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Park and ride filled with fun

Charlie and Dustin Hubbard do their homework, listen to their mother and go to bed on time.

So Friday afternoon, their dad, Clark, pulled them out of school early so they could teach the big guys the meaning of the word "extreme."

The Xperience Skate Park, located in a parking lot of The Pier, has grind rails, a quarter-pipe and street course. But it didn't take long before the boys on in-line skates grew bored and wanted more of a challenge.

"I've been running ramps for four years," said Dustin, 10. "I think it will be a real experience if they let me in that course over there."

His father laughed.

"Not today," he said. "That is for the professionals. You have to wait a few years."

So Dustin and Charlie, 8, threw down their helmets and ran off looking for another thrill.

The boys had their pick.

The X Games Xperience, free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Sunday, is an interactive, try-it-yourself mini-theme park.

You can bring your own skates, like Charlie and Dustin, or skateboard or stunt bike, and try your luck at the skate park. There's also a six-sided climbing wall (two kid's walls, two speed walls and two difficulty walls) staffed with experienced belayers.

The boys tried the climbing wall, but the "bungee trampoline" on the other side of the parking lot beckoned.

Dustin stood and watched a little girl do it.

"Cool," he said.

But before he could get a chance the bungee master pointed to the man with the notebook.

"What about you?" he asked. "Wanna do some back flips?"

I tried to hide behind my little buddy, but the bungee meister would not have it.

"Just slip this harness on," he said. "And you have go to sign this waiver."

The contraption looked like a giant slingshot built over a trampoline. It was manned by two men who looked like they once took great pleasure in pushing little girls on swings, too high and too fast.

"Is this going to hurt?" I asked.

They laughed. "Depends," one said.

On what, I thought to myself?

Panicked, I looked around for my pal Dustin, but the little adrenaline junkie had taken off in search of a better show. Pity, I thought. If he had only waited a few minutes he might have witnessed a spectacle worthy of Real TV.

Now, resolved that I was about to get sick and embarrass myself in front of a gang of third graders, I took a few deep breaths then began to jump up and down.

"Higher," the bungee man yelled. "Higher."

After four of five jumps, I was 6 feet off the ground. That's when the bungeeteer grabbed me by the back of the pants and dragged me to the trampoline. "Here goes," he said.

The added weight was all that was needed to send me rocketing 25 feet in the air and spinning widely out of control. My stomach rolled inside out and I began to taste the tuna sandwich I had just had for lunch. Please God, I prayed, not here, not now.

"Do some flips," the bungee master yelled.

"No way," I whimpered.

"Come on," he ordered.

What the heck, I thought. What do I have to lose. So he grabbed me by the harness and pulled me down again, then he let me go and I flew toward the sky. At the apex of my flight I rolled my legs back over my head, then immediately regretted allowing myself to be strapped into the stupid machine.

I thought about yelling, "Look out below!" but I didn't have time. Before I could lose my lunch, I was back on the ground safe and sound.

"Not bad," the bungee man said. "Want to go again?"

I shook my head and stumbled off to look for Dustin and Charlie.

"I just did the bungee trampoline," I told the lads. "Did a back flip."

Dustin smiled. "I did a triple back flip," he said. "Me too," his little brother added.

I grabbed my notebook and headed home. Nobody likes a showoff.