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By John Geary

I stood at the precipice, looking down, trying to calm my nerves. Taking a deep breath, and closing my eyes, I pushed off.

Whoosh! Down I slid through the main tunnel at the Kalahari Water Slide Park in Sandusky, Ohio. After a few moments, I gathered my courage and opened my eyes, letting out a loud "Wa-hoo!" as I sped down the tube at what felt like breakneck speed.

Okay, my secret is out. Until that moment, I was a waterslide virgin. But once I'd taken the plunge, I was hooked. I now knew why thousands of North American families flock to these facilities yearly. The adrenalin got to me.

Acrophobia - an unnatural fear of heights - was the main stumbling block that kept me away from waterslides for so many years. Like all phobias, it's hard to explain to those who don't share them. I'm not afraid to go up in a small plane, a helicopter or even a hot air balloon. But make me climb up something fixed to the ground, something more than a story high, in or outside a building and I get short of breath, my heart beats faster and I practically freeze.

With most phobias, once you've conquered them once, it becomes easier to do deal them all the time. This proved to be the case with the waterslide.

Back up I went, and barrelled down the slide once again, this time eyes open all the way down. After a few more trips down the slide (and feeling quite brave and proud of myself) it was time to chill out a bit and relax with the sound of water falling all around me.

I didn't have to go far. I lay back in my inner tube-like float, and drifted around the Lazy River, amid geysers and waterfalls. After several relaxing trips around the river, I felt it was time to brave the heights one more time and fly down the slide.

Then it was time to really chill, and not in an inner tube. I parked myself in one of the indoor park's cabanas, and stretched out on one of the cushioned beach chairs to watch the world go by.

I couldn't afford to snooze though; in fact, I didn't spend too much time there at all, as there was even greater relaxation heading my way: I had a massage treatment booked at the Spa Kalahari.

I could have opted for one of several spa treatments, like reflexology or hot stone massage, but I chose the deep-tissue massage and sank into 50 minutes of post-slide bliss, letting all the tension from my waterslide adventures magically be removed by the hands of a skilled therapist. Mmm...mmm… Wake me up when it's over, please (but not too quickly ...)

As you've guessed by now, everything in this facility is safari-themed, right down to the pens that are part and parcel of any hotel room. Even the restaurants maintain that theme consistently, with names like the Ivory Coast Lounge, the Kahunaville Restaurant and Bar, and Java Manjero. A great place to stroll, grab some fudge or some other tasty tidbit, enjoy a cappuccino, and just absorb the African ambiance of the resort.

If that isn't enough to keep a family busy, while the adults are enjoying a drink or a massage, the kids don't have to become waterlogged playing in the slides. There is a big arcade game room as well as mini-golf. There is also shopping for the adults.

You can easily spend at least two or three days without ever leaving the facility - and never be bored. There's so much to do, by the time you've done everything, starting over again will almost be like enjoying a brand new experience.

Like conquering your fear of heights, for example.

However …

While I may have gotten over the fear of water slides-even high ones-don't ask me to climb up a ladder to paint the trim on a two-story house... .


Sandusky boasts more than one themed waterslide park. In addition to the Kalahari, ( ) you can enjoy:

Sandusky is less than an hour's drive through the rolling countryside south of Cleveland, Ohio. Take I-90 West to Exit 170 B. Continue to follow I-90 West, it will turn into Rt. 2. Follow Rt. 2 to the exit for Sandusky/Norwalk Rt. 250. Make a left onto Rt. 250. Kalahari will be approximately 1 mile down on the left.

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PHOTOS: Courtesy Kalahari Resort

1. Lobby featuring Big Five fireplace
2. Indoor Waterpark
3. Flow Rider
4. Kalahari Resort Exterior


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