A few months ago I was invited by Dave, one of my old college roommates, to meet him and his youth group at Carowinds for Christian Music Day. Which was yesterday.
So I went. I got up early yesterday morning and I drove to Charlotte. And what a fantastic day it was.
I was told that the group would be there between 9:30 and 10, so I planned my trip accordingly. Just as I was pulling off the designated exit, I got a call on my cell from Dave. They got something of a later start than planned, so they wouldn't be there 'til roughly 10:45. This wasn't a huge problem for me. I had not eaten breakfast, so this gave me time to sit down and eat something.
Unfortunately, the only restaurant at that exit serving breakfast was Shoney's. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I remember eating at Shoney's quite a bit as a kid. But I realize now that there's a reason for that. It's cheap. Having not eaten at such an establishment in a very long time, I was left somewhat disappointed. I apologize if I've offended any readers who feel that Shoney's is their favorite restaurant.
After a short stack of pancakes, I headed into the Carowinds parking lot. BTW, it's $10 to let your car sit there for the day.
When all the folks I was meeting arrived, we immediately began waiting. I would have said we immediately began riding rides, but come on, have you ever been to an amusement park on a Saturday? We waited in line for our first coaster for an hour and a half. That particular ride is called Nighthawk. Back in the Paramount days it was the Borg ride. It's the roller coaster that lays you back and then you feel like you're flying. It's pretty awesome.
Our next line moved pretty quickly, and surprisingly so. This line was for the park's newest coaster, the Carolina Cobra. You get in the car and get pulled backwards up an incline. Once you reach the top, you immediately drop and go through the loop and twists and then go up another incline where the track ends. You're pulled up to the top of that, then are shot back through the entire track backwards, 'til you arrive safely back at the depot.
After those two rides, it was time for lunch. It was nice to find an affordable bacon cheeseburger and Coke for only $15.
Once we had digested for a bit, we hit the Vortex, Carowinds' stand-up roller coaster. Been there, done that.
We then headed to the back end of the park for Afterburn, previously known as Top Gun. The line seemed long, but it really moved quickly. And in riding this one, I felt like it was the most comfortable ride we'd hit all day. So we decided to ride it again before heading over to the concert.
The line was shorter this time and was still moving fast. But this time, just as we reached the loading zone, the rain began. I take that back, rain is not a strong enough word for what started happening outside. Thankfully we were under shelter, but the powers that be decided to shut the ride down due to the sudden inclement weather. Anyone who was in line back on the ground scattered. So the only people remaining were those of us under cover. I'm not sure why the girl running the ride felt the need to announce four times that she was sorry for the inconvenience but due to the inclement weather they would be temporarily closing the ride. She wasn't telling us anything we didn't already know. The real shocker would have been if they started running the ride again.
Eventually we could wait no more. We needed to get to the concert, where the kids were waiting for their tickets, and the rain was obviously not going to let up. So we made a break for it. No umbrella and no poncho. We walked from the back of the park to the main entrance. By the time we reached the concert pavilion, I had a new and deeper understanding of the phrase "soaked to the bone."
We were able to find our seats in the concert, which were under the huge shelter of the amphitheater. And we were just in time for an apparently popular Christian rock group, Skillet. Now, maybe it's just because I'm getting old, but to me, it was just noise. I couldn't make out their lyrics. And to be completely honest, I couldn't really look at them too much, because I was forced to look away. I was afraid if I watched the flashing lights too much I may have triggered a seizure.
By the time Skillet was finished, my head was pounding and the chill from the soaking clothes was setting in. So I said my good-byes and made my way to my car. Sadly, I missed the Chris Tomlin portion of the concert, which was really the biggest reason I wanted to see any of the concert at all. But that's all right.
Now, you may look at that and think I didn't have a good time. That's just not the case. I had an awesome time. I got to see one of my best college friends, whom I had not seen in nearly three years. We got to catch up and reminisce about the good ol' days. Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat.