Wet and Wild

photoOn my birthday I got a gift certificate to go and spend a few hours at the Vichy Water Park in Vilnius and yesterday, we decided to go.

Now, for me, water parks are a bit of a double edged sword. About 29 years ago (’85 or so), I was in Salt Lake City and happened to make friends with a guy whose mom ran a scuba shop. I ended up taking lessons and was doing brilliantly. I was top of my class in the pool and excited as all get out to experience the open water. We headed up to Blue Lake, NV for our certification dives in mid-november (it was bloody cold, let me tell you – hot orange tang was beverage of choice) and somewhere around the second or third dive (you need 6 to get certified) I lost it. Went under the water and all of a sudden my mind kicked back and I shot up to the surface knowing that breathing in that liquid media was an impossibility. I sucked it up though, and finished my certification and became a “diver.” But I haven’t been comfortable in the water since. Of course, in the intervening years I’ve also run a dive shop (City Scuba) and been rectified as both an open water and advanced open water diver. In a storage shed in Vegas there’s a gear bag with a complete compliment of equipment and at one time I was even a certified repair tech. I’ve spent hundreds of hours cleaning vomit out of regulators, salt crystals out of BCs and hosing off wetsuits. I’ve taught the classroom portion of open water classes dozens of times.

And I am still not comfortable in the water. I have a hard time turning around in the shower and letting the water run over my face without gasping for air and feeling a tightening in my chest. When I go swimming it’s rare I’ll put my head under the water. I used to try and overcome this fear by putting on all my gear, filling my air tank and sitting at the bottom of the apartment complex’s pool (and waving as friends would come by and look down, seeing me just hanging out at the 10′ mark). So why in the world would a water park be a good idea?

Because I refuse to let fear beat me. Fear is never a good enough excuse to NOT do something. So a water park it was. It didn’t help my companion is afraid of heights and, well, the primary attraction of almost all water parks are the slides which require gravity (i.e. falling from extreme heights) to work. So we were a match made in heaven.

As for the park itself, it’s fun. There are 7 slides (we tried all seven, even the highest ones), a couple of pools and a lazy river (without enough water pressure to really propel you). Of the slides, our favorites were the two with lighting features, including one in almost total darkness except for a small portion with psychedelic coloring and one with slits and windows so the light from outside could seep in. We also spent some time in the hot tubs and saunas. The park offers 3 hour, 4 hour and all day passes – the 4 hour is enough I think. Especially for us, since we had 90 minute train rides on either side to get us to and from Kaunas.

Oh yeah… that image at the top there, that’s from a row of dos and don’ts. Ironically, running, climbing and bringing in food are on the list of things not to do. Jumping into the jaws of a waiting shark, though, that’s all right! You can’t imagine my disappointment when we got inside and I discovered not a single swimming predator. There was a cool octopus sculpture surrounding one of the jacuzzis but that’s it.

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