What hurts worse when it comes to a place where you had so much fun growing up? All of it completely gone or bits and pieces of it still there to tease you? The answer is both.
Long before Nashville Shores, was a place called Hermitage Landing. For those of us who grew up in Nashville in the 70’s and 80’s, we knew it all too well because it was the only water park around for many years. There are still a few reminders of the old place if you know where to look.
Off to the side and across the street, there is now a zip line course called Treetop Adventure Park. Forty years ago, it was the home to some of the best memories I have in my life. While visiting the zip line a few weeks ago, I noticed something at the top of the hill. I walked up and lo and behold there it was. Only a small part of it still exists but I felt like Indiana Jones when he found the lost ark.
The famed Aqua Trak. A two-lane water slide that was our Daytona 500. The part that I saw was the first big curve as you came down the hill and made your way to the bottom. Seeing that small part that was left behind was all I needed to be transported back in time. We spent countless hours, countless, going up and down this slide that held so many wonderful memories.
“See you at the bottom,” and we hopped on the mats and away we went. These mats were basically giant sponges that probably cost thirty cents to make but it was your race car basically. If you got off that mat, you would get just torn up by the track itself that probably gave us all tetanus because it was as if we were riding down a giant paper cut each time. Yes, it hurt and we bled but we did not care.
You would race your buddies and no side would give you an advantage, you just had to be lucky. At the bottom, was a pool that we were pretty sure that no chemicals were ever added to make it clean. Again, we did not care. Our hope was that it would stop us as we went what felt like 150 miles per hour, and not catapult us into the parking lot.
Then, we would make our trek back to the top of the mountain and do it all over again. Dozens and dozens of times. Same thing over and over. Hop on the mat, race your friends and see who made it to the pool first. Sometimes, you would get going so fast, you would go over your lane into the other one, or off into the woods.
We were stuntmen. We were invincible. We were alive and we didn’t care what the end result was. We were bloodied, tired, exhausted and couldn’t wait to go back and do it again.
Had the entire track been gone, instead of that one part, I am not sure how the memories would have come back. Bits and pieces maybe but seeing that some of it is still there reminded me of a time that is long since gone but forever in my heart. A time when the only care we had was being the first to the bottom.
A few friends that were part of this moment in my life have passed on but as I stood there, looking at a track that has been abandoned for many years, they were very much alive. Their laughs echoed through those trees and their spirit filled the air.
As I have said before in posts, don’t be sad because it is gone, instead be very happy because it happened. Amen.