The kids have been participating in a reading program sponsored by the public library. At each of three “levels” of achievement, they receive a prize, and the first-level prize was a free trip to Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver. We’ve had the tickets for a few months, and were always planning to make the trip, but never seemed to get around to it. Monday evening Laralee noticed the tickets expired Thursday, so we had to either go immediately or lose the chance. Wednesday and Thursday nights were out, so that left Tuesday.

Of course, there was a severe storm warning for Denver on Tuesday.

I guess we should’ve paid more attention to the signs; apparently we just weren’t meant to go. As we climbed into the car, the rain started coming down. Laralee called the park to check their weather (a lot can change in forty miles) and they said it wasn’t raining there… yet.

As we drove, the rain started coming down in sheets.

Then the hail started, and big chunks of ice were slamming into the windshield. Motorcyclists by the dozens were huddled under overpasses, waiting for the hail to stop.

But by the time we got to Lakeside, it was dry. The sky was brooding, but no rain was falling. Woo hoo! We went in and started going on rides. The kids had a great time, and even Zack whooped and hollered on the little kiddie roller coaster. (Although his favorite ride was the merry-go-round.)

Alex, Kyra, and Laralee rode the big roller coaster– the one that’s visible from I-70– and said it was great. So I decided to go on it with Alex (since Zack couldn’t ride, I had been taking him to various other rides), and we got in line. That’s when the rain started.

They closed the coaster (“just until the rain lets up”) but the rain kept coming. Suddenly the skies opened and unleashed a torrential downpour. Everyone was scrambling to get under cover– the merry-go-round was definitely the most popular ride in the park, as it was covered– and just about everything shut down.

Then came the hail. It continued for a few minutes, and switched back to pouring rain. Since we didn’t want to huddle in the cold weather all night, we decided to make a break for the car. Running through the sheets of water proved to be a funny adventure. We came to the parking lot, which was gravel and sand, and saw vast rivers of water streaming through it. No kidding: in places the water was probably six inches deep and running cold and swift. Laralee’s car was parked smack in the middle of the largest river, and we had to carry the kids into the car because the water was coming so fast and deep.

Finally we were in the car, drenched and cold, and started maneuvering to get out of the parking lot. Of course everyone else was trying to leave at the same time, so there was a colossal traffic jam. And in the span of perhaps five minutes, the rain stopped. Completely stopped. The rivers faded away, and we realized if we’d waited those few minutes we would’ve been able to walk to the car in (relative) dryness.

Next time I’m going to pay more attention to the “signs”…