I'm going to need some time adjusting to this crazy change.
But today is just a post about the adventure, what it was like seeing my brother after 2 years, and some AMAZING picture comparisons from the family vacation to QLD 10 years ago, and the family vacation of this year!
It's been a few intense weeks of cuddling, and random hugs and saying things like, 'You're so cute Mike. Sometimes I just want to punch you in the face!' or being woken up by getting jumped on and pouring the sunlight in through the window right on his face. We didn't have much time though of having him home before we had to pack our things and start the 15 hour drive.
Let me tell you one thing. If you want to put a relationship to a test; put them into a car together for a long (LONG) road trip and see how they either strengthen each other or crack under the pressure and tear at everything.
I see my family members practically every single day. We do a lot of activities together (Watching movies, going for walks, shopping, etc) and often just sit around each other even if we're not doing anything special. But even that car ride was a bit of a stretch for me. You're in this itty bitty compartment, shoulder-to-shoulder next to someone who mouth breathes and someone who when they sleep they snore and then hit you and blame you for waking them up with your snoring. Then you've got your brother singing in a high pitched tone to songs that are so two thousand and late. It really makes you question if stabbing someone is the direction to go in when you know you can't come back from it.
Fortunately, I brought roughly 7 books, just in case I finished the first one and then proceeded to read the second and third option and then needed to back up to my fourth and fifth choices...then two spare in case all of the previous choices were a bore and I wanted to have something completely random to read, in just one bag set aside for the essentials! (Snacks, phone charger, ipad, Journal + Scripture with marking pens)
The car ride was also filled with all kinds of conversations
- Why is Ashleigh single still? She's nineteen, that's practically marriage and baby-making age!
- Are you going to serve a mission? Missions are great for finding a husband!
- Michael's relationship (95% of all the conversations, so that was a nice change from hypothesising my apparent spinsterhood)
- Advice on Relationships (Or the fictional one for me)
It's at those times that I was so thankful for my Premium Spotify account where I had a 10+ hours worth of combined playlists in which I could isolate myself and hide from the horrors that waved just outside of my headset. Sometimes I thought the coast was clear, pop my headset out, and hear a positive, 'Maybe So-And-So from YSA would be a great catch for Ash!' and my quickly followed "Ew-uh!" and hiding my blushing face back towards the window and smothering the book into my mouth so that I don't say something witty that my mum will not get and take seriously.
In the car ride to and from the Gold Coast, I read a total of 3 books (I could have probably gotten a fourth or fifth, but this vacation WAS about spending time with family so that's the limit I set myself to!) and you can find them on, 'The Book Nooks', a website where two of my friends and I review and blog about books! #Endofshamelessplug.
I wouldn't change the experience that I had of road-tripping 15 hours with the people I am sealed to for all time and eternity. When we first did it, at 9 years old, I'm pretty sure my parents threatened to turn the car around and drop us off at home while they went on towards QLD together. Mike probably kicked me a total of 20 times in the face, Nathan just slept the entire way and I would have just guessed he was in a coma until someone mentioned food or Spongebob and then he was bouncing around the car from excitement. I tried to read - couldn't - tried to sleep - couldn't because Mike took up ALL the room - tried to eat - couldn't because that would mean more pit stops for the bathroom - So in the end I'm pretty sure I just day dreamed and spoke to myself that entire trip. No wonder people thought I was such a weird kid, talking to myself in different voices and having a spaced out look in my eyes.
When we finally arrived at the resort we stayed at 10 year prior, there was literally no difference. The pool was the exact same, the palm trees still blocking the view from the balcony to give privacy (Which if you just angle your head a certain way, you can totally hypothetically render that null)
Okay, I'll stop!
(Stop! Wait a minute, fill my cup pour some boys in it)
We wanted to take things slow, as to build up the anticipation for the whole week ahead of rides and screaming. It was a very chill time, especially when we flew up 77 stories in 42.7 seconds and you could feel the slow pressure on your head as your ears popped and you stood there with the elevator doors opening and opening and closing your mouth like a T-Rex.
The view was amazing. 'As far as the eye can see' is their tag line and I definitely understood why as I pressed myself up against the glass that held me back from sky rocketing towards the ground. To get that perfect shot, I disregarded my mother's pleas and fully stood near the window to just show the amazing drop. Nothing can really describe it, and pictures do it no justice!
The cruise was pretty chill too. I mainly just drank my slushy and took videos of each family member and leading them to believe that it was a selfie together. Those videos shall remain secret 'cos they took embarrassingly long to figure it out.
Our first theme park was Dreamworld, of course. It has the most thrill rides, and we didn't make the drive down just to get pictures with people in costume. We're adults now.
My gosh. People tend to think that I'm a bit of a chicken because I have anxiety and pretty much everything scares me, including making phone calls. But they would be gravely mistaken! I am one of the biggest thrill junkies in my family. While everybody else is chickening out or trying to peer-pressure each other into getting on one of the biggest rides, I'm already in line (Getting heighted, but still in line!). Maybe it's because I'm so tiny in height AND weight that these thrill rides just feel like every day normal stuff for me.
Giant Drop? No worries, that's just trying to climb on the counters to reach for the plates and cups in the cupboard. Buzzsaw? That's Dad throwing me onto the roof to clean out the leaves from the gutter and me falling off. The Claw? That's every single swing I've ever been on, the infant ones AND normal ones. The Tower of Terror 2? Every single time I back up the car and go a little too fast than what I thought I was going. The Cyclone? Every single time my brother and I wrestle because my head gets so bashed up. These rides were easy peasy, and was just an accelerated version of my life.
AND 9 year old me couldn't even make it onto 99% of the rides because of my height, I wasn't going to let this one chance that I had been waiting. I had done my waiting, all 10 years of it.
That's what I thought though BEFORE I went onto the rides. I may be a thrill seeker and daredevil extraordinaire., but I can pee myself from being scared on a ride too.
Our first ride was The Claw. Dad had been hyping it up for YEARS that it was his favourite and just felt like a giant swing but with way more G-Force and harnesses and screaming. I was so frazzled by getting back onto a ride that the first time I gripped my hands so tightly on the bars and just screamed, joyful but also fearful, the entire ride. The second time on is when I let my arms and legs dangle and probably laughed like one of those babies on Youtube. It's such a fun and freeing ride. If you ask my mum though, she'd probably tell you that her kids were trying to murder her and that the only thing more 'fun' than The Claw was being stabbed repeatedly. Her screams echoed throughout the ride and it wasn't a joyful scream, or even one of awe. It was one of pure pregnancy related pain and anguish. It still remains to me one of my favourite moments from Dreamworld 2k15 so far. Am I sadistic? No. Am I a mean and tormenting daughter? Yeah, probably. Am I going to not each for a couple of weeks now? Yes.
The next big ride was The Cyclone. It wasn't big, but it was old. It was exactly the same ride as it was 10 years ago, just with added rust and teeth-shattering shoulder harnesses that didn't exactly reach my shoulders, but more so the cheeks and temples on my head. The wait for the ride ALMOST equaled the pain that I suffered on that ride. At first it was fun, and then the sharp corners happened and if you've ever seen one of those UFC fights where it's clearly unmatched because within the first few seconds one of the opponents is down on the ground and repeatedly getting bashed in the head?
That's what it was like. When we got off the ride, a small little kid in front of me was sobbing and grabbing their head because his head acted like the ball in a pin ball machine. I'm fairly certain I came off the ride with more of a strong cheekbone structure because the ride chiseled half of it down.
Then the big rides! THE BIG RIDES!
The Tower of Terror 2 was a ride that I heard a lot from my Dad about - It's so scary but not as bad as the giant drop - You fly forwards out of the tunnel and then fall backwards into the tunnel again! - It was so much fun!
I was obviously excited to test it out, because I was just a strand of hair too short to go on the ride before. I charged up there, noticed all the cool scenery that was like something out of World War 2, and strapped into the ride with my brother by my side whacking me and getting all pumped with his dog woofs and 'WHAT TEAM?' cheers from High School Musical. It's hard to describe this ride, because I'm pretty sure I blacked out for most of it or probably experience my first ever trippy feeling. Hurtling backwards at 100 mph with a maximum of 4.5Gs through a tunnel with flashing lights, there was a point where I just stopped screaming and looked like something out of the painting, 'The Scream'. It was a moment of, 'Why in the world did I strap myself into this ride and find it enjoyable to feel like I'm in the smack bang of a wind tunnel with lights giving me the beginnings of an epileptic seizure. The 6.5 seconds of weightlessness at the peak of the ride also did not help that weird seizing feeling in my head, but overall I jumped the line and went on it another two times. Something inside of me likes being that close to death, but not enough to grasp it.
The Giant Drop.
The fall doesn't technically last long, but when you're dropping it feels like you've been dropped for too long and that the oxygen is not reaching your lungs because you're screaming so hard and for so long. It can easily be said my favourite ride and also the first ride that actually made me afraid, made my rational side think 'oh look what you did now. There's nothing I can do about your body hurtling towards the ground at 83.9mph. You're a moron', and gave me a buzz like no other ride could.
Dreamworld was my favourite park out of all the parks we visited, mainly because of all the rides were A+ and 10/10 would ride again.
So to celebrate Dreamworld, I've included some very exclusive a 10 year difference in pictures to our first vacation and our 2015 vacation. Please, no judgement past this level.
I have SUCH fond memories of Movie World. Cat Woman, Batman and Robin, and Poison Ivy all posing with me and my eyes just full hearts beating in their direction.
But oddly, this time, it was not like that. I barely looked at the actors who dressed up like Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and this other dude who I couldn't recognise at all. Whenever people took pictures with them, they'd always kind of give that guy the pity look and take an obligatory picture with him, but obviously delete it when they were walking away.
It was like getting nostalgia over a meal that you used to love as a kid, and then one day you come back to it. It looks all the same, the smell is causing you to reminisce on the times you ate it as a kid and how you used to watch your mum/dad make it, but when you take that first bite, you just know. You just know deep down inside it's not the same.
It's just so disappointing! Sure, two of the major rides that we went on there were ah-mazing. The Superman Escape roller coaster was the most intense 0 to 100 (Literally, it goes from 0 to 100 in two seconds) ride. The hydraulic shot out of the tunnel was my favourite part of all the rides we had been on, and it was TOTALLY worth the 4-5 minute wait with a replaying video that honestly made me eye roll so many times over the course of the day.
Funnily enough, the Arkham Asylum ride was formally known the Lethal Weapon ride 10 years ago, but it's nice that they aren't wasting what they've got. Movie World has definitely adopted all of the DC Comic characters and changed the theme around to fit it, including having a statue of the Joker in front of the Arkham Asylum sign.
But when compared to my childhood, it clearly does not even meet the bar. Going back through the pictures, 9 year old me posed with nearly every character at the theme park and went on all of the children's rides. in 2015, two of the major rides were not functioning (Green Lantern due to a malfunction a few weeks ago, and the Batwing because they just had to be little butts about life) so we only went on the Arkham Asylum and Superman Escape a few hundred times.
Sorry Movie World...0 out of 10, would not ride again (Only for the Superman ride and if there were no lines for it...)
Man. Sea World is the best if you just want to stare at animals with a creepy look of satisfaction and to get a few opportunities to touch them even creepierly (Yes, that's a real word, hush)
I got to see the Polar Bears (YASSS. One of them was beating up a purple bucket and wrestling with it. It's my most treasured videos to this day) and touch a Stingray + feed one! It was an abnormal feeling to have this slimy thing caress your hand for an equally slimy and disgusting fish between your knuckles and feel its weight crushing your hand.
There were also rides! Not as intense as Dreamworld, or even Movie World, but The Storm Coaster was some harmless fun! My most memorable moment was caressing the Stingray as it nibbled at my hand and I screamed like I had been stabbed and everyone looked at me.
(I didn't want to include photos of the animals, so instead I provided pictures from our trip ten years ago with my brother and I)
Our last two days :( It flies by so fast!
Our 5th day wasn't too extreme. At White Water World, it wasn't too grand. Most of the rides were a one-time-jump-on-okay-it's-done-let's-go-to-the-next-one ordeal. The one ride that made me seethe with anger was actually The Wedgie, which starts in this container styled box where you stand on a platform that slides out from underneath you and then you are water boarded for the entire ride. The ride wasn't even enjoyable, you couldn't even breathe as jets of water smash into your face and you're just thinking, 'Oh please let this ride not be super long or else a body will be sliding down this ride limp'. I left that ride, of course pulling out a massive wedgie, but also gulping air and mentally crossing off this ride as a never ride.
There hit a point where we had ridden all of the rides, we just all turned to each other and said, 'Let's go to Dreamworld' so we skipped out of White Water World, and back into Dreamworld to go on all the big rides. Big Rides win every time <3
A funny moment happened on the VERY first ride we were preparing to go on. So this ride is so intense, with a loop that requires a bit of water force to push you through, making it that there is a height AND weight requirement quite strict. As you're waiting in line, people in front of you are getting on a set of scales and checking to see if their in between, majority of them get sent through but there are a few who get sent away because they're either too tall or big for it. My brother goes in front of me, and everything is alright when he gets on the scales, but as I climb on after him, smiling at Mike the entire way for the exciting ride ahead of us, I see my number come up on the scale: 44.6kg.
"Sorry, you're under the weight limit. Come back after lunch." I was so shocked but found the situation so funny that I just laughed all the way to my mum who was standing ready to take a video of our descent. She looked at me wide eyed and asked, 'You weren't too fat, were you?' and I just laughed even harder. I didn't go back after lunch, because in Mike's opinion, it wasn't really worth it (Sorry to disappoint you all, sorry)
There was also another 'ride' which Mike and I went on, after plenty of chicken-calls and pressure on my side to Mike, that was crazy. Just crazy. Here's the official Steps on the Wet 'N' Wild Ride, The Skycoaster
STEP ONE - You'll be strapped into a harness attached to a massive cable
STEP TWO - Then you'll be raised over 50 metres off the ground – that's higher than BATWING Spaceshot You then need the guts to pull your own ripcord before plummeting face first towards the ground.
STEP THREE - You'll be catapulted across the Giant Wave Pool on a suspended cable at 60km/h – that's as fast as the new AquaLoop
STEP FOUR - After you've reached solid ground, perhaps it's time for a lie-down
Unfortunately, I am not going to post the video of us doing it, as it's too hard to upload it and it's already on my facebook, so meh ;P
After a long day of rides and water everywhere, we made the snap decision to drive an extra hour and a half from Wet 'N' Wild to the Brisbane, Australia Temple. My gosh, it was the best decision we made this entire vacation. THE ENTIRE VACATION. I was in awe, and took so many photos (Some funny ones too, because you can't walk away from a photoshoot without a few hilarious ones at least) I was losing the light fairly quickly, so that's why the photos appear a bit blue from the time of day and also the backlight. But man, it was just a testimony of how I was so tired and irritated and hungry before arriving at the temple, but as soon as I walked onto the holy grounds, my mood brightened and a smile was etched into my face the entire time there. I just wanted to stay and stare at it, but we weren't allowed. Another amazing thing! There was a chapel on the same grounds as the temple! Imagine that! Going to Church on a Sunday and then maybe going to do baptisms or family work in the temple on that same day. Ugh, if only I were so lucky.
Overall, the trip was so amazing and it was nice to get away from the day-to-day basis and just enjoy some time with the family and go on these massive rides that make your head spin and just to enjoy releasing all that tension and stress through violent screaming and being thrown in a harness. It is a bit sad to realise that this is/was our last family vacation ever. With missions, marriage, and moving potentially in the future, there won't be much time left for any vacation like this. It was a bitter sweet moment for us all, but one that we can look back on and laugh when we think of the time that Mum screamed on the Claw like she was on the verge of death, or how I had to call Mike a chicken and tell him that his 4'10 sister is braver than him to go on the Skycoaster, or going on the Giant Drop for the first time and having an out-of-body experience. These will be the times I'll look back on and laugh at family reunions, or the stories I'll tell at my brother's weddings, or to my kid's.
These things are what is really important in this life; Family.