A monster truck ride? How bad could it be?

A monster truck ride? How bad could it be?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. It was the beginning of the space race, and everything was new and exciting. But then there was one little hitch to that career plan.

Fast forward to Senior Night, May 1975, at Kings Island Park in Cincinnati. There I was with a group of my friends, and they all wanted to go on this gigantic roller coaster. I could do the merry-go-round, Tilt-a-Whirl, the Ferris wheel, but I hate the feeling of falling and drops.

I didn’t want to get separated from my friends. The park was a mass of people, unleashed on their own for the first time, full of youthful energy, and all wearing bell bottoms. I went on the roller coaster.

The first item on the roller coaster agenda was a large hill. I was so scared I held my breath on the way up. What I didn’t know was that when you are hurling downward on the other side, you can’t breathe. I was not finding this fun, and when I got off the roller coaster, I had a headache.

It was idyllic 1975, still my next move was not the smartest. I decided to ditch my friends and go it alone to the concert that was going on in the park.

In high school, music was my life. I wouldn’t say I knew the words by heart to every 1970s song, but I knew most of them and still do. That’s why I can’t remember anything now, but ask me to sing a '70s song and I’ll hit it almost word for word (except when the band screws up).

After that ugly roller coaster incident, I had one of the best times of my life. Two of the most popular '70s bands were playing — Styx and Sugarloaf. It was a great concert. I got to hear Styx sing their hit song, “Lady,” and I got to hear Sugarloaf sing “Green-Eyed Lady” and one of their most popular hits at the time, “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.”

I never did see my friends the rest of the night until we all got back to the bus for the ride home, but it worked out OK. I just seem to do better with both feet on the ground.

I should have remembered this on a recent trip to our county fair. One day I took a young teenage friend, Lexi, who hadn’t had a chance to get to the fair with me. Lexi sat dutifully as I covered a couple events, and then it was time for her to ride.

I was feeling bad, though. Lexi wanted me to go on rides with her. That was not happening, especially with the stomach-churning rides she was choosing: The Flying Bobs, where riders sat in a two-person car and were spun around forward, then backward at a high rate of speed, all while the car flung outward from the ride. No way!

The Super Shot was one of Lexi’s favorite choices. Riders sit in a ring around a column and are slowly lifted to the top, then dropped in a free fall until they almost reach the bottom and slow to stop. Sickening!

Lexi also met some friends there who were going on the Typhoon ride. So, of course, who doesn’t want to sit in an open seat, be thrown back and forth until there’s so much force riders are thrown into a full circle at a nauseating height over the fairgrounds? She went, and she had fun.

So then we got to the monster truck rides that were offered before the big monster truck show at the grandstand. Lexi wanted to go. This looked much better than the other rides to me. Ten riders at a time are strapped into seats in the bed of a huge monster truck and driven around.

How bad could it be?

We climbed the 8-foot ladder into the back of the truck. Lexi was about to buckle herself in when I realized I didn’t want to be in the seat beside the tailgate. Lexi agreed to trade places.

Just like a monster would, the truck roared to life in a burst of earsplitting engine noise. The driver began recklessly (in my opinion) turning in circles as we passengers were being tossed about. I was feeling out of control, and my stomach was not happy. I was screaming, well, like a girl and definitely like I’d seen a spider.

I grabbed Lexi’s hand to make sure she was OK and hadn’t fallen out of the back. If I’d have opened my eyes, I would have seen she was fine.

The truck kept turning, and my stomach kept churning. All kinds of wild thoughts went through my head: This thing has a high center of gravity with all the people in the back, the truck was sure to overturn and we’d all be toast. We did go over a small about 2-foot-high ramp. Ugh!

The worst part is we kept circling around an 8- or 9-foot-high ramp, and I didn’t know for sure if they were going to give us a ride over that. I prayed for the ride to end.

Lexi had a great time and was all smiles.

I’m still interested in space exploration and am looking forward to seeing "Star Trek" actor William Shatner, at the age of 90, take a ride into space. But for me, no way!

Motion sickness — how many good astronauts have it sidelined?

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