Finding relief in the Big Easy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I need a vacation. The left side of my brain has been screaming that for about two months now. However, my right side keeps winning out and being the rational one, saying, "you can't go on vacation right now - you just bought a house, you've got so much work that has to be done, you just bought a house, you've got so much work that has to be done."

Over and over, those same thoughts keep stopping me from taking what I feel is a much-needed, well-earned vacation.

Although I haven't taken a vacation in well over a year, I did break down and take a long weekend two weeks back. I decided I needed to get out of town, clear my head and get a little "loopy."

No, it's not what you're thinking. I decided that the break I needed and the "loopy" feeling I so desired was to get on every roller coaster I could find and go upside down as many times as possible.

So, I took my girlfriend with me to the new Six Flags in New Orleans. It wasn't that bad a drive either. She lives in Mobile, and it was the easiest 2-hour drive I've ever taken - and well worth the 50 bucks.

After having my brain turn to mush over the past few weeks with work-related events, this was just the brain relaxer I needed.

We got up on a Saturday morning and drove to New Orleans, where we arrived before the gates opened at 10 a.m. Mind you, this was the first trip the two of us have taken by ourselves since we've been dating. It was definitely going to be an adventure - and learning experience.

I'm the type of person who can't get enough of the "big rides." The higher, faster, loopier, scarier the better. I had no clue what type of rides she liked.

Once we got inside the park, we both were pleasantly surprised. It wasn't that crowded (the entire day), and there was a good variety of rides (in case she didn't like the same ones I did).

To test the waters, the first ride we did was Batman – The Ride. This suspended roller coaster with multiple loops and dangling feet was just the thing to see how compatible we were with thrill rides.

Fortunately for me, she loved it! Have I found a new riding partner? My sister's husband is the one who always rides with me - he enjoys the rides that I do, while my sister, well, she's more of the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round type (for the most part). Now, if he's not around, I've got somebody else who'll ride with me.

We spent the day riding every roller coaster in the park (The Jester is excellent - it's backwards and the smoothest ride I've ever been on). We even took a trip on the Bayou Blaster (a ride that shoots you 200 feet into the air in 2 seconds) and the partner to that ride, the Sonic Scream (which raises you 200 feet into the air and then slams you to the ground).

Parents, looking for a great weekend getaway? Head to Six Flags New Orleans - it's not as big as Atlanta, not as crowded, and it has a good mix of rides for both the kids - and you. Not to mention that great food.

It was an experience to say the least. It was also the perfect way to clear my mind of any thoughts of work and things back home. And, despite the temptations of the Crescent City, we decided we'd stick to Six Flags this time. A trip down Bourbon Street is for when you've got real time to spend - and recover.