saxophone players. He seemed to me kind of egotistical, though I can’t figure out why I derived such an impression from him. He was also the soloist, and played a mean horn. The only thing that I didn’t like about that group was the conductor, who seemed like he was stoned. The best, and most memorable piece that the group did was the Flintstones theme. That was cool!

Then it was OT’s turn to strut their stuff. First up was the Jazz Ensemble. Don’t ask me what pieces they played, I couldn’t tell you. In comparison to the previous band, OT’s jazz group seemed less energetic than their competitors, and that bothered me. However, it’s good that I wasn’t one of the adjudicators, or OT wouldn’t have done as well as we did.

The final group was OT’s Jazz Combo. They weren’t competing as such, they just wanted a rating (there was some full-length term for the rating name, but I only heard it once). As they were setting up, Stothart nearly tipped the piano over (I got it on film). But soon, they were off.

Once everyone had finished, a raft of trophies were brought out. One of them stood above all the others, and I was curious to know what it was for. At 13:10, the awards ceremony began. The first that they did was clear up the morning’s choir awards. At first I was surprised that this happened, but seeing as it was the same festival, it did make sense. Jazz Choir (not surprisingly), pulled off a Superior rating for their performance. Concert got an Excellent (which was more than I expected).

Quick run down of awards! With choirs, the rank went from Superior to Excellent, to Very Good to Good, and finally to Participation (Ugh!). Now I don’t know if there was more than one choir per level, but I really don’t care. Fact was, we did good!

Then we proceeded to the concert bands. Of course, Wind Ensemble won, they took first (they had actual placings for the bands). The other three school in there with us received their placings, and we were virtually deafened by the schools behind us. Kara and I commented on the brashness of those schools. OT made feeble attempts to try and out-scream them, but because it ain’t our style, it just can’t be done.

Jazz Bands came next. OT nearly swept this category. Aside from the placings (from which I believe OT got first again), we won all but one of the awards. I was surprised when they began to do awards for separate people within each band. I was even more surprised when we won best saxophonist (Allison Humphries). I was expecting the guy from the first band. Then came a let down. Best trumpet player when to another school. Had Chris Colohan been able to come, we’d-a-had that one too! Then came Best Rhythm Sectionist (it was beginning to sound like the Academy Awards if you ask me). Everyone from OT thought it would be Shawn Abedin. It was Paul Taylor who won, none were as surprised as he.

The last award was roughly four feet tall. By that time, OT had amassed seven (which was damn good by my books), I didn’t think that we really needed another. When the award was read out to be presented to a marching band, I heard an audible sigh of relief from several people around me, counting their blessings about having to lug that one around. The school at the back of the room won, and I nearly went deaf from the screaming. It is nice to have school spirit, but there is such a thing as taking it too far.

With the awards finished, it was time to move out. We were warned three or four times about sunburns (all the festival participants were going to Wet ‘n’ Wild that afternoon) before leaving. I wish I had brought my shorts and a t-shirt, my choir uniform began to get a little uncomfortable after a while.

By 13:40, the bus had been loaded. Chris, being the diplomat he was, congratulated another performer from another school (good for Chris, though I couldn’t remember the guy performing – I was probably writing something down). Someone spotted one of the lizards indigenous to Florida, they can climb most vertical surfaces. My aunt had hundreds of those little buggers at her house near West Palm Beach. Therese, of course, was enthralled by the discovery.

Soon, we were on our way. Now, I’m writing this part of the story in a fairly agreeable mood. That day, at about the time we were leaving, I wasn’t doing to well. I hadn’t yet reached my lowest point, but was on a downhill slide.

First, we were going to snag some lunch. At first we desperately tried to get to McDonald’s, but were all ruled out by one vegetarian. Even though McD’s sold salads, they (yes, I will not release the name) refused to eat them. Instead, we ended up at a Wendy’s. Next door was a Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts and a Pizza Hut. We couldn’t go any further than the Taco Bell. It really didn’t matter to me, I wasn’t hungry.

When Dick pulled in, people immediately began to get off. Soon, the bus was empty, except for Dick and myself. Here’s the reason why I liked Dick so much:

“Ain’t you goin’ to lunch?” asked Dick from the front of the bus.

“Nah, not really feelin’ hungry.” I replied, trying to sound normal, “Besides, I ain’t got a lot of cash left.”

“Come on, my treat!” he prompted, not letting me get off with that much.

“Don’t bother, you’ll only waste your money. Thanks anyway.”

“Listen!” said Dick, a little more sternly, but still in a humourous sort of way, “I don’t do this for everyone!”

“I’m just not that hungry. But I do appreciate the offer.”

“Okay. But I’m locking the bus, you can’t get off and no-one can get on! I’m gettin’ somethin’ to eat!”

With that, Dick hopped off the bus and closed the door. I sat their for a few moments, listening to Dick fumbling with the key. About a minute later (and a ring of keys), he reopened the door and announced:

“Then again, maybe not!” The both of us burst out laughing.

So I remained on the bus, completely alone, my stomach growling. I wasn’t lying when I said I wasn’t hungry. My stomach was, but I wasn’t. I wouldn’t have eaten anything from either of those places. While I sat there, listening to either Sting or AC/DC, I thought I heard a knock at the bus door. I stopped the tape, listened for a moment, then hit play. Moments later, a knocking at my window lead me to concluding that I had heard a knock at the door, it was Chris wanting in.

Taco Bell had sufficed him (I do believe that was where he went – it doesn’t really matter, as he didn’t buy much), and he was back. I told him just to pull on the door, he opened it himself. While I was at the front though, I spotted the leftover donuts. I snitched two and munched on those for a while. Chris complained about that, I pointed out that no-one else was eating them, therefore putting them to waste.

Therese, James, Stuart and Linda returned a few minutes later with their Taco Bell orders. Linda was actually pleased to a point with the spices (Linda could probably drink a bottle of Tobasco sauce straight without blinking).

Within twenty minutes, the bus was full again, and we were on our way back to the hotel. From there, it was to Wet ‘n’ Wild, where we would be until about 22:00 that night. There was no way out of the dance for me, aside from not leaving the hotel once we got back. That was not much of an option as far as I was concerned.

When we hit the highway, my mood got worse, declining at the same speed as the bus went forward. Before I knew it, I was so deep into my rather morbid frame of mind, I didn’t give rat’s ass that we were going through downtown Orlando (the only time we would see it).

Then came Therese and Stuart. They decided to take upon themselves to either cheer me up or annoy me. The succeeded only in the later. They did so by pulling the earphones from my ears. The third time, which was Therese’s turn to pull one of them out, I snapped, yelling at Therese (though not too loudly).

It’s amazing what one’s mind can remember. The entire day before was full of holes to which I have no filler. Yet this single action, me snapping at Therese, I remember so vividly, I still feel terrible about doing it everytime I think about it. I hadn’t felt like that much of a jackass in a long, long time. I was immediately regretful of that action.

Well, I was immediately shot down to the pits of hell at that point. Had I been carrying a knife (which I was not, luckily), I would have cut myself in several interesting places. Yes, you know that you’re in really deep shit when you think of suicide. So far, I’ve managed to talk myself out of it both times. I think that I may need some professional help sooner or later.

Once we got back to the hotel, we immediately booted up to our rooms to get the stuff we were going to need for that night. Waiting for Chris to come up and unlock the door, I took a picture of James wielding two of our seven new trophies. When Chris arrived, he said that J had the key. J had been there as long as the rest of us. Don’t ask me, I’ve never been able to figure J out. Come to think of it, he’d be good as part of the Canadian Government – we can’t figure them out either!

We changed quickly to our evening attire – bathing suits, t- shirts, shoes (no socks), Ron Jon’s cap on backwards. Then I filled my carry-on luggage with a towel, camera, walkman speakers (and walkman), journal and pullover. Then I booted down to the bus, donning my shades in the process. I had a mission to fulfill before we left.

I hopped on the bus, dumped my stuff in my seat, searched the bus for Therese and not seeing her, got off and went up to the second floor. I guess I must have been in overdrive, I was only one of five people ready to leave. So after waiting a few minutes, I went back on the bus to await for my quarry.

As soon as Therese entered the bus, I asked her to hold a moment, and apologized for my actions earlier that afternoon. Fortunately, Therese understands people in rotten moods, and accepted my apology. Lucky me, I have friends, very good friends who are more than I could ever dream of.

Then, feeling better for having said I was sorry, lay back and played music while Dick got us to party central. We traveled certain routes so bloody often, I could almost follow them in my sleep. We went by the same route we had followed the day before, passed the Mercado and before long, were out in front of Wet ‘n’ Wild.

When we had boarded the bus, we were given tickets to the park and special white plastic wristbands (Chris and I still wear ours). These bands were necessary, we would have been kicked out without ’em. Mind you, I had been contemplating about removing mine. I really didn’t want to stay, mainly because of the dance. No, my mood hadn’t improved too much (at least I wasn’t thinking of suicide any more).

After we had entered, we weren’t sure where to go. It was roughly 16:00, we had two hours before the population died any. Most, if not all of the other high schools were already there. Straight ahead of us was the wave pool (which was heavily crowded). A large group of us headed up the left side of the pool towards the middle of the complex (which seemed both larger and smaller than I had expected) until we reached the other end of the pool.

J, Ali, Chris, Hil, Yvonne and myself commandeered a couple tables and a raft of chairs. Stuart, Therese, James, Linda and Kathryn kept on going, we wouldn’t see any of them for about a half hour or so. Chris immediately sat down in the sun and began to tan. The rest of us followed suit. The sun may have been setting, but it was still strong enough to shed to light on the subject.

Within twenty minutes, I had lost the effectiveness of the sun, I wasn’t getting warm. I really hadn’t planned on getting a tan while I was there (Chris was the only one who darkened any), so there was no great loss. James, Stuart and Linda emerged from the wave pool and went back down to the other end (which was where they were positioned). James hung around for a while. That was about the time I began to notice… things.

Chris had probably noticed them long before myself, but I had taken off my sunglasses (just in case, I didn’t want pale circles around my eyes where the sun couldn’t get through) and had to close my eyes – or be blinded. When I donned my shades once more, I took more than my fill o’ heavenly bodies. And it wasn’t even dark yet!

For the life of me, I have never been able to understand why women always seem to wear small, tight bathing suits (if they can even be called that anymore) and not feel like there are always hormone-hyper boys (they can’t be called “men” anymore, they’re too ga-ga by that time) staring at them, which they are. But please understand, I’M NOT COMPLAINING!

Then I noticed one other little interesting detail, this time about the staff. It seemed that Wet ‘n’ Wild hired only physically perfect people, and reject all the ugly ones. This was one of those very few times that I was truly happy to be single. I could stare until my mind had successfully unclothed all the female staff I saw, and not have to worry ’bout my girlfriend thrashing me.

Observer’s Log: Second Supplemental

Well, I was right – both times. First, the Wind Ensemble did kick ass, as did Jazz Ensemble. They would have swept the Jazz category had C. Colohan come. As for the second “right”, I’m pretty sure I got a couple pissed off at me. I did accidentally snap at Therese when she and Stuart were fooling around with my earphones (while I was wearing them – I was in a nasty mood).We are now at Wet ‘n’ Wild – and to a point Chris has made a valid observation… being single right now isn’t all bad, some of the employees are, shall we say, angels in very tight bathing suits. Still, I would like someone to share this time with. I would probably use one of those sayings that have been used since the beginning of time, only that I hate using them!

About that time, J appeared from the wave pool (there was a ladder about two metres from where we were seated) and extolled the warmth of the waters. J almost immediately wanted to right back in. He talked me into it (not that it wasn’t much of a challenge), and we shot down to the other end to get in (they wouldn’t let you jump in the deep end – why? I don’t know).

He wasn’t kidding, the waters were really warm, at least eighty degrees Fahrenheit. The waves were a bit of a pain to get through (I had left my shorts on over my Speedos, for saving face – I ended up with a load of resistance), but swimming underwater was fairly easy. A couple minutes later, I had found Ali, Jess and Cindy floating on an innertube in the deep end. Then the waves stopped. There’s not much fun being in a wave pool without the waves, so we got out.

I returned to my seat and promptly dried off. Though the air temperature was twenty-three degrees Celsius , the wind had the ability of making you feel much cooler. Within five minutes of drying off, the first of several announcements were made, dealing with park closure. This was the twenty minute mark. At 18:00, the only ones left would be the performers in the Orange Blossom Festival.

J and I were determined to get on as many of the slides as possible, but only after general admission was kicked out. Every five minutes, another announcement was made. Next thing we knew, it was six o’clock, and the four hour party was beginning. For the past hour or so, the astro-turf area beside the wave pool (and our table) was being cleared for the dance. A few minutes after six, the music began.

J, Ali and I weren’t interested in dancing though, we were trying to find the on-ramp to the first ride. After a couple twists and turns, we found it and booted to the top. It was a fairly simple waterslide, with three bumps and a splash down pool. It was getting cool in the breeze, but we didn’t care too much, we were having too much fun. From the top, while were waiting our turn at the top, we could see the next ride we were destined on. It was a speed slide, with a six and a half story, 70 degree from the horizontal drop.

J was first in line, and shot down at a rapid speed, making a rather large sploosh! at the other end. Then it was my turn. I couldn’t get a lot of speed to start with, but I gained a lot very quickly. My face was enveloped in a spray of water, I could hardly see (so I closed my eyes) and I couldn’t breathe. I second or two later, I plunged into the pool at the bottom. The floor and walls of the pool were padded (probably to keep large people from killing themselves). Stothart appeared at the side, hoping to get a picture of us while going down, but missed getting Ali when she came down.

J and I were intent on the Kamikaze run (which actually had some unusual German name, Der Splat or something like that). Ali wasn’t so keen, so she returned to the table. J and I hauled off to the killer slide. It took us only a few seconds to find the ramp up, and jogged the six and a half stories in about two minutes (the ramp spiraled to the top).

Just underneath the suicide slide was another ride, but one I had never seen before. The two runs wrapped around each other like a corkscrew (riders had to wear helmets or risk getting knocked out). We almost got off at that point by accident, but then realized that we had to keep going up. Soon, we were at the top, at the highest point in the whole park.

And it was damn cold up there too. We could see the waterskiers in the lake next to us, Hil and Kathryn leaving our table at the far side of the wave pool, and a group of our people at the bottom with a camera. Chris Stratten was in charge of photos, Stothart was at the side to view.

Again, J went first, and I did my best to make him feel uncomfortable by asking questions like: “Has anyone been killed on this before? How ’bout paralyzed? Severely maimed? Paper cut?” I don’t know how successful I was, for J was gone next time I looked. About five seconds later he slammed into the water-filled track, soaking passersby. Then it was my turn.

I sat down in the track, looking down the run. Yeah, it was high. There were people I knew I had no chance of getting on here (I could’ve gotten Chris, if he liked swimming). I had to wait a couple of minutes while the guy checked down the run. Finally, he gave me the okay, and I prepared for watery free-fall. As one plummets the drop, the must have their arms crossed on their chest, and their legs crossed. I couldn’t figure out why at first, but it made sense once I hit the bottom. It’s so that when someone gets killed, they’re already in a convenient position to bury them in.

I had to scream (actually, a very loud yell, I can’t scream anymore) while going down. I think I yelled “BANZAI!”, but I’m not certain, it might have been “COWABUNGA!”. According to Dick, one is traveling an average of seventy-two miles an hour (the metric equivalent is about 115 kilometres per hour). I thought it sounded a little far fetched when I first heard it, but when I landed in that pool, I realized that the number couldn’t have been that far off. IT HURT! But my God, did it rule!

When we had first run up the ramp for the slide, we had passed the tent area where dinner was to be served that night, and the lines were already moving. J and I have large appetites (though J’s is often much larger and more diverse), and we hadn’t eaten since lunch (which is usually long enough). Instead of whipping down another ride, we headed back to the table to retrieve some exterior clothing, and other people.

J, Ali and Hil disappeared first. Some more of us held back for a few moments, to give them a head start. Others waited even after Therese, Stuart, James, Linda, Chris, Cindy and I went for our food. After all, somebody had to watch our stuff. Dinner was basic: hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, baked beans (which Stuart and James had to get, despite Chris’ and my pleas not to) and drinks. You could eat as much as you wanted, come back as many times as you wanted. I only went once, I believe in the “Screw Seconds, Get It All The First Time” method.

When we returned, only a few had ventured out onto the dance floor, I have a feeling that most people were still eating dinner. The food went fast, as did the drinks. Next thing I knew, Geoff appeared asking for takers in more rides. Stuart, James, Linda and I were such takers. I have never believed in the “wait a half hour after you eat” saying, and it seemed that the other four didn’t either. We were off in a moment.

We sprinted over to another set of slides. Three were slide that used special foam sleds on which the rider would shoot down the wet journey. The foam sleds were similar to the ones I was familiar with from Ontario Place in Toronto, but had the from curled up with plastic handles. A nice touch!

Taking our sleds, we hauled to the top of the ride, lined up and prepared for a shot down one of three slides (A, B and C). According to Geoff, slide A wasn’t worth it, you never got enough speed. I took slide C the first time ’round. Again, the water was nice and warm, and in the twenty-three degree coolness, it was nice to have.

Most of that slide was full of turns, and not full of a lot of speed. When I did begin to pick some up, I was rapidly approaching the end of the journey. Suddenly, the ride straightened out and I accelerated towards the end. When I did hit the splash pool, I got a slight jump from the churning water where the slide hit the pool. I skidded a bit, then ran off to catch up with the others.

On my second turn around, I had to wait until the next slot after Geoff and Stuart had gone down, this time I was aiming for slide B. The B slide went right down the middle, and had a rather large straight section. I wanted some serious speed. So when my chance came, I gave myself a good boost and shot into the ride as quickly as possible. I rounded only a few turns before my speed began to increase dramatically. Again, the track straightened out, but the stretch was much longer than before. I whipped down to the end, hit the churning, and got a serious bounce. I was actually airborne for a moment or two, before sliding to the ladder.

Again, I raced out to catch up with the other four. This time, the sled went back, for we were heading for the innertube rides. Having to wait in line for a while (innertubes were scarce to say the least), we snagged five rings and rolled our way up to the top of the rise. We ended at a fork in the pathway. To the left was a set of two slides, to the right was a “white-water canyon” type ride. The first time, we went right.

The start of the slide was a ringed pool, which the five of us piled into. James, Stuart and Geoff went on one side, Linda and I on the other. There was an attendant at the end opposite to the end we entered at, ready to toss us down the first of several downhill plunges between pools. The five of us desperately tried to stay together, but only Linda and I were able to hold together until we landed in the next pool.

We glided through part of it, were pulled along by another attendant and tossed down the next embankment. The next pool had a small wave maker in it, James and I got caught in the backwash. We tried to paddle our way out, but the attendant there grabbed us and sent us down again. Stuart was unfortunate enough to be caught in the churning of water at the end of the slope, I came down feet first. I slammed into him, knocking the ring out from under him. The final slide got us going rather quickly, ending in the splash pool. At first I almost flipped over, by I was heavy enough and spread out enough to stay upright. Stuart couldn’t pull that off either, wiping out at the bottom.

We began our trek back up the rise, but turned to the left at the fork. This path took us slightly higher than the first one, and ended at slides like those with the sleds. Again was the circular pool, and two runs. I chose the one on the left, and a moment later, was tossed down. I found myself immediately in blackness. It was… uh, interesting (a little unnerving at first), but when I noticed the small lights at turns, became rather cool. When I whipped out of the run and hit the pool, I waited until I had glided over to the edge. Then I hopped out of the tube, tossed it to another person in line and waited for all of us to collect.

Our next target was a “ride” that was called Lazy River. First we wanted to see if we could get anyone else to come with us, and get innertubes. We had to cross the dance floor to get to our table, and the dance floor population had increased very dramatically in the twenty minutes or so that we were gone. No- one else was interested, so the five of us continued on. However, there were only three innertubes to begin with. As we left, Geoff and I spotted a could lying on the beach (there was a beach on our side of the lake). We ran up, snitch ’em and took off before someone noticed.

The Lazy River is no more than a circular trench dug into the ground. The driving force is a strong current (one that makes it next to impossible to stand up in without falling over). Almost instantly, the five of us began to play tag. James was “it” first. It’s easy to run in the current, so long as you go with it. Stuart was nailed fairly soon afterwards. We only made one complete circuit of the river before we stopped. It just didn’t seem to have the luster we thought it would. So we sat back and made another rotation as a group, and ran into Ali Etherington. Linda and Ali clung together and rapped for a while, the four guys hopped out at the same place we got in. James wanted to wait for Linda to come back, so we fooled around in the current. That’s when I lost my balance in the current, and skinned my knees (the bottom was like sandpaper).

Linda reported back that she didn’t want to go on anymore rides, so the four of us continued on without her. Our first stop was to get helmets for the corkscrew ride that ran under (and next to) the Der Splat. The helmets are very simple, made of foam that encompass the head, except for the face. Again we charged up the ramp, but got off at the first gate. I went last again, the others got ahead of me in line.

I don’t know how to explain it, but I didn’t find it that good of a ride. For some reason, I either got fibreglass forced into my back or all the water left me rubbing on plastic (it hurt something fierce). I stopped less than two feet after getting to the other end. Geoff, James and Stuart laughed at me (of course), then we booted down from the landing zone.

Then it was back across to the ramp again – for the Der Splat. Geoff and I had already been on it, but wanted to go on it again. Once at the top (heaving from the jog), we realized how much the wind had picked up… it was cold! But we got a chance to make three girls a little nervous about the drop. One of the girls even asked the same questions I had asked the first time, except I think she meant them.

Yeah, I was last to shoot the slide of death, but it was worth it. I still managed to make a rather large splash at the other end, but I didn’t get as far as I had when J and I went the first time ’round. Then came my final ride for the evening, the first slide I went on that day.

We raced down over to it, up it and down it. James and I went on the first go, Stuart and Geoff in the second. I got a bad start on mine, I could see James ahead of me. This time I went down on the other run of the ride, it wasn’t any different from the right side, ‘cept for the side you had to get out on. Geoff won his race against Stuart. Then the four of us hauled our butts back to the table to see if anyone else wanted to go on more rides. I didn’t, so I stopped there. James, Stuart and Geoff took of to parts unknown.

It was now dark out, and the dance floor was full. Most of the OT troupe was at our group of tables (those who weren’t were somewhere on the dance floor). Chris was not there anymore, he and his cowboy hat (bought at Ron Jon’s two days earlier) were out dancing, he wasn’t hard to spot. Chris Stratten, Dave Kaye and a few others were seated at one of our tables; Hil, Shawn, Cindy, Linda, and several others rotated from the dance floor to a ledge near the tables (the dance floor was recessed from the area our tables sat on).

Therese was seated at the table next to me, not looking all to happy. I’m one of those kinds of people who get concerned when one of their friends doesn’t look too pleased. I had noticed this earlier, but had left it alone for the time being. Therese didn’t look good at all. So naturally, I went over to see if there was anything I could do.

It turned out that the cinnamon rolls that Linda had brought earlier that morning had cocoa in them. Therese didn’t know this at first, and had eaten them. So? Therese has adverse reactions to cocoa, it doesn’t work too well in her (though Chris and I have our suspicions to whether or not it’s just psychological). Aside from the adverse reaction, she was fine, er, okay . So we talked a while, and I got some insight to her affliction. There are some simple rules to keep in mind when Therese has eaten cocoa:

  1. Don’t touch her. Her skin is extremely sensitized, and anyone touching her only makes her feel worse and worse. Stuart had to be told of this.
  2. Make sure that people don’t keep asking why she’s asking so strange, make sure that you tell them. Therese gets annoyed when people keep asking her (understandable, everyone’s like that in one way or another), and that only makes her feel worse.
  3. And the most important rule to remember:

  4. DON’T FEED HER AFTER MIDNIGHT!

Naturally, I followed these rules, and made sure that there wasn’t anything that she wanted. Stuart was still off (God only knew where), so someone had to make sure she was okay. Despite some shivering (part of the reaction), there was nothing that she needed. We talked for a while (something we do a lot of when we get the chance), during which I noticed two things that I found rather interesting.

First of all, Therese seems to lose a little rationality when under the influence of cocoa. Several times she joked about Stuart getting killed while waterskiing (why I don’t know, it caught me a little off guard). I found this a little disturbing, Therese found it quite humourous. It was also when I realized that Therese and I are inversely-psychically linked.

That probably doesn’t make a heap of sense eh? Let me explain. So I’ve noticed (which is easy when you’re The Observer!), whenever Therese is really happy and content, I’m depressed and morbid. This also works the other way too. It doesn’t always go that way, though it seems to most of the time. Now, as for why it happens, that I can’t tell you. I haven’t the slightest idea.

I whipped out my camera periodically to burst onto the dance floor, swoop in on a few group members, take a picture (laugh like a loony) and charge off the floor, leaving my prey wondering:

“What the hell was that? And who was that unmasked asshole anyway?”

I did that twice, one time I nailed Jan, Hil, Cindy and Chris in full bounce (a proud shot considering how fast I took it). The second time I was trying to get Roser and Davidson (who were tall enough to stand over most of the people on the floor). However, they left just as I arrived. But Stothart was left behind. When the picture was developed, I noticed that she was dancing with what looked like a nude black man, and it wasn’t anyone we knew.

I took a few other shots around the table area, trying to get a few people into my pictures. I even got (get this!) Therese, Kathryn and Linda to not only smile, but to look directly at me when I took the picture. I intend to have it blown up and framed as a piece of history.

The dj’s chose only fast paced, heavy beat dance music. I recognized only a few of the songs (most were Billboard Chart songs, and I haven’t listened to those in ages – I use Chris to keep me relatively up to date on descent songs). That night also proved to me that New Kids On The Block are not as popular as they’re made out to be… we didn’t hear one note of theirs.

Unlike many of the people in our area, I didn’t argue with the selection of music. I take pride in the fact that I can listen to almost anything, except NKOTB, which I abhor with every nerve within my body. I’d rather “dive into a swimming pool filled with double edged razor blades”, “get a million paper cuts on my face” or “eat shards of broken glass” than listen to that crap.

I sat there for the better part of about an hour, flowing as well to the music as possible without having to get up and dance. Periodically, Chris would come off the dance floor for a few minutes and talk with someone, before returning to his only form of physical exertion during the entire trip. Chris danced for roughly four hours straight. Chris dances hard.

Time ticked away oh so slowly. I’ll tell ya one thing, after dinner had passed, my mood had improved so much, I had hit a high point for the trip. Call it a hunch, but I think that a lot of people hit an emotional high at that dance (single people, definitely; dating, I’m not so sure).

There were few songs that really got our group to flood the floor (those who danced – Chris Stratten, Dave, Therese, Bird, myself and a few others abstained with all effort), and fewer still that got them all off. The most memorable was Ice, Ice Baby, which cleared them from the floor in a matter of seconds. Hil was in convulsions with the thought of dancing to it.

Without warning, J hit the ground. He didn’t fall or anything, he just wasn’t feeling well and lay down. Stothart thought that he had keeled over. Fortunately, he wasn’t that ill. We never really did find out what was up. When we got back to the hotel later that night, he spent an hour in the bathtub, but didn’t emerge feeling much better.

I had a rather embarrassing moment that night. While observing (something I’m rather good at), I accidentally looked directly at Shawn and Hil. Now this would normally not be so bad, except they were, uh, well, exchanging certain bodily fluids! When one catches sight of that, it can be slightly discomforting.

The evening went on like that for a while longer, until the big time hit, 22:30. The ball was over for our group of Cinderellas, our coach was going to become a pumpkin once more. Knowing that it was our last night for partying, we reluctantly worked our way out of the park. Dick was not waiting for us outside, but in a nearby parking lot (as he had told us earlier). Chris nearly screamed my ear out while we were leaving (I was listening to AC/DC and couldn’t hear anything), telling me to wait up.

Back on the bus, we took our positions in our padded seats in our respective locals. Chris and I stayed near the front, Stothart in front of me, Dave and Chris Stratten behind me. We waited for head count once again. Both Stothart and Dave were complaining about the lack of “real” music, not the synthesized and drum machined stuff that we’d been listening to for four hours. That’s when I produced my walkman, the Sting tape and the speakers. Three guesses what we listened to on the way back to the hotel!

The ride was one of the quietest we had during the time spent in Florida. People were worn out, sleeping (Stothart and I had a race to see who could take a picture of Chris sleeping first – I won), or just sitting. It was quiet enough for Stothart, Dave, Chris and I to listen to Sting.

When we arrived, it was almost midnight. No, it hadn’t taken that long to get back, but that night happened to be the one when we switched to daylight savings time. That meant we were going to lose an hour’s sleep that night, making the following day rather interesting. We had fifteen minutes before room check.

When we got back to the room, we began to pack. All my crap was forced into my suitcase, all my carry-on stuff was in my camera bag. By the time I was finished, I had a hernia sack instead of a suitcase. But I didn’t have any stray things, aside from my toiletries, and a change of clothes for the next day. At about 1:00, the lights went off, I was asleep by 1:30.

Observer’s Log: Third Supplemental

Tonight was one of the best nights to date. Although I had serious been considering suicide (again – also another story) earlier today, as soon as I made a splash down in the wave pool, my spirits immediately picked up, and continued to do so for the rest of the evening. Therese and I must have an inverse psychic link. When the dance started, so did Chris. He spent most of the night on the dance floor.

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