Flight of the Griffon

 It was spring of 2007. My friend Sarah and I were in the same group for a trip to Busch Gardens. Every year, the music department at the middle and high school would send us to the festival to compete. At the time, the roller coaster “Griffon” had just opened. The allure of its blue pastel paint and 90-degree angle drop made ride warriors crave the ooze of adrenaline. Being fearful of roller coasters, Sarah and I vowed to stay close to the sweet, candy wrapper and churro-dust covered ground. This did not make our chaperone, a roller coaster addict, very happy. It was revealed that she had gone on the trip specifically to ride “Griffon”.

Making it clear that whatever it took, she would stand in that two and a half hour line with or without us, we were ordered to stay at the entrance and told not to go anywhere. Sarah and I watched as she and her kid went to go stand in line. So there we were, a freckle-coated redhead and a goofy looking brunette with an overbite, huddled beside the gift shop, making sure not to be seen by the other groups. We wandered around the gift shop and watched the coaster we couldn't brave drop over and over again. As a watched, I felt my stomach back flip when I heard the click of the tracks drop the magnificent steel creature, and felt a gust of wind as it flew past us, beneath the bridge, and executed a flawless corkscrew turn. After a while it made us dizzy, so we retreated back into the gift shop where our boredom resulted in a few ($20) compulsive purchases. As the brilliant eleven year-olds we were, thought calling my grandmother was something cool for us to do. She was, as you could imagine, not that pleased that the chaperone did not keep an eye on us. I think one of us might have let it slip to a “higher up”, because I didn't see her chaperone anyone again, at least not us.


Gretchen Gales grew up reading a plethora of books. So many, it was rumored she read all the books in the school library.Currently, she studies English and English Education at Virginia Commonwealth University.