Old-fashioned family entertainment by the sea
As per the relevant entry on my 101 To Do List I have to “Visit a new place” every year. For 2018 I was planning to do this while in Houston and I was thinking an exotic location in the Caribbean together with a certain significant other. But plans change and I was running out of time – soon I’d be heading back to Europe. Enter Galveston – the easiest option to explore from central Houston – and The Pleasure Pier. The house team was on board – my friend is a great sport and my goddaughter is always up for fun & games. It was a downcast day, nowhere near ideal for an excursion. After an hour’s drive we arrived at our eerie-looking destination. It looked as if it’d popped right out of a David Lynch set.
I am not an amusement park person – last time I visited one must have been more than 3 decades ago and, even back then, I am sure it was reluctantly. Screams embarrass me. I don’t enjoy being upside down. And being surrounded by screaming, over-excited 8 year olds is not my idea of great fun.
Still, there we were and making the best of it seemed like the thing to do. I was reluctantly enthusiastic at the opportunity to give in to my inner child. We scouted the area and decided to start with the most benign offering: a giant, slow-turning wheel furnished with comfy compartments. The view from above was spectacular. I marveled at it while incessantly clicking away with my camera. Other than that, the ride was as boring as I’d anticipated. My inner child was dormant. Mildly dizzy too.
We toyed with the idea of trying the giant roller-coaster and unanimously decided against. For a brief moment, I seriously flirted with giving it a go; I could use it to cross out the “Do something you’d normally wouldn’t do” entry on the list. But it was too much.
Instead, we boarded what -to me- looked like the tallest ride ever. From below it had seemed to be moving at a rhythmic, overall acceptable speed (it turns out it was simply too high up to get a proper feeling of it). I considered sneaking the camera in my pocket, against the rules – it’d be fantastic to take pictures from high up. I am glad I didn’t – it was crazy scary. I silently congratulated myself for my boldness and bravery and assumed we had enjoyed the offerings more than enough. The others immediately proceeded with testing another ride. I was happy to sit it out and take photos instead.
Then it seemed like we were about to wrap again but no – the tireless goddaughter wanted to test-drive another attraction. It looked somewhat unsophisticated so I decided to ride along. It turned out it was one too many for me. I rode it out eyes closed, implementing all my stress-fighting techniques simultaneously. I wondered if I will pass out. I felt my brain matter move a bit inside my head. I kept thinking it cannot last forever. And it didn’t (it just felt like it did).
Gathering up the last of my will power, I disengaged myself from my seat, trying not to loose balance. It took every bit of strength I possessed. My fellow riders mostly looked excited, even radiant. My world was spinning. Sweating and trembling, I barely made it to a bench to sit and collect myself. While heading out, the rest of the team couldn’t resist a final round. Just watching them amplified my nausea.
The pleasurable experience was followed by some serious seafood feasting at a nearby restaurant, which smoothed the edges of it all and restored me back to my original shape.
I doubt I will be returning to the Pleasure Pier anytime soon. That said, as I am writing this and looking at the photos, the incident seems funnier and more fun than it did at the time. I daresay I already feel a bit nostalgic.