Monday, January 23, 2012

Yippie ki-yay and YIKES!

Barrel racing at the Calgary Stampede. Photo b...
Yippie ki-yay!

It's rodeo time in Fort Worth! This is the 116th year for the rodeo (no, I haven't been to performances all those years....just the last 54 or so).  I always look forward to going, and this year was no exception. We took TMPCTEL, along with his parents and uncle.

The rodeo itself has remained almost the same as long as I've attended. It begins with the Grand Entry, a serpentine line of horses and riders, weaving through other horses and riders. I get cranky if I miss the Grand Entry. I don't know if other rodeos begin the same way; if not, they should.  It's quite spectacular.

When I was younger, stars like Loretta Lynn and Tanya Tucker sang a couple of songs half way through the performance (usually while the wranglers set up chutes for calf roping and steer wrestling). The big money acts have been replaced with trick riders and clown acts. Still fun and entertaining, but my favorites are the traditional events: barrel racing, bronc riding, steer wrestling and bull riding. Our seats put on the front row, behind three rungs made of steel cable....close enough (and open enough) to endure dirt clods in our drinks and anxiety when 2,000 pounds of angry pot roast stormed our way.

The real adventure began at the midway.

The midway is the carnival area for the rodeo where you find rides, food and games (a.k.a. rip-offs that generally leave you feeling screwed, unless you are a small child, say, around six years old; then you can win whatever you want). We were there when it first opened. The carnies hawked their games and gave us "special deals" get the ball rolling. Of course, each round costs $3-5. We won several stuffed animals ranging from a small snake to a large pig. Some of the larger ones were won by trading in a smaller toy, and playing again (another $5+) to win the bigger one. Do the math -- it ain't cheap! My favorite however, was the Rasta banana. No lie -- it's' a three-foot long banana with black dread-yarns and a red, yellow, green and black hat. BIG grin. Welcome to the islands, man!

After winning some toys, thus placating the child, we checked out the rides. We started small with the kiddie version of a fun house. Parts of it weren't operating correctly, but we were charged full price anyway. Carnies gotta make a living, right? Rides cost three to four tickets each (real cost: $1.25 per ticket) x six people = pricey! Once we left the kiddie area, we strolled to the larger rides, where you have to be so tall (I made it, but TMPCTEL wasn't always allowed). This is where the "fun" began....

YES! I rode this!!

Our first choice was the Kamikaze. I rode this as a teenager, I think. No problem, right? (I may be 54 years old in my body, but I'm a twenty or thirty-something in my head!) Twenty year old Son, twenty-four year old Daughter and I climbed into the seating area of the ride. It's a cage. Bars, mesh, the lock bar that holds you down, and a bar to hook your feet around...when you're hanging.

Up.  Side. Down.

This wasn't just a quick little flip. We hung upside down....staring at little people and lots of concrete far, far away. And we continued hanging upside down for-fucking-ever!

OK, so this menace to society did its let's-hang-these-crazy-people-upside-down thing several times. It would leave us stranded up there, then zip around in a quick circle, only to leave us hanging up there once more. Daughter vowed "NEVER AGAIN!" once we finally made it back down to safety.

The Husband was certain that the view was great from way up there.'re supposed to open your eyes?! Did I mention I'm afraid of heights?

So why, just an hour or so later, would the three of us attempt a similar ride?

One with no cage??

It was called the Power Surge. At 54, I've had plenty of "power surges" but nothing like this.....

We were locked into a plastic chair (kinda like the ones they sell at Walmart for around ten bucks), that was completely open....nothing except the bar that held us in.

It swung us around, did some loops, and bounced us up and down.

"This isn't nearly as bad as the Kamikaze," I yelled to Daughter. "We got this!"

And then the screaming commenced....

We weren't left hanging and stranded, exactly, as in the Kamikaze, but we spent an inordinate amount of time, once again, staring at little people (who, incidentally, stared back in horror) and lots of concrete, far, far away...and no cage.

YIKES! Have I mentioned I'm afraid of heights?

Have you ever been this insane? What draws us to this kind of experience?

Have you been there?


  1. Claire, you are supposed to get smarter with age! Hehehe!♡

  2. I considered describeing a Kamakazie ride
    in my posted novel,

    rusted, abandoned and creeking, in a strange deserted park.
    I setteled on one of those viking ships instead - as I figured the
    heavier cars would be at rest on the bottom.

    I rode the Steel eel at Sea World San Antonio, mom insisted on
    rideing with me, no matter how much I insisted she woulden't like
    it. I was new to roller coasters and avoided the Great White - as
    it flipped you upside down - the train rose slowly, mom waved to
    people getting further and further away - saying "This isen't so
    bad." Then we fell. Thats what it felt like. My bones were ripped
    out and I was slammed into the side of a mountain. Worse then
    the initial shock was the knowledge it was about to happen again.
    After the first two hills the ride smoothed out and I was able to
    enjoy it, screaming "I am the dragon! Rawar!" We raced over
    the lake and audience watching the boat show waved. It was
    cool - afterward I coulden't figure out if I loved it or hated it,
    but I wanted to go again.

  3. I know what you mean! I love it AND hate it! Crazy!

  4. Whoohoo! I love rodeos. Barrel racing is so much fun! Glad you survived!


Yes! I've been there, Claire!