When I was just barely six years old we moved from Sacramento, CA (near my father’s family) to Newberg, OR (to be near my mother’s family). I don’t know how soon it started, but it became a tradition that nearly every summer, I would go down to Sacramento–first with just Marcella, then when Stephanie was old enough, the three of us–to stay with Grandma. We’d visit Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Carl. We’d go stay with Aunt Diana for a few days. And they would take us places: parks, the Sacto zoo, Disneyland once and several times we went to Marriott’s Great America.
Back then it was owned by Marriott, the hotel chain, but after several name/owner changes, it is now called California’s Great America. I have some fond memories of riding the rollercoasters and the freefall ride, the carousel that greets visitors and being there with family. So, when my Aunt Diana, who was hosting us in Sacramento, asked whether we’d like to go to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom or Great America, the decision was easy for me. We all went to Six Flags on our last big California trip in 2002 and there was something nostalgically wonderful about Aunt Diana taking another generation, my kiddos, to the same park we’d enjoyed twenty years ago.
We woke early and started getting food packed into the cooler, gathering extra clothes, sunblock and plenty of waters. The day was expected to be hovering around 100°F again and the idea of staying out in it all day, wasn’t making either of us adults too happy, but figured we’d prepare for it as best we could.
It’s almost a three-hour drive out to Santa Clara from Sacramento, long enough for a needed bathroom break. The kids picked the exact right time to ask for it, too. We’d planned to pick up Subway sandwiches for an early lunch for the kids and when we pulled off to find a bathroom, what did we see? A gas station/Subway combo. Perfect. Everyone used the facilities and ordered sandwiches. Well, except me and my lovely gluten intolerance… I grabbed a banana and a granola bar. The temps had dropped dramatically from Sacramento, down to the mid-80s. Lovely for walking around in the sun.
It was nearly 11 a.m. by the time we got to the gates of the park and took another 20 minutes to figure out how to get the UC discount owed to my aunt. Thankfully it worked and the price went from nearly $54 to $30 each person because I’m not sure what we would have done otherwise. Neither of us had the money but we’d driven hours to be there. Needless to say, it was a bit panicky there for a second.
Everything worked out wonderfully, though, and the kids all got the chance to ride on the rides they wanted to. We started out with the carousel, of course, then moved on to watch other people take crazy risks and then we got brave. First it was a tiny little ride, just whipping around in a circle, called Berserk. That reminded me that I like these rides despite my hesitation. We rode the Grizzly, a wooden roller coaster, and the Demon, a coaster that does two 360° flips and a corkscrew. Audrey, Aunt Diana and I had a ball, but Stuart didn’t care for the coasters much. He was a sport though and rode the kiddie rides with the little ones and gave us quite the show on the swings. The kids played in the water, we rode the log rides (even after it got stuck!) and overall, had a great time. By the time we left at 8 p.m., we were wiped out. As we walked back in the dimming light, I noted how grateful I was to have taken notice of which aisle our car was parked on. Then as I looked around, I realized we hadn’t parked on aisle L, as I’d thought. We’d parked in lot L. It took us a while longer to find the car than I was expecting.
Pics from the day…