Labor Day weekend is also the weekend for Santa-Cali-Gon Days in Independence, what I can only describe as a smaller outdoor version of a state fair. It was started in celebration of the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon trails. Independence is the starting point for all three. Actually, Independence is an interesting (in a bizarre way) town. It is the home of Temple Lot, the first Mormon temple and many of the people walking around town look like they are in training for carnival life. There were a few "craft" tents, but mostly the vendors where selling As Seen on TV type of wares or siding and windows. There were corn dogs and giant turkey legs and funnel cakes. And there was a section of carnival rides and games.
I'm a sucker for carnival rides. I know a number of people who would turn their noses up at the idea of riding a ride that was setup in just a few hours. The ride spends it's lifetime being disassembled, carted off to the next town, and reassembled rinsing and repeating over and over throughout the summer. Doesn't really sound like the safest thing to ride. I think that's what puts the "thrill" in thrill ride, that rattly vibration of nuts and bolts straining to hold everything together as you're flung this way and that across the seat of the Sizzler. Exhilarating. The Collinsville Tri-County Fair never really had a large selection of carnival rides. There were usually a couple of kiddie rides, a thing that would spin (like the Sizzler---why was it named after a steak house?) and one big "scary" ride. It was usually the Zipper and I'd ride it over and over. I think I rode it seventeen times in a row once. I may have been going for some kind of record. I don't know, but I do love carnival rides. (Hey Todd, remember that time we rode the SkyScraper at the OKC State Fair? Oh..man..good times.)
The best, most wonderful carnival ride by far has got to be the giant slide. It may not be as thrilling as something like the Zipper. There's no crazy twirling basket. There are no moving parts at all. It's just you and a burlap sack on a slide, but it is my favorite thing. If I thought I could have one put up permanently in my backyard without getting complaints from neighbors I totally would. Bell's Amusement park had the best one. I was kind of intimidated by that one actually because it was so big, but once I plopped down on my burlap sack of a sled those butterflies of fear quickly fluttered away. The only thing left behind would be the absolute joy of racing down those fiberglass hills, that tickle in my belly as I felt my body lift up as I flew over a hill. Of course you always risked a section of skin to some rug burn as you'd skid to a halt at the bottom, but it was completely worth it.
I may have to admit that I might be a little too old for those fling you around type of rides. It's been so long since I've been on one. I was tempted to take a spin on the Tilt-a-Whirl, but Michael is not into carnival rides or more likely the possibility of getting sick from a carnival ride. Many of those thrill rides are just not as fun when you have to ride them alone. The giant slide is meant to be ridden alone and if I have to choose one ride, it's always going to be that one because of the type of joy it induces. It only takes a few seconds to make it down that slide, but in that brief moment everything is coated in rainbows and tastes like cotton candy.
Happy Love Thursday.