Oct 27, 2014

Spring Valley Beach

I don't know at what point I completely gave up on a timely blogging schedule. Wait.


Yeah, it was probably around then, I'm sure you'd all say.

Well, CONTINUING IN THAT GRAND TRADITION, today I'm going to share with you some 1,000 pictures from a day trip we made back in August to Spring Valley Beach, a water park a couple of hours north of Birmingham in Blountsville.

But Ima go ahead and warn you: This post contains more pictures than I usually post -- and that's saying something. Just get ready to scroll. I mean, I included text, but I couldn't decide which pictures to delete, so sometimes I just didn't.

You may recall from our visit last year (neither last year's visit nor this year's was sponsored in any way, nor is this post) that Spring Valley Beach makes us smile from the "highway," because it just appears out of a field in the middle of nowhere.

Literally. All of a sudden, you just see a waterslide off to your left.

It's you in your car, a little fence to keep the cows from getting into the road, and then waterslides back there in the trees.

Even when you've been there once before, it's just the funniest thing to see when you're driving down this county highway in the middle of the state and there's not even a fast-food restaurant around for MILES.

So you hang a left and turn in at a nice little sign, and the graphic on the sign indicates that you're going to have ALL SORTS OF FUN there.

That is, right after you drive past all the soybeans or whatever.

I mean, seriously, You have to drive past a LOT of that crop before you get to the parking area. "Yes, we're a waterpark. But we ALSO farm stuff."

Once we got inside and settled under one of the pavilions, we didn't waste any time. We got all sunscreened up and ready to go. Of course, I made them stop for a picture.

Or two. No one was mad at me. No one at all. No one was in a hurry to get to the waterslides. Another way to say that is, THEY WERE SUPER-PATIENT WITH ME.

After I took my I'm The Worst Mother On The Planet Two Pictures, we walked over to the big white slide.

I'm always telling Grayson that he and Nick are exactly alike. He doesn't see it.

Jake and Nathaniel got to go first. You might think Jake has fears that normal 6-year-olds have. NOPE. None of 'em.

When I saw my baby boy's tiny little feet peeking over the edge of that slide, I wondered what he was thinking.

I was pretty sure it was only excitement. Especially when he's with his brothers, he doesn't really know fear ... only frustration when he can't do what they're capable of doing.

At the bottom of the slide? Pride. And an immediate, "Let's do it again!"

Nathaniel, being a cool 6th-grader, was a little more laid-back in his response. And yet the sentiment was exactly the same.

I had to turn my attention back to the white slide quickly in order to catch Grayson and Nick boarding their raft.

I rode this one last summer, and I can tell you from experience that when you drop over the side, it is a SHEER drop. I'm sure that's why Nick is leaning back like he's lying in bed.

You feel like if you don't flatten yourself out, you'll fly right out of the raft. It's exhilerating!

As you fly up the other side, you get sprayed with water AND you feel like you might fly off the top of the opposite edge. This slide kind of has it all.

I know waterslides aren't for everyone, but GOODNESS, this is a good one.

Also, nice view of pasture and barn in the background. How many slides in the U.S. have that?

After they'd ridden the Big White Taco (my name for it), we walked up to the blue-and-yellow sides. The yellow one on the right is my favorite slide in the whole park.

It is FAST. Steep and fast. You ride it on a mat, not a  tube, and it feels like you're going 75 mph.

A series of Jake coming down:

Grayson rode it, too.

I'll say this: It's not IDEAL for those of us who wear contacts. It's a little hard on the eyes once you get to the bottom. As much as I'd love to be able to keep my eyes open and enjoy it the entire time, I always have to squeeze my eyes shut at the bottom to save my contacts!

While we were enjoying these slides, Nathaniel was at the next slide over ... the big kahuna of slides at Spring Valley Beach:

You stand in one of those tubes at the top, and they drop the floor out from under you. Then you shoot out into the bowl at the bottom like it's the luge.

Nathaniel came out so fast that I didn't even get a picture of him. I kid you not, that's how fast it happened. He was like a bullet. Here's the gush of water that came out right behind him.


No? Okay, here's the kid who came out right after him. I accidentally got him because I thought he might be Nathaniel. Spoiler alert, he wasn't. But imagine Nathaniel's swimsuit on him, and that's pretty much the same as my kid.

In retrospect, I should've taken a picture of the red welts on his back from those white seams you see on the slide. They got him as he whipped 'round and 'round on his back. Still, he really liked it and went back and did it again. Glutton for punishment.

Finally, after we'd explored the slides for the first couple of hours, we went down to the pool for a while.

As we walked down, our senses were assaulted by the smells of a million barbecue grills OH MY WORD.

Spring Valley Beach lets you basically TAILGATE. All day, every day. People bring tents, grills, coolers, chairs ... they back their trucks up and TAILGATE all day long. I'm not exaggerating even a little bit. So it smells delicious. Everywhere.

Internet, it's hard to go wrong with tailgating recipes, pools and waterslides. Sirrusly.

I'm sure you're wondering where Amelia was ... we calculated that this is probably the last year we could get away without bringing her. We left her at home with our babysitter, Anna ... a 90-minute drive was too far to take her in case she only made it for a few hours, and we wanted to be able to stay until the park closed. Next year is her year.

She'll love this purple slide.

The only hard thing about the large "kiddie area" on the far left side of the pool is that there's a lot of spraying water. I was letting Jake run around on his own and I was standing in one place (because I was using my DSLR) when I realized that he'd left the immediate area. When I found him about four minutes later, I gave him a stern talking-to about how dangerous that was. This is the face of a 6-year-old who's been put in time out at the waterpark:

And who is not happy with the situation in which he finds himself.

When I let him out of time-out, he wanted to ride the blue and yellow slides at the side of the pool.

I love that even though Jakey will attack the biggest slides with gusto and bravery, he still loves the smaller ones, too.

(Although, I rode these, and they may not be "big slides," but they run fast and they're fun.)

Jake and I just ran from slide to slide to slide in the pool area, and he had a blast. Grayson and the other boys had gone back up to the bigger slides, but Jake really wanted to spend time at the pool, which was fine with me.

Late in the afternoon, we went back up to join them and we tried the oldest slide in the park, which is made of cement. (You have to wear helmets to ride it.) Jake and I were riding on a mat together when we took a hard fall on it and I landed on top of him -- on his right leg, to be specific. His knee started to bruise and swell up almost immediately, so we carried him to the First Aid station.

The medics there were great -- very attentive and well-trained, and they took good care of him. It ended up just being bruised, but that was close to park-closing time anyway, so we packed up and left not too long afterward.

We highly recommend Spring Valley Beach for locals and those within driving distance alike ... and if anyone wants to meet us there next summer, let us know!

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