Today’s post is written by 12 year-old Hannah, who shares her “small moment” story about riding the Howlin’ Tornado waterslide at the Great Wolf Lodge in New England. I hope you enjoy her very descriptive and entertaining story.

It was my birthday party, and so far, I was having a blast at the Great Wolf Lodge. I had just gotten off River Canyon Run, a twisting green slide,  which also happened to be one of my personal favorites, when Genna walked up to me, practically wading through the humid air of the water park. I figured she might be trying again to persuade me to go on the Howlin’ Tornado with her and Catie. From the pictures I’d seen, it was a scary slide with a raft light enough to go all the way up the walls.

“C’mon, Hannah! It’s not that bad.  You said yesterday that you would go on today. Then this morning, you said you would go on after lunch. We had lunch forever ago!” Genna whined. She gave me puppy eyes as I rolled mine.

“Okay, fine. You got me,” I told her, obviously defeated, “But I’m not saying I’m going on the Tornado more than once. Now let’s go.”

We trudged up the slide slippery wet tower stairs. I breathed in the heavily chlorinated air, and wondered what I had gotten myself into. I had promised I would go on, so there was no backing out of it, but I still shuddered at the thought of the square raft we were to ride in, swooping up and down the walls of the Tornado. We reached the place where the stairs split into two sets, but instead of going to the right towards the Wolf Tail (eek!) and River Canyon Run, we headed left, to the Howlin’ Tornado.

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There were so many thoughts running through my head, I thought my brain might burst. I was shaking slightly, and goosebumps were rising on my arms. I’m TERRIFIED!, It can’t be that bad…, What is wrong with you? How could you agree to this?, Oh my god, oh my god!, and the worst, What if… what if I fall, then I slide, then – oh dear. Then I saw it. The opening looked better before, when I’d watched the other people being pushed away into the depths of the slide, it looked almost friendly, with its vibrant red and yellow stripes. Now though, the opening looked like the gaping maw of a hungry giant, ready to make my friends and I its appetizer. I shivered with anticipation and fear.

“Guys, is it just me or are you super scared?” I asked. Catie and Genna seemed fine, as they had been on it many times.

“Just you,” Catie replied smiling, “We even went on the Wolf Tail! Though I only did it to prove Tim wrong–proving other people are brave enough to go on too.”

“Trust me Hannah,” Genna piped up, “You’ll love it.”

There was only one group in front of us, so our turn came all too soon for me. I climbed into the yellow raft on one condition: I wouldn’t be facing backwards. Unfortunately, there was no guaranteeing it, as the raft was prone to turning around. With that (not-so) cheerful thought in mind, we headed into the heart of the Tornado.

We wound around some fairly tame bends, and I started to relax as the water swirled around the raft. I heard a whooshing of water ahead, but thought nothing of it, so wrapped up was I in my bliss. I voiced the thought to my companions, saying, “Well this isn’t so bad after all.” But I spoke too soon. Suddenly, we lurched downward, dropping into whirling waters below. The water from the enormous splash our raft created slapped us in our faces, and set my eyes stinging. I didn’t dare open my eyes, but I felt us going up and up and up until we could go no further. Then we zoomed down the wall, my eyes still tightly closed, and headed up the other side.

I was vaguely aware of screaming as the air whooshed by. Only after the second drop did I realize that it was my own. My adrenaline was pumping hard, and I was scared to death. But somehow, a little part of me was basking in the exhilaration that I was feeling. That little part of me was yelling like a toddler, and laughing in my mind. Key words: in my mind. Our raft did the halfpipe-like maneuver twice more, before settling back into a steady rhythm of twists and hills. I finally gathered up the nerve to let go to wipe my eyes, but my heart was still pounding loudly, so loud, I was surprised my friends didn’t notice it. We whipped around another corner, and I saw the end of the tunnel fast approaching. I reached for the handles once more and braced myself for the arrival in the exit pool.

We landed with a jolt, and I climbed out of the raft, still shaking from my adventure. I waded through the pool, and kneaded my toes into the bumpy plastic of the floor, thankful that the ground was no longer swooping and sliding out from under me. I eventually reached the steps and climbed out onto the rough concrete. I was immediately surrounded by my friends as they asked how I liked it. I myself could barely process what had just happened. I answered their vigorous questioning with an equally ferocious flurry of words and gestures, explaining our adventure. After a minute, my pulse slowed, and I finally comprehended the events that had just taken place. I shook my head to clear my thoughts of the ride, then walked over to the wave pool, following my friends into the water just as the wolf call sounded, signifying the start of the waves. I stepped into the water just as the final notes of the howl and the last thoughts of the slide faded away, and ran into the pool to continue my awesome birthday at the Great Wolf Lodge.

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