Since I’ve become a grandma, there have been times when I’ve felt like I was riding a roller coaster—an emotional one—with exhilarating highs and some gut-wrenching lows. Last week my daughter and I actually rode a roller coaster—at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. I hadn’t been on a roller coaster in 20 years. But I’ve always loved the thrill I get from riding them.
In college I rode the old wooden roller coaster at Santa Cruz Boardwalk 13 times in a row. Now I couldn’t wait to try the Six Flags roller coaster because I can see it from the freeway every time I drive up Interstate 80.
The Six Flags roller coaster is called Medusa, referring to the Greek mythological creature whose hair was turned into snakes. Medusa is one of the new man-made adrenaline machines known as a “floorless” roller coaster—nothing is between you and the steel artwork below. Medusa begins by climbing up a 15-story hill that gave us a view of my two granddaughters and son-in-law far below.
As my daughter and I sat beside each other, our feet dangling in the air, I wondered if I would still love the thrill. We made our ascent and I thought This is a piece of cake. Then we went into a sudden 150-foot drop! Pulling up and out of the first drop, we began an aerial maneuver into a 128-foot vertical loop that left us hanging upside down. Both of us were screaming at the top of our lungs as we went into the second inversion. The effect is similar to a classic “dive bomb” aerobatics stunt frequently seen in air shows where the plane suddenly drops in midair.
Without any recovery time the roller coaster screams out of the dive and flies skyward into a 360-degree, zero-G barrel roll, creating the effect of weightlessness. The twists and turns come faster and faster, so that you hardly know which way is up or down. For the last of the four inversions we endured a double-barrel roll that left me breathless. My mouth was completely dry from screaming. As we coasted to a stop, my daughter and I looked at each other, burst into laughter, and gave each other a high-five. I never dreamed we could have such an amazing bonding experience on a roller coaster ride.
“Wanna ride again?” my daughter asked. Although the ride was only 3 minutes and 15 seconds, I think it was enough to last me the rest of my life.
I realize now that as long as my daughter and I can continue to ride together—whether it’s the roller coaster or life itself—we’ll be able to take all the thrills and spills of the mother daughter relationship and still come out smiling.