Battle of the Bulge

And then we saw it. There was no signage or billboard or ticket booth or seraphic “Halleluja” chorus, but still we knew what it was. It hid the horizon, this blemish in the road, this Thrill Hill—it protruded out of 3rd Street like a camel’s hump or a baby bump or a big old pimple.

And we drove right over it, Battle of the Bulge-style.

Our first try was 34 miles per hour, as it is written in the first Must-Do list. I would call that run pleasant, but by no means thrilling. So we turned around and came back from the other direction, wondering if this was the way you had to go to get the real thrill. But still, just pleasant.

So we turned around again, and this time we did 40. Better—I would say exciting, but still not thrilling.

So we turned around again. This time it was 44 mph, and I describe this run as a “tingleworthy” experience—almost thrilling, but not quite.

And then the moment of truth. I convinced Ted, who was driving, to push the limits at a whopping 50 miles per hour. This may not sound too fast, but this hill is short and stumpy—like a ski jump or a stack of barrels—and if we had gone over fifty, we would’ve lost a tire or a bumper or the shocks.

Or, quite possibly, our lives.

So 50 it was. Ted took a deep breath, waited until the car in front of us had passed over the hill, and then he gunned it. 25. 35. 45. 50! Bam, wham, up and over. I dropped the camera, and we buckled over laughing. This was tingleworthy all right, but it was more than that.

It was thrilling.

We drove away content that we had pushed the limits, happy that we had chosen to ride the Thrill Hill for free instead of pouring money into Busch Gardens. Our next stop was the Vinoy Hotel, where we hoped to convince the concierge that we had already paid for a room.

But we got lost. Those damn one-ways again, and the cardinal directions, and just the overwhelming Thrill of it all. We got our bearings, turned around three times, and finally we were on our way.

And there it was. You guessed it: the thrill hill, looming in the distance. What choice did we have but to drive over it?

Overwhelmed by the Thrill once more, we became lost yet again. It wasn’t a frustrating lost, but rather a goofy lost where you just keep laughing at yourself for being so stupid.

Let’s just say the laughter exploded when we ended up at the Thrill Hill again by accident. We just couldn’t get enough of that hill. We joked that when we went home, it would probably be there waiting for us in our driveway.

And would you believe us if we told you that it was?

--Brian Reed

What: Conquer the Thrill Hill

Where: 3rd St. South, St. Pete (just south of USF)

Must-Do? Says Who? The old Must-Do list (which suggests 34 mph). Too many drunk USF students to count. (Don’t drink and drive).

Casualties: Coccyxsphyxiation

Notable Quotable: “Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

At first the Thrill Hill was elusive. In a moment of late-night inspiration, we hopped into the car at midnight with a need for speed—but we scrutinized the map and drove around and couldn’t find the Thrill Hill anywhere. We returned home defeated and out of gas. I was in tears.

The next day we made use of the sunlight and a few tips from key sources. We found Jannus Landing and eventually USF. But then we were screwed up by the one-ways. And then we got our cardinal directions confused, despite having a compass in our car (I should start trusting that thing). The problem was that we didn’t even know what we were looking for—every time we went over a bump we wondered if that had been the Thrill Hill. What was this “Thrill Hill” anyway? We became paranoid. What if it was all a ruse and we were being had. What if the Thrill Hill was just like the “swimming pool” on the fifth floor of my high school—the one that every freshman learns about every year from the upperclassmen, until they realize (some of them only upon graduation) that the school only has four floors.

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