It has been 25 years since I have been to Six Flags Over Georgia. Until last Saturday.

With four children, ages 6-11, my wife and I headed out to the popular attraction just to the west of Atlanta. The weather forecast indicated that the temperature would be in the high eightiess, hot but not bad for mid-August in Georgia. A perfect day to spend at an amusement park with thousands of other fun lovers on the last weekend before school starts back.

My family lived for 12 years just a few minutes away from Six Flags when our children were young. We had season passes for most of that time and went to the park more times than I can count. We enjoyed having relatives visit us when they came to Atlanta and enjoyed accompanying them on their visits to the amusement park. At least for the first few dozens of time and then we would show them the way down I-20 and welcome them back to our house at the end of their full day.

I remember Buford Buzzard and all his insulting remarks about people from Alabama and the musical entertainment at the Crystal Pistol Theater. One of my most vivid memories is riding the Great Gasp that lifted you 225 feet into the air and you are were secured in your open seat only by a seat belt and a restraint bar. The “Parachute Drop” would quickly release you for the downward journey. Thus the “great gasp” as your heart fell into your stomach.

My daughter was 3 years old when we shared the Great Gasp experience. When we safely landed (whew!), my wife asked, “Jennifer, did you scream?” She replied, “No, but my daddy did.”

If you get the idea that I am afraid of heights (and rapid descents), you are right. You might also figure out that I am not a big fan of roller coasters- and Six Flags has 11 of them.

Fairly early last Saturday I was waiting for our grandchildren (ages 6 and 9), their 11 year-old cousin from Japan, and our 10 year-old neighbor who were riding the mini-roller coaster, the Dahlonega Mine Train. I was reviewing the park map while I waited and trying to plan our next stops. One of the park employees saw we looking at the map and asked if she could help me find something. I replied that an escape route would be wonderful.

Did I mention that the wait time was 45 minutes for the Mine Train and the Wheelie, an hour for the Great American Scream Machine (appropriately named), and 30 minutes for the Bumper Cars (more my speed)? And the cost for the day was almost enough to require a second mortgage. If we had bought any souvenirs, I would have needed a government bailout.

The words of a popular song of the 1970s offer a good summary of my day at Six Flags:

The things we do for love

Like walking in the rain and the snow

When  there’s nowhere to go

And you’re feelin’ like a part of you is dying

I’m OK if I never have to go again but I’m ready to go any time the grandkids want to.

Another song offers the final word on the day. Although it is a song about romance, it applies to love in general

Love is nature’s way of giving
    A reason to be living
    The golden crown that makes a man a king

Jamie Jenkins