Jun 192019
 

Janna follows some frozen custard place on Facebook and mentioned that she had wanted to stop by and get some but that perhaps driving 90 minutes to Conneaut Lake was a bit much just for ice cream but I was like BITCH PLZ, BEST REMEMBER WHO U BE TALKIN’ 2 so after I took off my queen bee rapper chains, I quickly convinced her that this was the best idea she’s had probably ever and that I would be happy to accompany her.

In my head, I had it billed as some big deal GIRLS DAY OUT and wonder who would be Romy and who would be Michelle, and I was so giddy about this all last week! When Saturday rolled around, aka THE BIG DAY (god, my life is so rich), Chooch was moping around. “Where did you say you and Janna were going again?” he asked, and then sadly murmured, “…oh” when I told him.

Later that morning, when I was upstairs drying my hair, MOM GUILT crept in. “Do you want to go with us” I texted him. A moment later, he bounded up the steps, dove onto my bed, and screamed, “Yes!”

Janna was like “Sigh.”

No, j/k, we’re all BFFs here.

The plan was to swing by Conneaut Lake Park for an hour or two as well even though it’s sad and decrepit…but, it’s there and it’s $10 for a ride-all-day, lol. They have a really old wooden coaster and a pretty rundown but fun dark ride, too. Janna surprisingly was on board with this even though rain was in the forecast all day…

…and it started literally the moment we turned off the highway on the Conneaut exit.

I blamed Janna because it took her so long to come and pick us up!!

We were going to alter plans by going to a cafe first so Janna pulled over in some spookily small town so we could troll Yelp but since we weren’t in some metropolitan area, the options were very slim. I got frustrated and eventually just decided for the whole car that we would continue on to the park even in the rain.

In the few minutes it took to get there (Janna had to turn around a few times), the rain had ceased! It was still a dreary day though, and kind of chilly too so I was glad I wore a jacket. Janna parked basically in a field and we immediately found ourselves surrounded by LAKE FREAKS. Just like, you know, townies trying to enjoy a rainy day at the broke down amusement park, same as us BIG CITY CREEPS.

STICK IT TO THE DEVIL.

We rode the Devil’s Den right away, as soon as we got our wristbands. (Janna reluctantly bought one too once she realized that otherwise, she would have to buy $5 worth of tickets just for one ride–maybe Henry could have found her a coupon during one of his Bored Housewife Coupon Hunts.)

The ride operator has to actually push the cars into the entrance and around a corner until the car catches the chain on the small lift hill. Basically, Henry might be able to build something like this, is all I’m saying.

I thought it would be funny for Janna to go first for some reason and then the next day, I started cracking up because what if we had sent Janna in alone and SHE GOT MURDERED. I tried to tell Henry this but it came out as a indiscernible bray courtesy of my giddiness.

Janna was playing some podcast about the Susan Powell case during the whole ride there and back so I guess I just had murder on the mind.

I don’t know why I’m laughing like a maniac here because the ride isn’t really all that great but it has been long enough since my last jaunt through the Den that I forgot enough of it to make actually scream. But yeah it’s most just a bunch of darkness and Kmart decorations from the 1970s.

When we rode it the second time, we were all supposed to ride separately so that we could each take a picture of each other but then Janna wasn’t privy to that plan I guess because after Chooch departed alone in his pretzel car, Janna got in the same car as me! So then there was no one to take my picture!

I mean, the obvious solution to this would have been to get back in the non-existent line and ride again, but we were over Devil’s Den by then.

One of the things I was most looking forward to was riding the Witch’s Stew again, I guess just because it looks cool?! I mean, the ride itself isn’t that great and it’s actually in pretty bad shape. There were cobwebs in the car Chooch and I chose and when the operator slammed the door shut behind us, a swarm of tiny gnats awoke and fluttered out from god knows where, you guys, it was creepy and I was afraid of inhaling them.

Anyway, the ride takes forever to start because the cars can only be loaded one at a time due to the fact that there’s not an platform that people can walk up to access the cars that are on the incline. So jacked.

Janna stood by the fence and diligently took photos of us like she was our mom. It was adorable. WE ARE ADORABLE.

lol jk we’re annoying.

Yeah boi finally time to ride the Blue Streak! It wasn’t running when we first arrived because it had been raining. I was really stoked about this one and let me tell you something: absence make the body forget pain because in my mind, all I remembered was, “Yeah, I think this one is pretty rough if I remember correctly, but it’s not like, the worst.”

Oh no. It’s actually the worst. I mean, it starts off great! You go straight into a tunnel that seemingly goes on for miles and Chooch was screaming, “I love this already!” and we were pretending to pull Janna’s hair, Janna who stupidly sat in front of us, Janna who had no idea this ride was going to be the difference between a relaxing Sunday at home and a painful Sunday getting fitted for a neck brace in the ER.

As soon as we began the ascent up the first hill, I started to have flashes of recognition and suddenly wondered if this would be the worst idea we made that day. The ride is in BAD SHAPE. I mean, the track going up the hill wasn’t even straight! It was all warped and the wood looks like a termite commune. And then as soon as we hit the bottom of that first hill, the discs in my back cracked like knuckles on a cold day and Chooch started howling in pain and Janna passed out and then slid out of the car and her limp body somersaulted into the woods of Conneaut where the townies came and made pinwheels out of her vertebrae and then stole her ride-all-day wristband for their five-year-old who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

DAMN JANNA, YOU AND THOSE PODCASTS.

Chooch’s review was, “I feel like an old man. I never want to ride that again.”

The best part honestly was the two weirdos running the ride. They had more personality than all the fishermen on the lake COMBINED.

We had to recuperate on the carousel after that.

Carousel crew. I love this picture so much! I need to get a frame for it and keep on my desk at work to remind me OF THE GOOD TIMES. This is also such a great depiction of the relationship the three of us have – it’s not like “me and Janna and my kid” but it’s like we’re all the same age and just hanging out for the day. Chooch has always been one of the grown-ups! Or maybe it’s just that I have always been one of the kids…maybe Janna feels like she’s our babysitter?!?

For years, I wouldn’t ride carousels because I have a fear of heights, even low heights, and I would GET STUCK on the horses because I’d be too scared to try and get off when the ride ended. Many embarrassing episodes resulted from that. I actually almost fell off the one I rode a few weeks ago at Waldameer.

You guys. This ferris wheel is NEW FOR 2019! I’ve seen nicer ones at church carnivals, but Conneaut’s trying, I guess. I mean, this place is on the brink of shuttering it’s proverbial windows every season so this is a good sign!

We walked over to the lake for a brief look-see and Chooch immediately tripped and nearly took a nose-dive into the wet sand that might as well just be mud.

Hotel Conneaut is haunted!

We saw a wedding party getting their pictures taken in the “midway” of the park which is cool if they were going for a post-apocalyptic carnie style.

These were supposed to be pictures of us “relaxing” but we just look like Janna roofied us.

Chooch took this picture as an example of the shitty framing Henry does when we ask him to photograph us and I love how it turned out because I was literally in the middle of bitching about Henry so I imagine this is how my face must look the majority of my days.

Meanwhile, we were in front of the hotel and Janna said, “Wow, I guess this is where those people got married. That’s weird.”

This infuriated me.

“Why is that weird?! People get married here all the time!” I exclaimed. “Did you think they got married in the amusement park?!”

“No, but I mean, this is just a weird place. Like, why here?”

“BECAUSE IT’S A BEAUTIFUL HOTEL?!” I screamed, and then I realized what Janna was talking about was the chairs set up in THE CAR PORT in front of the hotel. Like, they literally got married in a glorified driveway and so then I was all touché, Janna.

And then it started raining again, pretty hard too, so we left and went to get Janna’s beloved frozen custard. Chooch and I were actually getting pretty hungry at this point (Henry wasn’t home to make us lunch before we left) so it’s a good thing we left when we did because our OTHER FACES were going to show very soon.

Conneaut needs another coaster, like a Wild Mouse or something, and maybe a log flume. Then it would be more worth the whole whopping $10.

Jun 012019
 

The weather on Sunday was unseasonably chilly and I wasn’t mad about it – sweltering heat and amusement parks do not make a great duo, if you ask me. However, it did start raining pretty steadily for a good two hours while we were at Waldameer which isn’t awesome but we’re pretty used to feeling rain drops slice our skin like wet blades while we’re being flung about on amusement park rides, so it didn’t really much of a damper on our day.

DAMPer.

GET IT?

If you guys only knew how long it took Henry to take this picture. It was actually embarrassing.

Waldameer is pretty tiny and definitely not a full-day park (unless you split it between the water park I guess, but we’re not water park people). Henry loves this park because non-riders get in for free, with the option of paying-per-ride. In order to do this, though, one must obtain a Wally Card, which you can fill with money using various fare-like machines around the park. So instead of paying like $30 to sit on benches and ride the Ravine Flyer once, Henry just had to pay $4 for unlimited bench-sitting and one ride on the Ravine Flyer.

Imagine how amazing this would be if, say, you were passing by Cedar Point and you didn’t have time to spend the whole day there but you REALLY NEEDED THAT STEEL VENGEANCE credit, and you were able to slip right on in for nothing, throw down a five, and get your fucking credit.

That, my friends, is the dream.

Anyway, the above photo is Henry not riding the Whacky Shack.

Hey yo, speaking of Whacky Shack, this is my favorite non-coaster ride at the park and is actually the sole reason why we started going to Waldameer in the first place (my love for dark rides will always trump my coaster obsession, I think).

During one of the many times we were in line, I was acutely aware of the fact that the next car in line hadn’t yet entered the Shack, and then suddenly, another car came bursting through the exit. That’s when I noticed that a young guy was pushing the car, and the girls sitting in it turned to scream at the ride attendant, “OUR CAR GOT STUCK IN THERE!!!!”

So then a ride manager lady came power-walking over to the ride, her strides oozing authority and darkride expertise, and started fiddling with knobs and levers before moving past the ride attendant to the actual control panel.

“There’s a little girl in there by herself,” an old lady in front of me said, and I pretended to care.

Just then, said little girl came hurdling out of the exit, on foot, and screamed to the manager lady, “MY CAR STOPPED MOVING!!!” before bursting into tears. It was popcorn-worthy entertainment.

Anyway, they fixed it within minutes but then forgot to turn the lights back off, so the girls who had been waiting patiently this whole time to go next got to have a true dark ride enthusiast experience.

“THE LIGHTS ARE STILL ON!” the girls cried to the ride operator, and Chooch murmured, “Lucky!”

Steel Dragon Selca!

One of the highlights, if you ask Chooch, was when we were in the Pirate’s Cove, which is a dark walkthru. I mean, it’s pretty fucking dark and disorienting in there to begin with, but then there is one room that is tilted, with railings that make you weave your way through the room. I was being an asshole and pretending like I was a gymnast, using the railings as parallel bars and swinging my legs. However, the one time I did this was in the part of the room where I was on an incline, and I overshot my legs and came thisclose to flipping the whole way over and landing on my back. Chooch just missed capturing this golden moment on video and he was so bummed about it. He wanted me to do it again but there was no way I was recreating that dumbass maneuver without ending up in a neckbrace.

When I think of our day at Waldameer, I think of us being perpetually peeved at Henry who failed to get good, quality pictures of us.

For instance, before he took this shitty picture of us in like for the Comet, he captured a HILARIOUS Boomerang which perfectly depicted our demeanor (Chooch was rolling his eyes and I was mouthing off) but he did it through Instagram and DIDN’T SAVE IT so after he sent it to us, it fucking disappeared like it was some majorly top secret war document.

OMG, Chooch and I were so angry about this for pretty much the entire day and every time I (accidentally) looked at Henry, my face immediately fell into a scowl.

Us on the Comet before we found out about Henry’s Boomerang blunder.

Guys. The crane machine plushies at the arcade here were total kawaii quality. I couldn’t believe it. One had plush cartoon toilet paper rolls! Anyway, Chooch failed to score a Corgi and his mood was soured for a bit after that because these trivial things really affect him and I wouldn’t know anything about that because anytime I get upset about something, it’s totally legit and reasonable.

Too foggy to see Lake Erie, but we did spot Henry down below on terra firma, eating something.

Whacky Shack photo bomb.

View this post on Instagram

💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

Pirate’s Cove is a mash-up between a funhouse and a dark ride and there are always hooligans running amok in there, and I’m not even talking about just me. There’s always at least one kid asking an ass-kicking by pushing me or line-jumping. Ugh, I hate it.

Henry on his favorite ride – the stationary bench.

Chooch’s new Lake Erie look.

You guys, something incredible happened while we were on the carousel…

Henry won a stupid corgi for Chooch!

Waldameer’s pizza is a-ight as far as amusement park food goes. But what made it even better was that there were three kids at the next table wearing BLACKPICK hoodies and one of them was also wearing a Monsta X shirt underneath! It’s always exciting to spot kpop fans out in the wild of the United States, especially when they’re reppin’ something other than the ubiquitous BTS.

Henry didn’t WANT PIZZA so he GOT A BURGER.

Oh shit, we rode some hot air balloon ride in kiddyland and Chooch spun it so hard that I almost barfed. Henry didn’t know where we went and we got to watch him looking for us.

Then when he spotted us on the baby ride, he just rolled his eyes and went back to benchin’ it.

Well, of all rides, the Scrambler is what did me in. I had to hang it up after this one, you guys. It was awful.

Chooch had to ride the new for 2019 ride without me. I was fine with that. I sat on a bench, a la Henry, and took pictures of my nail polish matching the ride.

Henry, after a day of getting berated.

All in all, it was a very decent day at Waldameer. This is definitely not a park I need to go to every year, but every three or four really does the trick. I’d like to see them get one really great thrill ride, possibly another coaster, because that would really make the price of a ride-all-day wristband way more worthwhile.

I’ll end with this iMovie that Chooch was obsessed with making, and poor Henry (lol) somehow became responsible for collecting a lot of the video footage of us, but of course, in true Henry fashion, he kept shitting the bed so Chooch and I would have to get back in line and re-ride the thing in order for Henry to try, try again.

It was exhausting, Get it together, Henry. You oaf.

May 302019
 

Alternately titled: When you love wooden coasters so much, you plan your holidays around them.

I wanted to do something fun during Memorial Day Weekend that wouldn’t require us to hemorrhage money or drive long distances, and I realized that it had been a hot minute since we last ventured out to Erie. There is a small, family amusement park there called Waldameer which isn’t THRILLING but it does have a couple dark rides and one wooden coaster in particular that I remembered to be relatively breathtaking.

Look, I have a sickness, OK? I just love have my body battered on wooden coasters and counting the bruises the next day.

The first thing we did after getting our ride-all-day wristbands was ditch Henry and run toward the Ravine Flyer except that we went the wrong way and wound up in Kiddie Land and then had to pretend like we meant to do that when Henry caught up with us and asked, “Where are you going?” when he knew damn well that we went the wrong way but had to be a fucking Poindexter about it.

Ugh! It doesn’t even matter if he’s behind the wheel of a stupid Faygo truck or on foot at an amusement park – he’s a fucking direction snob!

The park was nearly empty so I wasn’t too shocked to see that the Ravine Flyer was running ONE TRAIN OPS* and this wouldn’t have been too terrible considering we were practically walking right onto the platform, however, the dispatch was nearly as slow as Trump trying to sound out a four-syllable word.

*(There’s this one coaster channel on YouTube that I love and one of the guys, Logan, is always screaming ONE TRAIN OPS and that’s his Instagram name too so people are always tagging him when they’re at a park and experiencing one train ops, but my favorite was the time someone tagged him in a picture of a hotel breakfast buffet that had two waffle irons but one was broken and their hashtag obviously was #onewaffleops and why did this make me LITERALLY GUFFAW and elbow Henry?!)

At least they have great classic rock playing in the Ravine Flyer station….

…courtesy of these assholes, I guess. For a long time, Chooch thought the Ravine Flyer was actually called The Bob & Tom Show..??? So now I have to take his picture next to the sign every time we go to Waldameer.

So, my first ride on this thing after four years was definitely something to savor – I forget how exhilarating the first drop was and how much fun it is flying over the road.  It was worth the visit, but I have to be honest — we have ridden quite a few EXCELSIOR WOODIES since our last visit with the Ravine Flyer, and because of this, it was a little bit less write-home-worthy.

The first half is definitely the best, but the trim brakes definitely bring it down a few notches and there was some weird pacing in the secon half. Still, this coaster is pretty fucking fun!

What I love is that as you’re ascending that first hill, you get a stunning view of Lake Erie. It was very foggy and overcast on this day so we couldn’t see it the first several times we rode it, but by evening, there it was – a huge expanse of water making me dry heave. 

Henry is our Instagram Husband when we go to amusement parks and he is getting really good at standing in the perfect spot and patiently waiting for that one sweet shot. And if we’re unhappy with his attempt, we just get back on the ride and he has to keep trying until he gets it right (see: Whacky Shack).

I only had one bad experience at Waldameer on this day and it was when Chooch and I were about to get into line for another go when some young kid, like elementary-aged, leaned over a railing and spit onto the ground, missing me by a fraction of a centimeter. I’m not kidding, I was so close to getting marked by some Erie yokel and I was PISSED. I stopped dead in my tracks and screamed for Henry to come over, I don’t know why, not like he would ever in a million years even dream of defending my honor, and I hysterically explained to him what had happened. I was still waiting for the kid to exit the ride (you have to walk down a wooden walkway that turns a few times, and he was at a higher level when The Spitting occurred) so I could point him out to Henry and honestly I was considering confronting his dad, when some guy meandered over to us and said, “Are you talking about how that kid almost spit on you?” and then to Henry, he turned and said, “I saw it—it JUST MISSED hitting her” and I was like THANK YOU, DO YOU WANT TO BE MY NEW BABY DADDY because at least this stranger who had been casually sitting on a bench gave a shit about keeping my flesh free from boy-spit!

“IT’S NOT THAT I DON’T CARE, I DIDN’T SEE IT HAPPEN!” Henry cried in defense, but it was too late Damage was already done. Henry cared less about me getting spit on than a stranger did.

(That guy wasn’t too bad looking either, although he kind of gave off hunter vibes and ew no.)

“Is it that kid in the orange shorts?” Henry asked, suddenly trying to be super involved in my trials and tribs. I nodded and he said, “Yeah, I don’t think his dad is going to care” but I didn’t get a chance to see the dad.

The first time Henry took this picture, he only got half the sign in it and I started yelling, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! WHY WOULD YOU NOT THINK I WANTED THE WHOLE SIGN IN THE PICTURE WHEN I SAID TAKE OUR PICTURE STANDING BY THE SIGN????” and some guy was totally spectating Henry being emasculated, so that was cool.

My favorite seat on this was definitely the back, and my favorite ride on it was when IN THE AIR TONIGHT BY PHIL COLLINS started playing right as we were loading into the back seat. That song paired with the anticipation of getting on a roller coaster? Perfection.

We rode it over and over that day, even in the rain, to the point where it was actually giving me a headache. I lowkey panicked internally, wondering if my rollercoaster days are numbered, but then Chooch groaned, “Ugh, I’m starting to get a headache.”

WHEW!

Although, he may be 13, but he sure does have a plethora of elder maladies.

We managed to get Henry to ride it one whole time because he didn’t get the ride-all-day wristband so he had to pay FOUR DOLLARS to ride it ONCE. Cheap ass bitch. I started bitching again about that kid who nearly spit on me and wished out loud that I could have said ratted on him to his dad, and just as our train was leaving the station, Henry pointed and said, “Lol, there he is right there!” and pointed at some burly doof waiting in line next to Public Spitter and he for sure looked like a man who was still hanging onto his high school football glory days and all the concussions that came with it.

Yeah, for once I’d have to agree with Henry — I don’t think confronting him would have gotten me anything other than a second chance of being hit with spit.

Anyway, riding the Ravine Flyer with Henry was fun because I got to scream in his ear the whole time, and actually, I screamed so much that my scream was actually taken away halfway through the ride—maybe by God? I’m not sure, but it was almost like someone ripped my voice right out of my mouth and I couldn’t muster a single screech after that.

I outdid my own goddamn self, I guess.

Be back soon with more Waldameer bullshit!

May 082019
 

Obviously, I’m hyper-enthused about amusement parks because they are fun as fuck and appeal to my childlike interests, but also I love them because when we do things like this as a family, we almost never have a bad time. It’s like we all just put on our best behavior bottoms and act like an actual, well-adjusted family for an hour day! I mean, until Chooch loses at some stupid midway game and doesn’t get some lame made-in-Taiwan stuffed animal he’s been coveting.

(Literally happens at every park.)

So even though we had one experience trying to order food, it wasn’t enough to kill the mood of the day for us. Not even the rain could, you know, rain on our parade. I think this is why Henry is generally so agreeable when I say I want to go to an amusement park – he knows he’ll get to eat junk food and spend lots of quiet time alone on benches – and if any military aircraft happens to fly overhead, that’s what you would consider A Perfect Day for one Henry J. Robbins.

That being said, when we were still in the parking lot and realized that we left our portable phone charger thing in the car, Chooch and I made sure we had our tickets and didn’t even pretend like we were going to wait for Henry. We were already inside the entrance of King’s Island, fully searched, tickets scanned, when Henry called me and said, “You guys might as well just go in, I fucking forgot my wallet in the car, now.” Lol, cool thanks for the permission, bro, but we were already halfway to getting in line for our first ride of the day – Vortex.

So….if you read my last King’s Island post, you know that I called this coaster “trash,” and then if you read my most recent blog post, you know that I felt bad about that afterward and even started to tear up on the trolley to work when I was thinking about it because I am a HYSTERICAL WOMAN WHO NEEDS TO CALM DOWN, obviously. But honestly, this coaster is just fine, but these types of steel coasters are not my thang, you know? It was a pretty uncomfortable head-banger, HOWEVER it was also our first coaster of the 2019 season so I can’t be too much of a hater because the bottomline was that even though it wasn’t an excelsior ride, it still made Chooch and me nearly pee our pants with giddiness because we were BACK IN ACTION.

Also, there was no line and we just walked right on, so that’s always a bonus.

Henry was waiting for us when we got off the ride and I was like, “DID YOU TAKE PICTURES OF US” and he asked, “Pictures of you doing WHAT?”

Uh, living our best lives?

Mystic Timbers was my second favorite ride in the park, right behind Beast! In fact, there were times when I thought that maybe I liked Mystic Timbers a little  better, especially when Chooch and I got some incredible evening rides on it in the rain. I love how some of these newer wooden coasters are manufactured, which is why over the years, my love of woodies has surpassed steel. This particular coaster is a GCI babe, and it was incredibly smooth and fast, but I think I still like RMC more because I was spoiled with so many incredible rides on the Lightning Rod in Dollywood last fall!

I like how they have theming and an element of suspense surrounding the brake run, so instead of just sitting there waiting to go back to the station, you’re actually sitting inside of the shed that you were warned not to enter, waiting for something to happen. I won’t spoil it here because it’s fun going into it not knowing what to expect, but I thought it was cleverly done and it made Chooch and me have Hall & Oats’ “Maneater” and Gary Numan’s “Cars” stuck in our head, because those are the two songs that were playing in the shed each time we rode Mystic Timbers.

This coaster was actually the reason why we opted to go to King’s Island over Hershey Park for Chooch’s birthday, and I’d say it lived up to the hype. My favorite moment was when we were standing in line during one of our evening rides and struck up a conversation with two ladies in front of us who had never ridden it yet.

I told her I liked it because it was smooth, even though Chooch disagrees with that assessment. One of the women asked Chooch now he would compare it to the Beast and he super confidently said, “Well first of all, I wouldn’t compare this to the Beast, I’d compare the Beast to this.”

“Wow! That’s a bold statement!” she explained, and later Chooch told me he wasn’t even sure what he meant by that haha.

I think my favorite thing about Mystic Timbers, aside from how it hauls ass and has great theming, was how the ride operators said, “We hope you enjoyed your ride on Steel Vengeance!” which is funny because SV is a wooden hybrid that the mother of all Cedar Fair parks, Cedar Point, debuted last year, which totally stole the spotlight from Mystic Timbers.

Diamondback was one the few rides Henry actually went on! He never screams or anything when he’s on roller coasters, it’s so weird.

Oh! I didn’t get any pictures of this one, but Chooch and I loved Backlot Stunt Coaster! When I was last there, Paramount still owned King’s Island so it was called the Italian Job then. It was also the ride’s first season, so my only memory was standing in line for a really long time and ex-BFF’s sister starting an argument with someone over something trivial, I’m sure, and Henry being so pissed off but internalizing it because that’s what Henry does which is why one day, when you see Hot Naybor Chris on the news saying, “I just can’t believe it. Lived next to the guy for YEARS and he was the NICEST guy,” you can say, “Yeah well reading two pages of Oh Honestly Erin was all I needed to not be surprised.”

But yeah, I don’t remember if I enjoyed the ride back then, but it was super fun on this day!

Instead of riding the log flume earlier in the day when the sun was blazing and the temps were in the high 70s, we waited until the clouds usurped the sky and the degrees plunged faster than Charlie Brown’s log-shaped boat. Dumbest idea.

I was trying to put up the hood on my windbreaker and I thought the ride operator was yelling at me to keep my hands in the boat but then it turned out it was just a recording, which Chooch pointed out right before I had the chance to snidely inform the ride operator that I don’t BREAK AMUSEMENT PARK LAWS, I MAKE THEM.

It was mediocre as far as log flumes go but I still enjoy even the worst ones and am still pissed that Kennywood removed theirs even though it was old and decrepit and they’re putting some record-breaking steel coaster in its empty lot.

(And then named it after the Steelers, and you know how much I hate the Steelers!)

(Ugh. I’ll still ride it though.)

Oh shit, I loved the Bat! It’s been a MINUTE since I’ve been on an old-school suspended coaster and I forgot how terrifying they are! I loved the vintage feel of this guy, and I also loved how secluded the area is around it. You could probably easily miss this ride if you weren’t paying attention.

People kept booing whenever their train would return to the station and I don’t know if this is like an inside joke at King’s Island because I’m not A LOCAL, but I thought it was pretty funny. My expectations were pretty low once it was our turn but I was pleasantly surprised! The location is so scenic and I actually was pretty scared as soon as we left the lift hill and the cars started swinging.

Whenever we got back to the station and the ride operator asked how the ride was, we kind of clapped a little but everyone else was stone-faced so she was like, “Oh well, go find a ride that you like better, BYE-EEE.” It was hilarious—I loved the ride operators at King’s Island!

Banshee was the longest line we waited in — about 40 minutes — which wasn’t surprising because a of the coaster enthusiasts I follow rave about this one and I will say — it was worth the wait and I enjoyed it (I liked that the station was themed after a haunted chapel and the queue was surrounded by gravestones) but we weren’t inspired to run back in line. Chooch said it gave him a headache.

The one thing I remember most about this ride was that while we were slowly dying in line, Henry was standing near a fence EATING AN ICE CREAM CONE with his HAND ON HIS HIP, totally TAUNTING US. I was so mad! I wanted an ice cream cone too! But instead I was standing in a line around weird Ohio-Kentucky people and it was starting to ride!

We managed to finagle Henry into riding the Racer with us but we made him ride him alone on the opposing train. My favorite part was when the annoying little bitches in front of us got reprimanded by a King’s Island employee for sitting on the railing. YEAH, YA DUMB COOZES, GET YOUR ASSES DOWN.

Henry will point out here that the girls were like 10 but IDGAF.

LOOK AT THAT PUDDING-FACED SMILE! I CAN’T.

This was another ride that had EXCEPTIONAL ride attendants. This makes so much of a difference, you guys, I can’t even stress enough! Especially when the main purpose of our park visits are to ride things, not eat, shop, see shows, or play games, the interactions we have with the employees working the rides are what leave a lasting impression for me. I want the ride operators to get us AMPED. I want them to make us SCREAM. I want them to TEASE US! It’s all part of the experience, and King’s Island definitely has some winners on their payroll.

Good job, King’s Island!

Anyway, Henry’s stupid train won and I was PISSED.

Kennywood’s Racer is better than King’s Island Racer, though and I’m not just saying that to be a hometown hero.

YAY WE GOT OUR ICE CREAM! It was blue raspberry softserve and I was worried I would hate it because here are some flavors I tend to hate when it comes to ice cream/candy:

  • blue raspberry
  • cottoncandy
  • bumblegum

Now you know a thing about me.

Because this blog isn’t filled with millions of things about me.

But yeah, that ice cream was great! It was raining so we stood under a roof near the kiddie coaster and mindlessly licked our ice cream while watching dumb kids on a baby coaster and I’m sure that didn’t look creepy.

Then I finally got to ride Woodstock’s Whirlybirds!! I had been obsessing over it all day, because I love these types of kiddie land things. Chooch and I get very invested in what color car we want on certain rides and for this one we wanted—-nay, NEEDED—-the pink one. But we did a headcount while in line and realized we were one away from securing Pink Position, so I turned around and asked the family behind us if they wanted to cut ahead. “Cuz we want the pink one,” I explained. The dad looked very perplexed about this but eventually let his kids get in front of us. When the ride attendant opened the gate for all of us, the dad asked “And you guys will get your pink, right?” He was so concerned about it! But yes, we snagged the pink one.

It was a whole ordeal. You had to be there.

I wanted Henry to take a picture of us while we were on it but he took a stupid one where you couldn’t even see us so then I was pissed. He needs a tutorial on being a better Instagram Dad, honestly. He lets so many memories slip through his fingers like sand in an hourglass so are the Days of Our Lives.

Sorry, that just happens naturally.

View this post on Instagram

Our fave ride obvi.

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

No wait for Boo Blasters which was great because that ride isn’t wort waiting for but it was raining so WOW LET’S GO BLAST SOME BOOS! Except that my gun wasn’t working right so I threw a fit and then said, “JUST FORGET IT” and rode the rest of the ride with my arms crossed over my chest while Chooch gloated because he had the highest score and I made sure to remind him that my score on the Gobbler Getaway at Holiday World was approximately 27x greater than his and Henry’s.

So…

The rain started around 5pm and was sporadic over the next three hours but it hindered us not. None of the rides we cared about closed and the crowds had drastically dispersed so we were able to enjoy an evening of walk-ons! Now I regret not going back to re-ride Adventure Express, which I thought was a pretty underrated family coaster that everyone on the ride with us made fun of but my “WHEEEE”s were genuine and without even a shade of irony, I need you to know this. Mine trains tickle me in a certain way. I think my favorite was the one in Indiana Beach that broke down while Chooch and I were on it.

Mine trains are everything! I wish Kennywood would get rid of Thomas Town (it literally just opened in 2018 lol) and put in an outrageous mine train.

I need to take over Kennywood. I have so many plans for it.

Diamondback at night.

It smelled like poop-feet in the arcade but then again, don’t all arcades.

I spent the last several hours trying to snap as many pictures as possible because I realized I didn’t take as many as I normally do. In fact, I feel like we barely saw much of the park outside of the rides and I have some real REGERTS about that so I guess we’ll just have to go back but first I want to go to King’s Dominion and ride Twisted Timbers, their new RMC woodie!

You can go up the fake Eiffel Tower but we did not do so because I was too busy getting whiplash and having my lumbar crunched.

We didn’t even check out anything on International Street! Maybe if we hadn’t spent half the day waiting for food and Flight of Fear, we’d have had more time to leisurely explore the non-ride areas of the park, haha.

Overall, we had a great time at King’s Island! The crowds weren’t as bad as we anticipated, I had a delicious Impossible Burger, THREE TRAIN OPS, and we got in some incredible rides on Beast and Mystic Timbers which is the whole reason we made the 4 hour drive!

The only downside was that we had to, you know, drive all that way back that night which I thought would be a great idea and a money-saver, but yeah. Let’s never do that again.

May 042019
 

We have had a long streak of good luck with theme park crowds where we, usually accidentally, pick an off-day and end up enjoying a ton of walk-ons. Our Saturday at King’s Island was the second Saturday of the 2019 season, so we were bracing for some long-ass lines. However, it actually wasn’t too bad! We did enjoy several walk-ons with certain rides (like Vortex, but that’s because that ride is trash) and most other lines only required about 20 minute waits which was reasonable for a Saturday at a park of this size.

However, there were two times that required us to linger in line for much longer and one of those lines was pretty unacceptable and the only negative experience of the day.

The first long line of the day is one that Henry and Chooch will probably never let me live down. Look, I love dark rides, and I love roller coasters, so when you put a roller coaster inside and turn off the lights, I am a bitch in heat for that shit. Therefore, one of the only things I remembered from my previous trip to King’s Island in 2005 was Flight of Fear, their indoor coaster. I kept talking about it on the way there last week and could NOT wait to plant my fat ass into it.

But Henry checked the app at one point and mentioned that it was closed. I was heartbroken! I was looking forward to riding it again! But then on our way to the Racer, Henry took the wrong path and accidentally lead us right to Flight of Fear, which was OPEN! The outdoor queue was almost completely full so I knew that it was probably going to be a long wait, but I was ready for it. Chooch, spoiled by all our past walk-in experiences, did a lot of bitching and moaning, especially because this wasn’t HIS idea.

Thirteen is such a wonderful age.

Chooch kept asking me what the ride was like and I was like, “Can’t anything just be spoiler-free?” But really, I couldn’t quite remember anything other than maybe there was a launch? Perhaps there were inversions? I knew it wasn’t just a Wild Mouse in a warehouse, but this kid wanted me to practically draw out a blueprint of the track layout.

So, 25 minutes our wait, we had just snaked through an area of the queue line that brought us right behind the ride attendant manning the entrance of the ride. There was a telephone on a pole right in front of her that rang, and as she answered it, I just knew in my heart that we weren’t getting on this ride.

“Sorry guys!” she called out after hanging up the phone. “The ride is temporarily closed. You can stay in line if you want, but the ride is not currently running!”

UGH.

There was a mass exodus of people hopping out of line, but the dumbasses in front of us weren’t moving so we had to climb over the railing. I fucking busted my leg in doing so because no matter how “in shape” I am, my sloth ass cannot climb things. I’m happy I didn’t straight fall onto my face, but my slo-mo hurdle over that fucking railing was devoid of any semblance of grace.

So, we went on to ride some more shit and then came back about two hours later to find that it was open again! And this time, the line was much shorter — the end was almost to the point where it enters the building so I was stoked! Except that there were these two middle-aged PDA predators in front of us that were either having an affair, or they were each freshly divorced and learning to love again and lucky us with the front row seats.

After about 10 minutes, we finally, for the first time, made it inside the building where the spaceship lives! It was starting to look more familiar to me and my anticipation was building. I needed to ride this thing.

We had just about made it to the entrance of the spaceship when the dreaded announcement happened.

It was down again.

The ride operator’s killjoy news rained down on us from the overhead speakers, like a bored grocery store clerk asking for a cleanup on aisle 5. He did say that it was “minor” maintenance issue and that we were welcome to stay in line. It was pouring down rain outside so Henry was like, “We might as well just stay….”

Chooch was not fond of this decision.

We waited an additional 20 minutes. PDA Pals in front of us had relinquished each others tongues and turned to their phones for entertainment, so we at least had a reprieve from THAT annoyance. I did hear the guy say to her, “This always happens to us when we get in this line!” so I guess this ride is notorious for breaking down.

Finally, a ride operator came out of the spaceship and said that the issue had moved past being minor and that we were now looking at about a 2 hour wait, so he encouraged everyone to exit the building and come back later.

Chooch wanted to fucking kill me.

I understood Chooch’s frustration, but also recognized that behind his fury was an underlying hunger causing him to project. Some might say I’m an expert at Mom’ing, but most would say I just know these things because he’s a near-exact replica of myself.

Which brings us to our next line, which was really the only thing that managed to piss me off this whole entire day. I can accept standing in line for a ride, but I HATE STANDING IN LINE FOR FOOD. This is why food truck round-ups are usually lost on me. I’d rather just make a grilled cheese in my own kitchen (read: tell Henry to make me a grilled cheese in “his” kitchen) than stand in some clusterfucked hipster-populated food-queue.

And also, I’m not one of those people who go to amusement parks to eat. I go to RIDE THE RIDES. I’ll grab a slice of pizza maybe at some point and a bottle of water just to keep from blacking out on some spinny-ride but I will always pick something that is fast and has little to no line. Last year at Kennywood, we had to stand in line for like FIFTEEN MINUTES at our favorite ice cream stand and even that was insanity to me and I bitched and moaned the entire time.

However, new for 2019 at King’s Island is the Miami River Brewhouse, which is relevant to my interests only because they have the illustrious Impossible Burger on their menu. If you’re not in the know with veg/vegan current events, this is the premier veggie burger of our time. IT’s popping up in more and more restaurants now, thank god, but to have this offered at a theme park? Fuck yeah. We had planned months in advance to eat here, and I was craving it all week.

I assumed it was a, you know, restaurant. The kind where you sit down and have a waitress, I mean, you know how restaurants work. But instead, you had to stand in a line and wait to place your order with a cashier in the front of the restaurant. There were two cashiers, but the line, every time we walked by, snaked all of the way out the door. By the time we were ready to try our luck, the line was only to the door so we thought it wouldn’t be too bad, especially since the line split into two near the front since there were two cashiers. There were menus posted everywhere, plus an employee kept trolling the line, handing out paper copies of the menu. There were not many items on the menu, so people should have had PLENTY OF TIME to figure out what they wanted by the time they got to the cashier.

Oh, well, if you thought that, you would be wrong. Every motherfucker got to the front of the line and then LOOKED AT THE MENU ALL OVER AGAIN and then ASKED QUESTIONS.

IT IS A BURGER PLACE. THIS IS NOT SOME CRAZY ICELANDIC-RUSSIAN FUSION WHERE YOU HAVE TO ASK WHAT IS BORSCHT AND IF IT COMES WITH SKYR.

It was unreal how slow those lines moved, and of course once the line split, we chose the line that ended up moving even slower because that is just how we do. The line length odds are forever against us.

We could have probably ridden Banshee twice in the amount of time we spent here, just saying.

When it was finally our turn with the cashier, Henry banged out our order in record time (the people behind us were probably cheering) and then we grabbed a booth.

Once we sat down though, I started to process the fact that it cost $47 for three burgers, one of which was supposed to be free because Henry paid extra for one park ticket that came with a meal plan, which he had the cashier scan before he paid. So I started to think that he got screwed and still was charged for one of the meals but we didn’t have the receipt, so he had to go back up the cashier, much to the chagrin of everyone still in line, and she was like NO I GAVE IT TO YOU so he came sulking back to the booth and started accusing me of losing the receipt and I was like, bitch why me?

He went back to the cashier who was probably at this point like “look I don’t get paid enough for this shit” but then she found the receipt on the floor behind her! CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

But the receipt just had our order number and listed three drinks with no other items and no total price?! Eventually, he found a manager who was like no you got a free meal but the drinks were all $5 HAHAHAHA.

WOW. I paid $5 for a paper cup of ice? Cool.

Here’s the manager telling Henry that perhaps poor people shouldn’t be eating at his establishment.

So yeah, I’m not like an expert on food prices at theme parks because I leave that for the adults to tend to, but Cedar Fair really seems to be running a racket there.

Sure, my Impossible Burger was fucking delicious but so are the ones in Pittsburgh restaurants…I’ll just stick to my go-to pizza slice next time!

We rode some more things after eating, but then I lured my reluctant cohorts back to the Flight of Fear, which was open again. Third time’s a charm?

Look, I was NOT LEAVING THIS PARK without riding this piece of shit, OK? I was determined by now. The ride attendant at the front this time was the guy who told everyone to leave the last time. So I strode right up to him and asked, “Is the ride open?”

He looked at me like I was a dumbo because the line was now the longest than it had been any of the other times we were there that day, and said, “…yes.”

SORRY FOR BEING SUSPICIOUS.

 

THE DREADED PHONE. It actually rang while we were standing there and I don’t know what the deal was, but he never turned around to tell us the ride kicked the bucket again, but oh, the suspense in the air was THICC.

I have never been so clenched and nervous when standing in line, constantly waiting for that theme park version of “Christmas is canceled.”

Eventually, we slowly snaked our way inside the building again, until we finally made it past our record of “closest spot in line.”

And then we made it through the spaceship and to the actual station!! We did that!

Shit you guys, I almost pissed my pants with pure joy-urine when the gates opened and we were actually able to SIT IN THE CAR! Henry sat in front of us and he looked miserable as we waited for the ride attendants to check our restraints–he was probably willing it to break down again because he kept saying all he could remember about this ride was that it beat the shit out of him last time. But before he had a chance to finish his religious spell, the launch engaged with no notice and even though I had a slight recollection of this, it still caught me off guard and I started screaming Impossible Burger fumes all over the other riders.

After being launched through a straight tunnel of darkness, we careened up into the main building which was just dimly-enough lit that I could see the track layout and I felt SCARED FOR MY LIFE. It looked pretty shoddy and there was a distinct rattle; all I could think about was, “Hi, this ride broke down three times (that we know of) today—WHY.” Yeah, that was definitely the most terrifying ride we went on that day, and, cumulatively, the longest line we stood in.

But was it worth it? Fuck yes. I love launch coasters.

(Henry and Chooch gave it a hard no, though.)

May 012019
 

I didn’t realize as I was hypnotizing Chooch into thinking that going to King’s Island for his birthday was his own idea, but the last time I was there was when I was pregnant with him! I mean, I didn’t know it at the time because it was like, right at the beginning (Henry kept saying he was conceived at King’s Island and I was like, “Please don’t ruin amusement parks for him, he’s the only person who will ride on coasters with me, thanks.”), and actually my only memory of my one trip to King’s Island was frantically checking for menstrual tendrils in between every ride I went on (which wasn’t very many because it was crowded that day and we were with ex-BFF and her psycho sister who kept starting fights with people in line).

Oh! And seeing a vagina.

So that was memorable.

It’s curious to me why we even went to King’s Island that day because as I remember, I went through a pretty long phase where I had no interest in theme parks or parking lot carnivals anymore and had somewhere along the way developed a crippling fear of steel coasters. But I obviously worked through those issues because now I’m constantly planning the next theme park road trip.

I hate hate hate anytime we have to go near fugly Cincinnati, but the pull of King’s Island’s wooden coasters was just too strong. I had no recollection of riding the Beast (Henry swears we did, but it turns out we actually only rode the SON of Beast that day) so I was eager to sit my fat ass down on that one, and also their new GCI woodie, Mystic Timbers. I would say that if I had to specifically list my theme park kink, it would be wooden coasters. It was darkrides for a bit (especially darkride/coaster combos—LOVE THEM) but something went off inside me last year when Chooch and I rode the T-Express at Everland in South Korea, and no, not just because it was a roller coaster in Korea! It was, at that time, the best wooden coaster I had ever ridden. (Google it, you guys, it ranks up there among the best coasters in the world.)

But then later that summer, we went to Holiday World and that was when I imprinted on a roller coaster for the first time, the VOYAHHHHHGE. After that, we went back  to Knoebels in October where I quickly remembered why the Phoenix was once my favorite coaster (don’t let those small, rural parks fool you — Knoebels and Holiday World have WORLD CLASS WOODIES). But the icing on the 2018 Coaster Cake was our late-season trip to Dollywood where we rode the infamous Lightning Rod and yes, it lived up to the hype. It was at that point that I realized I had become a snob for the wood and ever since then, I have been chomping at the bit to get back out there and ride more.

So for Part 1 of my King’s Island recap, I’m going to just focus on just the Beast, because I have not been able to stop thinking about this gnarly wooden hunk ALL WEEK. OK, Henry, you’re right — this is getting scarily close to becoming a fetish.

Ideally, Beast would have been my first ride of the day but instead it was the second because we got lost (yes, even with a park map, which Chooch always snatches up immediately upon park entry) so we ended up riding Vortex first (it was pretty awful). Henry bitched out so Chooch and I got in line without him. We only had to wait for about 10 minutes and then the line splits so you have to choose front of the train or back. We chose the back but there was a ride attendant assigning seats and she put us at the beginning of the back section, so we were essentially in the middle of the train. It was fine but I do prefer parks that let you queue up where you want (unless it’s super crowded, which it definitely was not on the day we were there).

Anyway, after taking one ride on the Beast, I could easily confirm that I have never ridden it before because you better believe I would have remembered that! WOW, WHAT A RIDE! I love the wooden coasters that make you feel like you’re out of control and this was definitely that. And it had numerous tunnels, which make me so giddy—something about them makes me scream my face off even harder than I would generally.

The trim brakes were a little disappointing but I know that they’re needed so I tried not to be a big baby about them, but that second lift hill and everything that followed made me forget about that minor gripe.

We ran straight to Henry afterward and heckled him for being too scared to ride it and he was like I AM NOT SCARED, IT IS TOO EARLY AND I HAVE A HEADACHE.

Mmm, OK.

I think we rode this about 5 times that day. We went back later in the evening and BitchBoy Henry actually got in line with us and we were like OMG HE MUST HAVE CALLED CHEETAH GIRL* FOR COURAGE.

*(That’s the make-believe stripper we invented for Henry to date in our imaginations. Sometimes we crack each other up so much with our scenarios that we make ourselves vomit.)

Chooch and I snagged the backseat this time and then doubled over in a giggle-fit when some kid slid in the seat in front of us, next to Henry. The kid’s friends were sitting in the car in front of Henry, and they were all talking to him which was KILLING US because we couldn’t hear what they were saying, but Henry was all, “Hyuk hyuk” and trying to act like he was all tough and was probably thinking of a way to mention that he was in the SERVICE or, I don’t know, rode a skateboard once.

Oh, and did I mention it was also raining during this particular joyride into the woods? Getting sprinkled with wet cloud-darts while careening around break-neck bends is next-level exhilaration, my friends. Chooch and I were laughing so hard, because of the rain slapping us and also because Henry had new friends, that I worried I was giving myself internal bruising. Look, I don’t know what goes on in there, OK?!

Apparently, the people manning the photo stations at King’s Island give zero fucks when people take pictures of the screens with their phones, so I snapped this one of Henry and his new crew. (Chooch and I got cut out of the photo!?!?)

#brosbeforehoes #friendsforever

Chooch rode the Beast several more times once the sun set, once in the front seat while some girl elsewhere in the car shrieked, “I THINK I SHIT MY PANTS!!!!” over and over, and then, “I CAN FEEL IT RUNNING DOWN MY LEG!” and it was all fun and games until we rolled back into the brake run and then someone got annoyed and screamed, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” and apparently the “I think I shit my pants” girl’s sister or friend was sitting in the seat behind us so she tool offense to this and started screaming “EAT MY ASS” and then it was just really awkward and everyone hated each other so that was fun.

Our very last ride on it was in the last seat and Chooch accidentally hit me in the face when we were barreling through one of the tunnels, and that’s how you know a coaster is great, when you leave the park with welts and bruises.

I really love this ride — it’s powerful and the ride time is beefy – 4:10 (granted, the two lift hills are included in that). For a brief moment, I started to fret that Beast had edged out THE VOYAHHHHHGE from the #1 spot in my heart, but at the end of the day, I think THE VOYAHHHHGE is safe, although I told Henry I’mma need to go back to Holiday World this weekend to ride it again and verify. Henry laughed but it was devoid of humor.

Anyway, that’s all for this installment. Unless you wanna read more about the aforementioned vaginas and periods? Then here, have a 2005 LiveJournal entry within a blog post!

While I would love to sit around the campfire with hot cocoa, recounting tales of all my favorite rides at King’s Island (Son of Beast was the most funnest you guys), all I can really remember amidst the whirlwind of clanging metal parts and side-stepping fresh gum in my path is one thing: checking for my period.

I came prepared. The arsenal of tampons was just short of being strapped to my body like dynamite—I had one waiting in each pocket of my cargo pants in addition to a surplus of “just in cases” in my purse. If I had worn boots, I would have tucked one or two in there, also…next to my switchblade. Which I don’t have yet, but someday. Someday.

“Check me! Do I have stainage?” These were my pleas to Henry, Christina and Cynthia every ten minutes while we were held hostage in one line after another. Oh, how I yearned to make fun of others in my proximity, but feared to in case Karma came back to paint a large blood target on my crotch.

I got lucky when we disembarked Flight of Fear, an indoor ride, as no one was around me. “Block me,” I whispered hoarsely to Christina as I leaned forward and spread the legs of my pants apart nice and wide, to inspect for wetness. Doing this while keeping a steady pace walking down a slanted corridor takes skills. Skills which I possess. I like to compare it to performing magic amidst a ring of fire.

But something good came out of my obsessive bathroom breaks–the highlight of my amusement park junket.

Picture it: You’ve just emerged from a stall with eyes raised to the Heavens (bathroom ceiling) above and are silently praising the Lord Almighty for no blood stains on your panties (if you’re a man, picture it anyway. It’ll help build character). As you’re washing your hands real good because this place is dirty (and if you had a more accelerated condition of OCD, you probably would be convulsing and foaming at the mouth by now), you start to panic as you wonder when your next chance will be to “check.” Everyone in your group groans as you drone on and on about your need to “check,” but you can’t shake the paranoia and obsessive need to make sure you’re not drizzling menstrual blood down your legs; the fabric of your cargo pants is thin and blood will seep right through in no time.

You slowly snake the paper towel around your wet hands, sopping up the water and looking at yourself in the mirror, wondering when you became so uptight about the small things. You contemplate telling Christina you want drugs (ask and she’ll do it) so you can relax and if you end up floating around town with curdled blood around your thighs, big deal; you’re too busy goo-goo’ing and ga-ga’ing at the giant unicorn smiling down at you from a cloud.

And then you start thinking about unicorn porn.

Wait, where were you? Bathroom, hands, drying. So, you turn to your left and casually pitch the paper towel into the large garbage can, when you happen to get a glimpse of something extraordinary. So extraordinary it snaps you back to the here and now. No more unicorn.

The bathroom stall directly in your line of vision is slightly ajar, with its occupant standing hunched over, jean shorts and white cotton underwear down around her knees. Before you even have a chance to scold yourself, your eyes slip down a few inches and that’s when you see it.

Your second real life vagina.

And you don’t mean in general, because hello porn, but this is your second OUT IN THE WILD vagina-spotting. You feel your friend Christina tugging on your arm and saying in a terse whisper, “Erin, let’s go. You’ve seen enough” but you can’t pull your eyes away from the hairy mound of flesh ten feet in front of you. Your body slightly lurches as you feel the giddiness building up and you’re ready to explode into a conniption of giggles. Christina steers you to the exit and you run and tell your friends what just happened, waving your hands like you’re approaching the climax of a jazz dance routine, and rubbing it in their astonished faces. “You don’t know what you just missed in there!” you say smugly, trying to catch your breath. You feel like you’re on a safari. Then you make them stand around, in the way of hundreds of fast-moving patrons and strollers, so you can point out the woman whose vagina you saw. They don’t really care but you make them wait anyway, and when she comes out of the restroom with her kids, you jump and point and they shrug and start walking away.

And that’s my big exciting highlight. It would have been cooler if she was being scalped or having her face painted at the same time I saw it, but what can you do.

My second favorite moment was eating at the Festhaus. I had pizza and fries, but not just any fries: Fries with a buffet of condiments. I derived great, some might even say ecstatic, amounts of pleasure by deliberating in which pool of sauce each fry would be taking a bath: would it be the succulent marriage of ketchup and mayo, the tiny basin of honey mustard, or the thick and rich vat of creamy nacho cheese? My companions had long since finished eating and sat around idly while I dined on one single fry after another. It was heaven.

Lately I’ve been really into dipping things.*

*(Editor’s Note: Yeah because I’d find out a week later that I was PREGNANT. #CondimentCravings #PeriodNeverCame)

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:

View this post on Instagram

Mood music.

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

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!

View this post on Instagram

👻👻👻

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

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.