Jul 072021

The day before we left for our little 4th of July weekend road trip to the Cincinnati-ish area of Ohio, Henry happened to see in whatever newsfeed he gets on his dumb phone that Stricker’s Grove, a small family-operated amusement park outside of Cinci, was going to open to the public on July 4th – THE DAY WE WOULD BE IN THE AREA. Why does this news require CAPSLOCK, you ask? Because this place is only open 4 times a year (the rest of the time they rent out to corporations for company picnics, etc) so the two wooden coasters inside this small, roadside park next to a fucking cornfield are considered RARE CREDITS.

I did quick math in my head and realized that if we stopped here before hitting up King’s Island, one of those two coasters could be Chooch’s 150th, which would be way cooler than anything at King’s Island, which is easily accessible!

One hiccup though was that we had plans to meet up with Christina and their fiancée Katie before going to King’s Island in the evening. Luckily, they were both on board with the change in plans and we arranged to meet at Stricker’s Grove at noon, when they ALLEGEDLY OPENED.

As previously whined about in my liveblog from Sunday, we quickly learned that while the park was open at noon, the rides were not scheduled to operate until 3pm! Which would have been helpful had they put this info on their website and not just their Facebook page, because hello, not everyone is on Facebook! (Also LOL @ the fact that someone just realized two weeks ago that I’m not on Facebook anymore when it’s been FOUR YEARS (June 2017, baybay) so wow, that was truly a solid friendship.)

Also LOL @ the fact that Christina have literally not seen each other in person (and barely even spoken) since 2012 (2011, even?!) and the very first thing I said to them in lieu of “hello” was “CHRISTINA I DON’T THINK THIS PLACE IS OPEN?! GO ASK!!”

If you are a real one, you know that we ended up leaving and getting lunch at Hyde’s, and then returning at 2:30. And good thing we didn’t wait any longer because while the line to get ride tickets was short at that time (see above!), within an hour the line was practically snaking out into the parking lot which means nothing to you since you have no frame of reference as to the PARK LAYOUT.

Daddy Warbucks purchased enough tickets for Chooch and me to ride both coasters and the carousel. But then we still had to wait for the gate to the ride area to open! I was so pee-jiggy! I sat with Christina and Katie under a pavilion while Chooch played skeeball only to have his tickets thieved by some rural child / future farmhand.

Then I noticed that people were gathering by the gate so we all walked (well, mine was more of a “I WANT TO RUN SO BAD RIGHT NOW BUT I WILL POWER WALK LIKE I’M HEADING TO MY WALLSTREET OFFICE” psycho-gait) over to join the small horde. I was getting angry because people kept passing us but I was trying to be calm and normal for Katie so she shouldn’t be completely turned off by my abrasiveness. Also, she is recovering from a broken fibula (??? some leg bone??) and I was being compassionate and considerate to her slower-pace because yes Henry, I can be a nice person!

However, as soon as the gate opened, Chooch and I were like SEEYA WOULDN’T WANNA BE YA and blew past everyone. Henry was happy to have friends matching his pace this time around.

We decided to ride the smaller of the two woodies first so that #150 would be Tornado, Stricker’s main attraction. We were in line behind a young guy wearing in B&M t-shirt (that’s a coaster manufacturer for you all you non-nerds reading this) and Chooch wanted to ask him what his favorite B&M is but then didn’t because he was afraid he’d ask Chooch the same and Chooch couldn’t decide which one he’d choose.

See also: Chooch never initiates conversations with strangers.

We made it on the second train of the day and I was fully prepared for some back-crunching action, but HOLY SHIT – this little guy was smooth AF! I heard that it had been retracked in like, 2017 or 2018 I think and I’m not sure if they did even more recent work on it but that wood felt and looked fresh, like it just came straight from the roller coaster forest. I mean, the ride itself was a very tame kiddie coaster at best, but the fact that it was running like slippers on silk made it seem exceptional. We could NOT stop gushing about how surprisingly good it was! And they sent us through twice!!

Then we ran over to the Tornado while our FAN CLUB continued to stand in their little huddle, probably talking about Faygo flavors and not acting as the paparazzo that Chooch and I truly deserve. Anyway, here’s a picture in line with a cornfield behind him.  We only had to wait for train and then we made it on the next one! This place ruled! We literally knocked the two coasters out within 10 minutes. THE HUSTLE.

Again – what a fucking smooth-ass ride! Stricker’s props to you for taking premium care of your rides. Again with the fresh track feel, and not only that, but the coaster LOOKS good too. I don’t know what I was expecting – something akin to Blue Streak at Conneaut I guess?! That bitch is a real back-breaker.

Weirdly, Tornado didn’t seem to have any signage, at least not that I could see?! Maybe it was on  the road side? So I had to just deposit Chooch in some random spot in front of it for his commemorative 150th coaster photo op.

This coaster was really quirky and fun. I’m so happy we got this lucky chance!

And here’s the Teddy Bear cutie. <3

After this, it was CAROUSELFIE TIME! Woo! (Remember when people used to say “woot” all the time? I really disliked that. IT RUBBED ME THE WRONG WAY, one might say.) Stupid Henry needed to lean the other way but he’s rude, so this is an accurate portrayal.

I got my foot caught in that pole when the horse was lowering – it was actually scary. Also, Katie said my hair is very thicc and that made me happy. We are keeping Katie.

Not winning.

(Also, Chooch and Katie bonded over Pokemon here. Christina tried really hard to insert themselves into the discussion but Chooch was not impressed. Because he’s my kid.)

So then Christina was like, “OK I will win his love through materialism, just like I did with his mother” except that they failed here too.

We dragged Katie and Christina on Teddy Bear after this because they had enough tickets and I swore on Taemin’s military beret that it was NOT rough and wouldn’t hurt her leg.

Henry’s One Job was to take a picture of us all on this, but aside from a picture of his finger, and a close-up of the people in the front row, this was the only picture he managed to eke out.

Christina and Katie both agreed that it was a smooth operation and even gave Chooch and me the rest of their tickets so we were able to ride the flying dumbo ride even  though we actually wanted to ride some spinny thing but we needed two more tickets and Henry, his mouth twisting around a piece of hay, was all I AIN’T WAITIN’ IN THAT LINE FOR NO MORE TICKETS, RIDE THE DUMBO OR LEAVE.

I texted Henry and told him to take a picture of us, but as usual he ignored me because he was probably trying to act like a big shot in front of a new person (“I DRIVE AROUND ON A PALLET JACK, KATIE. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS? IT IS A PIECE OF FINE MACHINERY THAT ASSISTS ME IN LIFTING CASES OF JUGGALO JUICE, NOT THAT I NEED ASSISTANCE.“) so then I texted Christina and said, “Henry is ignoring me, take our picture” and .003 seconds later, they turned around snapped this:

Like, wow. The effort is…palpable here.

Anyway, hours later, they were like, “Oh shit, sorry I’m just seeing this text now” so they actually just happened to take that picture of us randomly, at the same time I asked. SO WEIRD.

That cornfield tho.

Chooch really didn’t want to sit together but I made him.

Stricker’s was really popping off by this point! Henry DEFINITELY wasn’t buying any more tickets now.

Stricker’s Crew.

Then we got us some patriotic ice cream. Mmm’erica.

Here’s Chooch with his skeeball ticket trade-ins.

He might’ve had enough for a full hand of digits had he not let some mulleted toddler snatch his tickets!

Then we sat under the pavilion again and chatted and I was trying really hard to not be rude by checking the time constantly but my internal Type A child was screaming, “MUST GO TO KING’S ISLAND. THE BEAST IS CALLING.” So eventually we had to say goodbye which was sad but I know that we will be seeing everyone again because it was such a nice, easy reunion and Katie is a true gem, so I only felt A LITTLE bad saying goodbye.

Tornado from the road! There is literally no fence around it.

This was the best picture I could get of the sign because Henry wouldn’t pull over and made me take it from the car window. The actual worst.

Anyway, what a weird little hidden gem outside of Cincinnati! If you’re a coaster fan, ya gotta try to get out there and get those elusive creds, and then go to Hyde’s for some pie.

Say it don't spray it.

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