News Column

Clinton Herald, Iowa, Scott Levine column

June 21, 2014

By Scott Levine, Clinton Herald, Iowa

June 21--I'm a little late in writing -- a week and one day to be exact -- but I had good reason to be missing last week.

I took a break, celebrating my dad's 60th birthday and partaking in an annual excursion to Adventureland near Des Moines.

This is actually my son's second trip to the amusement park in Altoona, since we lugged him around last year when he was only about a month old. He still was able to do about as much as he did last year (ride the Ferris wheel and the Chuck Wagon, a small ride that mirrors a Ferris wheel), but he seemed to have a good time. He usually just smiles and laughs at everything his sister does, so he was more than excited to watch her embark on a whole new world.

My daughter first entered the theme-park universe as a 2-year-old. We were pleasantly surprised at all the options available to her at the ripe age of 2, so we have continued to return. Thankfully she gets her height from my wife, so as a 4-year-old, she found out first-hand the thrills of the park's biggest attractions -- roller coasters.

I'm not sure who was more nervous -- her or me -- but after we stood by the height-measuring tool, cementing her as at least 42 inches tall, it was time to enter the adult world.

I'm not too keen on high places and speeding objects. I made a concession two years ago to ride the tea cups. That was quite the nerve-racking decision. Roller coasters, on the other hand, are an entirely different beast. My daughter was almost too excited to contain, so we marched up the steps, stood in line and proceeded to get measured by the ride operator.

That was a common theme, but we made it each time.

During the actual ride, I'm not sure I heard a peep from my daughter, which is highly unusual. This girl could fill an entire car ride to Altoona with conversation, but for the two minutes of being on the looping Dragon, she was silent -- until we got off.

"That was fast," she said, looking a little dazed.

"Yes," I said, trying everything in my power to keep from being sick.

Then we looked at ourselves in the "funny" mirrors, and she nudged me toward another roller coaster.

The next one seemed a little faster, and she wasn't too excited about that one -- and neither was my stomach. So I passed off the roller-coaster baton to my wife, who was happy to join in on the fun. I also was happy to hang out with my son, who hasn't yet shown a desire to travel at high-rate speeds.

By the end of the day, my daughter had ridden on all the roller coasters for a total of five times. That's three more times than I could handle. Sure, you may think she's tougher than I am. But let's see who would last longer in a situation involving a spider or some other insect. I know I would last longer in that circumstance.

There are still more height hurdles to cross, including the ride my daughter references as the "sick as a dog ride," thanks to a comment I made last year.

Needless to say, she's on her own on that one.

As time passes, these "firsts" are seeming to disappear quicker than ever before. Let's just hope the other item that involves a moving object, which happens to require a driver's license, takes awhile to get here.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at


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