Dec 162018
 

Remember when I said that there would be one more Dollywood post and you were like IS THIS A THREAT well guess what, IT WAS A PROMISE.

Even though we didn’t go to Dollywood specifically for the Christmas shit, it was still really hard not to get swept away in the festive feels. There is just something so magical about amusement parks all lit up for the holidays!

So, I just wanted to dump some of the evening shots we took from that day.

This was supposed to be “an artsy shot” of Chooch admiring the drop tower, but then he turned around too soon and I didn’t feel like redoing it.

“Did you get it!?” he asked, because this was his idea.

“….yup,” I said, shoving my phone back in my pocket.

The lights over this walkway changed….

…see?!

Second time at Dollywood and I still can’t say that we went in the museum, lol, sorry Dolly Parton! We’re just there for the rides, not your history!

Never been in the theater, either, lol. Some day I will be an old person and maybe then I will do these things…?

As the sun set, Dollywood’s walkways started to get more congested. I think a lot of people only come at night, maybe. This had zero impact on the wait time for the rides, though.

Thank god.

I loved this area of the park so much. My dad is a huge geek for anything 1950s, so I grew up in a house where the Oldies station or a classic jukebox was always blasting in the garage as my dad worked on his hot rods (he had four different ones when I was growing up; I’m not sure which ones he still has though) and some random Andy Griffith show rerun was always on the TV. He even had several vintage pop machines that worked, one of them held glass bottles of Barq’s root beer, I’ll never forget. Of course, I didn’t appreciate any of that shit back then and would die of embarrassment any time I had to ride somewhere in one of his damn old cars, but man do I miss those simpler times now!

This area of the park is right of my dad’s alley, all the way down to the 1950s garage-themed queue line for Lightning Rod.

We thought this Santa had blackface at first but I think it’s just really old and hasn’t aged well. As I was trying to take this picture, the adjacent theater let out and I got swept away in a tidal wave of wheelchairs and walkers. Old people don’t yield, you guys. Then some broad accidentally unplugged the lights, so that was a real scene.

(It wasn’t, really. She plugged them back in right away.)

I took this from the train, so it’s not the best but look at how lovely the Grist Mill looks all lit up!

Home of Sherbet the Waiter and the Secret Veggie Burger.

 

My oppa, King Lightning Rod.

And then as we were heading toward the exit at the end of the night, snowflakes began to softly hit my cheeks.

“It’s snowing!!!” I cried. “It’s a real Dollymiracle!” Yo boy, I was so stoked on snow and I typically hate that fuck-slush. That’s how you know Dollywood is a real mood enhancer.

Aaaaaand, then I realized that the snow was coming from snow machines mounted to the roof of the gift shop.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend a trip to Dollywood during the holidays. I was surprised by how many people told me that they didn’t even think there were rides at Dollywood — guys, don’t be fooled by the countrified mountain themes – this place has some world-class coasters and really interesting dark rides., and as long as temperatures are 40+, the coasters should be running even during the holiday event. I can’t speak for the shows, but they seem to be wildly popular, so I think it’s safe to say that D-wood is a joint for the whole family. So don’t leave Gramps at home! I mean, we brought Henry and he seemed fine.

Dec 092018
 

Oh shit son, I had you fooled. You really thought I was done slapping out Dolly-words, didn’t you? But nope! I have more pictures and thoughts to share because I’m a freak who really likes things past the acceptable limit.

Contrary to popular belief (and the overly, grossly gushing romance novel I wrote last week) there are other rides at Dollywood other than Lightning Rod, and they are all fun too!

Basically, Dollywood has a stash of fine-ass coasters up in those Smokies and Chooch and I rode the fuck out of them. Except for Wild Eagle, which was evidently the first winged coaster in the country! (Maybe the world? I don’t know, too lazy to google.) For some reason, these types of coasters don’t do much for me so Chooch and I only rode it once. It was good, but not “I can’t wait to get back on that bitch!” good. There was a highlight though: when we were next in line, some young girl was exiting and said to us, “It was easy!” Chooch really latched on to this and decided he needed to pass it on too so when we were exiting, he said it to the next person in line, some middle-aged dude who thoughtfully responded with, “It was easy, huh? Ok!”

Across from the Wild Eagle, though, was a family coaster called Fire Chaser. It’s by no means a “thrill ride” so we went into it with very expectations but it ended up pleasantly surprising us!

First of all, it has a mild launch to it which is kind of unexpected for family coasters, but I thought it was cool because it kind of prepares kids for bigger thrills in life, you know?

This part is cool because it features a BACKWARD LAUNCH, at which point, the track changes and you ride the rest of the way back to the station backward, and you enter the station the same way you enter while another coaster is currently out for a spin! OH THE MAGIC OF CHANGING TRACKS! We were so stupidly giddy about this that we dragged Henry on later in the day.

He was this thrilled about it:

It was even more fun this time around because Henry and I sat in the back seat with Chooch in front of us, and Chooch and I did our really obnoxious and exaggerated WOO HOO HOO! WOOOOOO HOO HOO HOOOOOOO!s through the entire ride and Henry was begging us to stop. “YOU’RE PISSING EVERYONE OFF!” he hissed, and we were like, “duh that’s why we do it.”

God, Henry just doesn’t get it.

But yeah, this ride was tons of fun. I especially loved that it had a storyline and that there were actual flames in the firecracker storage room!

The ride I was the most excited to ride, after the Lightning Rod, was MYSTERY MINE. It was the ride that most stuck in my mind after our last visit in 2011 and since Chooch was too short to ride it that time,  I was so stoked for him to get to experience it this time. At the time, it was the first ride like this I had ever ridden – it starts out like a darkride, but then it has two outside portions with crazy drops and loops. It’s actually QUITE painful (you know that when you’re 12-year-old’s takeaway is, “That was so much fun, but it really hurt” then it is definitely not a comfortable ride!) but the theming is 100% worth it. I remember being so surprised by it the first time I rode it, and then I made Henry ride it and he pretty much needed a neckbrace for the rest of our vacation. That being said, he politely opted out during this visit, haha.

It’s so beautiful at night! We rode it three times because we were determined to finally get the front row, and third time’s a charm. It was worth it!

The first time we rode it, we were in line behind a family and I noticed that one of the guys was wearing a shirt that said Pittsburgh on the back, so I got all MISS BUTTINSKI on them (Chooch’s favorite thing about me) and asked, “Excuse me, are you from Pittsburgh?” because you never know, I wear a shirt from some bar in Cleveland sometimes, you know? PEOPLE WEAR STUFF, IS WHAT I’M SAYING. But in the case, they actually were from Pittsburgh! Well, a little bit outside of the city, but close enough that they would definitely be fans of the sports teams.

“We’re actually sneaking out of here at 4 to watch the game,” the one guy faux-whispered to me and I was like, “OH HO HO HO” which is my “I’m trying to fit in with the football fans” laugh.

Mystery Mine for life!

Another great darkride/coaster combo at Dollywood is the less-thrilling but hilariously-themed Blazing Fury which takes you through an 1880s hillbilly town that’s about to go up in flames. The ride operator screams FIRE IN THE HOLE! We actually got Henry to ride this with us later in the day and he was annoyed because he had to stand in a separate queue by himself while Chooch and I giggled secretly because Chooch was air-dropping pictures of his cat to unsuspecting iPhone users in line. Henry probably thought we were laughing at him though because he has a Victim Complex.

Here in this photo, you can see part of Chooch’s and my second favorite in the park, our bae the Thunderhead. In the forefront of the photo is Wildwood Grove construction, the new-for-2019 area of the park which is going to include whatever that green coaster is in the background.

But, Thunderhead. Wow wow wow wow. I 100% do not remember loving this ride so much when Henry and I rode it 7 years ago. Maybe my love for woodies (lol) needed to develop a bit more with age, I don’t know, but my appreciation for these types of coasters is much more massive now. I understand them a little better now, after falling down the Coaster Vlogs rabbit hole, and goddamn do I wish Kennywood had a beastly wooden coaster that could stand up to some of these fancy ones out there. Not only is this ride pretty long, it is VICIOUS! From the moment the coaster starts to bend over the initial lift hill, it is non-stop. This coaster fucking FLIES and it has some incredible banks. My favorite part of it is when it actually COMES BACK THROUGH THE STATION:

This is a really shitty photo, but you can see how there is an elevated track so that while people are loading in to one car, another one comes roaring through and the whole station rumbles. Chooch and I screamed our dumb faces off the hardest during this part every time.

The best part is that the park was so empty that day, at least rider-wise, that we were able to just walk right on this badass babe every single time.

Riding it at night though, wow motherfuckers. I even didn’t mind Chooch screaming Papa Roach lyrics while we were on it because it just added to the giddiness. (I don’t know why he has been doing that lately — it must have been in some Tic Toc video or something.)

Chooch loved the Tennessee Tornado which was just a standard steel loop coaster and it did nothing for me but I rode it twice anyway because sometimes I actually do shit for my kid.

Sometimes.

The second time we rode it, some dumb bitch teenagers behind us spent the whole ride up the lift hill talking about how “anything could happen,” like “the restraints could break” or “a plane could crash on us right now.” It was awesome commentary as you can imagine. I wanted to turn around and try to punch them, a la Frankie Avalon in “Back to the Beach.”

Little bitches.

Anyway, Henry is like our pageant mom, standing on the sidelines with a camera.

Henry’s new family.

We also rode some non-coasters too, like the carousel, where Chooch was extremely downtrodden because he WANTED TO RIDE THE DEER, BUT SOME DUMB LITTLE KID BEAT HIM THERE, WAH. So instead, he pouted on a pig.

THE DEER.

Most of the ride operators in Dollywood are like tall glasses of sweet tea (lol whut) but the older broad at the swings was a miserable biotch. She was angrily telling people where to sit and then gave us the shorter ride of our lives.

What a Waltzing Bitch.

Chooch and I had a strange encounter with some woman in line for the Lemon Twist. I saw him make eye contact with someone so I turned around and this older blond woman in a hoodie was like RIGHT UP AGAINST ME doing this super weird smile-thing that was more frightening than friendly. I thought she was with the kids behind us but it turned out she was alone and then I felt kind of bad for being so judgey when I saw her joyfully solo-spinning in her cup. But honestly, my first thought when I saw her was that she left her gingerbread house to take a spin on the Lemon Twist and would finish cooking the children upon return.

I feel like all Chooch and I did was laugh all the livelong day. We get along the best at amusement parks.

A trip to an amusement park would be remiss without a cruise on the kiddie cars! It’s also right next to the Lightning Rod, which is so perfect, theme-wise. This ride has a dual track so halfway in the line, you can split up and go on the other side. The guy in front of us was so annoying and had like 8 children with him, so I hissed, “Cut across to the other line!” to Chooch. Chooch was reluctant, because he really wanted to get the pink cadillac and didn’t there was one on the other track. He had even been counting when we were in the other line to see when the pink car would come back. He gets really tightly-wound about these things and I have no idea where he gets that.

From Henry, I guess.

Anyway, turns out the original line we were in actually moved faster than the second one for some reason, AND if we had stayed over there….we would have gotten the pink Cadillac.

Um, oops.

That’s Chooch’s “I’m smiling because we’re in public but please know that tonight might be the night we all learn about matricide” face.

Meanwhile, some dumb guy cut in front of us because his group was up ahead and we were so annoyed because he was a douchey hipster and said, “Hey can I squeeze through thanks” WHILE HE WAS ALREADY SQUEEZING  THROUGH. Hello last time I checked you can’t hold some asshole’s place in line.

Anyway, Chooch was doubly pissed now because it looked like we weren’t going to get his second choice either, the baby blue car. “Great, we’re going to get this ugly ORANGE car now,” he angrily spat and in case you missed it before, let me remind you that these things are HUGE DEALS to him.  I tried to calm him down by pointing out that at least we probably weren’t going to get the ugliest car in the lot (I said it was probably one of the many things that Henry would White Knight if he heard us talking about, like, “THAT CAR IS NOT THAT UGLY. A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD BE EXCITED TO GET THAT CAR” because this is his role in life, the most annoying devil’s advocate ever). But then! The hipster douche in front of us wasn’t just with some broad, but also A CHILD and he seriously tried to stuff himself into the car with both of them, like a Carhartt flannel that fit him before becoming a dad drove him to drink more artisanal hard ciders and mead.

So this meant that douche-dad had to ride alone, so he took the ugly orange car that we were going to get and that meant we got the baby blue car after all!

Oh man, we had so much fun on this, rocking out to oldie Christmas carols while I beeped along like a maniac.

God, never let either of us grow out of this stuff. I feel like every “best day ever” we had in 2018 involved an amusement park and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Dec 032018
 

Oh you didn’t think there would be only ONE Dollywood recap, I hope. Come on, you know how gratuitous I am with the amusement park montages. It’s a sickness! I have to get it all out of my system, like a cleanse, so that I’m ready for the next park, which sadly probably won’t be until next spring, omg ugh no fml.

Just in case you couldn’t already tell, we had the best day ever at Dollywood! This holiday season is a slippery slope for me. I’m either shooting tinsel out from between my legs or I’m severely depressed or I’m casually ambivalent but here’s some backstage info: in all of those cases, I’m usually severely depressed, ha.

However, removing myself from the situation actually really helped because on actual Thanksgiving, I wasn’t even thinking about being sad over family who isn’t here anymore, etc etc. Instead, I was enjoying the day with Henry and Chooch and being excited because I knew we would be leaving for Tennessee soon!

I think this needs to happen every year. It’s the perfect solution, and we all had a ton of fun (yes, even Henry!). So, this might be why I’m feel especially sentimental about this particular adventure.

In this episode of No One Gives a Fuck About Your Theme Park Fetish, Erin, let’s look at some (read: a lot) of snapshots I took that day on my phone, like it’s 1957 and we’re watching a slideshow of my trip to the Alamo while knocking back some White Russians.

Except without the White Russians.

Shit, I haven’t had a White Russian in a LOOOOOONG minute.

Now I want to have another gross vintage food party and serve up some tacky W.Russhies.

No one calls them that.

Henry could have married me at Dollywood, maybe, if he really cared enough.

I don’t get it, you guys.

I don’t know how we missed this last time we were there (wait, I know how—I hadn’t discovered the underbelly of roller coaster YouTubers yet) but Dollywood is apparently famous for their CINNAMON BREAD. Look, we had only ridden ONE RIDE before I was seduced by the sweet siren call (read: FUCKING GOOD SMELL) of the Grist Mill.

“We just got there!” Henry said, when I was like, “GET YOUR ASS IN THERE AND BUY SOME.”

But look, I didn’t eat anything for breakfast because I was convinced that there was ham in the hotel’s scrambled eggs (there wasn’t, supposedly), and you know how things like that set me off and make me throw silent tantrums, right? Well, that happened and I rejected every other option that Henry pushed my way and then growled, “Just give me the room key” where I went back and wrote awful things about the hotel in my spell book.

I mean, I could have just told you that I was really damn hungry, but I felt like YOU NEEDED TO KNOW WHY. #BLAMETHERAMSEYHOTEL

Shit, I scarfed my share, maybe more than my share, of that warm slab of cinnamon dough, sometimes after dunking it in apple butter, sometimes with a slather of cream cheese icing. You don’t know how I eat my cinnamon bread.

Shit, except I just told you.

Chooch was complaining about it hurting his teeth, so he’s basically an old person already.

Henry, delivering the goods.

I guess this guy was making the bread? Or gristing something in the mill? Is gristing a thing?

My best friend for the day. If I had to compare our giddiness and get-along-ingness to something, it would have to be our time in Korea when we had a zillion inside jokes about Henry and laughed like little shitty hyenas much to Henry’s chagrin. It was just like that.

If you look right in the center of the picture, you can see Henry walking alone, which is what he did every time Chooch and I went on a ride when he wasn’t sitting on a bench. He just lurked. He’s a pro at theme park lurking. Guy knows theme park benches and restrooms better than anyone under the age of 55, OK.

The weather was a perfectly mild 65 most of the day! Dolly Parton approved.

Being vegetarian, I try to do my due diligence before throwing myself into the arms of hot dog vendors. Dollywood said that the Front Porch Cafe had veggie burgers, but when we rolled up and I looked at the outside menu, I DID NOT SEE IT. This almost caused the day to sour, because food is the impetus of all our fights. It’s like that in your house too, right? I stormed off and frantically checked my phone for a plan B but all that came up was emergency contraceptive. I was honestly watching the whole day deteriorate around me when Chooch was like, “We could just….ask?”

THIS IS WHY MY BOY IS IN THE GIFTED PROGRAM, YO.

So he strode right back up to that hostess at Front Porch Cafe and confidently asked, “Do you have veggie burgers?” and she said, “YES THEY ARE JUST NOT ON THE MENU.”

Henry said that’s probably because they don’t want anyone to know because then they’ll have to run out and buy some.

Chooch and I were happy to order our veggie burgers and they waitress was just like, “MMmmmmkay” while giving us the side-eye, buy then Henry brought back the southern cred by ordering THE CHRISTMAS HAM DINNER HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

EWWWWWW LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. That stuffing looks like Jabba the Hut! It’s like an elementary school lunch lady dumped all that shit on his plate with an ice cream scooper.

Hhhhrrrrrnnnnk.

OMG I’m going to puke.

Anyway, halfway through our lunch, we realized that this was the same place we ate with Bill when we had SHERBET as a waiter but SHERBET was not there. I wonder if he still works there? I sent Bill a framed picture of him for Christmas one year and he was v. thankful.

Here’s Chooch convincing passers-by that he’s never fed ducks before. He was so committed to his new role that he even let one of them bite his hand.

(Honestly, when we first walked past this lake area, he started cooing over the ducks with so much vim and vigor that several people actually stopped to see if they were special ducks or something.

Nope, the only thing special over there was my son. Keep it moving.

THIS WAS AFTER WE RODE THE LIGHTNING ROD FOR THE FIRST TIME. Chooch was actually hiding there like that while I was in the bathroom and several people got scared. We really left our mark on Dollywood that day, you guys.

I’ve mentioned my favorite theme park vlog on here, In the Loop, before and I’m pretty sure I ALSO mentioned that my favorite person from that vlog is a guy named Legend but ONLY because sometimes his girlfriend Molly makes cameos in some of the videos and I don’t know what it is, her Peter Brady “Time to Change” episode voice, her casual “it’s beer-thirty” declarations, or her laid-back “just here for the ride” demeanor, but I just fucking love her. Anyway, of course we’ve watched their Dollywood vlog and Chooch was so excited when he saw this photo-op.

“This is where Molly had her picture taken! We have to have our picture taken there too!”

Henry was just like, “Oh for god’s sake” as we ran over to pose.

We rode the train later that night so we could see the lights. Christmas carols played the whole time, and during one of the songs, Chooch asked, “Is this Dolly Parton singing?” and I started to stammer because I wasn’t sure — I only know “9-to-5” and “Jolene” OK?!

OK, and “I Will Always Love You” but I like to pretend that song doesn’t exist, I dislike both versions.

SIDE BAR: when I was in middle school, one of the local DJs was mad about something and he played Whitney Houston’s version back to back with Rumpshaker for like four hours and got fired.

(Shocking outcome.)

Any Pittsburgh friends out there remember that?

I love this picture so much! Also, that’s my Cure t-shirt he’s wearing because someone was supposed to supervise him when he was packing and failed to do so, so he didn’t bring enough clothes, lol.

(Don’t ask who that “someone” is.)

It stayed pretty sparsely occupied in the park all day because, again, most people were old and just there for the shows and atmosphere, I guess.

“Rural” usually isn’t aesthetic, but the…wood-y? theming definitely works here and it’s very charming. I also like that the rides themselves aren’t very in-your-face. You have to actually walk around a bit to get to each one.

The color palette is definitely “timber.”

You guys, this Christmas tree did all kinds of cool color-changing bullshit that I thought would be lame but was actually pretty nice.

I was definitely just there to ride the rides, but the lights were pretty cool, I guess. I don’t think I would have paid to just see the lights though.

No, I know I wouldn’t have. I only care about the coasters! Fuck Christmas.

I mean, I love you Christmas — you keep amusement parks open longer!

Dec 012018
 

Some people at work kept asking me if I’m a big Dolly Parton fan, because they couldn’t understand why else I would make my family travel 8 hours to go to an amusement park in Tennessee. So then I gave them a condensed version of the explanation I’m about to pour great detail into below, and they were just like, “….oh.”

I watch a lot of theme park vlogs because I am a huge dork cool person with lots of various interests.  My obsession with amusement parks typically shapes the way our vacations are planned, too, and watching these vlogs is how I knew that when we were in Korea, we had to take a bus to Everland and ride the T-Express. I have always loved wooden coasters, and over the years, I’ve realized that the steel coasters do less and less for me, and I will take a big thick woodie (lol) over a coaster with 78792837 inversions any day. But it wasn’t until I rode the T-Express that something REALLY clicked for me — it was the wildest wooden coaster I had ever ridden at that time. It holds the #1 position in Asia for a myriad of factors, and was once even the top dog in the whole world. It still ranks in the Top 10 for a lot of different factors* though and it ignited in me a fiery urge to seek out more like it.

*(Per Wiki, as of this writing, it’s the world’s ninth fastest, fourth tallest, and sixth longest wooden coaster.)

That’s where Dollywood comes in. In 2016, they debuted the world’s first ever LAUNCHED wooded coaster. It’s also, at the time of this writing, the world’s fastest wooden coaster. However, it’s been plagued with mechanical problems since it’s debut and was shut down for most of the 2016 season. This season wasn’t much better with reliability, and the theme park blogosphere was flooded with angry posts from coaster enthusiasts who had traveled just for a ride on the world’s most infamously finicky woodie.

I developed a major obsession over it and NEEDED to stuff my ass in a seat on that plighted coaster. I kept stalking it online, checking tags on Instagram, and grew cautiously optimistic when I saw that it had reopened in October, with some slight barely noticeable modifications, and that is when I settled on Dollywood for our Thanksgiving Theme Park getaway.

Henry was less sure about this and muttered, “If we drive 8 hours and that thing isn’t running…”

I mean, if a real life Wally World sitch is going to happen to anyone, it’d be us!

The other factor was weather. Look, Christmas lights are cool, but that’s not why I’m going to a theme park, OK. I want to ride the rides. And coasters usually won’t operate below 40 degrees. I obsessively checked the weather (I added Pigeon Forge to my weather app — I still have Seoul and Busan in there too, ouch my heart) numerous times a day like I have a meteorology fetish, and it was looking pretty fucking good – low 60s and rain. Of course, the rain part wasn’t preferable but I was OK with it.

But it ended up being BEAUTIFUL on Sunday! A high of 66 and partly sunny! I demanded that we leave the hotel before 10am and Henry was like, “WE ARE LITERALLY FIVE MINUTES AWAY FROM THE PARK AND IT DOESN’T OPEN UTIL 11!?” He knows better than to try and reason with me when a day of FUN is on the line, so we piled into the car and drove literally five minutes, no exaggeration, to the Dollywood entrance and the lot was open already so Henry sighed, paid the parking lady, and we set off for Parking Lot B for Butterfly.

Chooch was just so thrilled.

(He HATES butterflies, lol.)

“I don’t know why we’re in such a hurry, the park doesn’t even open until 11!” Henry muttered again, so I said we could just sit in the car until the BIGBANG song we were listening to was over. (“Cafe”, never forget.)

On the short walk to the park, Henry sarcastically said, “Yeah, better run. All these people and their walkers are going to get in line for Lightning Rod before you.”

I mean, he wasn’t wrong to be sarcastic. When we lined up at the gate, I did a precursory glance around me and it was pretty much 90% elderly people. This is how it was the last time we were there too! I guess Dollywood is well-known for having really great shows or something, and that brings all the olds to the yard.

While we were in line, two women behind us from Texas were freaking out about getting their show vouchers, and one of them was annoyed that the other made her get there so early. “Now we have to stand here for an hour!” she cried.

But then an old person with a good hearing aid piped up and said that the park actually opens at 10:30!! I looked at my phone and it was already 10:10! I started to get really excited but also nervous because I get really anxious when it comes to beating crowds. Again, Henry mumbled that he didn’t think I had anything to worry about.

Right before 10:30, some weird quartet came out and sang the Star Spangled Banner. Most everyone took their hats off but I purposely kept mine on because fuck patriotism. I looked around and some people were legit crying, lol.

“Dammit!” I said later to Henry. “I should have taken a knee!!”

“Yeah, you’re in Tennessee. Those people would have killed you,” Henry laughed, but I could see that he was relieved that my idea was belated.

Once the gates opened and we had our tickets checked, Chooch and I took off to the right while honest to god, a horde of octogenarians clanked and wheeled their way straight ahead to the theater to maul the workers for their show vouchers. It was a spectacle.

And then, a minute later (I knew exactly where it was because I studied a map at work last week) we made it to the Lightning Rod. The doors were still closed because none of the rides opened until 11, but there were only about 15 people in line ahead of us. I started to get a nervous stomach—what if it wasn’t running that day?! I couldn’t see a sign that said anything about it, but I was still nervous.

Once the super annoying teenaged trio in front of us left the line, the rest of the wait went by pretty quick. Halfway through, a test train was sent out and everyone cheered when they saw it. And then, at exactly 11AM, someone came out and opened the doors.

WE WERE IN!

We could have potentially gone on the first run of the day, but there were only two groups in the queue for the front row so I was like, “Fuck it, we’re waiting for the front row.” Who knew what the lines would be like later?! I wasn’t blowing this opportunity.

Of course, Henry had to ride by himself in the second row, though, lol. In the bitch seat.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous waiting in line for a woodie before. I was doing the pee-jig, for sure, and when it was our turn to load in, I honestly thought I was going to start crying. As the car pulled out of the station and turned right, and that fucking dominating lift hill loomed ahead, I started having major doubts about my choices. Especially knowing that the launch was going to happen at any second, with the sounds of revving engines surrounding us on both sides of the track.

And then it happened. We were launched up that hill, and I’ll tell you what — no amount of YouTube videos could have prepared me for just HOW FAST that car was going to shoot us up that lift hill. IT WAS, in a word, HORRIFIC. I didn’t have enough things to hold on to. I wanted my stuffed dog Purple. A rosary. A parachute. It was that scary. And then you come over the crest of that hill, down a short dip, and right back up and over another crest where you goddamn PLUMMET down into the abyss of Dollywood and everything after that is a blur. I couldn’t figure out if we were going left or right, if we were upside down, still alive…I had no idea.

By the time we got to the much-anticipated quadruple down portion of the ride, I had been screaming SO HARD that I was having actual chest pains and wasn’t sure if I had broken my collarbone from all the vocal exertion, and was that even possible?

When we rolled back into the station after the last mind-bending bank that makes no sense to me when I look at that portion of the track, I had to wipe the tears off my face. Sure, most of it was caused by the massive amount of cold wind that continuously cold-cocked me through the duration of the ride, but I’m not going to pretend that some of that orbital wetness wasn’t actual tears.

Short version? IT WAS AMAZING!!

It felt like being in a cartoon, in some high-speed chase that’s humanly impossible in real life, and you’re going from A to B by glitching. It was insanely fast, but not rough – I’ve seen people online complaining about the restraints or bumpiness in the backseat, but I personally did not experience any of that, and I was hashtag-blessed to ride it FOUR TIMES that day.

Throughout the day, we rode it in the 6th seat (though in line, we had a FRONT ROW seat for some weird family feud that was happening in front of us) and the 3rd seat, which were equally as fantastic, leading me to believe that there just isn’t a bad seat on this ride.

Stoked for Lightning Rod! I asked him if he had anything to say for this blog review, and he started singing Papa Roach’s “Last Resort,” which is what he did on every roller coaster that day at Dollywood and it was infuriating because ew, Papa Roach, but also hilarious because how random.

Toward the end of the night, we wanted to ride it one last time but we got coaster-blocked by the dumb parade, ughhh. There was absolutely no way around it and no other way to get to the Lightning Rod without having to actually cut through the parade and I had a feeling that Henry would probably go out of his way to prevent us from doing that. So we had to wait “patiently” for it to end and Henry was like THERE IS NO TIME. THE PARK IS GOING TO CLOSE. YOU WILL NEVER MAKE IT but I guess Henry has never heard the saying, “WHERE THERE’S A WILL THERE IS A WAY.”

It’s a shame that I don’t live by that when it comes to other things in life, like I don’t know, a career.

When the parade ended, the crowd dispersed alright, but they were all flooded right in our direction, so now we were fighting our way upstream past all these Old Folks, but it was worth it because we fucking made it and there was hardly ANYONE in line! We ran straight for the back row, with only two sets of riders in front of us. I was so excited! Back row at night, it was going to be awesome!

After about 10 minutes, it was our turn. As soon as everyone boarded and the restraints came down, the ride attendant who was checking my restraint gave a thumbs down. Apparently, the red lights were going off, which meant that it was in need of a maintenance check. The ride operators didn’t seem too concerned about this, but still, everyone had to get out of the car and go back into the queue. They said there was no way of knowing how long it would take, and that we were welcome to stay in line. Most everyone opted to stay, and it was kind of exciting watching the maintenance men come off the elevator, like the Men In Black, and I was trying not to crack up because it’s probably the only time in their lives they looked cool.

Meanwhile, the ride attendant on our side of the car, a young guy named Kenneth, was SO NICE to us. He made casual small talk and asked Chooch and me if we wanted him to turn on the heat lamp. He said he just wanted to make sure we were comfortable!

Like, the legit embodiment of southern hospitality.

Look, if that’s me, and I’m standing there in a ride station in a theme park that’s due to close in 5 minutes and now I have to stand here even longer waiting for the maintenance men to fiddle around and make it go again, because we told these park attendees that they could stay in line, I would be huffing and puffing and fucking my life, you know?

But, after about 10 minutes and two test runs (one with a Dollywood worker who volunteered as tribune — Chooch said, “Let’s applaud if she comes back on it” and I was like I HOPE SHE COMES BACK ON IT!!), we were good to go! I was fucking scared to ride it after that, but I did it and it was the best ride of the day. We could even see the pretty lights of Dollywood for a split second but then I nearly whiplash when Lightning Rod yanked me in another ungodly direction.

(“Look at the pretty li—AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH@@#$$%%#$!!!” was all I was able to scream.)

Oh for God’s sake, that ride. THAT RIDE! Chooch and I were doubled over in laughter when we reunited with Henry on terra firma. It’s just that good.

***

I don’t know what it was about Kenneth, maybe the fact that I’m used to the teenagers at Kennywood not giving a fuck about anything, but it really stuck with me, so much that when I went back to work on Tuesday, I thought to myself, “I have to do something about this” so I went to Dollywood’s website and did the OPPOSITE of what I’m used to doing: I opened the contact form and tap-tap-tapped out a POLITE COMMENT, completely devoid of swears and threats, to let them know that Kenneth’s kindness really went a long way, especially since we were kind of freaking out about the fact that the ride went out of commission while we were sitting in it. He assured me that this was normal and that the only surprising part was that it had lasted all day up until then without this happening.

The next day, I received a response from some broad named Paula who does something at Dollywood! She said that she was so pleased to read my nice comments and shared them immediately with Kenneth’s supervisor, and that they have an internal employee recognition program that his name has been added to! IS THIS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE HUMAN?! I texted Henry and said, “I’m a nice person now!” and he was like, “LOL no your (sic) not.”

He didn’t care, but my co-workers did! (OK, Lauren did. Glenn was just like, “Why are you like this.”) The best part was the NEXT day when I was watching Lightning Rod videos like the completely normal person that I am, I noticed that KENNETH IS IN ONE OF THEM! I screenshot it and sent it to Lauren who was like, “Wow, look at him pressing that button! *swoon*” Lol. I also sent it to Henry who said nothing.

I was going to talk about this in a meeting on Thursday, but instead I said to myself, “Reel it in, Erin.”

I added all that stuff to the picture, in case you didn’t know. Lol.

This ride was 100% worth traveling for. I was so worried I had it over-hyped in my head, but no. It’s the real deal, man. Dollywood is officially on the map!

And for anyone reading this who might be interested, here’s a Lighting Rod front seat POV video:

Oct 272018
 

Part 3 is really just my excuse to keep dragging this subject out (amusement parks are my life force, OK?). So let’s just free-form this, pretend like you’re at my house drinking some French press coffee that we ordered Henry to make for us while I’m clicking through slides of vacation pictures and you’re probably not bound and gagged on my couch but who knows what mood I’m in that day.

THERE IS A SKELETON EATING THAT COOKIE.

Also, Henry stood in line at the Cookie Nook for like 30 minutes waiting for my latte and Chooch’s hot chocolate while Chooch and I hung out and were entertained by a spooky band and adorable dogs padding past us in costume:

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Mood music.

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Henry did NOT get any gator bites, but Chooch and I DID get some of the best black bean burgers we’ve ever had in our lives. Chooch was so excited that he started reading it off the menu to the lady in front of me who had the same hair color and jacket as me, so was like, “OK HONEY THANKS FOR THE 411.” Honestly though how hard is it for places to be like, “hey you, substitute this black bean patty on any burger if that’s what you want, no judgment.” I got the mushroom swiss option and sang “Baby Come To Me” when it was finally in my hands. Henry was pouting because he wanted HOT SAUSAGE but that was at a DIFFERENT food place so we were like, “We have our food now and you are no longer needed, we hereby dismiss you” but he was like, “JUST FORGET IT, I’LL GET IT LATER” and then sat there miserably while Chooch and I created a symphony with our chewing mouth-sounds.

It was so much more satisfying than the slice of cheese pizza I had earlier for lunch, which was good enough that it lured a man over to hungrily ask us where we procured such a RARE FOOD. He asked me and of course I didn’t know because Chooch and I left Henry to order our food alone while we rode the COSMOTRON which is basically just the Music Express, but inside a dark building.

This was one of the few times I was annoyed all day because when Chooch and I were getting in line, some hoolikids (THAT IS A YOUNGER VERSION OF HOOLIGAN IN CASE YOU DON’T HAVE MY DICTIONARY ON HAND) cut in front of us and instead of pulling them back, their jackass mom was like, “OH SORRY EXCUSE ME” and she cut too?! I mean, I get that you had to wait for your “Hubs” to dole out tickets but last time I checked, there’s no RESERVATIONS for the Cosmotron. So fucking rude. But I have learned to choose my battles and I wasn’t about to start kicking up shit in a short line for some moderate thrill ride and Chooch was like THANK GOD.

Of course, they were the last motherfuckers that got to go inside for the next ride cycle, so that was annoying.

Also, I was annoyed because when it was finally our turn, the GoGos “Vacation” was playing in there and I was really getting in an 80s mood, you know? And with the nostalgic way the park was decorated, the music really amplified those vintage feels. But then as soon as the ride started, the “ride DJ” switched it to that annoying Taio Cruz “Dynamite” song and I was extremely disappointed. Sure, all the elementary school kids were like woo hoo and throwing their germy hands into the air, but I yearned for the enthusiastic ride operators at Everland who made their own song and dance for one of their thrill rides and it was amazing and now I am spoiled forever and nothing will ever live up to that.

Creepy Chooch on the Round-Up.

While Chooch was riding this, Mr. I DGAF Where You Assholes Go finally found us after sending me a text that said “where r u.” DON’T SEND US AWAY BECAUSE WE’RE ANNOYING YOU AND THEN ACT SURPRISED WHEN WE LEAVE AND HAVE FUN WITHOUT YOU BECAUSE WE DON’T NEED YOU.

(Until it’s time for food, of course. Then please come find us.)

I was taking pictures of the Round-Up in action and some elderly Knoebels employee came over and said, “It’s more fun ON the ride” and then winked at me because all the old guys at Knoebels lover me because to them I still look young and fresh EVEN THOUGH I AM GRAYING AND WRINKLING. The old man I bought our Flying Turns picture from was so chatty with me and Chooch was getting annoyed because he hates it when people talk to me so he kept coming over to interrupt. God Chooch, let me have my moment to shine, ok? No one notices me anymore!!

One of the things we did after Henry told us to get lost was go on Gasoline Alley, the antique car ride. Kennywood used to have something similar called the Turnpike but removed it in order to put in a stupid small-scale coaster similar to Knoebel’s Impulse. It was closed all season, so that was awesome. Good job, Kennywood.

Anyway, I’ve been on some weak versions of this ride, but the one at Knoebels has a decently long track so you get to be out there for a substantial amount of time AND during October they put up some “haunted” scenes which come to life at night but then it costs extra and the line is outrageous and if we’re being honest, we are there to ride the Phoenix a million zillion times, you know?

But during the day, DOGS ARE ALLOWED ON THIS RIDE! How fucking precious is that?  Good lord, Knoebels, you do so many things right. There were two black pugs in line with us and I could practically see Chooch’s ghost leaving his body, he was so dead at the cuteness of this whole situation.

Psychedelic, man.

Here’s Henry, benchin’ it, which is what he did most of the day while we rode things. God only knows how many times he dozed off, too.

If you do go to Knoebels, don’t balk at the Haunted Mansion costing extra – it’s worth it. It’ll make you feel like a kid again. It’s a great old dark ride and it makes me yearn for Kennywood’s Le Cachot, which burnt down sometime in the 90s and was SHAMEFULLY never rebuilt. We used to call it “lick a shit” because, you know, kids.

I wish someone would build an amusement park with just all old shit in it, none of these big steel coasters or swinging pendulums. And you get a discount if you wear a fanny pack or your group wears matching outfits.

Knoebels at night is where it’s at, bitches!

US LOOKING ADORBS.

Chandeliers at the black bean burger place.

The Phoenix at night was the best, I can’t even get over it.

Here we are in the front row for the best ride of the night! Total darkness and complete disorientation! The line was still short too especially now that Gasoline Alley was doing the haunted thing. Most people seemed to be in line for that and the train, which also did haunted scenery, etc. That line was long all day.

It started drizzling a bit around 7:30 but it wasn’t too terribly bad, certainly nothing to deter us from continuing to churn our innards on rides like the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Paratroopers.

(Chooch and I hated a girl in front of us in line for the Tilt-a-Whirl and I realized that’s when Chooch and I are the most in sync, when we’re rolling our eyes at each other and mutually hating a person. This is almost ALWAYS in line for a ride.)

Get yourself someone who scowls at you the way I scowl at Henry…?

Guys, everything was fine while we were in this line and then the MOMENT it was our turn to ride, it started to rain harder. “Oh it won’t matter because we literally have an umbrella over our heads,” I told Chooch, but then the ride started and the rain instantly pelted us from the side and it was NOT PLEASANT. I had to pull my head over my head and ride with my head down to keep from drowning, essentially. We kept screaming, “SHUT IT DOWN! LET US OFF THIS! THE RAIN HURTS!” But that fat ass operator just kept us up there, and now I think I know what cars must feel like when they’re pushed through a car wash, I AM SO SORRY TO ALL THE CARS I’VE DROWNED BEFORE!

Henry was like, “Hyuk hyuk hyuk” when we stamped over to where he had sought refuge from the rain. There was not a single part of our clothing that wasn’t soaked all the way through.

Did you know that Knoebels has one of the largest carousels IN THE WORLD? I didn’t know that either until last week when I accidentally saw it on Wiki and if it’s on Wiki, it’s TRUE. Another true story is that carousels provide amazing shelter during a rainstorm.

The carousel organ music was changed to GHOSTBUSTERS for the Hallofestivities!

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👻👻👻

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We hid out here for a bit and were originally in line, but then I realized that the rain had slowed down…so because we’re knucklechucks, we still went on the Phoenix one more time. The rain had slowed to a drizzle so we thought it would be fine. This time we decided to ride in the last seat and of course there was some man in front of us who immediately started talking to me and I was nice enough but internally, I’m like, “Man, I have no energy for this right now” and then he said, “Is that your son? I can tell, he looks JUST LIKE YOU” and suddenly I was like, “I WILL TALK TO YOU FOREVER.” Do you know how many times in Chooch’s 12 years I’ve had to endure all of the “HE LOOKS JUST LIKE HENRY” comments? Nauseating. So when the rare occasion arises where someone actually says otherwise, well, hello new BFF.

Then that guy’s sons and nephew got in line too and we somehow became part of their family temporarily and they were asking us our advice on Gasoline Alley, if it’s worth the extra money and wait in the line, and I admitted that we had never ridden it at night for the Halloween thing but the nephew whispered to me, “SAY NO. SAY IT’S NOT WORTH IT” and he seemed like the kind of kid I could tolerate, so I said, “No. It’s dumb. Not worth it” but then this made one of the sons upset and he was like, “NO, DAD! I WANT TO DO IT!” and then the dad was looking at me like, “ARE YOU SURE” and I was really in the hot seat now, but he called Grandma to see what was going on and Grandma had already bought the tickets so that solved that. Whew.

I hate conflict.

Anyway, when it was our turn to take our last ride, we emerged from the tunnel (which they spook-out for Halloween!) and I immediately realized that OH SHIT IT WAS RAINING HARDER so that was a super painful ride on the Phoenix because I was choking on rain drops and also it felt like I was getting a bunch of cold paper cuts on my cheeks THAT IS HOW PAINFUL THE RAIN IS WHEN YOU’RE FLYING OVER PHOENIX TRACKS.

Still, totally worth it.

We bided our time in the Fascination arcade after that because it was really pouring at this point. Chooch had no qualms with this plan.

WALK AWAY, BITCH BOY.

Buying an apple dumpling in the rain, our last hurrah before leaving the park, drenched and cold, that night. Henry was like, “WE ARE ALL GOING TO GET SICK” and I was like, “WORTH IT” but I secretly hoped that we wouldn’t actually get sick and we didn’t! Because Knoebels wouldn’t do us dirty like that.

My new challenge is convincing Henry that he wants to go to Dollywood for Thanksgiving!!

Oct 242018
 

Me: what was your favorite part of Knoebels?

Chooch, no hesitation: Petting a Corgi!!

*********

Ok, that might be true, but Chooch was also super into collecting dropped ride tickets in an effort to get enough to force Henry to ride something (if you actually READ MY LAST POST you’ll remember that I mentioned you can buy tickets to ride shit if you know you won’t ride enough to get a full ride-all-day wristband’s worth) and playing this old-fashioned arcade game called Fascination, but we’ll get to both of those after looking at some beautiful “Autumn at the Amusement Park” snaps.

*fun fact: it took me seven tries to spell Knoebels correctly and I WORK WITH A KNOEBEL. What if I got some type of brain damage after my haunted house injury last week?!

Lol j/k I’ve been dumb since way before that.

We had to wait for a hillbilly family to get their pictures taken here first, because they CUT IN FRONT OF US. That’s one thing you should know about this park: it is shockingly WHITE. And I’m talking about the kind of white that also has a red neck. Basically, it was like being at Holiday World again, except more camouflage and less face tattoos. But the scenery at Knoebels is much more charming because you got those Pennsylvania mountains, etc etc. (Honestly, I put “etc” because I don’t know what else.) I was suddenly tree-obsessed and kept saying things, “Let’s go over this way so I can get a picture of those trees” and “I like those trees” and “That is a pretty tree” and “Should my next boyfriend be a tree?” and “I bet I could get a nice big elm to marry me, fuck you, Henry.”

See? Obsessed.

Knoebels also has a creek-thing with numerous little fairy-tale bridges to help you cross so that you don’t get your camo pants soggy.

ISN’T IT PRESH!? CAN’T YOU HEAR IT BABBLING?

I couldn’t get over what a gorgeous fall day it was. The weather forecast all week had a CLOUD WITH RAIN and said it was going to be like 45 degrees so I was ultra-sad but determined to still go and not complain because then Henry would do that annoying, “YOU’RE NEVER HAPPY” jiggity-jig and I hate that.

We didn’t even need our jackets for most of the day, which Henry loved because I kept dumping mine in his arms before racing to get in another ride line.  There is really nothing like riding roller coasters on a crisp autumn day, you guys.

OMG get me a minivan, a Pinterest account, and a Starbucks giftcard, I am officially a basic white bitch.

More of those stud-muffin trees, yeah, boy.

Chooch and I, in tandem, exclaimed that the “dog pounder” was a horrible name for a game…for so many reasons. He still played it though. And lost.

OK, now onto the riveting tale of HOW WE GOT HENRY TO RIDE A RIDE.

Chooch found two discarded ride tickets earlier in the day and decided to keep them just in case. I think it was like 50 cents worth, so there wasn’t anything they could be used for.

But then later we were in line for the Haunted Mansion and that ride actually isn’t included in the ride-all-day admission. I could probably just look up why but I’m gonna act like I know it all and say it’s because it’s a super classic pretzel-car dark ride and they use that extra cash to maintain it while also keeping the crowds at bay because I’ll tell you what, for as much as I love dark rides, I’m not paying to ride that bitch more than once.

And that’s some Erin Rachelle Real Talk, ok?

Chooch and I had exactly the amount of tickets we needed for a haunted joyride ($2.50 worth, I think?). I kept thinking we didn’t have enough and counted them over and over like I had a counting compulsion. Chooch finally was like, “LOOK I COUNTED THEM AND WE’RE GOOD, OK?!”

Meanwhile, Chooch found two more 50 cent tickets and scooped them up like they were bread crumbs and he was a boxcar kid scavenging for vittles. He held them with both hands and cheered openly, causing people in line to look at us and if there is one thing I hate it’s people looking at me.

“MAYBE I CAN FIND ENOUGH FOR DAD TO RIDE THE PHOENIX!” he cried, and some people gave us pity-smiles, like we were visiting from the poor house and sad ol’ dad was slapping around in his cardboard shoes, stinking of a gin bath and dreaming of having enough change to ride a rollie-coaster.

While in line, I noticed that the aforementioned Hillbilly Family was also in line for this ride and then I looked a bit too long and ended up witnessing Hillbilly Patriarch kissing his Hillbilly Maybe-Wife and I felt very uncomfortable.

It was not an attractive kiss.

It was the kind of kiss that could lead to baby Duck Dynasties.

Then Chooch found another 50 cent ticket and by this point he was acting like Charlie fucking Bucket. This one was slightly ripped, so we weren’t sure if it would be accepted, but I have to be honest here, I was secretly excited about Chooch being a ticket magnet.

We were in the second row of the serpentine queue at this point, with one more corner to turn before we were on the homestretch. This is when I noticed that there was another red 50 cent ticket, just outside of the line, nestled under a bed of leaves at the base of a tree trunk. I silently pointed it out to Chooch, who stupidly reacted, causing the people standing in that part of the line to follow our gaze and notice the ticket. I saw some old bitch point at it to her companion, but they couldn’t reach it. Several other people tried too but it was just out of arm’s reach.

I WAS GETTING NERVOUS ABOUT THIS NOW. I didn’t want anyone to get it before we looped around and made it to that part of the line but at the same time, I feared that we wouldn’t be able to reach it either, even though I know in my heart that Chooch and I wanted that fucking ticket more than anyone else.

YES, WE HAD RIDE-ALL-DAY WRISTBANDS. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!

I knew what I had to do and I hated that this was my only option.

I texted Henry.

I could see him from where we were standing in line and this made me even more angry because he was literally MOSEYING around with his hands casually clasped behind his back, looking at all of the food.

“OMG HE IS SO ANNOYING!” Chooch screeched.

Finally, Henry checked his dumbass phone and slowly meandered over to us, which was infuriating because could he not tell from the urgency of my texts that this was SERIOUS?! The line was moving fast and we needed him to come over to us so we could point out the ticket before it was our turn to go in the mansion!!!!

So here he comes, all dum-diddle-dee-dee, and we are frantically trying to explain to him why we need this ticket (WHY DOES IT MATTER?! JUST DO WHAT WE SAY!) and he was smirking.

SMIRKING, you guys.

Oh, I wanted to punch his dumb head.

And then, even with our excelsior directions, he couldn’t see the ticket. I was about to catapult myself out of the line and just get it my own damn self but then he finally walked over to the tree and like, laughed to himself?! Because this was FUNNY to him!?

Ugh, whatever. He finally picked it and Chooch and I tried to cheer quietly so as not to draw attention to our cheapskate selves but I think it was too late because have you even seen Chooch and I trying to perform covert operations? Yeah. We’re like elephants in a small box.

Whatever that means.

BUT NOW WE HAD $2!!!!!

And this is how we finagled Henry onto one whole ride at Knoebels! Look at how thrilled he was! THE RED LIGHTS CAME ON WHILE WE WERE STANDING THERE!

Chooch got all Parent Trap and said, “You guys can ride together in the back.” Now Henry was even more thrilled because you know how much I get on his nerves on a regular day, on solid ground, in the house, doing nothing. Now imagine me sitting beside him on a roller coaster. HOOOOO BOY WHATTA RIDE.

(Apparently, it cost $3 to ride the Phoenix, so Henry still had to buy $1’s worth of tickets, haha. Also, the ticket person at the Phoenix took the ripped ticket with zero fucks, but Chooch and I still ran ahead in case there was an issue because we didn’t want to be associated with Henry’s cheap ticket-pilfering ass.)

Henry buying his $1 worth of tix lol

Anyway, that doucher barely even smiled once through that whole roller-course, what a joyless dick! Meanwhile, I was slapping his arm and doing that Bobcat Goldthwait choke-giggle thing that I do when my giddy levels are reaching a boiling point. Ugh, I love when I’m having that much fun! The memories of that moments help me get through trolley commutes and random small-talk a little bit easier, you know?

The “Fascination” Fascination

One of the things that Henry does to  kill time at Knoebels while we’re being normal kids and riding things is hunker down inside the Fascination shelter. Fascination is some kind of old-fashioned arcade game that’s a cross between skeeball and Bingo, I guess that’s the best way to explain it. You get one ball to roll, and whichever hole it goes into, the corresponding spot on the screen will light up, so you keep doing it over and over until someone gets a full line, which makes their seat light up and a buzzer goes off, GAME OVER FOR THE REST OF THE LOSERS.

I had never heard of it until the first time we went to Knoebels because very few places have it anymore. Henry tried to insist that Kennywood used to have one but I googled that shit and he is WRONG. Apparently, Indiana Beach has it but I can’t remember Henry spending all of our money there when we went in 2014…

Anyway, Chooch didn’t remember this at all from the last several times we were there, even though I have pictures of him playing it. THIS IS WHY I KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING LIKE A NOSTALGIC PSYCHOPATH. I have photo-proof for almost every disagreement I have with Henry and Chooch.

A Fascination token and my signature shitty manicure.

Henry briefly taught Chooch the rules and then they went hogwild spending my future Korea cash while I sat in at a table that was out of order because I didn’t want to play. The hilarious thing about Fascination is that everyone in the room who is playing is involved in that round, similar to how Bingo works – you’re playing against the room. And some dude sits at an elevated desk and narrates what’s happening like he’s employed by fucking ESPN or something. It just cracks me up, especially when they do the special game called Cover All which is where, you know, you have to cover it all. So instead of getting the one line of 5, you have to get every light to light up. So he calls it like a fucking horserace, like, “Table 19 only needs 5 more, now Table 36 only needs 5 more too, they’re neck-and-neck!” And then of course this makes everyone super frantic.

Oh! And before the next game starts, you have to slide a token in the slot above your table number and then when the game starts, everyone’s tokens fall in. Henry and Chooch made me hand them tokens after every game and it was really annoying because Chooch especially was being super demanding and impatient about it so I kept getting nervous and dropping them.

But then, Chooch won his first game and the color commentator mentioned that it was “the hardest line to get” so Chooch was like WHATS UP NOW MOTHERFUCKERS, COME AT ME. And that was it, we lost him to the seedy world of Fascination.

LOOK AT HIS FACE. He has that Gambler’s Glaze to his eyes. I felt scared. He kept winning, and was the runner-up for one of the Cover Alls he played (he actually got his last ball in a split second after the winner and he was PISSED. I worried that he was going to light the place up with his psychic fury).

Family Fascination Selfie!

We ended up going back there toward the end of the night because it started raining and Chooch was like, “OH DARN, RAIN. OH WELL, I KNOW JUST THE PLACE TO TAKE REFUGE” and then ran there like a fiend. He won several more games and then spent an eternity trying to figure out what to cash in his tickets on (sadly, he didn’t have enough for ‘lamp’ or ‘crockpot’). Finally, I talked him into this cute Halloween cat stuffed animal which he gave to Calvin when we came home, and then he “splurged” and “did him” by getting A RECORDER after I begged him to get anything but A RECORDER. What a jerk!

“If I even hear you WHISPER into that fucking thing in the car, it’s going out the window,” I hissed in his ear with my nails dug into the back of his neck HAHA WHAT I WOULDN’T DO THAT TO MY KID OMG WHY DID I JUST TYPE THAT.

Meanwhile, Henry had this creeper hovering over him for at least five rounds and never felt his presence. He sadly didn’t bring Henry any luck because he didn’t win a single fucking game.

“Thanks for showing me Fascination,” Chooch said to Henry as we walked back to the car later that night, and it was the most sincere I think I have ever heard that damn kid. WOW, JUST WOW.

If you think this is my last Knoebels post, YOU IS A FOO. But the next one(s) will probably mostly just be pictures because I have so many! Amusement park pictures are my favorite things. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and scroll through my old Flickr albums of amusement parks and then fall asleep with a dopey smile on my crappy face. I am so precious.

Before I say goodbye, I would be a failure if I didn’t end this post with FASCINATION STREET, my favorite Cure song. I used to watch this video over and over when i was 19, wishing I could reach through the TV and touch Robert’s perfectly-pale face.

Oct 232018
 

It’s been a minute since we were last at Knoebels (like, 4 year’s worth of minutes!) so I started hounding Henry about going there again, probably while we were on our way from Holiday World in August, ha! Look, I really like amusement parks, OK? Especially the small, quirky ones and Knoebels for sure fits that bill.

The last time we were there was for their Hallofun event thingie, similar to what so many other parks do anymore: make the park spooky and continue to grab that cash into autumn. But what I like about Knoebels is that they don’t go for the high tech animatronic tricks or the low-brow gore – they are old school, like the way your church decorated for Halloween in the 70s and 80s and as you’re strolling about the park’s perfectly-foliaged paths on a clear autumn day, you sort of feel like Laurie Strode walking home from school, except that Michael Myers isn’t watching from behind a hedge.

And you’re probably wearing normal jeans, too.

I’m doing that thing again, aren’t I. That thing where I ramble and make no sense because I’m so excited to share pictures of another fucking amusement park. Le sigh.

What I’m trying to say is that stepping into Knoebels is like stepping back in time. I mean, my phone barely works there so it’s REALLY taking it back to some other decade.

Another reason why I love this place is, obviously, THE RIDES. Two outstanding wooden coasters, one small steel coaster, one wooden bobsled coaster, two dark rides, one of the biggest carousel’s in the world, and a handful of carnival midway stomach-churners.

But back to those wooden coasters…The Phoenix in particular is what made me want to go back so badly, especially after visiting Holiday World and getting bit by that coaster bug. Because for as great as those coasters were, I just kept thinking about how much I missed the Phoenix. I could barely even remember what it was like to ride it, other than that it gave me the extreme giggles. And really, isn’t that all you need to remember?

So I made Henry leave the house around 7:30 Saturday morning, even though he argued that it only takes 3 and a half hours to get there and the park doesn’t open until 12. But I guess he forgot that he has to stop to piss every 30 minutes, and then took a wrong turn, so yeah, it was a little after noon when we rolled up in Elysburg, PA. My work friends kept asking me, “Where is Knoebels?” and I was like, “Um, that way” and probably pointed the wrong way. But then I looked at  map finally because I had this great idea that we should also go to Philly the next day before coming home, because it’s “right by Philly and I want to go to Big Gay Ice Cream again” was my compelling argument, and Henry said, “KNOEBELS IS NOT ‘RIGHT NEAR’ PHILLY” and I was like, “Yes, it is, are you dum—-*looks at map*—-oh, it’s really not that close to Philly.”

I always forget that Pennsylvania has a northern part too.

Knoebels is one of the last free parks in America, which means any fucking Joe can waltz right on in and perhaps he only wants to take a whirl on the Paratroopers, he can just go up to one of the many ticket booths and buy whatever amount of tickets he needs. Rides range from like $1 to $3.50, I think? So if you know you’re not going to ride a lot, then skip the wristband and just get a book of tickets.

Henry LOVES this concept because it means he’s not a big fat waste of money like he normally is at amusement parks.

Another perk? DOGS ARE WELCOME. There were more dogs there on Saturday than babies probably and it was so goddamn precious, especially when they were in costume! Chooch wished he had more hands so he could pet more than 2 dogs at a time.

Chooch and I got wristbanded by an old man who asked me if my knuckle tattoos were prison tattoos and then looked at Chooch and said, “Did your mom kill a man?” What an early highlight!

Now that we had our wristbands, I ran straight to the Phoenix except that I couldn’t remember where it was because I hadn’t been there in five years, so a lot of zig-zagging was involved.

They turned the Phoenix’s tunnel into a jack o’ lantern! Chooch and I were endlessly excited about this!

We made it to the Phoenix before too much of a line had formed.Henry had us convinced that it was going to be SO CROWDED THERE and guess what? Well, it was, but not very many people were actually riding anything other than the train and antique cars so we never stood in line for more than 10 minutes except for the Flying Turns which was about 30 minutes because that’s still fairly new and a novelty.

Oh shit, you guys. Chooch and I grabbed the backseat for our inaugural ride and as we cruised through that tunnel, I was instantly reminded why I love this ride. It is fucking CHARMING and somehow extremely entertaining in spite of its simplicity – there’s nothing fancy about this track but there are so many humps that deliver major giggle-inducing airtime. Plus, it’s a lot smoother than I remember!

And it won the Golden Ticket Award for the world’s best wooden coaster of 2018!

I wanted to get all the coasters ridden ASAP in case Henry’s baseless prediction of it “getting so crowded” came true. Flying Turns was supposedly a 45 minute wait but I wanted to just get it done since we were right there and who knows, the line could get even longer! However, they had all three cars running, so the line moved steadily and we ended up only waiting about 30 minutes, as previously spoiled. And miraculously, no one in line with us was annoying.

They have the area around the line all decorated creepy-cutely so that kept us entertained.

My genius son didn’t get this one:

So, because this ride relies on gravity, all riders need to get weighed prior to boarding because each seat can’t exceed 400 pounds. You and your riding partner stand on a big metal square and get weighed with little fanfare — no one can see the results but the ride operators so it’s not a big deal, but I remember 4 years ago, standing in that line and PANICKING because I didn’t want to get weighed. I was telling Chooch about that because he didn’t remember riding it and I mentioned that I was around 40 pounds heavier then, and he was like, “REALLY?!” and I stopped for a second to let that sink in, but yeah, I’m 35-40 pounds lighter now than I was in 2014 and that’s really hard for me to wrap my head around because in my mind, I’m forever-fat.

Anyway, this is the world’s ONLY wooden bobsled coaster and it’s ridiculously fun! Also, a little precarious and I imagine all those anti-science people out there will think it’s God’s Will that keeps the cars from flipping over and nothing that has anything to do with physics, but OK. The rest of us know what’s up.

Here’s a quick video from some theme park Youtuber to give you an idea of what a cool ride this is:

I highly recommend the trip to Knoebels if you’re a coaster aficionado or desperate to feel like a Winter Olympian without putting forth any effort whatsoever.

Next up was Twister! Which we got lost trying to find! Knoebels is not the easiest to navigate, but I kind of like that because it makes it feel like something new every time, like a labyrinth with moving walls.

Anyway, look at that burly beast back there. He is a beaut, that one. I love the walk up the ramp where dead bodies hang from the rafters – it reminds me so much of the way my mom used to decorate our front yard when I was a kid.

I mean, for Halloween.

Not for some witchy sacrificial offering. OR WAS IT.

(She did just text me about the Mon City Witch Festival, so….)

Look at the skeletons!

In theory, Twister should whip Phoenix’s ass because it’s so much bigger, but this is a classic example of how bigger ain’t always better, baby. Don’t get me wrong, this coaster is fucking faster and, you know, twisty, but it lacks the personality and flair that the smaller Phoenix has in spades. We actually only rode this twice that day, which is kind of bonkers when I think about it now, but we were so preoccupied on riding the Phoenix until our eyes popped out.

Waiting for last seat on Twister.

The ride operators kept screaming FORTNITE and that was annoying but Chooch felt like they were sending him a signal.

Yeah, for a Dork Club meeting.

The last coaster we had to scratch off the list was Impulse, which is the newish steel coaster that wasn’t there yet during our last trip. It’s similar to Kennywood’s Sky Rocket except it doesn’t have the powered launch.

Here, you can see part of it:

(And dogs!)

The ride operator there at that time was dressed like a mad scientist and he was so funny in a dad-joke way. I always appreciate a good, entertaining ride operator. Papa H took pictures of us being adorable on it:

Overall, I’d give it a 4/10. I’m just not that into steel coasters anymore and this one was only thrilling for that first drop, and then the rest was just upside-down bullshit, but the real slow kinds of corkscrews and rolls, you know? I don’t like that. So, we only went on this one once, but again, the wait time was only about 5 minutes.

I’ll be back with more Knoebels photos because they are a’plenty!

(PS I lied – there is also a kiddie coaster but it’s not amazing like the Wacky Worm so I easily forgot about it. #kiddiecoastersnob)

Sep 102018
 

Here’s my crew in line for the Jack Rabbit.

Hi, I’m back with the second half of my Kennywood saga. I always feel like once I finish recapping the last amusement park visit of the summer, then summer is really over. So, I drag my feet a little. Sue me.

But also, this last trip to Kennywood wound up being one of the best times I’ve had there in years, so I’m desperate to hang on to those feels. Well, right this way to the bulletpoints…

  • For the first time in forever, we went inside Noah’s Ark and weren’t the most obnoxious people. Nope, this time it was AN OLD LADY behind us who was quiet the whole time we were in line and then as soon as her Easy Spirits hit the whale’s tongue, she sounded like a midwestern granny was being exorcised from within her. Literally, she was screaming things like, “OH GOLLY!” and “AYE YIYIYIYIYIYIYIYIYI!!!!” and the whole time I was like, “WHO THE FUCK IS BEHIND US” until I finally sneaked a peak in a less-dim section of the Ark and was like, “Oh wow, not what I was expecting.” Even Chooch was like bug-eyed over this and he lives in the same house as my big mouth so that’s really saying something. I just assumed she was trying to hype up the kids she was with, but then we exited the Ark, I watched her and husband walk away alone, no children in sight. Welp, I think I got a glimpse of Future Me.
  • Blake was allowed to ride one ride while they were there, and he chose the Black Widow because he still had never been on it since it was introduced to the park a few years ago. I tried to hide my reluctance and got into line with him and Chooch because this is one of those rides that puts me through a series of internal existential crises while standing in line, but once the ride is over, I always feel bad-ass an accomplished, especially when Janna is there because she totally idolizes my ability to ride insane thrill rides. (SHE DOES, OK. But, um, don’t ask her about that because she’ll, um, she’ll get embarrassed, see.) The line for the Black Widow is always long even on the least crowded days because the loading process takes so long.  So we stood there while Chooch mindlessly performed Fortnight dances and watched Henry chasing Calvin around on the other side of the fence. I yawned a lot. I always yawn while standing in lines, even if I’m not actually tired. A doctor told me once a long time ago that it’s because I don’t get enough oxygen so then I catch myself yawning and barely breathing, and I start dramatically huffing and puffing but then I just feel light-headed and it’s just a vicious cycle, is what I’m trying to tell you. So I don’t fight the yawns anymore. I’m yawning right now, even. After about 45 minutes, it was finally out turn. Actually, we were the last three people they let on, so that felt ominous. Even more ominous was when we were all strapped in and ready to go and the harnesses popped up because someone wanted off. Then we had to sit there and go through the load-in process all over again AND THEN THE HARNESSES POPPED UP AGAIN BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE NEEDED TO GET OFF?! Even one of the ride operators was like, “wtf is happening are you kidding” and part of me was wondering if this was a sign? Like, should I object to this upcoming marriage of our souls with the sky? But I kept my mouth shut — until the ride started and then I started rambling like a crazy-person because that’s my defense mechanism on this rid – just keep hyper-talking until the ride stops because if God and Satan hear that shit they’ll be like, “Nah, we can wait a little longer before taking this bitch, that Henry guy can keep her.”
    • Spoiler alert! I survived! However, someone’s phone did not. Once the Black Widow stopped swinging, we saw a black phone on the platform totally shattered and exploded and everyone was super intrigued by this. The ride operators were like, “OH SHIT REALLY” and when the people in line figured out what we were all ogling, there was a collective exclamation of “OH SHIT!” This whole scene made me feel sick because they explicitly tell you to empty your pockets before getting on the ride and what if that had hit someone!? That phone fell from such a great height and with such force that it fucking exploded. I don’t want to think about what impact that could have had on someone’s head.  I didn’t stick around to see what happened next but I hope whoever that phone belonged to got fined or something BUT THEY PROBABLY DIDN’T.
  • Ironically, right after this happened, Blake & Co. went to get more food probably and the rest of us decided to ride the Phantom again. While we were in line on the platform, we noticed that it was taking a longer time than usual for the car to be sent off. I saw two of the ride attendants talking to two of the riders and then the ride operator (whom I was convinced I loved by the end of the night) got on the speaker and said, “This car will not leave the platform until all cellphones are placed in the bin.” I was like, “Huh, I don’t remember ever hearing this precautionary warning before” but then he got on the speaker and repeated it more forcefully. When there was no movement from any of the riders in the car, he tacked on, “I will call Safety Enforcement if I have to” and that’s when we realized that some broad refused to put her phone away and said something like, “Then make everyone else do it too” and someone screamed, “JUST GIVE THEM YOUR PHONE!!!” She got all huffy and defiant like this was some playground where shit wasn’t going her way, so instead of just complying with the rules, she and her male companion got off the ride and stormed out of the exit to an uproarious round of applause. I couldn’t even believe the audacity! One of the ride attendants told us that just the day before, someone had their phone out on the ride and it fell out of their hands and hit the person behind them. “There was blood EVERYWHERE,” she said, I almost puked. LOOK – I know this is the age of getting that perfect Instagram shot or Snapchatting your daily highlights so everyone knows you’re out there living your best life, and I get it, I do that shit too. I’ve taken pictures on roller coasters — but they’re mild ones and I always put my phone away before reaching the top of the hill. But most of those rides, common sense tells you that everything should be left with a non-rider or put in a bin! Why should your stupid ass social media feed take precedence over someone’s safety? Bitch, leave my park!
    • After watching the park employees handle this with finesse, I was glad that I didn’t roast Kennywood on Twitter like I had planned to after that Golden Nugget fail. I saw some guy complaining on there about how the load time at Kennywood takes twice as long as it does at Hershey, and the more I thought about it, I decided that I don’t give a shit if I have to stand in line for an extra 5  minutes if it means that these ride attendants are doing what they were trained to do in order to make sure we’re all safe. We all need to calm the fuck down and stop being so entitled. Yes, standing in line sucks. Having to part with your phone, god forbid, sucks. But it’s not worth defying rules and acting like an asshole. You want to check my seat belt again? BE MY GUEST. TAKE YOUR TIME.
      • Am I getting old or what?!

  • The first time we rode the Musik Express, we actually had to stand in line because the ark was still kind of crowded then. There was a little girl in front of us who kept staring at my shirt and finally she worked up the nerve to tell me she liked it. “My mom likes skulls, and I like cats,” she said and I was like, “Fuck, a small child is talking to me. WHAT TO DO. WHAT TO DO.” So eventually I just said, “Thanks” because that’s about all the small talkin’ I can do these days. Meanwhile, Chooch was seething beside me because it was actually his shirt that I was wearing and he hates when people compliment me, HAHAHA. The second time we rode it was later in the evening after all the lights came on and Chooch’s friend from the Thunderbolt was on it too – this was after we saw him on the Volcano and he slapped Chooch’s hand. We were really excited about this because making amusement park friends is the best, says the girl who literally just bitched about small talk a few sentences ago. I AM MORE CONTRARY THAN MARY MARY. Anyway, we made Janna  take a picture of us looking precious and then I had a flashback to the picture my mom took of me and my friend Liz when we were 13 on the Musik Express, with my brother Ryan and THAT FRENCH KID LAURENT (see my littering rant from last week!) in the seat behind us, and I have braces, permed hair, and a perma-scowl and also I’m wearing shorts and a tie-dye shirt that was probably IOU or some shit.

I look so Les Miz! I love this picture so much, but I’m sure I probably didn’t love it back then.

  • We don’t ride the Paratroopers very often, but it just felt right to ride it on this night. DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? Probably not, because I don’t either. Here are some things that happened during this time:
    • While we were standing in line, I saw my friend Colleen from work so Chooch screamed her name real loud and then she came over to talk to us for a minute and I started laughing about this later because her office is right near my desk but that was probably the longest I’ve talked to her in a long time because it’s been so quiet at work lately.
    • I recounted a harrowing tale to Janna and Chooch wherein I was but a wee youngin’ riding this with my friend Amy and one of my sandals slipped off. Just like that person’s phone on the Black Widow, we were all lucky in  that it landed on the ground within the ride’s perimeter so no one was knocked out by a pink-bowed Candies, but that ride operator screamed at me afterward and I was crying and crying because I was like 7 or 8, and then Amy’s mom, who was also our heroic Girl Scout leader, stepped up and was like, “OH NO YOU DIDN’T JUST YELL AT THIS CHILD” and I have never worn sandals or flip flops to an amusement park since then. I told them this story as a grown-ass adult lady was on the ride wearing flip flops.
    • So I thought Chooch was going to ride with me but he was like, “Pfft nah I’m riding with Janna. That’s why I said too bad you don’t have a big stuffed animal to be your partner like that girl” and he pointed to some young, sad girl sitting alone under one of the umbrellas with a big bear or something next to her. I was really offended by this, especially when they started yapping about how they were going to get the purple one and that’s the one that I wanted so they were like, “Go get the other purple one then” and I was like, “NO BECAUSE I WANTED TO SIT NEAR YOU ASSHOLES” so then I was like, “Fuck you” and just took a green umbrella in front of them because I didn’t even care anymore. Then suddenly, while we were still preparing for the ride to start, I heard the two of them gagging and coughing behind me so I turned around to see what the hell was going on and Janna wailed, “That man that was sitting here before us must have farted through the whole ride because it smells!” and Chooch was practically dry-heaving, but now all the umbrellas were taken so they couldn’t switch and I was SO SMUG. “Good, I hope that guy pooped in there, too,” I said and then I sat through the whole ride with a huge smile on my face and aggressively waved to Henry every time I Mary Poppins’d past him. ENJOY YOUR SMELL, ASSHOLES!

  • All day long, I kept saying that we probably wouldn’t stay long enough for the fireworks because I figured we’d be burnt out by early evening, but before we knew it, it was dark and we were ascending the hill of the Phantom watching the fireworks. In all the times I’ve been to Kennywood,  I can honestly say this was my first time watching the fireworks from the Phantom! It was really magical, and made it especially terrifying when we were suddenly plummeting down the hill because we were too distracted to realize we had reached the top. Oh shit, I love roller coasters at night! I was so hyped up after this that even though it was nearly closing time, I giddily whisper-screamed, “LET’S GO ON ONE MORE TIME AND GET THE FRONT SEAT” like I was suggesting doing a hit of X behind the Potato Patch or something. Henry was like, “I am not riding this twice in a row” and he was still talking while Chooch and I chucked all of our belongings at him and ran, AND I MEAN RAN, to the entrance while screaming HURRY UP, JANNA! We just ran and ran and ran, praying that the line was still open, and it WAS but that didn’t stop us from still running through the queue. Some kid was behind us, also running, so his dad yelled STOP RUNNING! and I was like, “Fuck off dad” and just then, I FUCKING FELL while I was trying to duck under the railing because I was so giddy that I just lost all control of my body and went straight down so then I was on my hands and knees literally crawling until I got the strength to pick myself back up because I was laughing so hard that my whole body tickled! I caught up to Chooch and wheezed, “I FELL” and then almost peed my pants because I was laughing so hard. Anyway, inside the platform, almost all of the lines were empty except for the line for the front seat. We squeezed into the queue for that one and as we were catching our breath, the same guy who was all authoritarian about the cell phones and calling the Safety Popo was still working the Phantom and he came over and roped off the end of the line for the front seat. “You guys will be the last riders for the night,” he said, and it was so hot to me for some reason, like was he COMING ON TO ME I COULDN’T TELL. I was totally in love with him after this and I don’t know why but this was making me laugh even harder, and then to compound the situation, here comes Janna, strolling onto the platform like five minutes after we had already gotten there, and it was clear that she didn’t run AT ALL. Henry told me later that after she gave him her purse to hold, she actually started to walk in the wrong direction, but he confirmed that no, she did not run at all.
    • So now Janna is in line with us, but she’s standing in the queue for the second car so she can ride behind us. There is no one else in line for that seat, and still like 4 people ahead of us, so Janna is standing way far back, like she’s in line with her imaginary friends. My Kennywood boyfriend came over at one point and asked her if she was in line and she mumbled yes like wasn’t it obvious and he was just like “Oh” so I suggested that she try to get people to go in front of her. “Yeah, ask that guy to go in front of you,” Chooch suggested, pointing to some sweaty bro who rolled on up without a shirt on. “NO Chooch! I don’t want to sit where that shirtless guy sat!” Janna snapped, and Chooch snottily responded that she wouldn’t be sitting in the same seat because there were two Phantom cars running, so….still, she was like, “No! That’s disgusting!” and they’re going back and forth, fighting over where this shirtless guy is going to sit and I was doing the pee-squat by this point because I was slap-happy to the max. Honestly, when I say that we had the best time at Kennywood, I have to pull myself away from the situation a bit and look down on the scene, because was I the only one laughing? Nope, Chooch was too. OK good.
    • Sometime in the middle of all this, Chooch’s pal from the Thunderbolt walked into the platform! My Kennywood boyfriend said, “Oh hey, Sam” to him, so I guess he’s a regular! I think Sam had become Chooch’s “Stanley.” Anyway, Sam seemed a bit upset that the line for the front seat was roped off, but you snooze you lose, buddy! I didn’t get a scrape on my knee for nothing.
    • Meanwhile, Janna kept letting people in front of her but then she started to let TOO MANY in front of her so I screamed, “NO! NOW WE’RE LINED UP ANYMORE!” and the couple she was trying to let in put their hands up and backed away and then I started laughing all over again that pee was imminent. Oh, the pee struggle is so real, you guys. I never outgrew that whole “giddy as a schoolgirl” phase.
    • Finally it was our turn and it was everything I could have wanted, closing out the perfect day at Kennywood in the front seat on the Phantom’s last run of the night. It really felt like being a kid again and as long as I didn’t think about the fact that I had to go to work the next day, I was golden.

I spent the next week thinking of Henry sitting alone on a bench after Chooch ditched him for Sam, or Janna calmly meandering onto the Phantom platform after Chooch and I sprinted there like idiots, or Janna and Chooch sitting in a fart seat, and I would start upchucking chuckles (upchuckling?) in the middle of work. It made me miss Barb though because I always loved torturing her with my giddy Kennywood tales!

What a great way to end the summer! I thought I was over Kennywood, but then this day happened and now we’re an item again.

Henry was so happy that amusement park season has ended but now I’m throwing the idea of going to Knoebel’s in October at him, so now he’s sad again.

Sep 082018
 

Oh boy, another amusement park blog post, can you even stand it.  I thought that I probably wouldn’t have anything to say about this day since we already went to Kennywood once this summer (or three times if you’re Chooch), but as usual, I was wrong because this was one of the funNEST days I had all goddamn summer.

First of all, we were supposed to go two weeks ago on a Tuesday because our recent tradition over the last three years has been to go on  the last regular weekday of the season. I take off work for this shit! However, it was supposed to rain all day and it definitely started out that way so I pulled the plug on our plans just to be safe. And of course, it ended up being a stupidly day too, with just one quick shower in the late afternoon. But rescheduling for the following Sunday ensured that  now Janna and Henry could go for the full day instead of just meeting us there after work, and Blake, Haley and Calvin were also set to come out! So even though I was not pleased about having to go on a Sunday, it would be worth it to have a nice, full group for a change.

Turns out though, Sunday was like, fireman day or something so it was moderately crowded and I was kind of concerned that this was going to ruin the day, but then we realized it wasn’t actually all THAT crowded, it was just that the park was understaffed since most of the employees had gone back to school, so not all of the rides were running at once, which made lines for the rides that were running longer than we were used to. Somehow this ended up not being as tragic as I thought and we were still able to basically walk on most of the rides except for the dumb Black Widow and Exterminator.

Also, we got free WPXI sunglasses and candy from some people sitting at a table! (They were actual WPXI people, not just randos, but I still would have taken their candy probably because that’s just who I am.) Anyway, there were a lot of stupid/dumb/hilarious-to-me things that happened so let’s do this shit bullet-style.

  • Here you’ll find the first selfie of the day, while Chooch and I were on the Jack Rabbit. Please note that I always put my phone away before the ride starts, more on that later, YOU’LL SEE. Also, this was the first ride we went on which Chooch was salty about because the Exterminator is our tradition but since we were there on a day we weren’t meant to be there, I decided we might as well just scramble that shit all up. Also, while we were in line for this, Janna texted me that she had arrived so then Henry to go and meet her with her ticket (we still had some of those rain tickets left over from last year!) and Chooch and I were dying, wondering what they were talking about. Then they waited for us while we were on  the ride, like they were are our parents, and Chooch and I seamlessly fell back into our tradition of screaming, “JANNA!!!!!!” as loud as possible to try to get her attention from the ground. We’re both 8.

  • In line for the Racer, some asshole was in the queue behind us wearing a MAGA shirt and Janna and I glared at him every time we passed him when the line moved. Then we heard him talking at point and I said loudly, “OH THAT EXPLAINS IT. IT MAKES SENSE NOW” and then Janna started passive-aggressively saying things and Henry had pretty much disassociated himself from us by then while Chooch was asking in major outdoor-voice, “OH ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THAT GUY IN THE TRUMP SHIRT?” Not pictured: Guy in Trump shirt.

Stupid group photo. Janna and I won the Racer, btw. This coaster is only fun if you win, I don’t care what other people say.

  • We stood in line for the Exterminator for like 50-60 minutes it seemed like because for some reason, even when the park isn’t crowded, this ride always has the longest line. I mean, it’s essentially just an indoor Crazy Mouse and oh hey, funny story about that: Janna was talking about the last time we went to DelGrosso’s which is a small amusement park somewhere else in Pennsylvania (I don’t know, look it up!) and she was like, “Omg I loved that Crazy Mouse ride, I could have ridden it all day” and I was like, “You know that’s exactly what the Exterminator is, right?” because we have to DRAG HER ON THIS EVERY TIME and she always tries to give us some stupid excuse about how it gives her a headache. She considered this for a few seconds and said, “Oh my god, is it really?” and then I even pointed out how even the cars are the same and she was like, “OH WOW I FEEL SO STUPID” and I was like, “THAT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE.” And then Chooch tried to say that he’s the one who broke this same news to ME!? I was like, “Bitch you best step off because I knew that for a long time and it sure as hell wasn’t because your egg head told me so.” So then we fought about that, which was our second fight of the day, the first being when we were standing in line for the Jack Rabbit and got in a fight over semantics because he said I don’t explain things well and I said it’s just because his comprehension skills suck and he clearly isn’t that smart.
    • Also, we loved the couple in front of us because they were cute but not cloyingly so, and when we saw them later on, he had won her a giant panda (not piano like I had originally typed because I’m seriously losing control of  my brain) and we thought that was adorable. Or maybe just I did.

  • Speaking of giant pandas, while we were on the Exterminator that Janna suddenly likes now, Henry won Chooch a giant unicorn, which is bigger than Calvin but not bigger than Chooch.
  • Also while we were on the Exterminator, Blake and his crew arrived but Calvin is still too small to ride and Haley is pregnant again so they pretty much just took a food tour of Kennywood and enjoyed the perks of being there on Service Day (firetrucks, a cop parade, a police dog show – a baby’s paradise!).

Calvin is still at that age where Henry’s beard is cool.

  • The last several times we’ve gone to Kennywood, Chooch and I have eaten at Johnny Rockets because, bless them, they have black bean burgers that suit our meatless lifestyle. However, I wanted to flip things up again on this day and go back to our old food haunt, the….pizza place? Does it have a name? I don’t know. But this is where we used to always eat pre-Johnny Rockets. Henry got a whole pizza which Chooch, me, Janna, Blake and Haley devoured while Henry chased Calvin all around. Henry said he didn’t want any pizza……..

……..but he sure looks sad here.

  • While we were in the vicinity of the pizza place, we decided to also get our traditional Golden Nugget ice cream cones then too. I’ve been blogging about K-wood (ugh, I wish that actually meant Koreawood) for as long as I’ve been blogging (informative statement) so you might already know that we don’t get ice cream anywhere else but here but LISTEN UP PEOPLE: shit was wack this time. First of all, we noticed that they no long cut the squares of ice cream from the huge block that they used to use, but now it’s cut straight from an ice cream carton so the shape isn’t right and it’s more of a lumpy rhombus, and the little bitches working back there that day couldn’t be bothered and were scowling the whole time, and the worst one of them all was telling the other one about how she got fired from Giant Eagle for BEING RUDE TO CUSTOMERS AT THE CHECKOUT. Wow, you don’t say?! The dumb bitch in charge of dunking the cones in chocolate was trying to be efficient by grabbing three in her hands, but the guy in front of me was like, “I only need one of those, and a root beer” so instead of putting two of the cones back in the freezer, she continued to hold them while preparing his shitty Golden Nugget, and it was like 95 degrees out so you know those other ice creams were softening faster than a guy’s dick in front of Lorena Bobbit. After she finished his sloppy root beer, and I do mean it was a fucking mess, she turned her scowl upon me and asked what topping I wanted and I said I wanted the mixed topping at the end but I should have just told her to fucking suck on at that point because I didn’t even want it anymore but stupid Henry already paid and he hates when I cause scenes, so I took the lumpy cone from her which came with an identical scowl like hers, so I slapped that on my face and stomped back to the table Chooch was saving. I always take pictures of our Golden Nuggets because they’re masterpieces, but this time it was dripping everywhere and chunks of chocolate were falling to the ground because the fucking ice cream wasn’t frozen anymore. “I’M WRITING A LETTER ABOUT THIS,” I barked to Henry and Janna when they returned with their Sloppy Nuggets. “NO, I’M GOING TO TWEET ABOUT IT. AND I’M TAGGING KENNYWOOD IN IT!” I yelled, pounding the table. Henry agreed that I should do this because this is one thing that riles him up too – the sentiment that “no one takes pride in their work anymore.” He loves saying that. I’m going to make him a shirt with that slogan on it. But, then I got distracted because I wanted to ride the Thunderbolt, so that tweet never happened. (BUT THAT SHIRT STILL MIGHT.)

Sharing his Melted Nugget with Calvin who might never know the glory of a traditional Golden Nugget if Kennywood keeps this shit up!

Henry was this happy all day.

  • The first time we rode the Phantom that day, it was still KIND OF crowded and we actually had to stand in line for like 20 whole minutes, lol. Usually we go on days that are so empty that we just stroll right onto the platform, but luckily it would be like that later in the day for us spoiled amusement park enthusiasts. We had entertainment while waiting in line though – there were two fat groundhogs down below being super fucking adorable and we all clotheslined ourselves against the railing, observing their activity like we’re not from Pennsylvania and don’t see groundhogs every day. People were even taking pictures.
  • I was glad that Janna was there because while I enjoy being in a big group, sometimes there is a push & pull of what to do next and I’ll just put this right out there: I know I’m a fat girl, but I’m not the kind of person who goes to amusement parks to eat. I eat enough to sustain myself for all the running around I’m going to be doing, and I’ll usually get ice cream at some point, but the food stands are not an attraction for me. So when Blake and Haley were in line for another food thing, I was like, “WELL, I AM GOING ON THE THUNDERBOLT NOW, GOODBYE. COME ON, JANNA” and Janna was like, “I guess I am going on the Thunderbolt now. Goodbye.” Janna and I had just gotten in line when Chooch came sprinting over a few seconds later, but late enough that several people had already gotten in line behind us. “You can’t ride this without a partner!” I reminded him and this big guy in front of me said, “You can ride with me, I need a partner” and I was like, “YEAH JUST RIDE WITH THIS GUY” and Chooch was like panicking and looking over his shoulder, pretending his imaginary partner was right behind me. And eventually, we saw Big Dumb Henry do-do-doo’ing along toward the ride entrance. Little did I know that Blake and Chooch had decided to come with us but then some cop car parade happened so Blake & Haley got swept away in that excitement, so then Henry offered to take Blake’s place so that Chooch would have a partner. But now I felt bad for this guy in front of me (plus, he was wearing a fanny pack) so I made Chooch accept his offer and Chooch just shrugged and ducked under the railing to get in line with him. Henry finally reached the entrance and had this smug look on his face like HERE I AM, DAD OF THE YEAR. “Chooch has a partner now, you snooze you lose,” I said to Henry all haughtily because that’s how I say things to Henry, with haughtiness. Henry smirked and STILL GOT IN LINE!? But now there were like 15 people separating him from us so I don’t know what he thought he was going to accomplish? We kept heckling him like mean girls. And then when his line became parallel with us (because we were in a serpentine queue, you see), the guy in front of me sadly said to Chooch, “Oh. You can ride with him, it’s OK” but now Chooch was Team This Guy and said, “No. I’ll ride with you” and Henry was so confused. Then the line moved again and I lost sight of Henry so we were giggling uncontrollably about this, wondering if he would stay in line and find another stag rider to partner up with. By the time we got on the Thunderbolt, we still hadn’t seen Henry again so I figured he had just ducked out of line. As the coaster was ascending the lift hill, I looked down below and saw Henry sitting alone on a bench and I know there are people reading this and thinking “POOR HENRY” with a frown but I laughed so hard that I almost peed my pants sitting next to Janna and behind some strange man and I don’t even care IT WAS THAT FUNNY TO ME.
    • I started thinking about this a few days later on the trolley and lost it all over again, shit that happens at Kennywood is the funniest to me.

Well, I thought that doing a bulletpoint recap would spare you and me some of the words but somehow my word-control has gotten derailed just like Thomas the Tank Engine so I guess this will be a two-parter, OH BOY SEE YOU SOON FOR PART 2.

Sep 062018
 

While in the process of recapping my last trip to Kennywood, I started thinking about this one time when my friend Laura was there with us, and then she texted me out of the blue last night and I was like REMEMBER THE PHANTOM INCIDENT and she was like “Oh god, I just remembered that I don’t miss you at all.” (She moved clear across the country, you see.) So then I was reading about the aforementioned Phantom incident last night and was wheezing because it is STILL SO FUNNY TO ME so I’m reposting it because this is my blog and I make the rules.

This is also a really great illustration of what it’s like to go to Kennywood with me. Janna can attest.

***

The Giggle Picture

June 2014

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Above is a photo of Laura loving life as she rode the Turtles at Kennywood, which is evidently her most favorite ride ever. There was probably a Carpenters track playing in her head,  even. Too bad her life was about to change FOREVER a little bit later when she became involuntarily AMPUTATED on the PHANTOM’S REVENGE.

Shit, now I’m getting my parables mixed up.

Anyway, what happened was Laura, Chooch and I were walking toward the Exterminator (Henry was there somewhere) when Laura (this was all LAURA’S idea), threw a wrench into our well thought-out plan by saying, “Or we could just go on this…since we’re here…” and did a lazy Vanna White with her hands toward the entrance of the Phantom’s Revenge.

We had already went on this twice earlier in the day. The first time, we absolutely, postively walked right onto the platform and right the fuck onto the ride, that is how empty Kennywood was that day. Even on not-too-crowded days, there is still usually some sort of a line for this ride, because it’s the Big Shot Steel Coaster up in that piece, and everyone wants to take their turn on it, like the roofied guy at the sorority party. Oh wait. I’m sorry. I’m confusing genders.

The second time was actually a continuation of the first time, because when the coaster came back to the station, there was no one in line still, so the Kennywood peeps were all, “Hey, you guys can stay on if you want” so we did and it turns out that’s not so fun afterward, riding it with no break in between, when you’re in your thirties and not a seven-year-old like Chooch who was like, “THAT WAS AWESOME LET’S STAY ON THIS FOR THE REST OF THE DAY OMFG!!” as he pushed his eyeball back into its socket.

You should have seen Henry afterward, all clammy and green around the gills, wherever the hell his gills are, like he had just suffered through a particularly traumatizing Ludovico Technique featuring footage of all nine years of his loveless past marriage. (Past marriage.  Like there’s a present marriage. Hmph!)

So after Laura suggested riding it for the third time, Henry obviously was like, “Thank you sir, but I will NOT have another,” and proceeded to walk toward the exit of the Phantom’s Revenge, where he waited like an obedient puppy with his master’s purse. The rest of us ridiculed him for being a pussy and ran through the empty queue to the platform, where we saw there was a small line. We chose the seats that had the fewest number of people waiting and made sure that it was lined up evenly so that the three of us could get on at the same time.

Meanwhile, there was some sort of seat belt malfunction going on. The coaster was sitting there idly, full of passengers, but the ride attendants couldn’t send it off because of whatever was going on.

“We need someone to sit in this seat!” one of the teenaged boys in a Kennywood polo shouted. “There’s nothing wrong, but we can’t send this on with this car empty! It’s not a mechanical problem, just this one seatbelt!” And he was holding the seatbelt, too, as if that was going to reassure people.

And who wouldn’t be OK with putting their safety into the hands of a college kid on summer break?

Everyone started murmuring to each other about not wanting to ride in a car with a broken seat belt, even though it was only one of the seats in the car– the other one was apparently functioning properly, so only one person could sit in that seat. Some dumbass single rider was all, “Whatever, yeah, I’ll do it,” sparking a collective outcry regarding his stupidity. Some older woman in the line next to us was FREAKING THE FUCK OUT about this and her kids (her KIDS) were trying to calm her down. “They’re not going to let people ride it still if it’s actually broken, Mom!” one of the kids cried in frustration.

“But they’re using A REAL PERSON as a dummy!” she countered.

They sent the coaster up the hill, and we all turned and watched as it raced down the hill a minute later.

“No, he’s still on it. I saw him,” Laura assured me and Chooch. I wanted everyone to clap when the coaster returned to the platform with the idiot Single Rider still fastened into his seat, but everyone seemed to have lost interest by then.

However, that became the temporary designated single rider seat for the time being while the attendants waited for the maintenance guys to arrive with a new seatbelt. “Shit, they’re going to make me sit there!” Laura cried when it dawned on her what was going on. Chooch and I, of course, nearly gave up our asshole ghosts from laughing so hard at her future misfortune.

Just then, I looked ahead and noticed that the girl who was in front of us had moved over to the Broken Seat Belt Line, which meant that Chooch and I were next. We kind of half-heartedly tried to find someone to go ahead of us so that we could ride at the same time as Laura, but everyone behind us was perfectly lined up with their respective groups as well and didn’t want to give up their spots. So we shrugged a disgenuine “sorry” in Laura’s general direction, and then climbed into the car, leaving her alone on the platform. The guy behind her was laughing at our mock-sorrow, which made the whole situation even funnier to me.

When we came back to the station, we gave her a quick wave and then ran away to find Henry, who looked confused that we were short one person. So Chooch and I hysterically recounted the broken seatbelt situation (“I know, I saw the maintenance men go over there so I figured something was wrong,” Henry interrupted, fulfilling his inherent need to speak of any sort of man in uniform) and then started laughing even harder when we got to the part about ditching Laura.

“AND NOW SHE HAS TO SIT IN THE BROKEN SEAT!” we cried, doubling over in laughter.

“You two are both assholes,” Henry yelled at us, but that was the same time we realized that the coaster was ascending the inaugural hill, so Chooch and I ran closer to take a picture of what we were lovingly referring to as “Laura’s Last Ride.”

(Time out. I am going to pause here for a second so I can walk off this ridiculous laughter before I start alarming people at work again.)

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ENJOY YOUR LAST RIDE, LAURA!

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We ran back to Henry, who was scowling and trying to shrug away from his hyena-brood. At this point, I was on the pee-precipice and it wasn’t looking too good. Passers-by were starting to flash Chooch and I the “I wonder what they’re on” looks, which yes, I DO get a lot, now that you mention it.

And then finally, Laura came padding down the exit trail, looking disheveled and not very pleased.

We immediately started laughing harder. Oh, schadenfreude! My old friend!

“That was the most awkward ride ever!” Laura cried. Apparently, the maintence crew had fixed the seatbelt situation after Chooch and I got off the ride, so Laura wasn’t relegated to sitting in the Single Rider Death Seat. However, when she stepped across the seat to put her purse in one of the cubby holes, she turned around to discover that people behind her had taken her seat. So she had to walk around, looking for a car with an empty seat, and that is how she ended up sitting with some single dad. At this point in the story, Chooch and I raced over to look at the picture on the screen and then promptly lost our shit all the fuck over again. Even Henry mosied on over to take a gander at the photographical evidence of Laura’s misfortune.

The kid running the photo booth was kind of fake-laughing along with us, but it was clear he wasn’t sure what was so funny. Also unclear to him was whether or not he was going to make a sale on this one.

“Henry, PLEASE give me money to buy this!” I begged in my signature mouthful of laughs / Bobcat Goldthwaite voice. It’s Henry’s favorite part about me. Especially when it happens during sex.

“No!” he yelled. “I’m not paying $15 for that! That’s outrageous.”

“BUT IT’S WORTH IT TO ME!” I cried harder. I have got to stop leaving my wallet in the car when we go to amusement parks. This is bullshit.

And then something incredible happened! LAURA BOUGHT IT FOR ME! She didn’t seem too pleased about spending money on such an uncomfortable memory, but she did it anyway because she is a GOOD FRIEND. (Apparently, the OPPOSITE of what I am, according to Henry.)

The guy behind the photo counter was partially bemused, but mostly puzzled at this point, as Laura handed over her credit card with a sigh while Chooch and I flanked her in hysterical laughter. It’s like we’re drunk all of the time without actually consuming any alcohol. This is normal public behavior for us. Laughing so hard we need to lean on walls and people for support. Sometimes I lean on people I don’t even know because I can’t help myself, the laughter makes me walk on a slant, you guys.

When Laura handed me the photo, I blurted out, “You don’t have to get me a birthday present now!”

“I already did,” she sighed, with just a tinge of bitterness and regret.

Henry pointed out that Laura’s Temporary Husband also purchased one of the photos, which wound me up all over again. I wonder if it’s as funny to him?!!?

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HAHAHAHAHA BUT THIS PICTURE, THOUGH! Baby Mama Laura! Oh shit, I have to pee — BRB.

I have been actually crying about it at work, it is THAT funny to me, but everyone here is like, “It is not that funny, if at all” and “You’re so mean to your friends.”  And Henry is like, “No really, it’s not that funny” and “I can’t figure out how you have any friends at all.”   But Chooch and me? WE HAVE FIGURATIVELY BURIED OURSELVES IN A GRAVE OF IDIOCY from all of the laughing we’ve been doing. Team Dickhead FTW!

These past two days at work, Barb has basically been searching her desk for her imaginary OUT TO LUNCH sign every time she sees me approaching  because she knows I’m going to just stand there and have uncontrollable giggles usurp my ability to speak like a regular human being. However, at least she can appreciate the fact that it’s more of the backstory surrounding the photo that has legitimately cracked my sanity. Everyone else is just looking at me like I’ve lost my mind.

Just today, I was walking to the trolley and I started laughing all over again, and I mean LAUGHING. So I called Henry and said, “You have to stay on the phone with me because I’m walking down the street and laughing uncontrollably.” (Which actually isn’t anything out of the ordinary in my neighborhood.)

“What are you laughing about—-” Henry started. And then, “Oh. Never mind.”

But it was too late. My laughter upchucked out of my mouth like a galloping horse and I had to pause in a doorway of a store because I almost peed my pants in the middle of the sidewalk. I AM OUT OF CONTROL. This is what happens to me at amusement parks! I turn into a hyper dickhead and then suffer from residual giddiness for days afterward and you know who suffers? Henry! My co-workers! YOU! THE INTERNET!

And then that motherfucker Henry waited until I was on the trolley to text me the picture, which caught me off guard and I had to cover my face with my hair and laugh at my reflection in the stupid trolley window and then I started crying and people were looking and some asshole probably wrote a blog post about ME, can you imagine.

Aug 292018
 

Me: Have you read my post about the Holiday World coasters?

Chooch: No, because I was there. So….

Did I tell you that we almost didn’t go to Holiday World? No, I mean even aside from Henry’s noncommittal. The forecast for that Saturday in Santa Claus, IN was all day showers/thunderstorms. I mean, all the way up until Friday, it looked like a  bad omen. And we endured a storm once in Indiana so I know those are nothing to fuck around with.

So Henry was like, “Look, you gotta make the call here. Do you want to chance it?” I hesitated for a whole 5 seconds probably, but ultimately said that we had no choice because I fake-bragged about this at work so we had to go or I’d look dumb and Henry was like, “That is honestly the stupidest reasoning but whatever.”

So we did it, we made the dumb drive and guess what? Not a single drop of rain landed on my dense head all ding-dong day. I mean, it was as humid as the rainforest with the lid on, so we wet in other ways…

…but no severe weather threw a wrench (or a lightning bolt) in our day, woo!

Holiday World is split up into five areas based on holidays, plus a water park which we didn’t go to because maybe I’m in a minority here (and I definitely was there, too) but I think water parks are disgusting and I get so skeeved out just thinking about them. I haven’t been to one since I was 12 and have no plans to ever go to another. Anyway, the holiday sections are: Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July. I am genuinely upset that there was nothing for Easter, because I love pastels and bunnies and imagine the Zombie Jesus dark ride you could have up in that bitch.

The mind reels.

Let’s do a little photo tour of each section and I will tell you things along the way, like we’re on one of my lunch break walks together. Just hold your breath when we walk past the alleys – the stench of hot piss in the summer emanates.

HALLOWEEN

Ya gotta know this was my favorite area, boi.

Goblin Burgers did not have veggie burgers, but KRINGLE’S CAFE did, don’t worry about Chooch and me.

I love that all the game facades and food places were purple and orange, and the restrooms had a witch on the womens door and a vampire on the mens door and also while we’re on the topic of toilets can I just commend HW on their commode cleanliness? Public restrooms in general are a crapshoot (lol crapshoot) and amusement parks can be on their very own tier of grody. But these ones were remarkably stench-free and each stall even had toilet seat sanitizer that you could pump out onto a wad of toilet paper to give the seats a real good last minute rub-down.

Here’s Chooch with a sunburned face, despite the fact that there were free sunscreen stations located all over the park.

So you know how I made you guys have a coaster circle jerk with me in my last Holiday World post? Well, you might be surprised to know that I had any room left over in my short attention span to also obsessed over the swings.

First of all, they’re called the HALLOWSWINGS and second of all, I was already obsessed with them before we got there because I saw a picture on the HW website and it was one of my pre-HW talking points at work and Glenn was like, “Are you 5?”

BUT WOULD YOU LOOK?!

They are the prettiest swings I’ve ever seen at an amusement park!!

That detail! i want to go trick-or-treating just looking at it!

I knew that this park was small enough that we could probably ride everything and then leave in the early evening if we wanted to but when I saw the swings in person, I declared that we weren’t leaving that park until the sun went down because I needed to see it all lit up at night!

Wouldja look at the smiling jack o’lantern on top of the swing?! I wish that was on top of my house. Actually, I wish this whole swing set was in my yard. Well, maybe my mom’s yard since it’s way bigger than mine. I’ll just visit.

Every day.

See that girl in the green shirt behind me? As soon as the swings lifted up, she started SCREECHING, and I do mean SHRIEKING HER FUCKING FACE OFF, about how she didn’t want to ride it anymore and she just kept screaming and screaming that my shoulders kept raising toward my ears and the ride operator, who was getting the people on the ride before us all hyped up, was super quiet and no one was cheering, and we all just patiently waited for the ride to end so this kid would stop making us feel like we were in a deleted scene from Final Destination Part 666. Her fear was contagious and I was starting to panic.

When the swings descended and came to a complete stop, I turned around and asked her if she was OK and she yelled, “YES” all huffily and then ran away. I walked past just as she reunited with her family and, while stamping her feet, she shouted, “I AM NEVER RIDING THAT AGAIN” and her family was pretty unsympathetic about it. But even Henry, who was waiting for us with all the other parents, lol, was like, “The fuck was wrong with that girl?!”

Also in Halloween land was the HW log flume ride called Frightful Falls, which wasn’t as long as our beloved Log Jammer (RIP) was BUT it did have a semi-thrilling pitch black tunnel right in the beginning and that made up for the lack of flume-duration. Chooch and I got Henry to go on it with us later in the night, after begging and nearly causing a scene, and he admitted that it was OK and then we bought the picture because anytime Henry will actually ride something with us, we need a souvenir.

But can I stop here and criticize HW on one thing real quick? No haunted house in Halloweenland, Holiday World? Really?

CHRISTMAS TOWN.

Sadly, the Christmas section didn’t have any rides aside from a handful of kiddie bullshit, but it did have a sweet Nativity scene and Kringle’s Cafe, home of the $10 black bean burger. (At least the drinks in Holiday World are free?)

Special fake burgers for me and Chooch, the special little liberal snowflakes who use reusable straws. God, we suck so bad!

OMG we sat across from a family who said prayers before digging into their food and ended it with two power fists in the air, which was kind of cool and made me want to start saying food-grace just so I could have some awesome jazz-handy ending.

While we were eating, SANTA HIMSELF walked past the window so Chooch knocked on it real hard but when Santa turned around, all he saw was me, so he waved joyfully and I shyly waved back. Thanks, Chooch.

Meanwhile, over in the attached Mrs. Claus’s Kitchen, I finally got my lips around a critically acclaimed—no not an elf dick—Holiday World frozen hot chocolate and even though it made me sick because I had just eaten a $10 black bean burger and fries, it was worth the wait. I mean, I’ve never had one from Serendipity but do they use Mrs. Claus’s secret recipe? DOUBT IT.

I was so smug that I remembered to bring a reusable straw but then FUNNY STORY there was a hole in the drawstring bag we had with us so by the end of the day, we lost 2 out 3 straws, yeah that’s us, literally littering with reusable straws.

Le sigh.

We went back later and JUST CAUGHT SANTA and his handler with 5 minutes to spare before photos with Santa was over, but it was really awkward because we rolled up on them while they were talking and Santa wasn’t even sitting in his Santa Throne, and I had my camera out like could it be any more clear that I wanted a picture, but instead, he just stood there and drilled us on our thoughts of like every ride there and it dawned on me that perhaps photos weren’t free and they were all packed up for the day, so every time there was a pregnant pause, I would try to thank them for their time, but then Santa would ask, “Now, which seat did you sit on when you rode Thunderbird? Inside or outside? OH NO YOU GOTTA RIDE IT AGAIN AND SIT ON THE OUTSIDE, THAT’S THE BEST SEAT” and the glitter in his beard was making  my eyes crossed and I was perspiring so badly and Henry was just loafing on the other side of the candy shop, looking at cases of cupcakes and candy apples, avoiding my hostage eyes.

Finally, Santa dismissed us and Henry was like, “Did you get a picture?”

Fuck off, Henry.

4TH OF JULY BORO.

I mean, I’m not patriotic, but I guess we were in a state where they give a shit about this stuff, so sure, let’s 4th of July it up.

I was excited about this section for one thing: THEY HAVE A CALYPSO THERE. Granted, they call theirs the Firecracker, but it’s a Calypso nonetheless and when I was a little, it was my favorite ride at Kennywood but no one believes me that it was there because all of my friends were abducted by aliens at some point and I swear they have no MEMORY when it comes to our childhood.

I look like such an herb in this picture but I love it because I can tell you without a doubt that I was saying something disparaging about Henry here, and it probably had something to do with when we were in a CVS parking lot that morning and saw a guy wearing an NRA shirt so Chooch and I were going off about how the NRA is run by the devil and just as Henry started to chime him, I cut him off and said in the Eeyore-voice I use when I’m pretending to be Henry, “Not all NRA members are baaaaad.” Chooch almost threw up in the car from laughing so hard after I said this, so we kept yelling it randomly throughout the day, in lieu of “wooo”s and “yeah”s on all of the rides.

The first time we rode this ride, the ride operator was talking about high school soccer teams to anyone who would listen, and the second time, a different ride operator said, “I like your Dance Gavin Dance shirt” as checked to make sure our seatbelts were fastened, so then we had a brief post-hardcore convo while he checked the cars around ours and in my head, I screamed, “HOLIDAY WORLD IS THE PLACE FOR ME.”

But really, Indiana probably is not the place for me.

Oh yeah, every time we got off a ride, the operator would wish a happy whatever-holiday-section we were in, so that was fun to say, “HAPPY 4TH OF JULY TO YOU  TOO!”

Henry thought that sign said “Fucking a Country” and I couldn’t stop laughing and now I think that’s what they should name the movie about Trump’s “presidency.”

The carousel was small and not as grand as I wanted it to be but I got to ride on a rabbit and that was enough to keep me satiated.

OMG I was wrong – Henry rode not four but FIVE rides at Holiday World!

I mean, of course it would be called this.

We rode the train just so Henry could have something to ride.

It was filled with nursery rhyme scenes so I think it actually was part of kiddie land and not 4th of July Boro.

Henry was disgusted that Peter Pumpkin Eater couldn’t think of anything rougher to do to his dumb wife.

Yeah boy, free beverage all day long! What a novel idea! And before you think we walked around burping up Pepsi all day, we’re actually not a soft drink family at all so we were happy to see that water, Gatorade, and iced tea were also options. They had a great diet peach green tea on tap so I drank that when I wanted something more than water, but we all mostly just drank water and it was amazing not having to spend $3 for bottled water (which I always refill at water fountains but still….)

Paper cups too, thank god.

OK, I read about this Udderly Blue Ice Cream online and I was positive that I wasn’t going to like it because I tend to shy away from anything blue raspberry and even the wild cherry sounded too artificial for my liking, so while we were in line I changed my mind and decided to not get anything.

Chooch got a cup of the twist and Henry got a cup of just the cherry, and after one tiny bite of that I was like, “Oh here, let me help you eat that” and then I tried the blue raspberry in Chooch’s twist and WHOA NELLY (I only say that out of respect for the 80s classic Labyrinth which I still can’t spell on my own without Googling 25 years later, I’m so great) that shit was actually pretty fucking divine. Both flavors were deep and not overly sweet and sugary, if that makes any sense. I could have easily sucked back a bowl all on my own.

I made Henry get sprinkles on his and he was like, “Why, this isn’t yours” LOL everything is mine, dumbass.

THANKSGIVING PLANET

We probably spent most of our time in the Thanksgiving section because Chooch and I had both imprinted on the Voyage and probably the only time we fought all day when we were competing over who liked it better and I was about to dig up a fucking diamond and propose to that goddamn thing just to prove a point, ugh.

In this section, you could eat an actual Thanksgiving dinner at the Plymouth cafe, which I’m sure was super-congealed and freezer section-y, but I appreciated that they offered a vegetarian version which was four sides and cornbread.

We didn’t eat there, though Henry kept looking in the window every time we walked past.

What is: something Henry uses up every day after one conversation with me.

Oh shit, Holiday World had a dark ride and it was Thanksgiving-themed! It was called Gobbler Getaway and it was a shooting darkride.

I was too fixated on shooting to win so I actually didn’t pay any attention  to the scenes, which is dumb. I should have went on a second time just to enjoy the experience, but I had the high-score and I didn’t want one of those assholes to beat it the second time.

Also, aside from when there was Cleanup Project on the Voyage, this was probably the longest line we stood in, and that was around 20 minutes.

Worth it though.

Also  in this area, we saw that scuzzy couple that was making out behind us that morning in Subway (god, do you even read my blog posts?! I know, they’re like a puzzle, but still) but they were definitely not making out now and in fact, they looked like they were on the verge of a breakup and for some reason, this was very satisfying to me.

Of course the Tilt-a-Whirl would be called the Turkey Whirl!

I think it’s pretty funny that I was so certain we would probably leave the park early in the evening, but then we ended up shutting that bitch down. It was like being a kid again, running around in that darkened park, trying to get one more ride in on each coaster while Henry casually strolled in our wake, carrying the bags and our drinks, letting us be the fucking freaks that we are.

I can’t get over how fun this little park is and I highly recommend it to any amusement park enthusiast because it’s quirky as fuck and has an arsenal of secret weapons in the shape of some pretty beastly wooden coasters. Just beware that there doesn’t seem to be much else than pizza parlors in the area so if you’re planning on eating dinner outside of the park, you might end up at Jenk’s Pizza 20 minutes before they close and have to be the asshole who makes the two teenagers working there stay a bit later in order to make your family a pizza with a ton of black olives on it.

This was when Henry asked, “Is this unsweetened tea?” even though there was a big sign under the pitcher that said, “TRY OUR SWEET TEA.” Chooch and I were dying. So now those teenagers were like, “Wow this fucking family is making us stay late and the dad is also dumb as hell.”

The pizza was fucking good though.

Then Henry casually slapped down a tip on the counter and said in a deeper-than-usual voice, “Have a good night guys” and Chooch and I were trying not to pee.

We had a blast at Holiday World, and we all got along which is the most important part. Also, the hotel I booked for us wasn’t a sex-shack so we were able to get a good night’s sleep afterward. It was all-around a pretty perfect day.

Aug 272018
 

Crows Nest and Thunderbird, in the Thanksgiving section of Holiday World.

I was running on Holiday World-adrenaline for a week after we returned from Indiana. I can’t remember the last time I fell so hard in love with a little family amusement park like this one, but the coaster cupid got me good, straight through the heart, with this one.

Does it sound hokey on paper? A park divided into sections based on holidays? Sure does sound hokey. But it works, it really works. And when you got off a ride in Thanksgiving town, it might seem weird at first to be wished a Happy Thanksgiving, but before you know it, you’re casually saying it back to people without second thought!

Even Henry, who was Father Frowntown all summer regarding this park, was not immune to its hunky-dory midwest charms. Once we trained to ourselves to ignore the fact that we were a family of Democrats awash in a dirty sea of Trump Train passengers, things we were fine, we were fine, it was all just fine.

(To be fair though, I saw not one MAGA hat all day, so there’s that.)

And not to be a sell-out, but those coasters were fucking worth it.

Let’s talk about them!

THE RAVEN

The very first coaster we came upon was the Raven, located near the entrance of HALLOWEEN which clearly was my favorite area out of all the holidays, hello.

It looked like the line was going to be outrageous for this but it actually moved along quite speedily and Chooch and I were buckled in in no time.

(Henry wussed out and while he was waiting for us, he ran into Discount Vin Diesel and they talked about, in Henry’s words, “Nothing special, just the fact that we were in the same place.” Wow, that was your guest bi-annual guest contribution from Henry.)

Anyway, oh shit people, this coaster was so unexpectedly outrageous! It’s always the best riding a coaster for the first time, and this was right up there because there because we didn’t realize how fast it was going to be, and there were so many banks! It was rough as hell, but I was ready to ride it again almost immediately.

But first, we ran over to the Legend, also in Halloween land, because I wasn’t sure what the crowd sitch was going to be like and I needed to make sure we rode everything at least once.

Our last ride of the night on the Raven was lit fam (I hate myself). We hadn’t been on the front seat yet so we waited the extra handful of minutes but it was entertaining because the ride operators were dancing and getting the crowd totally hyped, Raven: After Hours-style. It made me miss the days when Kennywood was like that. Maybe it is during the peak season, but we generally go on days when we know it will be less crowded and those kids running the rides are just bored, jaded, and miserable. Like my friend Chris, not the kinds of Kennywood employees that Rick Sebak would have ever interviewed for his epic, classic documentary, Kennywood Memories. 

I totally screamed at those boys behind us to shut the fuck up because they were “ca-cawing” so fucking loud up the first hill that it sounded like a raven was laying eggs inside my fucking skull and I get it, I’m an obnoxious maniac on rides too, but these kids were just demonic.

LEGEND

I know you guys probably pieced this together, but this was Sleepy Hollow themed and even though there wasn’t anything blatantly related to this along the course, it was still fun to imagine that we were being chased by the headless horseman, especially when the parting words at the station were, “Don’t look behind you” and there was a perfectly-placed howl that came at the top of the first lift hill.

We sat in the back for our inaugural ride and my seat belt was down too low so the metal part dug into my thigh for the entire ride which was rough enough with that extra torture! I honestly couldn’t enjoy the ride because of this and kept putting off riding it again, but eventually we did later that day. This time we sat in the second row and my seatbelt was properly placed across my lap, so I was able to really enjoy this maniacal coaster for everything it was: a spine-shatterer but so goddamn good! This one also has a ton of banks which I love on a wooden coaster, and TUNNELS! I love tunnels!!

We finally got Henry to ride it (Chooch and I sat in the front seat that time) and Henry was pretty wrecked afterward. It took him out for the count so aside from the train, Gobbler Getaway (a dark ride) and Frightful Falls, he didn’t ride anything else all day. Lol. Sucks to be henry.

The best ride we had on this one was at night — it was pitch black and made the whole headless horseman fantasy seem even more real, like something was just going to snatch us out of our seats at any moment. Also, we rode it in the front seat for that and it was magic.

I somehow didn’t get any photos of this one, so here’s snap I grabbed off the Internet, credit goes to Coaster 101:

Related image

THE VOYAGE

The first time we rode Voyage (which Chooch has taken to pronounce the French way), the line for the front seat wasn’t too long so we claimed our spots. But then someone puked or peed, bled out, had a baby, something that caused them to temporarily suspend operations due to a “cleanup project.” Lol. We got to watch as the car was moved out of the station and then some Holiday World guy who drew the short straw snapped on rubber gloves and got to work with a rag and a spray bottle. This whole scene only racked on about 10 minutes to our wait time, maybe not even not that much.

But then when we were next in line, some guy with a fast pass stole the front seat and I was mad at first but then realized he was disabled and almost died from a melted heart when he looked over and thanked Chooch and me genuinely. So then I wasn’t mad anymore.

Oh, and in case you couldn’t tell, since it’s in Thanksgiving town, it’s supposed to be like the Mayflower’s voyage, so when the ride operator set us off into the sunset, she ended her spiel with “Set sail!” I didn’t pick up on it right away, but Chooch pointed it out later and I cried, “I LOVE HOLIDAY WORLD!”

Such committment!

Look at that hill! We were practically peeing our pants on the way up, but I didn’t want to be involved in another cleanup project so I held it in. This ride was, to use Henry-vernacular*, ROCKIN’.

*(Henacular?)

This out-and-back whips you so hard around bends and does that beautiful “whoosh” into tunnels, oh my god, I can’t praise this coaster enough. I want to take it on a picnic in some fairy tale forest somewhere.

We couldn’t drag Henry on it, but Chooch and I must have set sail at least 8 times that day, the best being right before the park closed, when we literally SPRINTED from the Legend to the Thanksgiving section, praying that we made it in time, and WE DID! We snagged the front seat again and holy shit, that was hands down the highlight of the whole entire day for me, cruising (more Henacular) through the pitch black forest, unable to see what was coming next, and just screaming our sweaty faces off. IT WAS SO PURE!

One of the things I’ll never forget about the Voyage was when we were waiting in line and saw some broad wearing some black mesh shirt thing getting off the ride and not only were most of her boobs popping out, but we definitely both saw some nippage. I hope this wasn’t Chooch’s “coming of age” moment, but he has definitely referenced her more than once since we’ve been home…

Thunderbird

This was the only steel coaster in the park (aside from the kid coaster) and you might think this would have been our favorite but you would be wrong. I mean, it was a great coaster – one of those launched wingriders (lol, I totally looked that up, I have no idea what I’m talking about), but sometime in my 30s I became terrified of steel coasters so I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it until we were rolling back into the station. Then I was like, “WOW THAT WAS GREAT!” That first launch though, holy fuck, it felt like it was never going to end, and then it goes straight upside down and the rest of was just me fearing for me life and praying I didn’t lose a leg. Especially when we flew into a hole in the roof of a barn. That was scary.

This ride was also not crowded, so we were able to ride it three times without waiting hardly at all, except for the one time we decided to get the front seat after Santa recommended it to us (true story). That was the most terrifying ride of them all.

Since Henry didn’t ride anything, he stood on terra firma and played photographer which was cool because I’m going through this weird mortality crisis where I worry that I don’t allow myself to be in enough photos because I hate my face so much (I have issues stacked on neuroses infused with complexes), so I’m trying to loosen up. Anyway, I love these photos because they illustrate exactly how scared-rabbit I was on this ride. Like Chooch is up there living his best life while I’m praying to some fake rosary made out of the rocks in my head.

My favorites in order were:

  1. Voyage (hands down, this ride is killer.)
  2. Legend (even though it left its mark on my thighs, like I was in some shitty made-for-TV remake of The Entity)
  3. Raven (just classic as far as wooden coaster goes)
  4. Thunderbird (those wooden beasts just shone too brightly, keeping this one in their shadows)

Wow wasn’t my review informative? “I liked these roller coasters because they went up high hills and had tunnels and speed!”

I’ll be back with more pictures and a general summation of this park and how much of an impact it made on us – a total blindside!

Aug 252018
 

Oh, it was fraught with adversity.

My obsession with Holiday World started about five or six years ago when we were planning a small road trip around a visit with our pals Bill and Jessi in Michigan. I started looking up amusement parks around that area and found two in Indiana that seemed promising: Holiday World and Indiana Beach. I remember it was a big to-do because I wanted to go to both parks and didn’t understand what the problem was, no matter how many times Henry showed me on a map that they were on opposing sides of the state from each other.

SO WHAT!?

Henry just wasn’t as committed as me I guess, and in the end he made me choose one.

In his own gruff dad-words: ONE OR THE OTHER!

I ended up choosing Indiana Beach because they had several rides and y’all know that dark rides are my absolute favorite things in amusement parks. A pox on those that don’t have any, I say!

Something made me jump back on the Holiday World train sometime in late April.

“We’ll see,” Henry said, utilizing his favorite cop-out response.

“But we never go anywhere!” I cried.

“We literally just came back from Korea?!” Henry cried while foraging in our backyard for that night’s dandelion dinner because Korea left as poor people.

(It didn’t really but that’s how Henry acted because it gave him an easy way out of having to do anything for the unforeseeable future.)

My begging and pleading went on for MONTHS culminating in him flipping out and yelling, “SOMETIMES I FORGET THAT YOU’RE ACTUALLY AS OLD AS YOU ARE!” in the middle of Target when I was pouting.

I even took this one particular Friday off work because it was getting down to the wire and I couldn’t get that asshole to confirm but if we were going to go, it was going to have to be on that weekend and finally I was like FUCK YOU and booked the hotel and then the rest of that week was really tense and silent in our house, lol, not really but Henry wasn’t pleased with me at all.

At one point, just me and Chooch were going to go but I hoped that my bluff wouldn’t come true because I definitely didn’t want to make that 7 hour drive myself. HOW WOULD I LIVE BLOG?!

After I booked the hotel though, I started to tell work people about it because I thought maybe if I vocalized my desires, they would be more apt to come true so I was all, “YEAH WE’RE GOING TO HOLIDAY WORLD THIS WEEKEND NO BIG DEAL” and blew on my finger nails a few times like I was a 1950s greaser who just called some nerd Coke Bottle Eyes at the soda shop.

Glenn was like, “That sounds dumb” but Lauren and Margie were all in. Especially when I told them that there was the promise of FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE WITH SANTA IN MRS. CLAUS’S KITCHEN.

I walked past them one time last week and casually called over my shoulder, “Oh, and all soft drinks are FREE at Holiday World. Sunscreen too” and then I fake-yawned and continued on to my desk.

But then the day before I admitted to Lauren that I wasn’t actually sure if we were going for real because I still hadn’t gotten Henry to say the y-word (“yes,” come on guys, I shouldn’t have to spell out everything for you, get a clue) but that I had taken the following day off a month prior.

“Did you take that day off specifically for this, without knowing for sure–” and then she started cracking up when I sadly nodded.

So then Friday came. I knew Henry didn’t take the day off because god forbid he ever takes days off work, but sometimes he can get out of there semi-early depending on other people. I fucking paced around Brookline ALL DAY and then Chooch and I argued because I didn’t feel that he cared enough about this trip, and he was like, “But it’s just….Indiana—I mean, no I’m really excited! I want to go! Yay, Holiday World!” but his forced enthusiasm wasn’t foolin’ nobody. NOBODY.

Finally, that d-bag Henry came waltzing in the house around 3:00 and I was like LET’S GO but then he had to take a stupid shower first and pack and I was tapping holes into the floor with my foot.

It was around 3:30 when we finally left the house and I was like, “OK we’re doing this, we’re finally leaving” and Henry was surprisingly in a good mood so that made me feel ominous, you know? Like was something going to happen? (This isn’t foreshadowing, nothing happened, but I am a very superstitious and paranoid person so I was ON EDGE all weekend.)

The funny part is that part of my deal was that if we went to Holiday World, I would drive part way. Originally, I said I would drive for the first part because I can’t drive well at night (see: eyes that can’t see) and Henry was like, “Deal” but then I was like, “Well, I’ll just drive to Columbus and then you can drive after that because I get confused around Columbus” and he sighed heavily but still agreed.

(When I was friends with my ex-bff who lived in shitty Cinci, I would always make her take the Greyhound to Columbus and then I would pick her up there and make her drive the rest of the way to Cinci because following directions on a highway is not my strongsuit. On my very first time ever visiting her, I got the exit number screwed up and got lost like 2 hours into the trip, lost my temper, and came home. Turns out my head scrambled the exit number and instead of taking, say for example, Exit 81 I took Exit 18 and it didn’t occur to me at all that it was awfully soon into the drive to be “almost there” and then I stopped at a gas station and got in a fight with some trashy bitch in Marietta, OH and I have the rest blacked out but I think I wrote about it on LiveJournal so maybe I’ll go and look that up on a rainy day which could be any day since all it’s done here in Pittsburgh this summer is rain and will you just get back to the story, Erin?!)

I was prepared to get in the drivers seat when we were leaving but Henry said he would drive for a little bit because he’s a big tough man and everyone knows women should just shut up and get in the passenger seat. He was going to switch off with me once we got to West Virginia but HILARIOUSLY it started storming so hard that it was hazardous and everyone was crawling along the highway with their flashers on and by the time it stopped, we were nearly to Columbus, and Henry was like, “WOW YOU SURE GOT OUT OF THAT ONE” and I just smiled cutely because we all knew I wasn’t going to do any driving, come on now, I have shit to do.

It was around 7 at this point (yes, that rain took a major chunk out of our travel time) so we stopped in some podunk town for dinner. We were going to eat some joint called Clay’s which was an ice cream parlour and family restaurant, but there was a bit of a wait. I put in my name and we sat on a wooden bench with some of the locals who knew we were outlanders, but then Henry realized there was a Loving Hut nearby so we left and he was mad at me for not telling the lady to take our name off the list like he suddenly is the authority on restaurant couth.

Got to Loving Hut and originally sat down near a fucking screaming toddler whose ear-piercing screeches were ricocheting in my head, and I almost left because I was on the verge of flipping a table (its mom just sat there and scrolled through her phone, like hello maybe your idiot kid is screaming because it wants you to look at it) but then Henry asked a waitress if she could clean off an empty but dirty table on the other side of a wall so ALL WAS WELL.

I usually try to just eat at local establishments when we travel but the call of Loving was just too strong. We used to have a Loving Hut in Pittsburgh but it closed and I’m not sure if it’s reopening somewhere else or just gonezo forever, but it’s a vegetarian joint that even Hank the Meat-Tank can stand so we were all happy. (Even Korea has Loving Huts!)

I want to go back in time and tear that sandwich apart with my gnashing maw all over again it was so good. (Vegan BBQ with coleslaw, ugh more please). I don’t know what Henry got but he nearly licked the plate clean while Chooch complained because he didn’t like the sauce on his burger bun – that kid is so averse to condiments, it makes me sad.

We were sooooo off-schedule by then. Our original ETA was 10:30pm but we had only made it to Cinci by 10, and Santa Claus was still 3 hours from there. But the bright side of running late was that we got to see fireworks over top of an otherwise bland city.

Chooch fell asleep sometime after this and I was burdened with the task of making sure Henry didn’t fall alseep at the wheel even though I was tired too but SOLIDARITY. The drive from Cinci to Louisville wasn’t too bad (we drove past the Vent Museum!) but holy shit it was all black nothingness once we hit Indiana. And then we somehow got rerouted so the GPS added 45 minutes to the drive time and I started crying out of anger while Henry was threatening the GPS robot lady, but then somehow it recalculated and shaved off a bunch of time so we celebrated.

We rolled up to the super basic (but clean and not crawling with sex workers like the last place Henry booked in Newark) Motel 6 or 8 or whatever number they use sometime after midnight which was actually after 1am for us but time rolled back an hour when we crossed over into the central time zone somewhere in Indiana. There was some family in a banged-up minivan who got there at the same time as us and the dad was like, “HAHA you guys look as thrilled as us” because we were just dragging at that point. He had on shorts and a wife-beater and as the elevator door closed on us, Chooch said, “He looked like a discount Vin Diesel” and I couldn’t stop laughing at that because he kind of did look like that.

We crashed and then woke up bright and early to get ready for HOLIDAY WORLD! First we went to Subway for a light breakfast (I get sick if I go to amusement parks with too much food in my gut) and we were in line with a young alternatrash couple that were super skinny probably from drugs and the dude had TERRIBLE face tattoos, which was basically my prelude to a day full of more face tattoos, so many face tattoos, Indiana must run specials on them. And they weren’t on people who looked cool and edgy, like guys in bands or tattoo artists, guys who can pull that shit off because it’s part of their lifestyle as a musician or artist, you know? No, these were the kinds that screamed, “I just finished beating my girlfriend and gave myself this shoddy prison face tattoo.” Every single guy I saw in that park who had one just looked so fucking trashy and heroin-y and I can guess that they all had at least one Kid Rock CD in their car at that moment.

But that didn’t affect our glorious time at Holiday World!

We got there right when it opened at 10am and expected it to be relatively crowded because it was a Saturday and we try to avoid going to amusement parks on weekends. I was fully prepared to have to do a lot of waiting in lines but it was gloriously sparse!

The Raven was the first ride we rode! It was a wicked coaster and unexpectedly fun – Chooch and I sat in the back and got our asses (and necks) kicked on it.

I took some family’s picture here and then the mom was all, “here I’ll take yours too” and I reluctantly agreed but I hate having my picture taken so bad so that’s why it looks like I have 87 fire-sticks up my ass.

Henry was going to wear a gray shirt that I hate because every time he wears it, he’s in a bad mood, so then he changed into a different gray shirt. The man loves grays and browns, I don’t think he’ll change up his wardrobe at this point.

I’m going to stop here and get into the real meaty portions of Holiday World in my next post because SPOILER ALERT we had such a great time there and I can’t stop thinking about those majestic wooden coasters.

Aug 132018
 

Kind of like the Bible, you know? Before Henry and After Henry.

The last ride that Chooch and I went on before Henry came and pooped on my birthday* was Aero 360. When we were in line, we kept thinking that we saw Henry, but it was just other middle-aged men in non-descript shirts and varying shades of brown and gray. Then some girl behind us was talking about how she was on the Jack Rabbit earlier and it stopped right before the double dip. (Foreshadowing!)

*(J/K Henry was actually kind of OK, I guess because it was my birthday and he knows I’m fucking fragile these days.)

Henry rolled up to the Aero360 right as it was our turn to ride, so were like, “HENRY! WATCH US!” because we’re weirdos who like it when our people watch us go on rides. One time, we were like JANNA TAKE OUR PICTURE!!! while we were riding the Swing Shot but she fucking failed us.

Anyway, I used to like the Aero360 a lot but now I’m just like, “It’s fine.”

After that, we made Henry buy us ice cream cones at Golden Nugget! Truhdishun!!

We made Henry ride THE TURTLE….

….and pose by the corn dog pagoda thing…..

…and go in Noah’s Ark! Henry hates going in Noah’s Ark with us because we act like the biggest raging assholes in Kennywood inside that fucking bible boat.

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Being dicks at K-wood.

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Guys, I’m so excited. The Volcano (formerly known as the Enterprise) was shut down nearly every time we went to Kennywood, to the point where last year was actually the first time Chooch had the opportunity to ride it. I found out through the Kennywood grapevine that it was because they were having a hard time finding a part for it, but then they did and now everything is right in Kennywoodland again! I love the ride, and always have, even though they gave it a dumb name so it would “fit in” better in a themed area that only last like three years.

But the whole reason I took this picture is because I recently mentioned this in a blog post and wanted to be able to show you what I was referring to! SO GO BACK AND REFRESH YOUR MEMORY about the time that ride nearly took off my foot.

And also I took this picture because I had just regained some semblance of equilibrium after stupidly lifting my years-long ban on the Pirate Ship thanks to Chooch’s peer-pressuring and I was killing time while sitting on a wall swallowing back vomit and waiting for Henry to come back from the super-long way to getting me water, which turns out was purposely at Auntie Anne’s because that selfish bastard wanted pretzels.

Also, right after I took this picture, two girls probably in their early 20s walked by and one of them was wearing a BTS hoodie and I was desperate to talk to her but also didn’t want to look desperate to talk to her, so instead I watched her walk away and then I spent the rest of the day wondering if I just let my possible new-BFF slip through my stupid fingers. Ugh making friends is hard.

I needed to go on a baby ride after the Pirate Ship made me nearly give up the ghost, so I dragged Chooch and Henry on Garfield’s Nightmare which is the lamest ride in the park (a darkride that used to be cool until it was rebranded into Garfield). Henry tried to get out of it but I was like IT IS MY BIRTHDAY, GET YOUR ASS IN THIS BOAT.

And it’s 3D! Henry is so stoked!

Still stoked!

Getting loaded waffles is our new tradition. MINE IS SPECULOOS. This was also my dinner. And my make-believe birthday cake since I didn’t get a cake this year. :(

Henry was supposed to have a G-Dragon cake made for me but I guess his love for me isn’t strong enough.

Chooch suddenly thinks the Auto Racer tide is “so lame.” Well it’s my birthday so shut your face and get your ass in the car, boy.

There was a brief moment in the afternoon when the park started to get crowded (we blamed Henry because it happened after he arrived) but then by early evening, it cleared out again and we have no idea where everyone went but it was glorious. If I ever had to wait more than 20 minutes for anything at Kennywood, I think I would riot because I’m so accustomed to going on off-days.

(We’re supposed to be going again next Tuesday so I probably just jinxed myself.)

Kennywood definitely isn’t cutting edge when it comes to amusement parks, but it has a nice collection of wooden coasters and in case you ever go to some dive bar’s trivia night and they have an Oh Honestly Erin category, WOODEN COASTERS ARE MY FAVORITES. My top 3 are:

  • T-Express in Everland (It’s just the best)
  • The Phoenix in Knoebels
  • Ravine Flyer II in Waldemeer

OK so none of those are in Kennywood, but the ones here in K-Wood will always be close to my heart no matter what because they are pure nostalgia and always leave me with a raw and scratchy throat the next day because I AM A SCREAMER.

We made Henry ride the Racer alone. Every time I tried to take his picture, his ginger guardian would turn and watch me with disappointment. Like, wow, lady. Worry about your own dumb family.

We call this one Henry Rides Alone. This was right before his ginger guardian plucked a strand of his hair to keep in her Stalker Chest. I was just wistfully wondering why I’ve never kept a Stalker Chest but then I remembered the time my brother Ryan and I were obsessed with GARY, the guy who was building a backporch on our house during the summer of 1994 and we collected his cigarette butts and beer cans after he left one day and hid them under the couch, for what reason, I have no idea—I GUESS YOU WILL HAVE TO CLICK THAT LINK UP THERE— but then our dad found our psycho stash and was like WHAT IS THIS and when we told him it was Gary’s, he believed us because hello, everyone knew we were weirdos.

Henry’s stupid train won and Chooch and I tried to shrug it off like we didn’t care but I was internalizing the urge to break bricks over my knee if we’re being honest.

  1. Chooch’s hair
  2. It was THIS empty!

We rode the Swingshot for the second time that day, excited that now Henry was there to watch us. (We really are like little children.) I begged Henry to ride it too but he was like, “I DON’T GIVE A SHIT WHOSE BIRTHDAY IT IS, I AM NOT RIDING THAT THING.” We rode it with this one little boy who kept screaming, “It’s Mary Poppins yall!” and a couple in their 30s who I thought were going to be annoying at first because they were kind of trashy (guys have you read my children’s book, See Erin Judge?) but the lady actually ended up being super cool and after the ride ended, her man-thing peaced out but she was like I WONDER IF I CAN JUST STAY ON because there was NO LINE so she was like, “Do you guys want to just stay on with me?” and this was after I just spent a minute giving birth mid-air to a doom-baby but I said, “YEAH SURE OK WE WILL RIDE THIS TWICE IN A ROW, NO BIG DEAL, I’M NOT SCARED YOU’RE SCARED” and then the laissez faire teenage ride attendants were like, “Bitches, yall can do what you want, we don’t give a fuck” and Henry was mouthing the words, “WTF are you doing” but I just laughed and waved him off, because he wouldn’t understand, this was real daredevil shit right here.

And then we were catapulted into the air for round 2 and I couldn’t even try to be brave because my fight-or-flight inclination to scream off the contents of my Living Will into the ether smashed any ounce of stoicism that I might have had inside me.

Once the ride was over, I was so fucking relieved to see that there were people in line this time. “OH WELL GUESS WE CAN’T GO FOR THE THREEPEAT, SEE YA LATER, LADY” and I ran out of there, haha, just kidding, I fucking slowly stumbled out with actual knocking knees.

HOW DID STANLEY DO THIS 80 TIMES IN A ROW?

Alone At Kennywood, Part 2: Serendipitous Stanley

Henry just shook his head when we rejoined him and said, “Why do you ride that?! You don’t look like you enjoy it AT ALL!”

I DO A LOT OF THINGS I DON’T LIKE FOR NO REAL REASON, OK HENRY? It’s call sado-masochism and also I clearly hate myself.

Ugh, we ran into those dumb kissers again.

I can’t remember the last time I rode the carousel at Kennywood but I felt inspired to on this day. We just missed getting on and while we were standing in line, the ride attendant came barreling over and slammed the gate shut. I was like WHAT IS HAPPENING and apparently the ride wasn’t supposed to start yet?! Like he was still going around and making sure everyone was ready and the gate was wide open so basically if it hasn’t started moving right as the people in front of us got to the entrance and stopped, we all could have been stepping on the platform as it started moving and that sucker went from a standstill to MOVING in no time.

The ride attendant was like totally pale-faced after this happened and had to get the ride operator to shut it down while he finished making sure everyone was OK which they were but there were only about seven people on the damn thing so the lady in front of us turned to me and said, “He could have at least let us on!” I KNOW RIGHT, STRANGER?!

Of course, I accidentally wound up having a crush on that ride attendant afterward and Henry was like, “I’m not surprised.”

OK fine, I’m going to admit something to you, blog: I AM AFRAID OF CAROUSELS. I’m weird about heights/disembarking things and I always panic when it’s time to unstraddle whatever animal I chose so sometimes I will actually pick either the stationary horses or the old people seats. Nevertheless, every so often I get the urge to feed my fears.

And thank god because what a stupid family selfie I was able to collect on this thing.

We did not ride the swings. I can’t remember the last time I rode these ones, to be honest! I have been on ones in other parks though but, because I am a sentimental d-bag, I have lost so much love for Kennywood’s swings since it moved locations.

And it wasn’t even recently! It moved to this current location, like, a LONG time ago but I am such a baby about it still.

I hate change!

Kangaroos is fucking underrated. I always get super excited to ride this and vocalize that excitement maniacally and then I realize, “HEY, NO ONE ELSE IS SCREAMING.” Come on guys, it’s the Kangaroo, get fucking crazy!

Also, the ride attendant from the carousel was working this ride by that time and I kept shouting to Henry, who was standing on the other side of the gate with all the other grandparents, “HENRY LOOK! IT’S MY BOYFRIEND! MY BOYFRIEND IS HERE NOW!” and Chooch was like, “OMG please stop.”

We didn’t ride the Music Express because the Pirate Ship ruined me.

And then we finally got to ride the Jack Rabbit—oh, I didn’t tell you? We tried to ride it previously after Henry got there and made it all the way to the front of the line before an announcement came on that said they were experiencing technical difficulties and while everyone was welcome to stay in line, they were going to have to temporarily suspend operations.

Guys, I have never seen so much mechanical failure in all the years I’ve attended Kennywood, and it only got worse because later that week, Thomas the Tank Engine derailed twice, the Phantom’s Revenge got stuck and passengers had to be walked down the steps, and THE FUCKING BRAKES STOPPED WORKING ON THE PIRATE SHIP AND PEOPLE GOT STUCK ON IT FOR 10-15 MINUTES. Yes, WHILE IT WAS MOVING. It was on the news and obviously people were like puking and stuff. Kennywood, you are fucking drunk this season.

We left the park around 8 because we pretty much did everything we wanted to do and I feel like I might have been pouting when we left but it’s also possible that I’m mixing this up with pretty much any other time we’ve gone to Kennywood.

Aug 092018
 

I used to always work on my birthdays and people would be like, “Why are you here on your bday, that’s stupid.” Well, back then, Barb and Gayle were still here to shower me with ridiculous amounts of attention and presents! And now that they’re not here anymore, WHY BOTHER?!

J/K! (Partially.)

I guess it’s more like the older I get, the more I want to have a child-like birthday, if that makes sense. This year, I chose to spend that day actin’ a fool at Kennywood with my best riding partner, Chooch!

Also, he and I both have season passes and while he had already gone twice this summer, I started to panic because I hadn’t gone once yet! What a waste of a stupid season pass.

Henry is super weird about requesting days off of work, so he said he would just meet us there after and we were like whatever, you do you, bud. If there’s one place Chooch and I can survive on our own, it’s Kennywood! (We didn’t know that until three years ago, when we tested it out and did alright!)

Per tradition, we raced toward the Exterminator as soon as we got into the park, but then we had to stand in line for about 30 dumb minutes because we got there too early and nothing was running yet, why do we do this to ourselves?! It’s not like we need to claim a pavilion for a family picnic or anything!

(I have literally NEVER done that, by the way. My family never lugged in coolers full of pierogies and coleslaw and bologna sandwiches to share with each other under a pavilion next to the Log Jammer. Actually, I can’t remember if my family ever even went to Kennywood altogether as a family, now that I think about it?! DID WE?! I always just went with friends or with my mom and Pappap when I was Kiddie Land-age. I think  the closest to a full-family Kennywood trip might have been in the summer of 1992 when Laurent, our French foreign exchange student, was living with us and we took him to Kennywood but I’m almost my dad didn’t go because he hated him.)

(Sorry, you know me and my brain detours.)

But yes, the Exterminator! Our favorite ride! We got stuck in front of some teenaged girl and three middle school-aged girls that I guess she was like, in charge of, I don’t know, but they thought she was SO COOL (she wasn’t) and she acted like she knew everything to the point where I was waiting for her to pull out blueprints to the Exterminator from her backpocket and say, “Yeah, I built this thing.” She was telling them every single thing to expect! Where’s the fun in that!? Let the kids find out for themselves!

Meanwhile, one of the little bitches was practically Siamese’ing herself with my hip no matter where I stood in line! And she kept bragging about how she just came back from vacation and got lost in the airport and all I could think was, “I wish you hadn’t been found!”

I didn’t like her.

But even worse than her was the young couple in front of us for the Phantom’s Revenge who fucking gave each other small, annoying pecks on the lips, nose, forehead, shoulders, over and over, the entire time, and I wanted to puke everywhere. The girl had herself all wrapped up in a Pride flag so at first I thought she was going to be cool but then I noticed she was also wearing a Falling In Reverse t-shirt and I was like “YOU ARE SO LAME.”

THEY BOTH WERE.

They were like when band dorks are outside of their pack and trying to fool strangers that they might be cool but no one’s buying it.

Then he would lightly touch her nose and she would stick out her tongue, so then that became a thing that they did over and over for about a minute and I honestly almost gave up our spot for last seat and moved somewhere in the middle of the station because fuck PDA. I hate it so much that it’s a wonder I’m not a serial killer.

OR AM I.

DOT DOT DOT.

Chooch and I were crying as we speculated that they were embracing and kissing through the whole ride, and that they were probably mid-kiss in their Phantom souvenir photo too, but then Chooch took it too far as usual and ran the joke into the ground. THERE IS A TIME LIMIT ON SOME JOKES, CHOOCH.

When it was our turn to board the Phantom, it started to rain! I’ve never ridden a roller coaster in the rain before, I don’t think. Anyway, nothing terrible happened. But the rain only got progressively harder so I was worried that we would have to cut our day short.

Since it was raining, we felt this would be a good time to check out the new Thomas the Tank Engine area that I had hopes for because I LOVED THOMAS WHEN I WAS A KID AND BY KID I MEAN A TEENAGER IN HIGH SCHOOL.

I was so disoriented. I always get excited when amusement parks get new rides but I also hate change, so…

Of course when it was our turn to board, they had to temporarily shut it down because the engine was overheating or something, how grand. We chose to stay in line because we had a roof over our heads and it was really raining harder by then.

After about 10 minutes, they let us on. We raced to the caboose of course because I love sitting in the backs of things.

Anyway, wow. What a disappointment! With all the delays they had opening this new section of the park, I expected that this train was going to be some incredibly realistic chug-a-chug-chug through Sodor BUT NO it was literally the exact same track that was there for the old train and they didn’t add ANY SCENES. Literally, all they did was cover up the Kennywood History signs that were there for the other train with “Greetings from….” posters.

We got greeted from all over the world BUT NO KOREA. Kennywood’s no chingu of Korea, I guess.

Yeah, train, your removal was all in vain! And they moved Laffin’ Sal from her iconic perch in front of the old train station to the arcade. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Same shitty view of the river and industrial things.

Hilariously, the train derailed twice in two days the same week we were there. It’s an omen. Or a Laffin’ Sal curse!

The next day at work I was bitching about how dumb this train is and Wendy and Carrie were like well duh you’re not a toddler but HELLO I love little kid coasters and trains! Lest ye forget the Wacky Worm?! Come on now! This could have been such a great opportunity for K-wood to do it up like the Seussville train at Universal Studios and know how much I loved that bitchin’ ride!

(And if you don’t, here’s evidence.)

Faces nice and slick with oil thanks to the humidity! Why do I bother wearing makeup in the summer?! Oh well, had to get a “WE’RE ON THE TRAIN” selfie anyway. I think the highlight of the ride was when I was a fucking peach and asked two teenage boys if they wanted to switch rows with us so that they could be closer to their family and they were SO GRATEFUL.

AM I GOING TO HEAVEN NOW, OR…?

When we got off the train, we saw The Kissers. She was holding a stuffed Rick (from Rick & Morty) so were gagging. “Oh, of course he won that for her!” Chooch spat. We are a hateful breed, lol.

Anyway, it was still raining so we felt that this would be a good time to eat our No Henry traditional lunch at Johnny Rockets. We only eat here when it’s just us! It’s awesome! They have veggie burgers! We sat at the counter like real life kids from the 50s and fucked around with the countertop jukebox the whole time. They had Under the Boardwalk on it and I aggressively pressed the buttons for it 87 times but I never did hear any of the songs we requested. Fuckin’ Johnny Rockets.

It miraculously stopped raining while we were eating! I took this picture of the Litter Gitter, unchanged since I was a kid, and we joked that maybe it would pick up Henry when he got there, which was soon after! More later. I gotta go for my nightly walk around town with Chooch where we punch our fists into our open palms and act like hooligans.