TITLE: August 12 -- Eu Sobrevivi El Insano AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 17, 2004 1:54 PM DESC: the day at Beach Park ----- BODY: [ Update at the end... ] The writers workshops at SugarLoafPLoP have gone well so far. To moderate a workshop is hard work, because the moderator has to understand each paper pretty deeply, which requires hard work studying the paper. Then, he has to guide the workshop, keeping it on focus and asking the right leading questions when the discussion slows. I have a lot to learn yet about being a truly good moderator. The coolest part of this day wasn't my 100-minute run at sunrise over the grounds of the Aquaville Resort, but our afternoon at Beach Park, a water park near the resort. The conference organizers set aside a three-hour block to decompress from the work we'd been doing by going to the park. This place has a wide variety of water slides -- and the scariest ones I've ever seen! The web site touts the newest, Kalafrio, and it was both fun and scary. But the scariest of all is named "el Insano", and the name fits. It is a 41m tall slide, with a drop that is darn close to vertical. A few of the college guys wanted to try it and, when they found out I was the only "old guy" around who wanted to give it a go, they took me with them. Click the link for a picture. That first moment is the scariest. Just after you go over the edge, you are airborne for a second, out of contact with the bottom of the slide. The gravity does its job and accelerates you to a remarkable speed. When you hit the bottom, you enter a curve that brings you into a tunnel parallel to the ground, where water hits you with a remarkable force. I think that is a deceleration mechanism, because otherwise they'd need an airport runway-length chute at the bottom. It all happened so fast that I hardly had time to be afraid. I remember my heart racing at the initial drop, and then the sensation of falling, and then the water in the tunnel -- but then it was over in what seemed like an instant. I may have screamed, but my heart was so loud in my ears that I wcouldn't have heard it. Thanks to Joe Yoder, I have a T-shirt to show all that "Eu sobrevivi ... El Insano". (That's "I survived", in Portugese.) And to prove it was no fluke, I did it again later! [ And now, thanks to Sergei Golitsinski, we have the only known picture of me descending the Great Wet Way. ] -----