Saturday, July 05, 2008

Brought to you by the letter F

Friends, family, food, fun, fireworks, freakish fish and full-on fear ... all words to describe my Fourth of July. God, it was great (and yes, I mean even the fearful part).

Thrown together at the last minute, Jim and I rounded up a few friends and family members for a cookout/fish fry at the farm. I've decided last-minute gatherings are the best. No huge planning, no worrying with invitations and no fussing over what to serve. Everything worked out perfectly and there was zero stress. Ahh ...

My dad, stepmother and their great-granddaughter, Abby, came up from Rome, Ga. Abby was particularly intrigued with the pond and all the catfish Waide managed to catch.

After enjoying dinner, some Frisbee action, socializing on the porch and soaking in the luxury of a holiday away from work, we decided to head over to Lake Winnie, an amusement park nearby. I mean, what could be more Americana than going to an amusement park on the Fourth of July with thousands of other people?

So Monica, Jim, Waide, Nate, Stephanie and I loaded up and headed out to what some could deem the redneck mecca of the Chattanooga area. Think of a permanent carnival: There are all the games with the cheap prizes, funnel cakes, corndogs, and all the rides your heart could desire.

The park's main roller coaster, The Cannonball, apparently has a pretty big following among wooden track enthusiasts. Although some may argue that it nearly scared the pants off me, I am quite pleased with myself for hopping on pretty much fearlessly. Of course, my fearlessness was quickly squelched upon reaching the top of the first peak. Ahead of me I could see several pretty large climbs and the stomach-in-your-throat feeling that was sure to follow.

I've been told that for the majority of the ride all I did was scream, "Oh my God!! Oh my God!! Oh my God!!" and I'm inclined to believe Jim, Waide and Monica based on my sore throat and raspy voice today. But to be honest, the entire ride is a blur. But I think it was fun.

Have I mentioned I hadn't ridden on a roller coaster since I was 12 or 13?

Next up was the Pirate ship — you know, the ride that looks like a big boat that swings back and forth as it goes higher and higher? Yeah. I handled that one just fine, thankyouverymuch!

Several rides later, it was time for fireworks. The entire park went black and what followed was a patriotic extravaganza complete with Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" song. A staple of Fourth of July fireworks shows everywhere, from what I've been told.

Finally, as we waited for the crowds to clear, we headed over to the lake in the center of the park.

Check out the freakishly enormous carp that gobble up popcorn from amazed spectators. I wasn't sure exactly what to think of these guys. They pretty much freaked me out.

Just as the night was about to end, I spotted this couple. No caption could do them justice, so I'll leave it at this. Whether you wore pajama bottoms adorned with the stars and stripes to an amusement park, or chose to celebrate the Fourth of July in a more subtle way, I truly hope you had a fabulous holiday.