We sat down near the front gate to wait for my sister and her family. It was near the main gift shop, and also by a sculpture of giant applauding hands (celebrating the spirit of fun and all that) in a fountain which the incautious claim is hands held up in prayer. It isn't. I kept checking my phone, since that seemed the most practical way around the problem of getting in touch with them. There were some slightly aged texts about how close they were getting and then I looked up and realized I only kind of recognized my sister walking up. On the other hand, I also recognized how much she looks like our mother, which I just hadn't really seen before. Her husband was following close along, with a stroller and with their son inside.
And that's how we got to be the first siblings to see their child, born the start of December and going on an amusement park visit that would be epic if five-month-olds had the ability to remember things like this. He seemed to be in a good mood, so far as I can judge these things. I admit from my not-really-childrearing perspective all that seemed important was he didn't make a lot of fuss or noise. My sister assured me that he really didn't, and had been quite easy to care for so far, and we hoped that would carry on. And he would be. Everything we worried about in an amusement park visit with a five-year-old didn't happen. He got a little fussy once, later in the day, and his parents changed him quick enough we barely knew it was happening. And he settled down. Can hardly fault him for that.
In not such great shape was my brother-in-law. He was feeling sick; I'm not sure what precisely it was but it seemed like a cold of some kind. He was a little sluggish and draggy all day, and you know how much fun an amusement park is in that shape. Or, for that matter, driving four hours one way and four hours back in a day. He swore he was good, as long as he got a ride on Thunderbird, and we went for that right away.
So we returned to Thunderbird, wondering a little how we'd work out the problem that amusement parks don't generally let five-month-olds on their adult roller coasters. They didn't, of course, but we did work out a rotating shift for getting on the rides: my sister on the first train, then bunny_hugger and I on the next (they were running two trains), and then my brother-in-law taking my sister's space. Thus they had someone watching the kid all the time and I guess that's what you learn to do with a kid that size.
With the ride enjoyed, my brother-in-law had his requirements for the day set, and he did look like that was possibly as much as he'd be up to. We did pose for photographs with my nephew in the test seat, so tiny he wasn't even visible above the seat belt. He tweeted a photo of this, claiming it was on the ride, in order to get his mother riled up about what crazy thing they were up to. She riled as predicted. Later, bunny_hugger realized we should have put a sign reading ``O'' in his lap, and sent the photo to the American Coaster Enthusiasts as a photographed roller-coaster milestone moment.
We went for lunch, in the Thanksgiving-area restaurant, where you can have a Thanksgiving dinner every day of the year. And the signs behind the counter remind staff to wish people a happy Thanksgiving. It's a good place for the three vegetarians in the crowd to eat, though. Also, my nephew had a salt cracker for what my sister said was the first solid food he'd consumed.
And that wouldn't quite be my brother-in-law's only ride of the day. He felt up to the Gobbler Getaway, the Sally interactive dark ride. You ride a slow car around a bunch of comic settings, shooting the ``turkey caller'' that at any other park is the ghost blaster or infrared gun or whatnot. Hit a target and a turkey prop comes out showing something funny. My sister and her husband expected to take turns. But the ride operators very carefully parsed the requirements to ride. Could their five-month-old sit up? ... Well, yes. Could he hold on to a parent or the restraining bar? ... Well, if it crossed his mind to, yes. Go ahead, then, as long as he rides in the back seat.
It's not like it's a fast ride, one likely to have accidents. The worst that might happen is if the car stopped short for some reason, he might fall onto the floor of the car. Still, that was awfully ... Pennsylvania amusement park of them. And so my nephew got his first real amusement park ride, amongst a bunch of prop turkeys being called to dinner.
Trivia: Charles Dickens earned about £33,000 in 1868, most of it from the American lecture circuit. Source: The Age of Capital, 1848 - 1875, Eric Hobsbawm.
Currently Reading: Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography, Arthur C Clarke.