We decided to celebrate the 4th of July by taking a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC.
I have heard great things about this place. I remember my friend's surprise visit to her children, which I thought was spectacular.
But I have also seen the prices and, well, they are pricey. Fortunately, Tim managed to find a special, along with a company discount, we got an amazing price for the night.
I mentioned this to Ann, one of the parent's responsible for the surprise above, that we were only going for the night. "That's all you will need" she said.
We got there Sunday afternoon. We wouldn't get our room until 4, according to the website, but we would be allowed to enjoy the water park starting at noon. And enjoy we did!
The girls quickly left Tim and I alone so we decided to give the Alberta Falls a run.
This is an odd thing for me: enjoying a water park. I never went to one as a kid and a trip to Wet-N-Wild last year made me anxious. I learned, through last year's visit, just to GO and not think about what I'm GOing to.
And that's what I did with Alberta Falls. A little anxious about what I was about to embark and once done, not a big deal at all. Fun but safe.
And for the most part, this would be my experience upon riding everything for the first time.
Mountain Ridge Raceway is a slide that requires the rider to lie belly down, head first, onto a blue mat. CJ and I rode this one and I remember thinking: I'm not sure I can do this...slide head down? But we did and it was quite fun. Fast and at the end, there's a clock that displays every racer's time.
She then convinced me to give the Howlin' Tornado a try. I took the 84 steps up to the ride and, while we waited for others to ride, I made the mistake of reading the sign. There were sentences mentioning the high-velocity speed and turns that the ride would have and if anyone had any doubt about how they might handle that, they should not ride it.
Hmmm...how bad would it be for me to leave CJ hanging and I just go back down those steps and skip this ride?
Well, I can't do that and I wasn't going to show any fear so I hopped on the tube with my baby on the other side.
There we were, swirling around. My back was to the future; CJ had a wide view of what was coming toward us. For the most part, it was a fast hustle and bustle and we enjoyed screaming. But then, CJ's face...her eyes got big, she mouthed a big scream, she had sheer fright in her face and then: we DROPPED. I felt the breath leave me and I couldn't scream.
Well, in my head I was screaming GET ME OFF! Please stop this!
And when the drop was finally over, I had no time to feel a reprieve when we were suddenly swished UP to the side of a big funnel. I screamed and I thought I was going to fall right off. And then before we could, again, settle into our tube, we get swished UP to the other side.
After another small drop and a fast spew to the end, we had looks of surprise, exhilaration and relief. The woman that helped us out of the tube noticed the look and asked, jovially "Had fun?"
We would continue to ride that one over and over and each time, it would do the same thing: take my breath away, scare the crap out of me, make me think I would fall off, and I would go right back up and do it again.
But nothing compares to the first time of riding it, knowing nothing about it.
MiMi, as excited as she was about going to GWL, pretty much froze about going up the stairs to any of the rides. I felt so bad for her because I knew she would love the rides, if she could just get over her fear of the steps.
She was adamant about not going up the stairs, not even with the suggestion of getting Tim to carry her up. So I let CJ show Tim the rides and me and MiMi enjoyed the Wave Pool. Then we enjoyed the slides at Fort McKenzie. Then we went into the outdoor pool and I told her that she should give the steps a try...that I am scared of the height too but I just tried not to think about it. That we could take it very slowly and she could go as high as she wanted, then if it got too scary, we would just go back down. I told her that, after time, she would get used to it and go higher and higher. We had all Sunday and Monday to do this, so we had plenty of time to get to the ride.
This seemed to work because she decided she was ready to give the first set of rides - 64 steps to the ride - a try. This one was the one Tim and I rode, the Alberta Falls, so I carried the tube and used it to block at least one side of MiMi's vision of the open area that we were climbing up from. It took a few people to go ahead of us before she took her nerve and walked the remaining steps to the ride. We got on, rode down, and I saw a big happy face on her when we made it to the bottom. LET'S DO IT AGAIN!
So we did it again. And then she had the nerve to get a mat and we did the Mountain Edge Raceway...TWICE. And she beat me both times.
I was SO happy. Happy for her because I knew she could do it and that the steps were not that bad. After all, she did all of this stair climbing for rides at Wet-N-Wild last year...three visits to the park!
And the girls played and played. And by 8:50 the evening of Sunday, MiMi was out like a light bulb.
We checked out today and played in the water park until about 1:30. We even got MiMi to climb the 84 steps to ride the River Canyon Ride, which is adjacent to the Howlin' Tornado but not as frightening.
Well, she didn't climb the steps but her wonderful dad carried her all four times she wanted to ride it. Which is no easy task as I was out of breath every time I got up them things.
All in all - a great vacation even though it was only for the night. The room is really nice - and we had the cheapest room (or close to it). The overall facility was so clean, not overly crowded (could be we were lucky...most went to the beach?) so the lines were not long. The staff were top-notch. It was incredible how nice, funny (our first ride on the Howlin' Tornado and the lifeguard went down with the group in front of us...it was a joke as he climbed back out...but it was freaky, then funny), and hard-working these folks were. I was incredibly impressed. It was definitely worth a trip, even at full price...so even better when we got such a huge discount!