This One Is A Struggle

About a month ago, when I laid out areas that I had goals for heading into the new year, this was the one thing on the list that I knew would present the biggest challenge: creativity.

It may seem strange to think that someone who has a career that involves music would struggle with creativity, but it’s true. I really do. I tend to find the ‘formula’ that works and stick to it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make me a creature of routine and habit and makes change something that isn’t always the easiest for me.

I want to make a concerted effort to think outside the box a bit more this year. I don’t want to be content with continuing to do things the same way just because it’s how I’ve always done things. That includes in my music, in my relationships, and in my family. I don’t want to be predictable. I don’t know how successful I’m going to be with this, but it’s going to be interesting to give it a shot.

Do any of you struggle to think outside of the box? How do you get yourself to do it? Leave your thoughts below.

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Reading: It Does A Mind Good

I truly thought that I would have finished these opening blogs of 2021 by now, but Covid decided to wreak havoc in our household. My wife tested positive last Friday and also was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia. Surprisingly, everyone else in our home tested negative although I’m pretty convinced mine was a false negative. My symptoms haven’t been nearly as bad as my wife’s, but I can tell you that this virus is nasty stuff. But enough of that stuff. Let’s get back into another one of my goals for 2021.

About three years ago I rediscovered my love for reading. Now I find myself always looking for good books to get into. I’m kind of a different type oof reader as I always seem to have at least 3 books going at once. Typically one fiction (I’m really enjoying the Disney Twisted Tales series – guilty pleasure I know), one history or biography, and one Christian living/Bible study book. I find that keeping multiple books going prevents me from getting bogged down if one of the books happens to be a difficult read.

My personal goal for this year is to read 30 books. I know that for some that number is small and for others that number seems huge. The important thing isn’t the number. It’s taking the time to do something besides sitting in front of a computer or television screen and engaging my brain. I have recently challenged myself to read books that will challenge me intellectually. What I mean is that I don’t want to read in my own comfortable echo chamber. I want to read some stuff that I may disagree with because I want to be able too intelligently engage with people who don’t think, believe, or see the world the way that I do.

I encourage you to discover the joy of reading if you haven’t already. Start by reading about some things that you’re interested in and then slowly expand your reading catalog. I promise you that you will not regret it.

If you have your own personal reading goals for this year, drop them in the comments below.

Taking Care of Me

Ok. I promise, this blog post is not as selfish as the title makes it sound. I had intended on getting this post out earlier this week and then things got crazy. I will refrain from addressing any of the craziness.

Pressing on, before I share with you what my fitness goals are, I would like to share a brief backstory that will hopefully divulge why this category of goals is so important to me.

As a freshman in high school, I was a whopping 5’1″ and had a pretty normal build. I maintained that build through my growth spurt (I’m now 6’0″) until I got to college. As many college students do, I put on the ‘freshman 15’ and then some. I developed poor eating habits and despite remaining relatively active through college, I put the weight on. That trend continued into adulthood. I never was overly concerned about my weight because aside from migraines which I have dealt with since childhood, I didn’t have any health issues.

Fast forward to 2015 when our world was rocked as we discovered on a Wednesday night that my wife had a brain tumor and on Friday morning she was in surgery to have it removed. (The tumor was discovered to be benign and Beth is doing great.) While that health scare wasn’t mine, it hit very close to home and got me thinking about my health. I hadn’t stepped on a scale in a long time. When I did, I was shocked. I weighed in at a whopping 298 and was wearing a size 46 waist.

That’s a picture that as much as I’d love to never look at again, it’s a reminder of where I never want to be again.

At the time, I was out of work which certainly wasn’t helping my self image. I was a two-sport athlete in high school and there’s one thing about playing varsity sports that I hated and that was running. Here I am, 36 years old and pushing 300 pounds. I had a street and a pair of tennis shoes so I decided it was time to start…..wait for it….running. It was all I could do to go 1/4 mile without feeling like I was going to die.

But I kept going. 1/4 mile became 1/2 mile which became 1 mile which became 2 miles. I was elated the first time I ever ran that enormous distance of 3.1 miles (that’s a 5k). I thought that maybe at some point I might be convinced to run a 10k but certainly there was no desire to run farther than that.

Well, a found a friend at church. Actually, I should say that he found me. He noticed my running activities on social media and wanted me to join him for a Saturday long run. His long runs were anywhere from 8-13 miles. I knew I wasn’t ready for that distance, but he decided to join me on some of my shorter runs when he could and he tolerated my snails pace all the while encouraging me to keep at it and keep stretching that distance. Well, the weekend before we moved away, I joined him for a long run and we went 8 miles. It took me an hour and thirty-one minutes, but I did it and I was so stinking proud. Suddenly, the thought of a half marathon was kind of intriguing.

I continued running and eating better and by January of 2016 I actually got down to 198 pounds. Yep. One hundred pounds in roughly eight months. My weight would ultimately settle in around 205-210 and I felt great. In August of 2016 I ran my first half marathon. Here’s a pic of me and my girls that summer at Busch Gardens.

I’m not in the excuse making game, but to say that in 2017 and 2018 life happened would be a gross understatement. In the spring of 2017 my dad was diagnosed with cancer and he passed away in July of that year. My mom was already not in great health so I was making a lot of trips back home to check on her, bring her down to stay with us for some time, and work on taking care of dad’s affairs. Then in January of 2018 my mom was found unresponsive in her home. She lived until March of that year but she was really never fully lucid again.

The stress of all of that coupled with the countless trips up I-95 brought back all of my horrific eating habits and by the summer of 2018, I was back up around 278. Not good at all. I got really serious about running again. I managed to drop about 20 pounds really quickly and in October of 2018, I ran my first marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival. I wasn’t fast. That didn’t matter. I was a marathoner and Beth was there to see me do it. If you want to read that full story, you can do so at the link below. https://charlestonheel.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/well-that-was-hard/

Well, here we are in 2021. I’ll be honest. Getting the rest of my weight off is still a struggle. I began 2020 weighing 254 pounds. At the start of 2021 I weighed in at 232.

January 4, 2021

Here are my fitness goals for this year.

  1. Get my weight back down to somewhere between 200-210 pounds.
  2. Run 1,500 miles (I’ve run 1,000+ each year since 2016 but have never hit 1,500.)
  3. If in person races start happening and I can find a half marathon that works with my schedule, I want to break the 2 hour mark for a half marathon. My personal record is 2:06:46 in June of 2017.
  4. Eat better on a consistent basis.

Well, there’s my fitness goals for 2021. I know this one was a little bit longer that the first couple of installments in this series, but I felt the backstory was really important here. Do you have any fitness goals this year? Drop them in the comments!

Family Matters

In this second installment of my 2021 goals series, I want to step inside the home….literally. I have been blessed with an amazing family. Beth and I have been married for 17 years this past November and we have two amazing daughters. Carrie is 15 and Hannah is 12. These three ladies absolutely have my heart and they deserve the best from me. This is where my family life goals come into play.

  1. Control my temper. I am a passionate person and an emotional person. That however is no excuse for the times that I lose my temper with my kids or with my wife. I have to learn to stop and think more when my natural instinct is to just react. My family deserves my rational persona rather than my irrational one.
  2. Value family time more. My oldest daughter is a freshman in high school and suddenly it is hitting me that she will be off to college in 3 1/2 years. Where in the world does the time go?? I will always cherish our multiple amusement park trips as father and daughter this year and look forward to several more over the next few years. Even with that said, I need to look for more ways to get as much quality time with both girls and of course with Beth. I absolutely love when Beth and I have date day or date night.
  3. Be a better leader. I know that my biblical role in the family is to be the spiritual leader of my family. That is a role that I have always taken seriously and will continue to do so. However, there is always room for improvement and this is something that as I approach my spiritual goals, this should naturally improve as well.
  4. Have fun and laugh. This past year has brought about so much unexpected stress and without a lot of serious and even anxious moments at home. I want to take the time to laugh more and have more fun. After all, we aren’t promised tomorrow so why not make the absolute most of today.

Well, there’s a snapshot at what I want to work on with my family this year. Do you have any goals in this area of your life? Leave a comment below.

2021 Goals: Raising The Bar

In this first installment of my 2021 goals, I want to talk about some specific goals that I have in my relationship with Christ. I know many that know me might say something like, ‘You’re a pastor. You should already be on top of this.’ Here’s the dirty little secret. Pastors don’t always have it all together. We are every bit as human as everyone else and, like everyone else, we have our peaks and valleys. I wish that more pastors would be honest about that part of their lives, but I also understand why many are incredibly guarded. There are many that relish the opportunity to launch an attack on any Christian with a struggle, let alone a pastor.

Ok. Enough of that little soap box. Here’s what I am striving to improve at this year.

  1. Consistency in Bible reading. I’m generally pretty good about this already, but there are still the occasional days that time gets away and I find myself in bed realizing that I haven’t spent any time in the Word that day. Simply put, that can’t happen. God’s Word is spiritual nourishment. Just like my body will not respond well to only eating a few times a week, my soul won’t respond well to not being fed regularly.
  2. Pray more. I’ll be honest. This is a spiritual discipline that I simply need to be better at. That isn’t to say that I don’t pray daily. I do. However, I often find myself praying and then as soon as I say amen, I’m on to the next task. I need to be more deliberate, more patient in my prayer life. I need to take the extra time necessary to not just lay out my prayer list to God, but to let Him talk to me.
  3. Be a better pastor. This one requires genuine sacrifice on my part. It’s so easy for me to have tunnel vision on Sundays. There are certain tasks that I have to either get done or make sure they are done and I find myself oblivious to anything or anyone else around me. While I have improved here, I still need to be better. Another part of this is having more communication during the week with the people that I pastor. This starts with our worship team as those are the people that I am with the most, but also goes beyond that to everyone in our local church.
  4. Share my faith more effectively. I have always been one that believes that your life speaks far more than your words when it comes to what you believe. However, that doesn’t make it ok to not share my faith when the opportunity presents itself. In today’s climate, the world is often openly hostile to Christianity, but the gospel still needs to be presented when possible.

Well, that’s my list of spiritual goals for 2021. Do you have any goals in this vein? Feel free to share in the comments.

It’s Time To Turn The Page

Well, we made it! 2020 is now in our rear view mirror and 2021 has begun. While the dawning of a new year certainly doesn’t mean that all of the bad stuff from 2020 has magically vanished, it does bring with it a sense of hope that the light at the end of the tunnel we have been enclosed by for almost a year is certainly growing bigger and brighter.

I want to begin this year with a series of blogs that will highlight some goals (I refuse to call them resolutions) that I have in multiple areas of my life for the coming year. As I settle in to watch the College Football Playoff Semi-finals, I will leave you with a quick rundown of topics that this opening series of blogs will delve into.

  1. Spiritual Life
  2. Family Life
  3. Fitness
  4. Reading
  5. Creativity
  6. Theme Parks/Roller Coasters (You didn’t really think I would leave that out, did you?)

Buckle Up

Below is something that I put on my personal Facebook page, but I thought it was fitting to also share it here with my followers.

My prediction based on where we currently stand and is presented without bias. It looks as though despite a stronger than expected showing from POTUS that Joe Biden will most likely be our 46th president. The blue tidal wave never materialized and the GOP will maintain the Senate as well as pick up a couple of seats in the House. This election is going to be decided by the courts. In my opinion that is the worst case scenario for our country because it will only serve to embolden whichever side loses to feel as though they had an election stolen from them. This is NOT what this country needs after such a turbulent election season. What we need is to either celebrate or lick our wounds (whichever your side needs to do) and work together as citizens to come together.The next few days are going to be tumultuous and it’s going to get ugly among the participants and the pundits. Don’t fall into that trap. If our leaders won’t demonstrate what it looks like to work together, then let us as citizens lead the way in that department.Remember, Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. But He didn’t stop there, He went on to say that the second greatest commandment is that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. There’s no qualification with regard to who our neighbor is. That means your democrat neighbor, your republican neighbor, your libertarian neighbor, your black neighbor, your white neighbor and you can put any kind of qualifier in front of neighbor that you want, we are still supposed to love them.

Who Am I?

It’s been a while since I’ve written this type of blog, but as I have gained several followers both on social media and here on the blog, I thought this would be a good time to re-introduce myself.

First and foremost, I am a believer in Jesus Christ. My identity is found completely in Him. Apart from His grace and mercy, I am merely dirt and clay.

This beginning may very well be an immediate turn-off to some that read this. I hope that you will stick around, though. I know that my faith means that I hold to some beliefs that aren’t shall we say, in vogue, in today’s society. I’m ok with that. I also understand that not everyone holds those same beliefs. I have friends across the political spectrum as well as friends that hold a vast array of religious beliefs. While I will not compromise my beliefs, I will also not stoop to denigrating those that don’t share my beliefs.

Honestly, I am grateful for my variety of friends. It keeps me honest with my beliefs and helps me to make sure that I know not only what I believe but why I believe it. I am always open to honest and challenging conversations where differing viewpoints can be shared. I strive to always respect everyone I come into contact with regardless of how much or how little we have in common. I think one of the greatest problems in our society is that we’ve reached a point where people aren’t willing to have open, honest, and respectful conversations. We are too quick to simply silence a voice in our circle when we find a point of disagreement. I think we could make much more headway if we would learn to listen to each other and understand that I can disagree with you and still respect and love you. Maybe I’m naive to think that’s possible, but if it isn’t we will only continue to sink further into the divisive society we live in now.

I am a husband and father. Marrying Beth was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done (aside from accepting Christ). I can’t picture my life without her by my side. We have two amazing daughters that bring so much joy to our lives. My family means the world to me.

I am a pastor. I have served in the role of worship pastor of 3 different churches over the course of my career. We have been here in Virginia Beach for four and a half years and we hope to be here for many more. My position gives me a unique opportunity to share the gospel through music on a regular basis and I am so thankful for that. It also brings with it the challenge that when you are a pastor, people watch everything you do. If I’m being honest, that can be very stressful, but the reality is that it forces me to be intentional in everything I do. I don’t always get it right, but I try to learn from the times where I don’t and become a better Christian because of it.

I’m a middle-aged kid. That sounds weird, but it’s true. I love spending time riding roller coasters with my oldest daughter who has also caught the bug for this strange hobby. It’s awesome to have something like that to bond over.

I’m a marathoner. I’ve completed two marathons and while I don’t know if I will do another one, I am smart enough to not say never. I typically run 25-35 miles each week and in the most shocking of events have fallen in love with an activity that 6 years ago I hated.

Well, that’s a quick snapshot of who I am. I truly hope that you decided to hang around and continue to follow this blog and my social media pages.

Be blessed!

When Roller Coaster Rankings Change

Roller coaster rankings are an interesting thing. They are completely subjective because they completely depend on what the individual likes in a ride. There is no formula to scientifically say what the best roller coasters are. That’s one of the things I love about this hobby. There is no right or wrong answer as to what the best rides are. Well, if you rank a suspended, looping coaster by Vekoma (SLC) as the best, you’re either wrong or you just really enjoy getting beat up by a ride. The reality is that it’s ‘to each their own.’

Despite being 41, I would only consider myself to have become a roller coaster enthusiast in the last 2-3 years so I really haven’t been ranking roller coasters that long. However I can tell you that even before my enthusiast mode kicked in, if you had asked me what my favorite inverted coasters were, I would have listed Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa as my top 2. Prior to November of 2018, I would have considered Alpengeist as my favorite invert. This was probably due to several factors. First would be a home park bias towards Williamsburg. Second would be that I’ve ridden Alpengeist countless times and up until 2018 only had 1 lap on Montu and that was way back in the summer of 2001.

Upon riding Montu again in 2018, it was clear to me that despite being the same age as Alpengeist, it had aged a little bit better. I made Montu my favorite invert. Alpie was more intense, bigger, and faster, but it had just gotten really rough over the years.

Fast forward to September of this year. Busch Williamsburg had been closed all season due to the pandemic, but in August they began running month long special events with a 1,000 person capacity limit. With the small capacity, they haven’t been opening the entire park for each event and in August Alpie never opened. September’s event brought the return of Alpengeist.

I was excited to get back on this ride as it is my favorite ride in the park. (That’s a controversial opinion to those who love Apollo’s Chariot.) The first ride I had on it in September was absolutely amazing. It was running much more smoothly than I remember and it seemed to be a little bit faster. We got four rides in that night and they were all fantastic. We rode front and back (back row on Alpie is something that you just have to experience as it is insane). I held off on changing my invert rankings and consequently my overall coaster rankings until we got another visit or two in during the month.

During a visit later in the month with Patrick, Greg, and Sam from the flight crew of We Were Inverted (https://www.wewereinverted.com). We had a great night that included several more amazing rides on Alpie. In fact, you can find a blog about that night over on their page as well. Greg and Sam had never experienced Alpengeist prior to that night. Some point during that night I decided to rearrange my coaster rankings and move Alpengeist ahead of Montu. It’s simply running unbelievably well right now.

What’s the big deal about rankings shuffling around on my list? Not much, except that it’s pretty rare for me to move around rides that I have already ridden. I had that happen one other time with a certain wooden coaster that seems to keep getting better each year that it’s open and it has moved up a few notches as well. Either way, it just doesn’t happen very often. When it does happen it’s usually because a ride begins to deteriorate with age so you would see a ride drop for that reason. While this change did drop Montu a slot, it had nothing to do with Montu getting worse. It’s a world class ride that should definitely be experienced. Something was just different with Alpengeist this year and it is running better. The only work that I can confirm was done on the ride was an upgrade to the braking systems. This definitely helps out on the mid-course brake run, but shouldn’t play into the rest of the ride.

So with all this talk about ranking coasters, I guess I should reveal my updated top 10 steel list and top 10 overall list since this change shuffles both of them around. There is one addition to the top 10 steel list since I did that entire series at the beginning of this year. That ride is Twisted Cyclone at Six Flags over Georgia. While it made my top 10 steel list, it just missed the top 10 overall list as I have now ridden 128 unique roller coasters.

Top Ten Steel Coasters

  1. Fury 325 (Carowinds)
  2. Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion)
  3. Skyrush (Hersheypark)
  4. Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
  5. Twisted Timbers (Kings Dominion)
  6. Alpengeist (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
  7. Montu (Busch Gardens Tampa)
  8. Twisted Cyclone (Six Flags over Georgia)
  9. Drachen Fire – defunct (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
  10. Cheetah Hunt (Busch Gardens Tampa)

Top Ten Overall

  1. Fury 325 (Carowinds)
  2. Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion)
  3. Phoenix (Knoebels)
  4. Skyrush (Hersheypark)
  5. Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
  6. Twisted Timbers (Kings Dominion)
  7. Lightning Racers (Hersheypark)
  8. Son of Beast – defunct (Kings Island)
  9. Alpengeist (Busch Gartens Williamsburg)
  10. Montu (Busch Gardens Tampa)

Theme Parks During a Pandemic: Should I Go?

Wow, it has been a long time since I’ve written anything at all. Having said that, as the summer has progressed many amusement and theme parks across the U.S. have reopened with health and safety protocols in place. Since parks in my area have been slower to re-open, I haven’t been to many.  I have however made it to three parks (Six Flags America, Six Flags over Georgia, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg) in the last month or so and thought it might be helpful to share my experiences and thoughts.

Before I dive in, I will go ahead and out myself with regard to my bias on the current state of things.  This should eliminate the need for anyone to virtue shame me or accuse me of pushing an agenda.  I’m really not. I have my thoughts. I know they aren’t shared by everyone and that’s cool.  I respect your thoughts and I ask the same for mine.

I want to start this off with a brief section that is completely subjective and this is where my bias will show up.  You need to know that I believe the virus is very real and presents a dangerous threat to many people’s health.  I have also chosen to not live in fear of the virus. I follow safety protocols. I mask up, do my best to maintain social distance, and I live my life. That’s where I’m coming from as I make these observations.

It should also be noted that my evaluations are based solely on what I experienced during one day in each of these parks.  I’m sure there are bound to be inconsistencies from day to day.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE

This is the subjective section of the blog. I believe that people who view theme parks as just something to do and aren’t necessarily enthusiasts will not enjoy the parks as much right now.  I know that some will, but from the comments I’ve heard from non-enthusiasts, this is what I think.  There are limited dining options at the parks.  Not every restaurant will be open and the snack/drink carts that many parks place throughout the midways aren’t there right now. Also, it is most likely that not every ride will be open.  I have yet to see an indoor dark ride running.  (To be fair, Six Flags over Georgia has been running Monster Mansion. It just happened to be down the day I was there.)  If you love riding roller coasters and have a favorite seat, you may or may not be able to sit where you want.  I have seen the staff assigning your seat on some coasters both at Six Flags over Georgia and at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Finally, and this is the big elephant in the room, many will not enjoy the experience because in most parks that are open you must wear your mask at all times unless you are in a designated mask free zone or if you are eating.  It’s August.  It’s hot.  Wearing a mask all day in the heat sucks.  If you don’t want to or aren’t able to do that, then you should stay home.

What To Expect

I will break this down by each park that I have visited this summer so you will see the subtle differences.

Six Flags America

This was the first park I visited during the pandemic.  It’s a low tier park in the Six Flags chain so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Reservation was required. You couldn’t get through the parking plaza without showing your reservation. Once you showed it there, you did not have to produce it again.

Before entering the park, Six Flags uses infrared cameras to scan your body temperature as you walk through a tent.  Anything over 100.4 and your entire group will not be allowed entry. The good news is, if you register a fever, you are allowed to hang out in a ‘cool down’ area and get rescanned a few minutes later.  If you fail then, you’re out of luck.

Hand sanitizer stations were everywhere. They were at ride entrances and exits, store entrances, restaurant entrances, and at the bathroom entrances and exits.  In addition there were also some hand washing stations set up in the midways.

Mask enforcement was pretty strict the day I was there.  I saw multiple employees asking guests to get their masks on correctly throughout the day.  We even saw a ride operator refuse to dispatch the train on a coaster until someone put their mask in place.

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Social distancing markers were on the ground in the line queues.  I didn’t see staff enforcing these, but I would say 95% of the guests in the park were keeping their distance in the queues.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness and operations of this park. They were doing it right. I give them an A.

Six Flags over Georgia

I could copy and paste paragraphs 2-4 so I won’t rehash that.  There was however one significant difference in the entry procedures and that was the fact that the guests were simply ignoring social distancing waiting for the park to open.  There were markers down but they were useless. There was also no staff monitoring that entrance line to enforce it.

Mask enforcement here was spotty at best.  I will be the first to admit that if I found myself in an area where no one was around except my daughter and I, my mask came down too. It went right back up if anyone was within even 20 feet of me. I did see one or two employees ask people to put their masks on, but most employees were ignoring it.

Ride queues here were also a mess.  Just like the entrance, markers were down but no one was paying any attention to them.  As you can see in the photos, inside the stations was better.  I did my best to keep 6 feet between Carrie and myself and any other group, but it was a little bit frustrating to say the least.

I never felt unsafe here, but that’s me.  I am certain that others would have probably chosen to leave the park.  When it comes to enforcing their stated health and safety protocols, Six Flags over Georgia gets a C-.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

My home park! I’ll try to not let my bias creep in here.

This park is not fully open, but rather running a very low capacity special event in which only half of the park is open so it’s a different experience altogether.

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Reservations are required and must be shown not only at the parking booth, but at the park entry when your ticket is scanned.  I was relieved to still have the email on my phone as I left the printed copy of the reservation in the car. Your temperature is checked with the touch-less forehead scan by a member of security and the same protocols for fever that the other parks had, holds true here as well.

The park didn’t have the full out hand washing stations (at least I didn’t see any), but there was hand sanitizer everywhere you turned. I don’t think you ever had to walk more than 50 feet to find some. Good by me.

Social distancing markers were in place all over the park and guests were adhering to them. I never saw a park employee enforce it, but again, I never saw what appeared to be a violation of social distancing.

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Mask enforcement was on point.  A friend of ours witnessed Finnegan’s Flyer getting stopped only a few seconds into the ride because a guest had pulled their mask down when the ride started. If employees saw people with their masks down, they were reminding them to put them on correctly. No issues here at all.

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Ride queues were also handled well. Markers were on the ground and guests were following them. Also, a huge shoutout to the park for marking off 2 consecutive rows right in front of the back row of the coasters so that you could ride in the back row. That was great thinking on their part.

Busch Gardens took a terrible situation with local government and made the most out of it. When it comes to adhering to their stated protocols, they get an A.

To Go or Not To Go?

This is a question that only you can answer for yourself. I can tell you that if you are the social distancing and mask police, you will find something to get upset about. The enforcement will never be 100% across the board and people are always going to test the limits. So if that’s you, you probably don’t want to go because you’ll be unhappy the whole time and that’s not the reason for going to the parks.

If you are responsible and enjoy the rides and being in the parks, then by all means, get out there and have a good time.  The parks need patronage right now as many of them have essentially lost 1/2 of a season or more.

If you’re not ready to go into the parks yet, that’s cool. Don’t shame those of us who are.  If you are back in the parks and enjoying them responsibly, that’s great too. Don’t shame or belittle those that aren’t. The parks should be enjoyed.

Have you been back to the parks yet? What were your experiences? Feel free to share them in the comments down below.