We got blue collar people
Little pink houses
White church steeples
Wishes in a fountain
If you know every name on your street
And you know them then you know me
That’s my hometown
America’s my hometown
– Uncle Kracker
Sunday 2 June
It’s always a fun time when we head north from the Wheaton/Naperville area for about an hour to the suburb of Gurnee, not more than a stone’s throw from the Illinois-Wisconsin state line, to Six Flags Great America, a theme park that absolutely dwarfs the best that Australian can offer. And with rides named Goliath, Raging Bull, Vertical Velocity and Demon, it certainly isn’t a place for the faint of heart.
Matt and Jaimie and the kids met us up there at the main entrance just as the park opened, and again we were lucky enough to have the use of a VIP Flash Pass, which allowed us to get to the very front of every line without waiting very long at all. I think the longest we had to wait was about five minutes. It’s a very nice hook-up to have, and as my buddy Scott once said, having a Flash Pass at Six Flags is about as close as you can come to royalty in America. It certainly beats waiting in a line for ninety or more minutes.
The thing is, Brooke and Miles are getting right to the age and height where they can get on pretty much everything, and they want to get on pretty much everything. Whereas Matt and I, who try in vain to keep up, are reaching the end of our roller-coaster riding career, so it’s always rough in the best sort of way. No more repeat rides, and there are some – like the infernal Giant Drop – and others that spin you around the joint that I will not even get close to, let alone ride. Roller-coasters, though, I’m all in on, despite some of the things they do to you. Matt and I coined a new phrase yesterday: “theme park intelligence”. We don’t have a tonne of it!
We had a narrow window as Brooke had to go to softball training later in the day, but it hardly mattered. We did all the rides we wanted to in the five hours we had, and by the end, I think we were all pretty tired. Between the immense amount of walking we did – more than seventeen thousand steps by my Garmin watch – and the trauma that roller-coasters doing loops and corkscrews and barrel rolls and puling all sorts of G-forces going forward and backward puts on your body, we were gone by four o’clock.
The few hours before dinner were spent stopping at a couple of Hooters stores – no, really – because Kat wants to take home a singlet top. The problem is, she’s after a ‘Hooters Chicago’ one, and the thing here is that unless you’re right in downtown Chicago, you’re effectively in a different city. For example, although Gurnee is a suburb of Chicago as Australians would think of it, they are kind of doing their own thing, so all they had in that Hooters location was a ‘Hooters Gurnee’ top. Same went for the stop we made at Downer’s Grove. I think we’ve pinpointed an actual Chicago location for tomorrow, so wish us luck! I will report back.
We ate dinner tonight with the Alley’s, fresh off of Brooke’s softball practice at Olive Garden, just on the other side of the parking lot from Hooters. It was a really fun time. The kids were probably as tired as we were, which made for some very entertaining moments.
The best thing about Olive Garden is unquestionably their spectacularly divine (and almost certainly wildly unhealthy) bread sticks which you get in unlimited quantities when you order any main meal. We gorged ourselves silly on them, a giant trap, because you end up eating too many bread sticks and don’t have enough room for the main meal. I managed to eat most of my spaghetti and meatballs and dinner was raucous fun. Can’t wait to see these guys again Friday night!