America 2016: Day Eight (2 June)

He’s got the red, white, and blue flyin’ high on the farm
Semper Fi tattooed on his left arm
Spend a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says ‘USA’
He won’t buy nothin’ that he can’t fix,
With WD40 and a Craftsman wrench
He ain’t prejudiced, he’s just made in America

– Toby Keith

Thursday 2 June
One of my favourite things in the world, alongside talking and eating, is riding roller coasters, and America is famous for having some of the most exciting and gut-wrenching ones, most of which reside at Six Flags parks, a mammoth franchise of parks all over the country.
Chicago’s own Six Flags is up in Gurnee, Illinois, about an hour from Wheaton up the highway towards Milwaukee. The route involves going past O’Hare International Airport, which is often a bad traffic area, but because we were at the back end of the morning rush hour, it wasn’t as disastrous as it could’ve been. Matt drove all seven of us up in his Suburban. We stopped at Starbucks on the way for some much-needed caffeine and were up at the park a little before it opened, which was perfect.
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MIles, Brooke and Paige are ready for some roller-coasters!
I’ve always maintained that it’s not what you know but who you know, and that was the case with our Six Flags experience. Via a friend, we were able to secure some Flash Passes, which basically allow you to skip the queues – the website says you lessen waiting time by 90% – and get straight on the rides. On some of them, you can ride twice without getting off, which was perhaps a bridge too far for my stomach. It also made us somewhat unpopular with the people next in the line who thought it was their time to get on.
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Thanks to the very courteous Six Flags employee who took this photo for us!
Regardless, it was fantastic to not have to stand in what turned out to be mammoth queues for everything. Is any 90-second ride worth 90 minutes standing in line in the hot sun? A few people thought so, but I’m not sold. The best part of the Flash Pass was that it freed up so much time to get on all the rides we wanted to – monstrosities with names like Goliath, Demon, Raging Bull and X-Flight. Some of the twists and loops were absolutely insane, lending further weight to my assertion that roller-coasters are engineers’ way of getting revenge on the rest of the world!

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Dominating the Justice League game (with a cameo from Matt).

Matt reckons we’ve wrecked amusement parks for him in future, because the kids will expect the VIP treatment every time. Our friend Scott Weller reckons that the Flash Pass at Six Flags is as close to being royalty as you can get in the United States.
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On Demon with Miles.
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The selfie to end all selfies!
Unfortunately, the traffic home was horrendous, and we ended up being on the road for nearly two hours. So, we headed straight to Hawthorne (via Qdoba Mexican Grill) where Brooke was playing her softball game. It’s her first year of sport, and I love that they don’t actually keep score. It’s all about the kids having fun, and they really seem to!
Matt is the team’s coach, and he seems to be having a fun time with it. I was his first base coach for a while there, and I am pretty certain – like, actually 100% certain – that the kids who reached first a) had no idea who on earth I was and b) couldn’t understand a word I said. The looks I got from them were priceless. A heap of fun, though!

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So, from the combination of Six Flags and softball, I am absolutely stuffed – buggered as we say in Australia. Dead on my feet! Looking forward to a big sleep.

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