Mental Games

Kings Dominion

The first trip the boys wanted to take was to Kings Dominion, which was just north of Richmond, Virginia.  When Adam’s parents arrived home from work Friday evening, the four of them loaded a few things in the family car and then took off.  A couple of hours later, George spotted a decent looking local restaurant and decided to stop for dinner.  After looking over the menu, Adam and Mike bravely opted to try the house specialty. 

"You're really going to have the Frogmore Stew?" Rita asked, as she looked across the table at the boys. 

"Yeah, why not?" Adam asked, looking equally puzzled.  "It isn't really made from frogs, although I have eaten frog's legs before, but the waitress said it was just a seasoned crab boil."

"Then you're braver than we are," George followed.  "We'd never order anything we didn't already know what it tasted like.  That's a big gamble when you're ordering out."

"I'm sure we'll make do, no matter what it tastes like," Mike offered.  "Besides, you've told us before that we have cast iron stomachs, so we should be able to handle this."  George and Rita merely chuckled at Mike's last comment.

The four of them finished their meal just as dusk started to envelope the restaurant, along with the surrounding countryside, and the family resumed their journey. 

"So how was your Frogmore Stew?" Rita wanted to know, while glancing over her shoulder at the boys in the backseat. 

"It wasn't bad, but I probably wouldn't order it again," Adam answered.  "It's just that it wasn't as filling as I'd hoped." 

"Yeah, that's why we ate so many rolls," Mike chipped in, which caused Rita to smile. 

"I noticed that when you kept making the poor waitress run back to get you more," she stated, with a chuckle. 

George had made reservations at a hotel near the amusement park, so they'd be able to get a good night's rest and then spend the entire day enjoying the rides.  Before they went to their rooms, however, Adam’s father filled the boys in about what he had planned. 

“I’ll call you in the morning to make sure you’re up and getting ready,” he offered.  “As soon as you’ve showered and dressed, call me back and then we’ll find someplace to have breakfast.  Once we’ve finished eating, we’ll head over to the park and spend the day there.  Do you have any questions or suggestions?” 

"I don't have any," Mike answered, while also shaking his head in response.

"Yeah, that sounds fine to me too," Adam agreed. 

Mike and Adam were more than a little excited about tomorrow though, because neither one had been to an amusement park in years.  They were eagerly looking forward to going on all the rides and were carrying on like two pre-teens in their hotel room.  Mike and Adam even got into a pillow fight, as they animatedly discussed what types of rides they wanted to go on the most. 

“I want to try as many different rides as we can, but I hear the park has some really great roller coasters,” Mike stated, after Adam smacked him with the pillow again. 

“Me too,” Adam agreed, as Mike retaliated, “but we may have to go on some of the gentler rides too, for my mom.  I remember she got sick on a roller coaster that went around in a loop when I was younger.” 

“I don’t have a problem with going on those types of rides too,” Mike concurred.  “We’ll ask your parents to join us on every ride, but we’ll be considerate if they don’t want to go on some of them with us.” 

“Yeah, we’ll try to get them to join us, but we won’t force them if they say 'no',” Adam confirmed.

Mike and Adam undressed quickly and got into bed after they finished their conversation, but then they had difficulty falling asleep.  The boys were just too energized by the thought of what awaited them to make the journey into the Land of Nod.  They hadn’t felt this way in ages, but it was thrilling and invigorating, because it brought back memories from their youth.  Even though they weren’t that old, they began to feel like little kids again and couldn’t wait to get to the park.  They continued to talk and giggle and didn't immediately fall to sleep.  In fact, it was well after midnight before they finally passed out. 

The pair hadn’t been asleep very long when they received the wake up call from Adam’s father.  Unfazed and running on adrenalin, they got up quickly and rushed through their morning preparations.  When the boys finished, they called George back and discovered he and Rita weren’t ready yet.  Somewhat annoyed that his parents were going to hold them up, Adam told his dad that he and Mike would wait for them in the hotel lobby. 

Since the boys were so anxious to get going, Mike and Adam rushed through breakfast too, but Adam’s parents didn’t follow suit, which mildly frustrated the younger pair.  So when they finally reached their destination, Mike and Adam pretty much raced from the car to the main gate, only to have to wait for Adam’s parents to catch up with them.  As soon as they got inside, the boys’ heads began to swivel from one direction to the other, as they eagerly looked around to see what they wanted to do first. 

“Let’s start out on that ride,” Adam suggested, as he pointed to the ‘Backlot Stunt Coaster’. 

Once George and Rita agreed, they went over and got in line.  They were all able to get into the same car, since it held four, and the boys let Adam’s parents sit in front.  They wanted to be in the seat behind them, so they could watch how George and Rita reacted to the ride.  The boys had learned this roller coaster was based on a police chase scene from a movie, so they knew it would be exciting. 

The ride started out by taking everyone toward the shell of a three-story parking garage.  The roller coaster then wound its way through two sets of spiral ramps, much the same as an automobile might encounter when entering a similar structure.  As soon as their car reached the top, however, it suddenly began to plunge toward the street below.  Rita immediately grasped the sissy-bar that kept her from falling out of the ride and her body stiffened, as the car dropped from the third level of the garage.  Then, the car immediately swerved when it reached the bottom, in order to avoid the police cars chasing them with lights flashing and sirens blaring.  When this happened, everyone in the car was jerked from side to side, slamming them against one another or into the side of the car. 

Rita gasped when the car they were riding in entered an over-banked turn, which took them around a curve at an 88-degree angle.  She then screamed when the car encountered a sudden dip and sped down a flight of what appeared to be subway stairs.  Then, as the ride started to slow down as it came to a complete stop, a helicopter suddenly rose near them.  Almost immediately, they were greeted by the sound of gunshots and a fire ignited around them.  Rita screamed again when this happened and then the car suddenly launched forward again, as it entered into a tunnel that twisted and dropped downward until their ride catapulted them through a broken billboard.  The roller coaster then splashed down in a simulated L.A. aqueduct, before it returned to the station and the ride ended. 

Rita’s hair was slightly disheveled as they disembarked and she looked quite pale.  Adam quickly stepped up beside his mother, so he could help to steady her as they walked away from the ride. 

“Well that was certainly exciting,” she announced somewhat breathlessly, as the boys began to look around to see what they wanted to do next. 

“Let’s go on that ride now,” Mike urged, as he pointed toward another roller coaster. 

They all looked up and spotted a huge metal structure that looked like the skeleton of a giant snake which had wrapped itself around its prey.  They quickly noted the ride was appropriately named the ‘Anaconda’ and Rita immediately let the boys know that she wanted no part of it. 

“The rest of you can go on it, but I’m going to sit here and wait for you,” she announced, looking frazzled. 

“Oh come on,” Mike pleaded, although it was obvious Adam’s mother wasn’t about to change her mind and give in. 

“No, the last ride was exciting enough for me, but you can go on that one if you want,” she announced. 

“How about you, Dad?” Adam quickly followed. 

“I’ll stay here with your mother, but you boys go ahead and have a good time,” he replied. 

Mike and Adam realized George and Rita weren’t about to change their minds, so they went on without them.  While waiting in line, the pair overheard the conversation of the father and son standing in front of them. 

“I don’t want to go on this,” the boy was saying.  “Please don’t make me do it.” 

“Grow up and quit being such a sissy,” his father scolded.  “It’s time you started acting like a man, instead of carrying on like a frightened little girl.” 

“It's just because of all the spinning,” the boy countered, “I can handle one loop, maybe even two, but this one has too many.  It’s going to make me sick.” 

“You’ll get over it,” his father reasoned.  It certainly appeared that the man was going to force his son do this, whether he wanted to or not. 

“You shouldn’t make the kid to go on this ride if he doesn’t want to,” Adam interrupted.  “You could scar him by forcing him do something like this against his will or that he’s not ready for yet.” 

“Just shut up and mind your own damn business,” the man scoffed as he dragged his son forward.  The attendant had just released the restraining device to let the next groups in line board. 

The father and son got into the front of one car and Adam urged Mike to bypass getting into the two seats behind them.  Instead, they climbed into the front seats of the next car back. 

“Why weren’t you able to convince that guy not to make his son do this?” Mike wondered, once they were seated. 

“I just offered a suggestion and didn’t demand he actually do it,” Adam replied.  “I probably should have, seeing the kid really didn’t want to do this, but we were let in before I had the chance to do more.  I want to keep an eye on the boy though, so I can see what happens, but I didn't want to be too close, because the father wasn't exactly happy about my comment.”  

At the same time Adam was saying this, the roller coaster started to move.  It climbed a 128-foot (39 m) hill first, before plummeting 144 feet (44 m) down the other side.  The ride then twisted to the right, as they entered an underwater tunnel, and the tunnel opened up into a 360-degree loop.  This was followed by a little corkscrew at the top that twisted them around in the other direction, so their bodies and heads were jerked from side to side when this happened.  Then, the coaster braked hard, nearly coming to a complete stop, but that never happened. 

Instead, the ride lurched forward again and went through a butterfly figure eight that had some very sharp twists and turns.  As they were moving through this area, the young boy who didn’t want to go on this ride suddenly had his head jerked toward his father.  As soon as this happened, the boy vomited all over his dad.  Although most of the disgusting liquid landed on his father, some of it also splattered onto the passengers sitting behind them, so the boys were glad they had decided not to take that seat. 

“Oh fuck.  Did you see that?” Mike exclaimed, since he'd noticed what had happened as well. 

“I certainly did,” Adam confirmed, as they coaster entered a double corkscrew about 20 feet (6.1 m) above the water.  This was followed by a small rise, before they looped under the hill they had climbed at the beginning of the ride and then it suddenly came to an end. 

Getting out of their car, Adam made sure he followed behind the man and his son as they went looking for a restroom where the father could clean up.  As the boys passed by the other pair, Adam gave the man a parting shot. 

“See, I told you not to force the boy to do this,” he quipped, before emitting a little chuckle. 

The man glared at Adam after he spoke and then yanked his son by the arm as they continued to look for a men’s room.  As they moved away, Adam sent the guy a parting thought.

‘You will not punish or mistreat your son in any way for what just happened, since it was really your fault in the first place for forcing him to go on the ride,’ Adam reasoned.  ‘He told you he didn’t want to do it and you should have listened to him.  If you try to take this out on him, my friend and I will look you up and make sure you get an even worse punishment.  We can do something that you really won’t like, because we’re gay!’ 

When the man received this message, his head and torso jerked around until he was facing in their direction.  He glared at Mike and Adam for a few seconds, as an expression of absolute horror spread across his face.  Then, he turned back and quickly doubled his pace, as he dragged his son off in the direction where he expected to find a place to clean up.  

The boys met up with Adam’s parents again and offered to go on some of the milder rides with them next.  The four of them quickly agreed to start off on the 'Americana', a large Ferris wheel, before going over to the 'Dodgem', which was a bumper car ride.  After that, they went on the 'Scrambler', which was a spinning ride, and then they went over to go on the 'Shenandoah Lumber Company' ride. 

"Now this looks to be more my style," Rita observed as she looked at the rather large, hollowed out plastic log they would sit in as it floated down the watery chute. 

They followed that experience by going on the 'Woodstock Express' next, which was another wooden roller coaster.  Since it had the name of one of the character from the Charlie Brown comic strip, Rita assumed it wouldn’t be too bad and agreed to try it.  Although it wasn't as rough as the other roller coasters they'd been on, it wasn't quite as leisurely as Rita had hoped either, but she handled it fairly well.  They finished up the morning by taking a trip to the top of the 'Eiffel Tower', which is a 315-foot (96 m) replica of the original landmark in France. 

Once the four of them had done each of those things, they decided to take a break and grab a bite to eat at 'Country Kitchen’s BBQ Pit & Grill'.  Once they finished chowing down, none of them wanted to do anything that would shake up the meal too badly, so they opted to start out with a ride on the 'Carousel'. 

“Oh I love doing this and it brings back so many memories from my childhood,” Rita announced.  “There was a carousel at the park near where my grandparents lived and they would take me to ride on it every time we visited them.  Oh, what a carefree and innocent time that was in my life.”

"Are you talking about MY grandparents?" Adam asked, as he looked at his mother. 

"No, dear, my grandparents or your great-grandparents," Rita replied.  "They were no longer around when we had you, so you never got to meet them, but I have some wonderful memories about the times I used to spend with them." 

After she finished her nostalgic trip down memory lane, the boys spotted something else that might be fun and would give their meals time to digest.  They discovered there was a Dinosaur exhibit that they could walk through and thought it might be something fun to do.  There were a lot of younger children in there with their parents at the time, but the area looked really interesting. 

As they started their leisurely stroll around the path, the family passed an assortment of models of creatures that had once roamed the earth.  Only a few of the dinosaurs were animatronic, but they were all life-size.  It didn’t take long for them to discover that some of the robotic creatures had sensors that would cause them to move and make appropriate noises whenever a monitoring device detected someone in the area.  This often startled the visitors and caused Rita to jump, as George laughed at her reaction.

"It's not funny," she scolded him, as she attempted to regain her composure. 

"Maybe not for you, but it was for me," George replied.  "I didn't think you could still move like that!"  Rita merely turned away from her husband and stormed away. 

At various locations, there were also interactive displays where the visitors could control the dinosaurs.  An image of the dinosaur on the sign had buttons at various points.  The button on the dinosaur’s snout would cause its jaws to snap open and close.  The button on the throat moved its neck about, and the button on its butt would cause the tail to sway back and forth.  The children were having so much fun with this that their parents often had to drag them away from it.

As the Washburns and Mike moved down the trail, they encountered a herd of herbivores that were casually grazing on the plain.  Their dining, however, was interrupted when a pack of carnivores attacked and took down a member of another dinosaur species. 

“It’s certainly a good thing that dinosaurs and man didn’t co-exist,” Mike stated, after observing the scene.  “If they had, humans might never have survived long enough to develop to the point we’re at now.” 

The others agreed with his statement as they moved on to the next area.  There they saw a juvenile Allosaurus and a young stegosaurus that were stuck in the mud of a waterhole and struggling to get free. 

“That’s why parents have to stay on their toes at all times and never let their kids wander off,” George commented, as he observed the staged scene.  “Parents never know when their children might accidentally get themselves in a predicament they can’t get out of.” 

“Awww, I never did anything like that, Dad,” Adam stated.  Before his father had time to respond though, his mother added her two-cents. 

“That’s a discussion for another time,” she quickly answered.  “We certainly don’t want to get into that now, especially in front of all these other people.” 

This confused Adam, since he didn’t remember ever doing anything that had gotten him into trouble.  As hard as he tried, he couldn’t recall a time when he’d been in a predicament where his parents had to come to his rescue, but obviously that wasn’t the case.  Judging from his mother’s reaction, he must have done something pretty bad at one point, but he had no idea what.  He’d have to wait and see if he could find out what she had just alluded to at a later time. 

Farther along the trail, the family came across a Ruyangosaurus, a 99-foot long (30 m), 30-foot tall (9 m), four legged plant eater.  It reminded Adam of a brontosaurus. 

“Man, I thought an elephant was big, since it’s the largest land animal now, but this thing makes an elephant look like a child’s toy,” he stated, while gawking at the enormous model in front of him.  The others quickly agreed and then Mike pointed toward something else. 

“Hey, look over there,” he urged.  “There’s a dig site where the kids can actually uncover a skeleton.  It says here that there’s a full-size skeleton covered with sand and the children can actually uncover it, if they want.” 

As the four of them stood there, they watched several older children that were energetically trying to do that.  It was cute and the kids seemed to be having a good time. 

A little later, the boys came across another re-creation.  This one consisted of a group of dinosaurs that had been attempting to cross a river and unexpectedly got swept away by a flash flood.  Many of those caught in this phenomenon had obviously died as a result, because as the family continued to walk along the trail, the bodies of the deceased dinosaurs could be seen littering the ground.  A little farther along, a skull and other skeletal parts littered the terrain and completed the scenario about what happened to those that had been swept away so quickly. 

“It’s not so different from what happens even now,” George observed.  “Flash floods are still dangerous and can kill unsuspecting people and animals.” 

"I saw a video of one on TV where it actually swept away cars and trucks," Mike added, bolstering George's point. It was also a sobering thought that the four of them decided not to dwell upon. 

The final area along the trail depicted a triceratops that was being attacked and taken down by a juvenile T-Rex.  A smaller triceratops was trying to get away, but an adult T-Rex and another younger one were pursuing it and attempting to take it down as well.    

“Ah, the family that hunts together eats together,” Mike quipped after seeing this display. 

At about the same moment, Adam noticed two young children trying to hide behind their parents, apparently frightened by the sight before them. 

‘Don’t worry.  The dinosaurs aren’t real and can’t get you,’ Adam mentally informed the pair.  ‘They’re just very large toys and can’t do anything to hurt you.’

He immediately saw both children begin to relax, before they started to peek around their mom and dad to see if this was so.  Once they were convinced it was true, they moved beside their parents again and finished the rest of the tour. 

“That was fun and interesting,” Rita stated, as they left the area.  “What do you boys want to do next?” 

“Why don’t we go on a few more rides,” Mike suggested.  “There are a lot more that we haven’t tried yet, so what do you say?”

Once everyone agreed, they made their way over to the 'Berserker' next.  It was in the shape of a huge Viking ship that gradually swung back and forth like a pendulum.  After they got on it, they discovered it eventually swung back and forth until it went over the top and completed a full loop.  As the ride eventually began to slow down again and eventually came to a stop, Rita spoke up. 

“I was alright with that ride as we were swinging back and forth, but my stomach ended up in my throat when it went over the top,” she sighed, as she looked at the others.  “I’m certainly glad we gave our meal some time to digest before doing that or I don’t know what might have happened.” 

The boys inwardly chuckled after she made this comment, since they could easily visualize what might have occurred.  It could have been a repeat of the boy and his father on the 'Anaconda'.  Since they didn’t want to linger on that image for very long, the boys quickly suggested the next ride. 

Adam and Mike easily talked Adam’s parents into joining them on the 'Rebel Yell'.  Although it was another roller coaster, it was a wooden one, and they tended to be a little tamer than their steel counterparts.  This one had dueling twin coasters that raced to finish first on the out and back track.

“That was fun, but I want to go on the 'Intimidator 305' next,” Mike followed, and this immediately drew a look of horror from Rita.  The 'Intimidator 305' was notorious for being the highest and fastest roller coaster on the east coast, so she wanted no part of it. 

“You boys can go on it if you want,” she urged.  “You can even take your father with you, but I’ll stay here.” 

After she said this, she merely smiled and sat down on a nearby bench.  This pretty much told the boys she wasn’t about to change her mind, so they pressed Adam’s father to join them instead.  He looked at his wife, thinking he should stay with her, but she merely flicked her wrist in a backhanded fashion, which told him to go, if he wanted.  He did and soon the three of them were lining up for this ultimate ride. 

Once they were onboard, the trio quickly discovered the first drop was 300 feet (91.5 m) high and positioned at an 85-degree angle, which is nearly straight down.  That was followed by a series of high-speed twists and turns, while traveling at up to 90 m.p.h. (145 k.p.h.), until the ride finally ended. 

“Damn, I’m not usually impressed so quickly, but that was incredible,” Mike offered as soon as the ride ended. 

“I think I should have passed on this one and remained with my wife,” George quickly countered, which drew a chuckle from the boys. 

The three of them then hurriedly made their way back to get Adam’s mother, before they went on a couple more rides.  They opted to go on the 'White Water Canyon' ride next, which was a circular raft ride that traveled over raging white-water rapids.  Once that ride ended, the four of them finished up on the 'Grizzly', which was another wooden roller coaster.  It traveled over a double-figure-eight track, as it wound its way through a fairly dense forest. 

“Now that was a nice way to finish the day,” Rita stated, as they got off the last ride.  “It’s getting late, so we should go get something to eat and then return to the hotel for the night. 

Even though there were still a couple of hours left before the park closed, the boys could see Adam’s mother was ready to call it a day.  Taking pity on her, they gave in and made their way back to the parking lot. 

“What are we going to do tomorrow, Dad?” Adam quickly asked, as they looked for the car. 

“I thought we would come back here and spend part of the day at the Soak City Water Park before heading home,” he responded.  “It’s why I told you to bring your swimsuits.  I thought doing that would give us a chance to get a little sun and wind down a bit before driving home.” 

“It sounds like a great idea,” Mike confirmed, before Adam had a chance to say anything, but then Adam rapidly agreed. 

“Yes, and it should hold you over until our next outing,” Rita quickly added. 

After getting a good night’s sleep, Mike and the Washburns returned to Kings Dominion, but this time it was to enjoy the Soak City Water Park.  After looking at the various activities, Rita decided that none of the attractions there looked nearly as terrifying as some of the rides yesterday.  Therefore, she eagerly agreed to join the boys on whatever they chose to do. 

Over their time there, the four of them slid down a variety of twisting, fiberglass waterslides, one of which took them through an enclosed tube.  They also enjoyed some time in a giant wave pool with 4-foot high waves, and they also went tubing down a curving waterway with several impressive drops.  Mike and the Washburns also took a relaxing raft ride that wound its way past a collection of waterfalls and geysers, but the boys even talked Adam’s mother into going on a couple of the more thrilling raft rides as well.   At one point, they all took a breather from standing in lines and spent time in a cabana, where they had a chance to relax in the shade and an opportunity to get away from the crowds for a while. 

“Now that was fun and a lovely and relaxing day,” Rita announced, once they were ready to leave. 

"It wasn't quite as thrilling, but I enjoyed it too," Adam agreed. 

"Well we're not young like you boys and the thrills often take a toll on us in other ways, so this was a nice change of pace," George added, in support of his wife. 

"We still had fun," Mike chimed in, "so thank you for bringing us here and doing this with us."

After drying off, they each slipped their clothes on over their swimsuits and then began the drive back to the Washburn’s home.  As they rode along, they also discussed the various things they had done over the past couple of days.  They all had fun recounting some of the scarier moments, as well as recalling the rides they’d enjoyed the most.  It had truly been a wonderful weekend together.