Has anyone heard about Jessica Watson? She is a 16-year-old Australian girl who is sailing around the world non-stop, alone & unassisted on a 34-foot sailboat. Right now she is nearly 3000 miles from Australia, 1200 miles south of the equator near American Samoa. She is 3 weeks into a 230+ day journey.
Now as a parent and certified cranky old person I have real problems with this. First, I have to ask "why". This is not the 15th century when there were worlds to be explored and new territories to be found. This is the 21st century where the only thing gained from this is notoriety. It is like some steroid laden "Outward bound" journey to find yourself. But at 16 do you really need to find yourself? I don't care what she or her parents say, this is a goal that was placed into her head by someone else. She may think it is hers but this is the ultimate stage-parent pushing their child at a young age. The danger here is that she may not return.
That said, I wish her well and read her blog to follow the journey.
OK, on to the National Lampoonesque experience in Phoenix. If you haven't seen the classic '80s film starring Chevy Chase - you are missing a real piece of americana. My Wally World experience began on a Sunday journey to a waterpark in Phoenix that shall remain unnamed but that rhymes with Met & Miled. This particular waterpark advertised at the hotel we were staying at and was having their final day of the season on Sunday. The kids were way excited. Kansans getting to swim in November?? They were up early and ready to go.
Now being the good dad that I am, and knowing that the last day of the season with forecast highs of 90 would bring out the masses, we wanted to get there early. So with a scheduled opening of 10:00 am MST, we pulled into the parking lot at 9:15. WOW, it looks awesome, so many rides. Water coasters, wave pools, giant tubes - water heaven in the desert.
Huh, parking lot is empty - suckers. I get my choice of parking spots. I know, Clark W. Griswald would have parked far away from the entrance so he could get out quicker at the end of the day but I am no Clark W. Griswald. I had a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach because I have seen "Vacation" multiple times. I knew that this was going to be a bad memory for the kids so I parked close - and we waited. . .hoping. . . praying. . . getting locked in the parking lot as a maintenance worker closed the single open gate behind us.
OK kids, on to plan B which consists of getting the *(^(&* out of the parking lot before we move from National Lampoon's Vacation into some southwestern sequel to Deliverance. Park is closed, maintenance dude doesn't care that the brochure we have says that it is open today, they closed for the season yesterday. Allrightythen. Glad I paid for the insurance on the rental car (well first I'm glad they "held the reservation" for the rental car) cuz we are off-roading it to get out of the locked parking lot.
Very upset kids (and parents for that matter), all in swimsuits and flip flops and now no plans for the day. Hey, look the car has GPS. Plug in a lake nearby and let's go rent a boat and play. OK, lake is 30 miles away - awesome. We can sing songs and laugh for 30 miles. Quick check of the gas gauge tells me we have 50 miles to empty - not a problem, will get gas on the way (or on the way back).
Arrive at lake entrance and pay $6 for day pass. We are directed to the marina where it is only a brisk 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot to the rental boats. Not another soul around, great day to rent a boat - I bet they even have a discount for foolish midwesterners like us that still think it is warm enough to be in the water. Excuse me, how much. . .for how long???? That's the off-season rate or I am purchasing the boat for that price. You have got to be kidding me. Apparently the economy is doing better down here than in KC because I could buy a whole army of American Girl dolls for a 1/2 day boat rental.
Plan C - let's go to the Grand Canyon. First, we just need to get some gas. Let's look at the GPS and see where the nearest gas station is because I didn't see one on the way but no worries, we have 4 miles till empty and they always estimate low so we probably have 15 or 20 miles to find fuel. OK, 23 miles to the nearest gas. Cool, hey kids have we talked about faith before? Anyone wanna start praying. Oh look, there is the state penitentiary so they have lots of signs about no picking up hitchhikers and we hit "0 miles until empty" 10 miles ago. This would be fun. . .ha, ha.
Well we made it to the gas station and actually did go to the Grand Canyon - in flip-flops and swimsuit coverups. AMAZING.
Have you seen it?? So worth the drive and the kids did awesome. So much fun and they don't even remember the other stuff that day.
After that it was back to the daily grind in the office - but I have to tell you, the voices were quiet for a couple of weeks because all the bills were paid and the family was provided for. The trip was so worth it.
Now the voices are back because I have to find a new Patient Care Coordinator, so I better go and call references. I'll try to talk more about that next week.
Have a great week.