I’m not the kid who gets picked last. But, I’m also not the kid doing the picking. At recess, I follow the leaders. I do what the other kids do. I go where they go. So, because none of my friends had been to Arlington, I was a little nervous when Mom and Dad said that’s where we were going for our family vacation. For the first time in my six years, I had to be the one to find the fun.
“Six Flags!” I saw the huge sign as we drove into Arlington. Mom slowed the car. For a second I thought that was our first stop, but she kept driving.
“That’s where the Texas Rangers play,” Dad said. I looked out the left window. “And that’s where the Dallas Cowboys play,” he said a minute later. I looked out the right window. Both stadiums were bigger than my entire school.
“Perfect for playing hide and seek,” I said. “Perfect for catching a professional game,” Dad said, winking. I wondered if that meant we’d see the Rangers or Cowboys on this trip. Dad’s winks can be hard to read.
First, though, we had to eat. I was slightly worried when Mom parked by Arlington Music Hall. I like dancing, but I wanted dinner! “We’re going into Babe’s Chicken Dinner House,” Mom said, smiling. It’s scary how she can read my mind. Or maybe she just heard my stomach growl.
Babe’s was packed! We sat at a table next to a bunch of kids my age. As the one wearing the chicken hat opened his birthday presents, I opened my mouth to shovel in the best fried chicken I’d ever tasted. It was so good Dad had to keep reminding me to save room for the sides. It was family style, so we passed around bowls of mashed potatoes, corn and salad. It was just like eating at home on Sunday night. But at home, we don’t have waiters who lead the Hokey Pokey. “Don’t be shy,” our waiter said. I wanted to go dance. But I didn’t move until I saw the birthday party table get up. I wasn’t going to be the only kid putting my left foot in and shaking it all about!
“Just follow the other families,” Dad said when we left Babe’s and Mom was on her phone looking up directions to Levitt Pavilion. We walked behind some people carrying blankets until we got to a park with an outdoor movie theater. I smelled popcorn coming from the big crowd sitting on the grass in front of the giant screen. “Oops,” Mom said, confused. “I read the Pavilion has a summer concert series.”
“It does,” said someone wearing a Texas Rangers t-shirt, “but tonight is Family Movie Night.” The next thing I heard was Lightning McQueen’s voice. As long as Cars was playing, there was no way my parents were getting me back in the car.
The sound of cars doing laps around the track was all I heard on our first morning in Arlington. Technically, K1 Speed has go-karts. But they all have racing numbers, and we got to wear full-face helmets like the pros wear on TV. There was even someone waving a checkered flag at the finish line.
After karting, we went next door to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Mom said that from our tubes on the Lazy River we could “get our bearings.” Even though there were a ton of steep slides and fast rides, we headed for Hook’s Lagoon. It was like having a treehouse fort on an island run by pirates. I mostly climbed the rope ladders and ran through the rain curtains until I discovered the water cannons.
Whoever got there first got to fire them! I could almost reach where Mom and Dad were resting on their towels. (They wouldn’t make very good pirates anyway. They were too nice.) “Soak or get soaked,” the other pirates in Hook’s Lagoon said. I didn’t care if I got wet or even had to walk the plank. I was just stoked to be making new friends!
“Three tickets for Secret of the Cardboard Rocket please,” Mom said. We watched a movie under the stars on our first day in Arlington. On our last day, we were watching a movie in the stars. The Planetarium Dome Theater seemed small when we first sat down. But when the lights went out, it felt like being launched into space. Dad showed me how to recline my chair so I leaned back and looked up. There were even more planets and stars above us!
After the show, I picked out a telescope at the Star Store gift shop. “You probably won’t be able to see the galaxy at home as clear as you can see it here in Arlington,” Mom warned. The telescope was $50. She knew I’d been saving up my allowance for weeks. “It’s OK,” I told her. “I still want it.”
Even if I was only able to find the moon, I’d be happy. I’d found fun on my own! The telescope was a reminder of our trip. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends at home about “Arlington, a World of Wonderful” as Dad called it. They’d either never believe me, or they’d beg my parents to adopt them so they could come along on our next family vacation.Explore Arlington, a World of Wonderful