I thoroughly enjoyed myself going to visit family over the last weekend. The drive was fine; no trouble and almost no traffic. I went up on Saturday afternoon and that evening
was able to see a couple of friends at the restaurant where I used to work, that was fun. On Sunday, following the church picnic lunch, we had delicious chocolate cupcakes with multicolored sprinkles (of course!) and ice cream, preceded by presents with way more pink wrapping and tissue paper than I’ve seen in a long time. Then again, what do you expect at a five-year-old girl’s birthday party? 😉 The presents included, among other things, a set of fairy wings that my niece wore for hours and several beautiful pairs of earrings for her newly pierced ears (“I did such a good job being brave!” she told me).
After some lounging around talking and some hilarity involving my 3 ½ year old nephew attempting to blow up a balloon, we headed off to the local county fair. I decided at the last moment not to bring my camera, but to just enjoy the sights. We decided to start at the animal barns while we still had daylight. The variety was amazing! We saw everything from a Belgian horse taller than me to a miniature piebald stallion less than waist high; from three week old black and white rabbit kits to a wobbly little goat kid less than 24 hours old; from teeny little speckled bantams that would barely make a double-handful to big black roosters with feather crests like rockstar hair; from hefty black and white Holsteins placidly ignoring the world to little six-month-old tan and cream Jersey heifers huddled together with the air of “if we pack in close, they might not see us”; from Angora rabbits so fluffy you wonder how they can see to Mini-Rex with short, smooth fur like velvet; from giant red-brown bristled hogs to the runt of a piglet litter maybe six inches tall. Through kind owners, the kids were able to pet a rooster, a sheep, a goat, the miniature horse, and a rabbit.
After tramping through the barns and around the mud puddles from the earlier rain, our stomachs all agreed that it was dinner time, so we obliged them and headed for the food. (My other brother and sister-in-law and my nephew went home at this point, since they live an hour north.) Having surveyed all the options, I ended up getting chicken on a stick with fried lo-mein and an egg roll. I know, it’s non-traditional, but I figured, where else can I get a $6.50 plate of Thai food? It was quite yummy. My sister-in-law went for the Thai as well, but she chose the fried rice to accompany it. My niece got a hotdog (naturally) and my brother got, among other things, a bucket of fries with cheese sauce and bacon. Yes, an actual plastic bucket filled with fries and flooded with cheese. 🙂 There may have been some ranch in there as well.
Once I finished with my plate, I helped him out with his remaining fries. Given the cheese sauce, they were too sticky to eat with my fingers, so I used the cheap bamboo chopsticks I’d been eating my dinner with. “I bet I’m the only person in the whole fair eating fries with chopsticks.” It was a good laugh – and good fries!
Stomachs satisfied, my niece wanted to ride some rides, so we made our way between the “deep-fried everything” and “just a dollar and you could win that giant purple stuffed bear you know you want” stands. My sister-in-law, my niece, my sister-in-law’s friend who’d met us there and her little five year old girl all rode one of those spinning tub rides where you spin around while you’re spinning around. My brother and I were of the opinion that we’d rather not have a second look at our cheese fries and stood back to watch instead. Then we put the two girls on a ride where you “drove” one of the cars around in a circle – they were all attached to the central rotating hub, there was no actual driving going on, but that didn’t keep them both from turning the wheel constantly. 🙂
When that ride wound down, we worked our way deeper into the fair. I’m not sure whose idea it was originally, but we decided that the Ferris Wheel looked like fun. There was quite a long line, so I ran and got a funnel cake to split with my sister-in-law while we waited. You’ve got to have a funnel cake at the fair. 🙂 Turns out my niece likes funnel cake too, so we three girls shared the hot, crunchity, powdered-sugary, doughy goodness. I do love funnel cakes, but it’s a good thing I only have them every four or five years.
While we were waiting in line for the Ferris Wheel, they started launching fireworks. I’m terrible at distances, so I won’t even try giving it a number, but it was the closest I’ve
ever been to the big July-Fourth-style fireworks. We watched in awe, but there were some little kids in line crying because of the noise. The funnel cake was finished just in time and our turn came to load up on the wheel. The buckets could only hold four, so the two moms and little girls went in one and my brother and I went in the next one.
It was pretty slow at first as they continued to load/unload people, but the fireworks were still going, so there was something to watch. We waved to the girls in their bucket when we were on the top of the Ferris wheel. I found myself wishing I’d brought my camera after all, since it has a specific ‘fireworks’ setting and we were so close that I could have gotten some fabulous pictures.
They finished loading and we started going around faster, though not much. As we came over the top toward the side closest to the fireworks, the finale started. We were so close both my brother and I could feel the ash on our faces; the air clouded with smoke and smelled of explosives. It could have been because we were up in the air, it could have been because we were so close, but it was the most intense finale I think I’ve ever seen. I could feel the concussive waves from the explosions in my chest, the noise was breathtaking. At one point I clapped my hands over my ears and laughed out loud at the sheer spectacle of it.
I was still grinning about thirty seconds later when we reached the bottom of the circuit and the skies opened up. Pouring down rain! Gushing down out of the clouds like there was a broken water main up there. The controller backed the wheel a couple feet and we were back at the bottom again and the first off. I clambered out quick as I could and scampered down the ramp – glad that my brother was there to lead the way as I could hardly see with the water on my glasses. We rushed to an awning by one of the game stands and crammed under with a group of wet strangers.
The girls had been one bucket up higher than us… but you can’t just empty all the Ferris wheel buckets in a row or it gets unbalanced and nasty things happen. So the controller had to empty a couple, turn the wheel to the opposite side, empty a couple more, and repeat. They ended up on top of the wheel, with the rain coming in sideways, the two littles crying, my sister-in-law worried about the lightning she’d seen – it was, after all, a metal Ferris wheel bucket…
After a minute or two we had to move around to the other side as the man running the stand said he had to lower the awning or the built up water would split it. It seemed like a good long while before my brother dashed back out into the rain to let them know where we were as they finally got off the platform under the wheel. Then the stand we’d been sheltering under had to close completely, so all six of us went to huddle with other bedraggled people under a different stand. My niece was crying with the cold and the disappointment of not being able to visit the petting zoo after the Ferris wheel like we’d planned (not to mention she’d had a very long and full day already!). The rest of us were trying to keep away from the edge where the rain was coming in and to keep the shivers down. I was very glad then that I hadn’t brought my camera!
I don’t know how long it rained, but there was certainly a lot of water conveyed from the sky to the ground in that time. Finally it slacked off enough for us to make our way back to the far gate, though it didn’t really stop. We were already quite wet, so we figured there was no point in waiting longer. My niece eventually decided that being able to walk in the puddles sort of balanced out the wetting and she settled down a bit.
Back in the nice dry house, with nice dry clothes on, we adults looked at eachother and said “Well, that was an adventure!” I really did enjoy myself, though, soaking wet or not – and I enjoyed having family I love there to share the “adventure.” 🙂