Shutterbug Pop and the Runaway Train

I've been thinking of getting a video camera.

Of course, knowing me, I will likely end up spending less time using it to capture meaningful holiday moments and unique historical attractions-- and more time figuring out how to do stop-animation film of, say, Marshmallow Peeps staging an Easter-time jailbreak or something.

But to each his own.

The thought of the video camera, however, brought back memories of the last real family trip my parents and I took together-- a trip to Disney, in my 17th summer...

And how the Frontierland roller coaster made a, er, lasting impression on my Pop.

I believe I mentioned last week that during the 80s, my father had a very high-tech video camera. Which meant it was roughly the size of a Victorian steamer trunk for a six-month voyage. And this being my last trip with the folks before permanently flying the nest, the Pop was determined to document ALL the memories using this fine example of technology.

So, as we passed through Frontierland, and waited in line for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride, my father decided that it would be pretty cool to film being on the ride.

Now, I don't know if you're familiar with this ride or not, but it's styled like a runaway train, rolling through jagged Old West mountains and dry desert terrain. And is it fast! Many a set of Mickey Mouse ears-- and a zippity-do-da-dinner-- has been a casualty of this ride.

Having explored this ride previously on a band trip, I was well aware of this fact. But see here's the thing:

My dad is a very intelligent man, but he is not what you'd call "A Listener." I've learned over the years that I have about a five-word limit on my part of any conversation before he's already delving into more important things.

It's sorta like using Twitter. I know I'd better get what I have to say out in the allotted characters or it's all a no-go.

(Now I think about it, I probably became a writer so I could complete full sentences.)

Anyway, so when the Pop was explaining his plan for the Best Family Video Ever, I was getting out phrases like...

"But Pop, this is fast and--"

"Really fast, Pop! I don't think--"

"The curves, you see, are quite--"

"It winds, Pop, centripetal force, and--"

No dice. The five-word limit was still in place.

So as we strapped ourselves into the car-- Dad in the center with the electronic steamer trunk hoisted onto his shoulder-- well, I admit, I felt a certain smug anticipation. I mean, I know why I didn't stop him, but why no one else gave it a shot, I really can't say.

Or why he didn't pay attention to the signs saying "Secure Your Belongings, This is a Super-fast Ride and YOU, Sir, Still Seem to be Holding Very Expensive Recording Equipment."

Some footage apparently is worth the risk.

So the ride began at a nice enough pace. We chugged up the hill, the Pop smiling benevolently at Mom and me with the glow of a cameraman destined for home movie greatness.

And then we got to the top and Pop's whole perspective on the matter shifted.

So did the video camera.

As we roared around the turn-- the sounds of Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath seemed to come to my ears-- and the camera had decided it would prefer to bow to the forces of physics over the force of one very determined tourist from New Jersey.

It took a feat of astounding strength for my father to even retain his grip on the machine-- so fast were we clattering over the rails, around horseshoe bends, and s-curves, with animatronic buzzards fluttering in wait.

The Pop managed through sheer will alone to force the camera into a spot of relative stability back down into the car, onto his leg. The ride, two thrilling minutes for some-- two terrifying minutes of destruction and potential lawsuits for another-- slowed at the station, the engine letting out a steamy sigh of relief.

My father did, too. We exited and Pop rose, only to notice his upper thigh had taken on a brand new feature...

A Victorian steamer trunk-sized, camera-shaped bruise.

I used my five word allotment:

"Told you it was fast."

Pop didn't find it nearly as funny as I did.

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Greg said...

Ha ha ha...ah, some can only learn by doing, eh? How'd the footage come out? Was there a blue monologue coming from him during the ride that got recorded? Dads can be fun like that.

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- The footage wasn't too bad as we escalated the hill, but then as he was struggling to keep it from flying into the side of a fiberglass mesa, it got pretty dizzying. Then the rest of the filming was the back of the seat in front of us. The Pop was entirely quiet throughout. To this day, he maintains that this was a perfectly good bit of filming. :)

Da Old Man said...

You are not alone in finding this incredibly funny. And, so, where is this footage? It should be included as a homage to Dad DeMille.

Jenn Thorson said...

Joe- This footage is probably where the footage of me getting hit in the head with a parrot is-- with Mr. DeMille. :)

Alice said...

Your dad sounds like a hoot. You need to dig up all this old footage and get it on DVD for sure.

I just have bad memories of the Magic Kingdom and not being able to get on Space Mountain and pulsating crowds...*ugh*...not my scene.

Jenn Thorson said...

Alice- Heh, yes, I'm starting to think I'm going to have to pursue that a bit more strongly. :)

I know for folks who hate crowds, Disney is just a nightmare. I've usually enjoyed myself, but also tend to have gone when it wasn't major tourist season.

Chat Blanc (aka Sandy) said...

That is a great story!! I think our fathers have the same listening skills. With my dad it was his still camera that came on every vacation. Thank goodness it was never the steamer trunk video camera! :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Sandy- Oh, that's scary! :) Dad was pretty good with a still camera, too-- but once he found that video camera, well, we got a LOT of footage.

Drowsey Monkey said...

"two terrifying minutes of destruction and potential lawsuits for another" ... LOL

Oh, I remember that ride! And I think my dad has those listening skills too ... must be a dad thing!

Da Old Man said...

"Dad listening skills" is a learned behavior. We learn it after years of whining kids. Moms have the same skills, but Dads raise it to an art form.

Jenn Thorson said...

Drowsey and DaOldMan- You mean as an only child I made him lose his listening skills all by my lonesome? Oh noes!

The Pop HAS always a big supporter of "Children are to be seen and not heard." :)

chyna said...

My dad was and is the same way. We had a calf that we were going to let become a bull so out we went to do branding and my dad is going to show my brother and I how ot hold the calf for the indignities. We are screaming "no Dad that is Rocky!!!" my mom is yelling "Corb that is Rocky!!" and snip went the knife thereby making Rocky into a steer. His comment "why didn't you tell me that was Rocky?". sigh :(

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- Ha- poor, poor Rocky! Made into Raquel by the art of not-listening. :)

Jay said...

HAHAHAHA!! I love it! I've been on the Thunder Mountain ride.

I don't do roller coasters, but I wuz tricked!! The kids said it was 'just a little train ride'. Comes under the same heading as the ginormous log flume they tricked me onto, which was 'just a little boat ride' ...

Chyna - I hope Rocky belonged to dear old Dad. If so, serves him right. If not, well, I have no words. LOL!

Jenn Thorson said...

Jay- Heh, your kids have truly commanded the power of Underestimation! I guess Space Mountain was "just a little planetarium-like experience" too, eh? :)

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, I think stop-animation of Peep adventures would be the perfect use for a video camera. And you couldn't pay me enough to ride on that roller coaster....can't imagine holding onto a camera AND my sanity at the same time.

Jenn Thorson said...

WordTapestry- Ah, but you are a Peep craft enabler. Of course you see nothing wrong with my misuse of technology for Marshmallow Peep exploits! :)

The roller coaster is actually fairly tame by general coaster standards... but not when you're carrying a massive camera on your shoulder!