OPINION

A love letter to adrenaline junkies, from a non-adrenaline junkie

Mike Christopherson
Mike Christopherson

Note to readers: The City of Crookston announced Wednesday that the Central Park Skatepark will remain even as RV campground improvements and expansion are made in Central Park. Staff are looking at plans to plant shrubs and other greenery to keep the RV campground and skatepark as two separate areas.

Would you consider yourself to be what is often referred to as an “adrenaline junkie”?

If you had to ponder the question at all before answering it, chances are you are not an adrenaline junkie.

I didn’t have to ponder. Mark me down as a “no.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t have what might be called a “need for speed.” As long as I am equipped with the proper amount of protection, I’m a fan of velocity. And by “protection,” I mean large, heavy vehicles crafted of metal and other hard, heavy and durable materials that envelope me in a cocoon. You know, like when I’m driving my pickup.

But I don’t have a ravenous appetite for extreme speeds. On the highway, I’m a strategic speeder, in that I exceed the limit by a couple or from time to time a handful of miles per hour, but generally not enough to attract the attention of law enforcement.

On the water, my need for speed diminishes. If I’m moving at a pretty high clip in a speedboat or personal watercraft and I see some waves approaching, whatever adrenaline might be coursing through my veins isn’t telling me to jump them and get major air, it’s screaming at my brain to pull back on the throttle. Way back.

For many summers as our sons were loving time at the lake with their friends and relatives, I pulled many a kid on many tubes. Recognizing that not every kid was into extreme experiences – i.e. actually wanting to get thrown from the tube and launched violently into the water – I always asked who wanted a slow, leisurely ride, who wanted a more moderate ride, and who wanted to pretend they were starring in a Mountain Dew commercial as they flew through the air.

One time, the kids talked me into hopping on the tube for a ride. My wife pulled me up and down the Maple Lake channel and exposed me to some moderate but not crazy turns, and I felt like I was approaching mach speed and flirting with cult status as the coolest dad on the lake.

After I signaled that I’d had enough and the gang pulled me back toward the boat, I excitedly wondered how fast we had been going. “35? 40?” I asked.

“Try 20,” my wife replied as the kids giggled.

Add a hill and change the surface from water to snow and my desire for extreme living is dialed back even further. Forget Mountain Dew; the beverage most comparative to my level of daring on a snowy hill, whether it’s skiing or snowboarding, is more like Nestle Quik strawberry milk.

Granted, I was told after the fact that I probably needed a larger, heavier snowboard that maybe wasn’t decorated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers logos, but that doesn’t change the fact that I never once was able to successfully navigate from top to bottom the mild, harmless Schuster Park hill a half-block from our house on either of our sons’ first snowboards. This is a 20 foot stretch of hill we’re talking about, and I was probably never going faster than 5 miles per hour. It didn’t matter. When you’re going fast and the only thing between you and pain and injury is maybe a helmet and some knee and shoulder pads, when you’re brain at these moments is supposed to be telling your muscles to relax so your body can be loosey-goosey like a boiled spaghetti noodle, my brain – even while I was atop a child’s small plastic snowboard going down what at best would be considered a “kiddie” or “bunny” hill – sent frantic signals to my muscles to tense up and turn my body into a 2 x 4. 

All of these things have been on my mind these days, as some dedicated, passionate users of the Central Park Skatepark – affectionately known as “The Swamp” – have rallied to its defense, as the skatepark is at risk of being lost, in favor of a new RV campground in Central Park.

Here I am, the editor of the local newspaper, and even I didn’t know how the skatepark’s devotees have been able to grow and enhance it over the years. I didn’t know that dads pushing my age with kids and careers are dedicated skateboarders in the park. Many aren’t locals, either.

Clearly, these people are wired differently than me. No doubt they’ve suffered many bumps and bruises and scrapes over the years, but they always hop right back on their boards, push off with their foot and launch into their next tricks and maneuvers. Me? I’d probably just go hit a golf ball.

Our minds are in synch, however, behind the notion that when a new, larger RV campground goes into Central Park, an accommodation needs to be made for these people, their passion, and their park.