Nitro’s Check Mark

I took my teenage niece, nephew, and their friend to Six Flags Great Adventure yesterday (August 10, 2018). My husband and I have given Niece and Nephew season passes to Six Flags Great Adventure for Christmas every year since 2015.

What I love most about our gift is that I also get a season pass, which allows me to spend time with them at the park several times a year. Each visit is special to me because it’s our thing, and it’s a great way to help provide a break for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. If I had a nickel for how many times we laughed together or for each memory we made or silly story we told, I’d be a millionaire by now.

Nephew knows more about Six Flags rides and parks than anyone I’ve ever met. He can tell you when a ride made its park debut, who built it, who designed it, and what park received the ride it might have replaced. He understands the physics and design elements that goes into building a ride and if you ask him what park in the United States had the first looping roller coaster, he will know the answer.

When it comes to actually going on the rides, Niece is fearless and she will go on anything.  Meanwhile, Nephew and I have a similar sense of moderate adventure and we tend to stick to the middle-of-the-road rides and coasters, then when we are ready, we’ll attempt riding a more extreme one.

Our favorite ride is Skull Mountain, which is a fun, little inside coaster that operates in the dark. Two summers ago, Nephew and I set a personal record for going on Skull Mountain 22 times in a row, which took a little over two hours. We only stayed on the ride when the ride queue was empty five times; the rest of the time we got out and walked around. It probably wasn’t my best decision, in hindsight, since I flew to Dublin the following day with a splitting headache.

Our last ride conquests were Superman: Ultimate Flight and Green Lantern at the end of last summer. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Superman experience, considering riders are face down to simulate Superman’s flight. We conquered Bizarro in April of 2017. Man, that one is fast! It’s like the Batman coaster after it had three energy drinks and a shot of super-charged espresso. Batman: The Ride has always been one of my favorites, and we conquered that one together in 2015 at Six Flags Great Adventure’s Holidays in the Park.

The coasters Nephew and I haven’t found the courage to ride yet are notoriously extreme, and we weren’t sure which coaster we’d be brave enough to conquer this year.

Enter Nitro.

Nitro, from the Six Flags Great Adventure website

When Nitro opened in 2001, it was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in New Jersey (Kingda Ka stole those honors from Nitro a few years later). While Nitro does not have any inversions, it is 230 feet high at its peak (which takes almost 60 seconds to climb) and reaches speeds up to 80 miles per hour in its two minute, twenty second mile-long course.

I went on Nitro once while chaperoning a school trip in 2005, thinking it would be like either Rolling Thunder and Scream Machine, two classic, now long-gone, coasters I loved.

I was completely wrong.

Nitro nearly killed me.

Well, maybe not killed, but the experience scared me tremendously.

I ended up uncontrollably shaking and trembling when I walked off the ride, my legs like jelly and my arm muscles sore for several days later due to how much I strained them as I held onto the restraint as tight as I could.

I vowed I was forever done with the infernal contraption known as Nitro.

I shared my Nitro story with Nephew on several occasions, including yesterday when we safely sat and waited for Niece and Friend to return from Friend’s first time riding the steel beast.

Nephew is older now, and I could see the curiosity twinkling in his eye as he told me what he knew about Nitro while he watched a car roaring along its track. “It was designed by B and M,” he said, “and they have a great safety record.”

There was no doubt about it. He was ready to take the Nitro leap and I wasn’t about to let my fear hold him back.

Niece and Friend returned rather quickly since the wait time was a few minutes at best, and Friend absolutely loved the Nitro experience.

Nephew said that if Friend could do it, he could too.

All three looked at me with pleading eyes but I stubbornly shook my head. “You guys have a great time!” I said as I bid them farewell, then I walked over to where people on the ground could see Nitro’s ride cars leave the loading area. Nephew was safely seated between Niece and Friend as their car passed by, their arms flailing in enthusiastic waves.

“Bye!” they yelled in unison.

They returned 140 seconds later with Nephew wearing the widest smile I’ve ever seen on his face. He gave me a thumbs up from up on high as he jubilantly shrieked, “It was awesome!”

Dammit.

I knew what I had to do.

A minute later, they surrounded me as they jumped around in sheer excitement and joy. A chorus of “please?”s rose up.  Nephew looked me right in my eyes and said, “You can do it. I did it, and so can you.”

I remembered a story told by a colleague who was in a similar situation. Her grandson wanted her to go on a thrill ride with him, and her outlook was, “I can do anything for two minutes.”

Realizing that I could too, I sighed then nodded my head as I said, “Okay.”

A whoop emanated from all three as Niece took my hand to lead me to certain death.

“You’re lucky I love you,” I grumbled as we walked through the air gate to the seats in Row 4.

My pulse raced as I sat down between Niece and Nephew, with Friend to Nephew’s left. The yellow restraints locked and were subsequently checked by the ride attendants. It’s a good thing mine was secure because at the last second, I cried, “I don’t want to do this!” and I honestly would have ran if I could.

However, it was zero hour and flight was not an option.

After the “visual scan” and “all clear” over the loudspeaker by what I was sure was the Grim Reaper disguised as Nitro’s head supervisor, our car was set free.

Nitro, from the Six Flags Great Adventure website

I closed my eyes and leaned my head as far back into my seat as possible. With each upward click, I squeezed Niece’s hand a little tighter. She, along with Nephew and Friend, found my reaction highly amusing. I think they were all laughing, but I can’t exactly remember because I was concentrating so hard on praying for redemption.

“Here we go, Aunt Jill!” Niece shouted as we reached Nitro’s summit.

This is it.

I. Am. Going. To. Die.

Within seconds, we were traveling down the 215-feet drop at the advertised eighty miles-per-hour.  I’m pretty sure my heart rate matched the number of expletives I let fly.

“I’m going to die! My eyes are closed! My eyes are open! No, they’re not! I’m going to die!”

Towards the end of the journey to my undeniable demise, Niece yelled, “Bunny hops!!”

I opened my eyes to see the blue and yellow hilly path we were on as we smoothly rode over each bump. It was surprisingly much smoother than the Runaway Mine Train bunny hops at the end of its path, that was for sure.

“Hold on!”

The car suddenly came to a halting stop.

And I was alive.

Sure, my legs were once again like jelly as we walked off the ride, and I felt a surge of electricity pulsing through my entire body.

But it was a good energy, and I did not die.

The sleek, wicked-fast roller coaster was one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever experienced, and the sensation of weightlessness was exhilarating.

I looked at Nephew, who threw his arms around me and exclaimed, “I’m so proud of you!” Niece and friend hugged me too. “You did it, Aunt Jill!”

Somewhere along the ride route, a remote camera snaps a photograph which is then displayed for about a minute or so on the monitors at the Nitro photo kiosk near the ride’s exit. The picture of our row featured three gleeful faces with arms up in the air and one red face screaming for mercy as she gripped onto the restraint for dear life.

We didn’t buy the photograph, but I’ll be able to picture it perfectly in my mind’s eye for the rest of my life.

The unspoken question hovered in the air around us as we regrouped outside the ride.

It was answered by all four of us walking together once again through Nitro’s entrance.

Three minutes later, a photograph with four delighted smiles in our row flashed upon the photo kiosk’s screen.

2018 Roller Coaster: Nitro. Check mark achieved.

 

Nitro’s Check Mark“: Copyright 2018 – Jill Ocone. This post originally appeared on both the Soulseaker blog (www.soulseaker.com) and the personal blog of Jill Ocone (www.jillocone.com) on August 11, 2018. Views and opinions contained in this post are solely those of the author, who was not compensated in any way by any entity, including Six Flags Great Adventure, the Six Flags corporation, or their affiliates. All rights reserved.

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 6/25/2016

20160625 Blog Photo New Fonts

Whew! I am looking back on my first full week of summer vacation and I can honestly say I think I did more this week for myself than I have in all of the other 2016 weeks combined. When I do things for myself, I don’t mind the pain and exhaustion: that means I lived! I’ve gone to Six Flags, seen The Cure (see my last post), walked the Brooklyn Bridge, paid my respects at the 9-11 Reflection Pool and for a friend at a local park, perused the wonderful selection of books and merchandise at The Strand Book Store, mowed the lawn, and plotted out most of my August trip to Dublin. My husband always says he likes Summer Jill, and know what? So do I. Summer Jill is definitely who I am. However, today’s Summer Jill is planning on taking it easy for the next few days to rest my legs and body, but not my mind. My mind, my typing fingers, and my pencil will keep on moving.

As I have written before, there’s a lot going on cosmically right now for me. I’m reading “The Art of Work” by Jeff Goins, which reinforces everything I’m going through. As ideas and signs present themselves, I’m keeping track of each of them. The hard part is deciding which one(s) should be my main focus….there’s so many different ideas with their own unique path. Right now I am unsure which path I will take, partly because I know there’s more signs to come. When the time is right, I know that I will be guided to the right one.

By the way, I’m listening to the single “Dark Necessities” by Red Hot Chili Peppers almost nonstop…I just love it! In fact, RHCP’s new album, The Getaway, is all-around great. RHCP are one of my other favorite bands, along with 311.

Wow, a long introduction for my weekly roundup of sites I found interesting! Anyway, I hope there’s something below that you will find useful or entertaining. Thanks for being a follower!

Great article from Salon: How the Cure Endures. For fellow misfits like me. 🙂

Tools for Capturing Your Ideas in Writing – by Melissa Donovan on Writingforward.com. I personally use more sticky notes than anything, followed closely by a notebook and the AwesomeNote app for my Iphone. I use a wireless keyboard which was the best $15 I ever spent.

The Photographer in Everyone – by Laura Schmalstieg, posted at Artifact Uprising. Read this!

Fight For Your Calling (Because No One Else Will) – by Jeff Goins. Again, read this!

Less Hate, More Love Pin – from Dani DiPirro at Positively Present

21 Day Free Meditation Experience – Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life. A new, free 21 day experience from the Chopra Center! Check it out!

50 free Online Sources for Printables – from Adorama

The Four D’s of Completion – by Sean Hogue

One Year Later – by Chris Guillebeau

Unbroken_Warriors_PTSD: Instagram account of Michael Dowens, who is raising awareness of PTSD and raising money for PTSD programs for veterans. To see the Go Fund Me page, click here.

And finally,

There’s only 6 days left until the 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016 Challenge begins! Mark your calendars for Friday, July 1, and play along. Click here for the details.

Have a splendid week my friend!

Until next time,

Jill

Let’s Dance and Laugh in the Rain


Last summer, I took my 10-year-old nephew to Six Flags Great Adventure on a mostly overcast and muggy July day. It was his first time there, and it was the first time the 2 of us had ever done something together without anyone else. It was a special day and we had an awesome time. There was the chance for thunderstorms in the afternoon, which kept a lot of people away from the park.

That was a bonus, resulting in hardly any wait for the rides. The most we stood in line was for 10 minutes. Our tally for the day ride-wise: 16 times on Skull Mountain, 8 times on Runaway Train, two times on the Sky Ride, 1 time on the Safari, 1 time on the Log Flume, and 2 times on Congo River Rapids, which completely drenched me from head to toe and made him laugh.  In fact, the day was full of laughs.

The most memorable part of the day happened about 4:30 pm. Thunderstorms, indeed, pummeled us, and we stood outside under the locker overhang by Skull Mountain. It was absolutely pouring. As we stood there, I watched people running past us in the rain, and every single person was screaming yet laughing at the same time, with a huge smiles as they tried to make it to dry land.  The park had music playing, and the song “1, 2, 3, 4” by the Plain White T’s came over the PA system.

A family of 5 (mother, father, and 3 children between the ages of 6 and 12 I would guess) was running in the rain, then they stopped.  Each of them then jumped in the puddles in unison, almost as if they had planned it. They were laughing and smiling, and I was witnessing a moment of pure joy.

It was the perfect song for this perfect scene, a folksy song with the phrase “I love you” repeated several times.  This family clearly loved each other.

I completely forgot about this moment until I recently heard the song again in CVS. The faces on that family came flooding back to me, their smiles, their sheer happiness playing in the pouring rain, and I could picture it as if I saw it yesterday. A simple moment of fun, of togetherness, and of love.

It got me thinking. That’s what life is all about…learning to laugh and dance in the rain. The rain didn’t ruin this family’s day. Instead, the rain made the day better. And that’s a much better attitude to adopt.

The next time it rains in my world, I vow to laugh and dance. I will embrace the rain and relish with delight in its deluge. I hope you will, too.

 The Approach of the Storm


The Family who Dances and Laughs in the Rain…thanks for the lesson in this small yet profound moment!  (The young man to the left in the yellow shorts is an interloper here.)