Riding the Cyclone



Clack . . . Clack . . . Clack.

The rollercoaster slowly climbs the steep incline up the wooden carriage.

I hear the boards below the rails strain and creak. I wonder when’s the last time they tightened the bolts and nuts.

As always, I think,  “Why in the world did you choose to get on this thing?”

There are few people more fearful of heights than me.  It’d make a good psychological study as to why I’m drawn to rollercoasters.

And this isn’t just any rollercoaster.  It’s the Texas Cyclone at Astroworld/Six Flags in Houston.  In my estimate, it’s the baddest of the bad.  It has no fancy loops or bells and whistles. Doesn’t need them to scare the sin out of your soul.

As we near the top, my fellow riders whoop and raise their hands.  I check my seat belt, get a death grip on the safety bar, and close my eyes.


TexasCycloneAstroworld 2015-06-17 at 8.14.49 PM

The cars stall at the top.  It’s all up to gravity now.

And gravity takes over with a terrifying drop that leaves my stomach behind.  Fellow passengers squeal and holler.

A primordial scream comes out of me.  I’d like to think it was akin to the famous Rebel Yell or some manly sound.  I’m pretty sure I’m actually screaming like a preteen girl.

The ride continues through a teeth-jarring series of curves, climbs, and descents.

I shakily climb out.  I’ve always said that the Cyclone is as good as any chiropractor.  It can also make you need a chiropractor.

Going down the exit, I glance at the snaking line waiting to ride.

The thought hits me.  “Let’s do it again.”

I twist my neck.  Maybe tomorrow.  But that was enough for today.

Where this story was born:  on page 5 of Journal 77.
Where this story was born: on page 5 of Journal 77.

I had another Houston/Texas Cyclone Experience.

I remember the date well.   13 January 2015.

It was 886 days ago.

Don’t believe me?  Count it on your fingers.

DeDe and I stood at George HW Bush Airport’s Terminal C.  Our son Clint helped unload our bags and footlockers.  We were Africa bound.

We’ve had the estate sale. (My first and last).

Sold the house.

Stored away the few valuables we kept.

We were on our way to Africa for what we thought would be two years.

Clack . . . Clack . . . Clack.

The rollercoaster reached the top.

I turned to Clint,  “Well, I guess it’s not too late to change our minds?”

DeDe elbowed me.  “Believe me. It’s too late.”

Suddenly the rollercoaster lurched down the track.  Building speed and jerking around the first curve.

I tightened my seat belt and held DeDe’s hand in that death grip.

I screamed and closed my eyes.

When I opened them, we were landing over water onto a long runway surrounded by palm trees and banana groves.

It was Africa.

A King Palm aka Alexander Palm
A King Palm aka Alexander Palm

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the highs, lows, and in betweens of this African sojourn that began 886 days ago.

We’ve got 3 months and 27 days before our term ends and we return to the U.S.

That’s 119 days.

So much to do.

We want to finish well.  Pray that my current illness will not prevent us from hitting the finish line in a sprint.


How to hold the rope and pray:

1. Pray for focus on the main things.

2. Pray for my health as we prepare a South Sudan trip in a few weeks.

3. Pray for the hurting in the refugee and IDP camps throughout Chadan region.

4.  Pray for our fellow Chadan family: Shannon, Carrie, Giles, Jennifer, Jay, Susan, Robert, Maridath, Selvin, Laurel, JD, Adam, Jon and Holly.

Some of the precious prayer notes, coaster names, and scriptures we've received.
Some of the precious prayer notes, coaster names, and scriptures we’ve received.


The Texas Cyclone and all of the other coasters and rides at Astroworld/Six Flags are gone.  The former site of the game park and its sister,  Waterworld, are open fields.  It makes me wonder if they ever really existed.

What’s the best/worst/scariest rollercoaster you’ve ridden?

I’d love to hear from you.

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