Great Wolf Lodge is a wondrous mix of indoor water slides, pools, hot tubs, expensive snack foods, clouds of chlorinated air—basically nirvana for children. We packed up the car and made the couple hour drive down into Ohio. My wife stayed behind for this particular adventure.
Upon our arrival, we managed to all get dressed in our swim suits and headed out into the spacious tangle of tubes, teen lifeguards, and the deafening thunder of thousand-gallon buckets dumping their contents onto awaiting kids' heads. I cajoled the girls to climb with me all the way to the tip top of one of the water slide structures, against their mild objections.
Once at the summit, we surveyed the view, and found ourselves in line for a tube that shot straight down towards the pool below, appearing to conduct several loops along the way. Without considering the potential hazards, I placed my younger daughter in front of us, and she seemed to have no qualms about sitting down and preparing for launch into the darkened tube of fun before us.
As soon as the pimpled red-shirted helper let go of her, she was off like a shot, and her departure made a sound similar to a bank tube returning its contents to the teller. A second or two after she began her descent towards the bottom, the noises emanating from the tube alerted me to my rash decision.
Without a thought, I stuffed my older daughter into the tube. All I knew was that we needed to get down to the bottom - and fast. Ignoring the warnings of the hourly lifeguard next to me, I inserted myself in seconds afterward.
Gravity took over and I found myself hurtling downward in a tight spiral, water engulfing me around every hairpin turn. Somewhere in the middle, I caught up to my oldest daughter. We suffered a mild collision but finished the ride together in a heap, landing in a long, shallow receiving pool at the end of the tube slide.
Both of us were mildly dazed, but after a lightning quick analysis of ourselves, we realized we were simply shaken and not hurt. My next move was to look up expectantly, assuming to see my younger daughter patiently waiting for us, ready to scold me ever so slightly for making her endure such a harrowing experience.
She was nowhere to be seen.
Frantically darting several feet in every direction, unsure of where to go first, I scanned the horizon for her. After what seemed like several minutes, we both spotted her.
Her hair, shoulder length, was now completely reversed, hanging down over her face and chin like a veil. Her arms were outstretched and groping, like someone searching for the light switch in a pitch-dark basement. We ran to her and comforted her as best we could.
A hour or so later, we were sitting on a picnic table in a safer region of Great Wolf Lodge, eating stale hot dogs and some Cracker Jacks. Haltingly, I suggested we try some tubes again, this time on a lower kiddie level.
The looks I got from both of the girls made it clear that would not be happening.