I love being in water. I can’t remember ever not loving the feeling of floating along in water, be it the sea, a lake or a pool, I am a big fan of swimming, floating or just playing in water. I do not however, like small boats, in fact I am terrified of them and once made a complete fool of myself, in Venice, when I had a panic attack, in a gondola and had to get out fast. The size of the BC ferry is my comfort zone, anything smaller, no thanks.
Although my ex husband doesn’t share my joy of total immersion, and very rarely goes more than waist deep, all four of our daughters took to water like ducks to a pond. Our family holidays were usually spent camping, our four girls sleeping in an old tent trailer and Dave and I sleeping in the station wagon, with a large Golden Lab taking up far too much room in the very limited space.
Our vacation spots always had a pool and we would request a spot close to it so we could keep an eye on our girls while I cooked meals. Our days would be spent at a nearby beach, usually a different one each day.
The favourite location for most holidays was Sooke, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Our campground was modest but had a nice pool and was a thirty minute drive to several quiet beaches that enjoyed the larger waves of the west coast. Seals off shore and the occasional whale sighting, plus beautiful beaches were always our favourite location. We would take our picnic and books and spend hours playing in the water, then reading a book while resting up.
Two of our daughters joined Job’s Daughters, which is group for teenage girls who have a Masonic relative in the family. Dave and I volunteered as chaperones many times on group activities which also became our major social life. A couple of times we went camping with a group of twenty or so girls and lots of other parents and several of these weekends were held in the campgrounds of water parks. These were great places to entertain the girls as the fun they had, in the water, kept them busy all day. It also ensured they were worn out and less likely to talk and giggle all night.
A couple of years later I went with a girlfriend to West Edmonton Mall. The mall had recently opened and special trips were offered from Vancouver to the mall which included the flight and accommodation for a weekend of Christmas shopping.
The mall was huge and offered so much variety of shops and entertainment. It also featured an indoor carnival and a wave pool with lots of water slides. I am not a huge fan of carnivals but agreed to go on several of the less exciting rides with her. We spent a couple of hours enjoying the rides then my friend suggested we go on the Drop of Doom. The name should have deterred us but we had been having so much fun that I agreed to try it.
The ride was just a cage that was hoisted up the side of a tower then had a fast drop to the ground, once down, the cage turned onto it’s back and slowed as it ran along the floor. We watched several groups of people take the ride and all seemed to be laughing when they got off, so we decided to try it. As the cage slowly got hauled up, we seemed to be getting really high then we sat, suspended at the side of the tower, for what seemed like hours. The cage then dropped at heart stopping speed and then we were thrown on to our backs as the cage slowed and stopped.
There I lay, not sure if I was still breathing, laying in a sitting position with my knees in the air. My bra had ridden up, almost to my chin and |I didn’t think I could ever walk again. The attendant, who was unbelievable young, was telling us both to get out, but we lay there like two beached whales and had to be physically hauled out. It took both of us a few minutes to gather our breath and then we both started to laugh. We sat on a bench for a while until we gathered our equilibrium and our dignity. I readjusted my bra and we went for a much needed cup of coffee.
My friend Joanne was not a water enthusiast but I convinced her to spend an afternoon in the water park. We had a fabulous time and went on most of the slides and finished up in front of a very high slide. My pal declined to go but I reminded her of our experience the previous day and told her it was her time to be bold. The slide was extremely high but had none of the twists and turns of the other slides, just some gentle hills and drops. For some reason there was a big clock at the bottom of the slide.
I climbed the enormously long ladder first with my pal complaining behind me. I like to sit on the slides so I can control the speed with my feet but the attendant told me I must lie down, which I didn’t really care for. As soon as I lay back I shot down the slide at a hair-raising speed, which terrified me. As I went over every little dip and rise my body lifted up, away from the surface of the slide and I was convinced that I was going to soar over the side and slam down to the concrete, far below.
I hit the collection pool at the base of the slide and shot right across the bottom of the pool swallowing lungs full of water. While I coughed and choked, the attendant was yelling at me to “clear the pool”, so the next person could slide. I looked at the attendant in amazement that he didn’t realize I was dying in front of him as I choked and tried to get the water from my lungs. He reached down and hauled on my arm, to get me out of the shallow water. If |I could have summoned the strength, I would have punched him for his lack of empathy at my plight.
My brain clicked into gear and |I realized that Joanne was the next person to come down, so I stood waving my arms and yelling at her not to do it. Unfortunately, she thought I was encouraging her and she set off. As she was hauled out of the pool, coughing and choking, she gave me a look that told me how she hated me at that moment, and I understood completely. Once I could breathe properly, I complained to the attendant that there needed to be a warning sign about the speed of the slide, he pointed to the ten foot clock and said “it is the racing slide, it’s supposed to be fast”.
Feeling extremely foolish we staggered to the bar, sometimes coffee is just not enough.