Jun 262024
 

(8:07am) Good morning party people, we’re currently en route to Allentown, PA to spend a few hours at Dorney Park. They have a new dive coaster and we need that cred. It takes a bit over 4 hours to get there so I really had to plead my case to Henry on this one haha.

We were just listening to one of the writers of St. Elmo’s Fire talking on WDVE in the wake of the Brat Pack doc and now I am desperate to watch that movie again – one of my faves when I was a teen!! Henry just admitted that he doesn’t think he ever watched the whole thing, oh my godddddd. Guess that’s what we will be doing this weekend.

(8:36am) Since my last check-in, we grabbed morning sustenance at Dunkin, Henry went the wrong way and denied it, then almost went through a redlight RIGHT IN FRONT OF COP and acted like it was NBD even though he did a HARD STOP that threw me forward and if it had me driving, Henry would have lambasted me and revoked my license because I’m a WOMAN.

(10:28am) Just stopped at a restaurant area in Sideling Hill whatever that means and Henry is being so annoying and also breathing heavy.

(11:51am) Welcome back to The Rest Stop Report. Just stopped at one outside of Harrisburg. Bathroom was clean. Came out to some weird hullabaloo at the vending machines where Henry was standing with a fistful of dollars like he was in the pit at a strip club, while Chooch was like GET ME THIS GET ME THAT. The vending machine had TUNA AND CRACKERS. I wanted Henry to get it for an experiment (a Will This Kill a Man experiment, specifically) but he ended up getting nothing so I don’t know what all that singing and dancing was for.

Apparently a package of Veggie Sticks was half sticking out and Chooch wanted Henry to shake the machine to see if he could knock it loose but Henry’s excuse was that “someone was working there” – bitch where? We saw no such employee. This was just his excuse to not have to be exposed for WEAKNESS.

(1:06pm) we made it!

(1:27pm) Iron Menace, the new one, down for maintenance ugh!

So we came to Steel Force and had to wait for them to clean a seat that someone puked in!

Also Chooch was a bitch about this picture. God forbid I’m trying to collect MEMS of our last summer together before he sets collegiate sail ugh.

(2:36pm) Hello from a table after eating cheese flatbread and witnessing Henry having a shit fit because he ate more than his share of a fried tasty kake krinkle (??) and we called him out on it. My least favorite thing about him is when he gets all high and mighty and gaslighty, wherein he acts like he’s this PERFECT MAN who never does anything wrong.

“You have a Saint complex!” I cried. “And I’ll tell you exactly who gave it to you – your mother!”

It’s true. He can do no wrong in her eyes and she makes sure everyone knows it. If only she knew the Henry we know!!

Anyway, Iron Menace was chefs kiss! Chooch’s 351st credit!

Also, it’s this babe’s 100th bday and she is riding gloriously like a young lady!

Still pouting lol.

(2:45pm) LOL HE WONT EVEN SIT NEAR US ON THE TRAIN.

(3:09pm) FORGOT HOW TERRIFYING THIS IS.

(3:28pm) Slowest log flume ops.

(5:32pm) We just pulled out of Dorney so I will do little recaps here and there on the 4.5 hour drive home (ugh) but wow what a nice day except for when Henry threw his little bitch fest earlier over lunch. He’s sort of ok now.

Look at this cute shirt I bought!!!! I was going to get a Steel Force shirt but then I saw this and had to snatch it because CLOWN LOVE.

(5:44pm) At Trivet Diner whatever that means. Our server is very nice so far and is sorry that they don’t have almond milk for the cold brew that I am about to regret ordering.

Also our server likes my sunglasses and the cold brew is good so this is going well :)

Better than listening to Chooch recount all the times I acted like a baby in Stockholm. Ugh. When I pointed out that it was because he ruined my life because I wanted to go to the Vasa museum but we went to the Viking museum instead, he put on this really slow, drawl of condescension and said, “And we could have gone there too. You looked in and suddenly you said we couldn’t go because you wanted to eat instead, so then we had to go and eat. Remember.”

Um wait. Hahah hold up now hunny. What now?!

(6:26pm) one of the servers called over another server when I was paying because she wanted her (Crystal apparently) to see my phone case and Chooch mumbled “wow are you happy now, it’s all you ever wanted.”

We just left and I’m lamenting that I didn’t leave a big enough tip (more than 25%) and Henry and Chooch yelled in tandem, “it was plenty!” I’m sorry but NORA was NICE.

(6:42pm) At Sheetz and the power went out! A bad storm is on the horizon and I’m lowkey terrified because we’re going to be driving into it. :/

Here are some dreamy pictures from Dorney <3 the only slight downside was the ops on talon. Literal station wait yet it took us so long to get on and sent that Henry looked like he forgot who we were when we rejoined him. Also on the way there, a guy running one of the games kept yelling “Win your mom a prize! Hey, win your mom a prize! Where are you going?! Your mom wants a prize!” And then to the two boys behind us, “Hey win that kid’s mom a prize.” Lol.

Ok thoughts – loved it in the back/middle. Did NOT love it second row/last seat on right. I felt like a rag doll in a bad way. But overall what a great addition. I love the industrial makeover that whole section of the park got.

Steel Force Club Forever!! Chooch ride it two back-to-back times before we left. The second time, there was barely anyone waiting in the station so we just jumped up a few rows. The guy who got in behind us was like “Ooh you guys skipped the line! I saw what you did! Don’t worry I won’t tell” and then to Chooch he said “Your mom cracked the code!” But it was totally Chooch who chose to do this after seeing another girl do it on the first ride we were on that round. I remember the last time we were there in 2019, it was similar low crowds and we asked if we could stay on and the line attendant was like NO U HAVE TO GET BACK IN LINE and it was RIDIC because they were sending trains with like four people in them.

Anyway. Steel Force is so good. After we ride it the first time today, we did go all the way around and got back in line, only to get on a train and then have the ride attendants yell EVERYONE OUT because someone puked. The ride op in his little hut yelled AGAIN?? into his microphone because it had legit JUST happened before we rode the first time and we had to wait for them to clean it and send it empty. But yeah, happened again less than 10 minutes later! This time they had to wait for more cleaning supplies so they asked everyone to leave the line.

The real question: WAS IT THE SAME PERSON.

There was a ride attendant named OMAR on Talon and he was nice but slow AF and everyone was like OMAR! when our train was on the brake run while the slow-ass ops were preparing to send the train in the station. Omar seemed like he liked the attention but I don’t think the kids calling for him had good intentions.

Chooch hating life.

Telling me I can have some of his dippin dots if I could find a spoon on the ground because he’d rather a dirty floor-spoon go into his dippin dots than one that had already previously been in my mouth how sweet.

I love the color palette of the enterprise!!! Also I miss the enterprise at Kennywood and hate the replacement they put in.

Somehow we missed the kiddie cred in 2019. This was one of the most jerky/janky kids coasters I’ve ever ridden. I hated it lol.

There was almost someone who puked on the Tilt a Whirl too and that someone was me lol. Whoooo this was a doozy on a hot-ass day. Look at creepster Henry on the wall.

(8:42pm) Ugh Henry is making me drive. BRB.

(10:10pm) UGHHHHH at a rest stop finally – it was / is raining so hard with lighting everywhere and I was silently screaming as I white-knuckled the steering wheel, trying not to hydroplane on the fucking turnpike, while Henry relaxed in the passenger seat. I hate him. Now he’s inside the rest stop probably treating himself to some snacks from 7-eleven fucking asshole.

Also I wish our 7-elevens were like Asian ones and were actually fun to stop at.

I’m publishing this now because my muscles hurt from being clenched for the last hour and I want to do some calming breathing exercises or something (sometimes I miss my smoking years because this would be one of those CALLS FOR A CAMEL moments of yesteryear) but maybe I’ll stop back with one or two more updates, who knows.

(11:19pm) just checking in to say we passed through the Squirrel Hill tunnel and I want everyone to know that Henry got to drive the last leg home in perfectly dry weather MUST BE NICE.

Jun 192024
 

It was a real crapshoot but I had the grand gesture of “taking” Henry to King’s Island for Father’s Day, if by “taking him” meant that we all woke up at 6am and made him drive the nearly 4 hours to Mason, Ohio on a piping hot 90 degree day in June. To be fair, Chooch and I swore that we would help drive home but, SPOILER, Henry was in HERO MODE and refused to give up the driver’s seat, fucking bitch boy martyr that he is.

Anyway, we got there an hour after the park opened. The sun was already blistering with nary a cloud in the sky for even the slightest cover of shade, but!! The park was blessedly empty. I mean, nearly every coaster was a station wait. (I texted this to Christina who lives near King’s Island and they were like, “Does that mean it’s not crowded?” YES, YES, THAT IS WHAT THAT MEANS.)

We had as close to a perfect day as possible, really. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if it were 20 degrees cooler, but other than that – absolutely no complaints. No fights. No arguing. No annoying people. No bad ride ops. For as sickening hot as it was, everyone seemed to be in good spirits, right down to the ride operators who were super personable and speedy with the dispatches while also reminding us to stay hydrated.

Henry was sighted here!

On the real though, we have never had to wait very long for The Beast any time we have been to King’s Island, so it wasn’t too shocking to be able to walk right up to the station. The Beast, and the new family boomerang, was the main reason I was so pushy about returning to KI this year. The Beast was recently retracked (just in parts, I believe) and Chooch needed that new boomerang cred.

The first time we rode it that day, I will be honest here: My impression was, “Wow, was that kind of not that great, or am I just spoiled now?” The Beast used to be one of my fave woodies! And I still had fun, don’t get me wrong, but it just didn’t feel as wild and chaotic? We were sitting in the front row of the last car, if you care about stuff like that.

Later though, Chooch and I went back on, this time in the middle row of the last car, and I have to say, it was A LOT more fun that time. I hesitate to say that it had “warmed up,” because it was like 90 degrees that day, and should have been HAULIN’ no matter what. But the second time? DEFINITELY HAULIN’! I kept saying that over and over again too because I wanted to feel like a coaster d00d, man.

Idiot Family.

When we were in line for the Soap Box Racer boomerang, Chooch me some kid’s Instagram from his class where he posted a clip of the LIVE STREAM OF COMMENCEMENT which I didn’t even know was a thing, so hooray knowing that viewers at home got to witness this:

It’s so jarring, even though I’m expecting it, to see Chooch come shooting into the frame. Maybe I was dehydrated and brain-burnt from the sun, but for some reason, this made me LOSE MY MIND in line, and I could NOT stop laughing. To the point where I had to do a modified pee squat to keep from pissing myself. Of course this was the ONLY coaster where we actually had to stand in line (granted, only 10 minutes) because it’s brand new from this season so everyone flocked to it.

This coaster was really cute and what a great fit for Camp Snoopy! I would have been stoked to ride something like this as a kid – who am I kidding, I probably would have been too scared to, who knows.

Blue ice cream is A MUST at King’s Island. What flavor even is it?? Berry, I guess? It’s so satisfying.

I started eating it / catching the drips with my big mouth before I remembered to take an obligatory selfie with it. I’m losing it, you guys. The boxes aren’t being ticked.

We sort of let him eat this in peace.

Boo Blasters was a walk-on and let’s be real, we only rode it to get out of the heat.

Adventure Express is actually my favorite ride at King’s Island LOL. It’s the best mine train that I have ridden in America, to be honest, and they recently rethemed it a bit and it’s so good, just so so so good. Henry is usually a poo-pooer of Adventure Express but suddenly he now says that it’s, “Not bad.” I forgot how unexpectantly aggressive it is and was screaming my face off the whole time.

Also, it was around this point that my stomach was starting to cramp from probably a combo of the ice cream and extreme heat. We rode Banshee after this and 1. I forgot how insane and intense this B&M invert is; 2. the ride op stapled me and I have never before had such an unpleasant experience with vest restraints, 3. my stomach was in so much pain.

I guess that’s the trade-off – everything was practically a walk-on but because of that, our bodies weren’t really getting enough time to readjust and reset in between each coaster which probably wouldn’t have been so bad if not for the whole “surface of the sun” heat advisory that day.

Not pictured, but we also rode The Bat, Orion, Mystic Timbers, and Diamondback up to this point.

Me: I want to get photos of the new themed area.

Also Me: I’m so hot, what was I doing again?

Racer was retracked, but only partially, and I felt like the old tracked portion was bad enough to keep my opinions of this coaster low. Also, I rode by myself on the left side, and Chooch chose to ride with HENRY on the right side, and then they WON. Ugh. BUT I beat them out of the exit so technically you could say *I* won.

The return part of the Racer was actually decent though. If they retracked the whole thing, it would be so re-ridable.

After our second ride on Orion, where some trashy broad was SO APPALLED that the line attendant made her stand off to the side and wait because the rest of her group wasn’t there yet and she was crying because “now look how many people are waiting for the front row!” and the Orion crew member was like, “Too bad, I can’t let you go until your whole group is here.” She did the whole THROAT SOUND TO INDICATE DISGUST AND DISBELIEF IN THE KEY OF KAREN and then started to call someone on the phone to see where they were in line, so presumably that person/people was just going to line-jump their way straight up the station, who even knows. I fucking hate entitled people so much. We all paid to be there, now stand in line and STFU! Also, there were hardly any lines to stand in anyway so why didn’t she just wait until her whole party was ready to get in line at the same time!!??

That was the only weirdness we encountered all day, and it didn’t affect us so whatever.

Taking a break after our second ride on Orion.

Literally just fighting to stay hydrated all day.

Backlot Stunt Coaster! We’ve ridden all three of these around various Cedar Fair Parks, but the one in King’s Island is the best. The one in King’s Dominion doesn’t have any of its effects working anymore, and I think Canada’s Wonderland was the same. This ride is so much fun though.

Also, Chooch decided that he doesn’t care for any coasters that don’t have a launch. Cool. But did we ask.

LOL the last thing we did that day was ride White Water Canyon, the rapids ride, and we got DUMPED ON. The crew also can control the geysers so the kid working in one of the booths downright unleashed on us and we were like drowned rats by the end. Not gonna lie, it felt fucking great in the moment but it was a really uncomfortable walk back to the car after that.

Henry and his uniform of Oversized Shirt and Cargo Shorts.

LOL I just realized that one of the kids in the background had run ahead of us when the gates for the train were finally opened, allowing us to enter the line for the rapids and then he was sooooo distraught because his dad was like, “Fuck no, I’m not running” so the kid kept stopping and yelling, “DAD! COME ON!!!” and then eventually had to admit defeat and let us and everyone else pass him because Dad wasn’t playing the Line Jumping Game. GOOD GUY.

Having ridden everything we wanted, and not wanting to end up in the hospital with heat stroke, we left the park at 4PM. Plus, we (we lol) had a 4 hour drive ahead of us. Lest you think that the day was 100% perfect, I am here to tell you that all bets were off as soon as we left the park and that’s when the HANGER set in bigly and we ended up arguing so bad over where and what to eat and ended up at a truck stop where Henry got two slices of Sbarro for him and me, and Chooch wanted biscuits and mashed potatoes at Popeyes.

It was a terrible, miserable, hateful dinner but hey, at least we had one of the best amusement park days ever beforehand! I’m just going to go ahead and say that King’s Island is my fave Cedar Fair park (I haven’t been to any of the ones past Michigan’s Adventure though).

May 292024
 

Not even going to pretend that I have much to say about Day 2 at Cedar Point. While it wasn’t as crowded as Saturday, it made up for that in degrees because it was hot AF. I actually got a mild sunburn.

Chooch and his CP Crew – we saw them randomly throughout the day and he actually acknowledged us so that was nice of him. I will say that all of his friends are very polite and will actually converse with us even though we are old and lame.

Some things I want to remember, in bullets:

  • The delectable cookies we had both days from whatever the bakery is called – you’d think I’d know since we hit them up for cookies on every trip. Their snickerdoodles are exceptional but holy hot damn sizzling in a skillet, the lemon crinkle cookie was so goddamn good that to this day (a whole week and a half later lol), I am pissed that we only bought one and shared it. But these cookies were our saviors on Saturday when all the food lines were outrageously long and I was about to launch into a hunger fit.
  • I forgot to mention but speaking of Saturday, I got pizza from Hugh’s once the line was no longer OUT THE DOOR AND DOWN MAIN STREET. And I will say, it was a pretty good slab of cheese pizza – Detroit-style I guess? Is that when it’s thick and square? It was good. Was it $16.99 for a slice and 2 breadsticks good? Um, no. That pizza better come with a photocard and poster, at that price. Or at least a toupee of black olives.
  • We rode SteVe first thing on Sunday when the line was only about 30 minutes and then I proceeded to see people from that line all day long. Anyway, backseat as usual (I always request it with prayer hands and the station attendant will usually ALWAYS cave) and it was such a refreshing way to fully wake up. SteVe still reigns supreme in my book.
  • Maverick was broken down every time we walked by so our streak of “leaving CP with 0 Maverick rides” continues. So mothercheffing frustrating. CP in general is but you gotta enter with low expectations so that you’re only BASIC LEVELS OF PISSED OFF by the time you leave, and not POSTAL-LEVELS OF PISSED OFF.
  • Got a good backrow ride on Millie.

  • I was a sweaty mess all day but I wore my STRAY KIDS concert shirt so that was nice of me.

  • A big lowlight was, at 3:30, when Henry decided he wanted to walk to the car to put on sun screen and then realized he forgot to check where we parked and we roamed around the parking lot FOR THIRTY FUCKING MINUTES. Of course this happened right when our – whatever package thingie that came with the car – lapsed and Henry hasn’t renewed the annual membership so we can’t do things like remote start from the app, and I dunno, USE THE FIND MY CAR FEATURE. Impeccable timing! Then, I found the car because unlike Henry who kept walking in the same square of the lot over and over like a Roomba unable to break free of its programmed constraints, I ventured to another section. However, Hank the Yokel REFUSED to answer his phone which sent me into a fit of rage and I wanted to break shit so badly. Henry claims that this situation didn’t warrant the level of hostility in my texts to him, but DON’T TELL ME HOW TO REACT, CIS WHITE MAN.

^^^ Sorry if you thought I was an angel but this is The Real Erin. ;D

  • We waited for Raptor in a 45-minute line behind three super boisterous young women, one of whom spoke openly about WHEN SHE WAS IN PRISON and then got in her black friend’s face at one point and repeatedly screamed IS IT BECAUSE I’M WHITE?? Then she wanted a hair tie to toss onto the roof of the Raptor building so her friend turned around and asked me if I had one and I DID – it was on my wrist – but I said, “Yes, but I need it” so then she asked the girl behind me or actually took hers out of her hair and handed it over?! I’m sorry, but I’m not giving some broad my hair thing just so she can shoot it onto a roof?! Also, two people cut in front of them when they weren’t paying attention and I’m really sad about that because I am positive there would have been a confrontation and I’d have LOVED to see it. Anyway, Raptor is great and I scream-laughed the whole way through it.
  • But the ride that made me laugh the hardest that day was MAGNUM. Henry hates this coaster so much and kept trying to get out of riding it. In fact, he was so happy to see that it was down when we went to that area for soft pretzels, but then! The line opened right after we finished our pretzels and he was like, “GODDAMMIT. FINE.” We made it all the way to the station and got in line for the first row of the last car. He was not pleased at how fast this was progressing. One of my favorite parts of the Magnum experience is how the ride ops know that this is such a contentious coaster – it is super hated while also having a universal, rabid fan base – so their send-offs are usually monotone and sarcastic (I  think this time they mumbled something about enjoying the airtime over the triangle hills). I dunno, maybe it’s just me and my constant desire to belong to something but it makes me feel like I’m part of an inside joke?! Anyway, this was a major highlight of the weekend because I had such an insane giggle fit on this while Henry kept chanting, “SQUARE WHEELS. SQUARE WHEELS.” He hates this coaster so much and honestly that probably just makes me like it more. Back on the brake run, the guy behind me gushed, “That actually was the smoothest ride I’ve had on this – that wasn’t bad AT ALL” and I whipped around in my seat to pant, “I WAS JUST SAYING THE SAME THING BUT HE *thumbs Henry* DISAGREED.” It was a beautiful moment. Amusement parks bring out the extroverted side of me that has been bashed repeatedly over the head with a frying pan and put in the corner.

Well, I think that’s all. If I think of anything else (like the smoothie bowl I had for breakfast from some local juice place that was absolutely delicious), I will come back and update this for the future no-eyeballs to gaze upon.

Remember when I got married in Korea?

Sorry, it’s just that I realized I didn’t mention Korea at all in this whole post, god forbid.

 

 

 

 

May 262024
 

As previously referenced, we spent last weekend at Cedar Point with Chooch and two of his friends – Zakk and Ben. It was Ben’s first time at CP and I’m sad to say it wasn’t the greatest inaugural experience because it was just a bad weekend to go, not that any weekend is great at Cedar Point, but this was one of the worst we’ve ever experienced. Sunday wasn’t TOO bad but Saturday was extremely crowded, like 2+ hour wait times for most of the coasters, and food lines not much better.

The vegan place is gone (I think it was actually taken out last year TBH), Melt is gone, the area that usually has a fleet of food trucks was barren. And one of the food trucks was my go-to because they had the BEST veggie burger, like it was actually homemade and full of nutritional goodness and not just a Beyond Burger out of the package. And on top of that, not all of the food places were open, making the lines extra line for the places that were open.

The one good thing about Saturday was that the weather was really mild and cool, actually kind of chilly at times. I never took my little jacket thing off all day.

Top Thrill 2 was closed indefinitely for maintenance after only a week of being open and I truly was not sad about that. I hate-hate-hated the OG and while I will give its reincarnation at least one try, I am not expecting to love it. I am a wuss with stratacoasters :( However!! The TT2 commemorative beer (I think on IG I called it TT2’s namesake beer which is like, reversed, but I didn’t care enough to go back and change it because who even cares about social media anymore – millions of content creators, I guess, LOL) and it was actually very good. I mean, it was a lemon shandy, so I’m sure my review would be a lot different if it was an IPA or whatever. But it was nice to relax on a bench across from the Ferris wheel and sip on this big boy instead of standing in a 2 hour long line for something – EVEN THE CAROUSEL HAD A HUGE-ASS LINE.

Cedar Lane Downs was a short wait. With the crowds being so bad (there were a TON of school bands there), we rode mostly flat rides all day (when we were riding anything at all, we mostly just walked around aimlessly and I kept saying I’M BORED THIS IS BORING like the brat that I am). I dunno what Chooch and his friends were doing. Waiting 2 hours to ride Maverick, I guess.

I *think* the only coaster we rode on Day 1 were Corkscrew (when we first arrived, the wait was 30 minutes which is about 29 minutes too much to wait for Corkscrew but it would end up being the shortest wait for a coaster all day and it was also somehow Henry’s first time riding it – we sat in the front and I kept saying, “This is less awful than I remembered it to be!” while Henry was screaming, “THIS SUCKS! OW MY BACK!” Lol.), Gatekeeper, and Wild Mouse.

It was just such a bad scene.

Ugh.

I LOVE CALYPSO so much so here are some photos of that – also the ride attendant’s shoe was untied and it was bothering me.

Yay. Calypso.

I wish Kennywood still had this ride! No one believes me when I saw that we used to have one there! BUT WE DID. In the 80s!

Honestly, the new-for-2023 Boardwalk area is the BEST part of Cedar Point IMO. I could spend all day here – and we almost did.

I love that they play lots of beach-y music in this section too! Like a lot of good 80s jams and some surf rock too. It’s a real magical spot and made me less hateful every time we were in the area.

Then we left the park for a bit and walked along the beach trail which is something I always wanted to do!!

Blankets of fog rolled in pretty consistently all day and obscured the tops of lots of rides, like Windseeker here (you will never catch me on these types of swings btw. NO THANK YOU.)

More beer! I couldn’t finish even half of this. It was just a Summer Shandy which I can handle (it was the first ‘beer’ I was able to fully drink thanks to the recommendation from one of my ex-bosses so I always think of her when I drink these which isn’t often) but I already had half of that other beer earlier and I just CANNOT drink that much. Still, it was fun sitting in this little cabana thing and watching all the crazy-asses playing on the beach when it was only about 60 degrees out.

Ugh.

The only other notable thing that happened was in line for Gatekeeper. It was close to an hour long wait, which, whatever, but what makes these waits even worse than they already are is when you have people wantonly linejumping, no shits to give, complete lack of self-consciousness. I could never in a million years imagine myself doing this.

Anyway, three kids – maybe 15 or 16? maybe younger? – were frantically summoning their friend SAM over to them. Of course these kids were several groups ahead of us so this affected me directly when SAM finally caved to peer pressure and cut under some empty switchbacks to join them, skipping over about 30 people in the process without most of them even noticing. I glared at all 4 of them for some time and they knew I was glaring so they purposely averted their gaze until I eventually lost interested.

Then a little while later, the boy who I imagine was the RINGLEADER left the line. I thought he found another group of friends further up where the line splits into two and you have to choose which side of the station you want to be on. He legit ducked under the queue rail and walked THROUGH THE LANDSCAPING toward that part of the line and I was like “WOW HE REALLY JUST SHAVED OFF ABOUT 45 MINUTES OF HIS WAIT TIME” and I was pretty pissed at the entitlement.

Well, it turned out he had actually left the line to go to the bathroom because he eventually came back and rejoined his friends. However, some total Karen busted him and started yelling about how she was going to call security (at first I thought she said his supervisor and I was like how does she know who is supervisor is, is this kid even old enough to have a job) and that SHE IS SICK OF IT. I made eye contact with her and said, “Yeah.” Then I started laughing because she looked the part FOR SURE but also looked like if one of my old bosses was on the verge of heat stroke (the one who first told me about Leinenkugel’s’ Summer Shandy way back in 2010 actually!) and this checks out because I could totally picture her calling security while in line for a roller coaster.

So then the kids got REALLY PARANOID and were like, nervously chuckling amongst each other but you could see the fear in their eyes.

20 or so minutes later, we had finally made it to the aforementioned “split” in the line. This is also where the Fast Lane merges with the regular lane, so there is always a line attendant there. Two young men in SECURITY attire came up the Fast Lane, said some words to the line attendant, right when THE KIDS were the next in line to continue on once the Fast Lane people were let through. The way these kids looked like they were shitting themselves was hilarious! But then security walked past them and  ventured into the bowels of the line, so I didn’t think anything of it.

Approx. 2 minutes later, we were now standing on the steps that lead up the station, the group of kids still ahead of us, when the security guys came BACK and summoned them out of the line! They must have found Heat Stroke Karen and I’m SURE she had a picture of the kids to show security in complete the full NARC circle.

So, the kids got pulled out line and they were all like, “he had to go to the bathroom!” and in the end, security made the bathroom kid leave the line but let the OTHER THREE BACK IN when SAM IS THE ONE WHO ACTUALLY LINE-JUMPED?!!? I felt fully invested in this since I had been in line with these dumbasses the whole time and actually, I can’t believe I’m saying this, FELT BAD for the kid who got ratted on because yes he fucking cut but he truly WAS in line from the beginning.

And also, WOW those three are shitty friends especially SAM the TRUE line jumper.

So that was something. Six Flags Great Adventure is the only other park where I actually saw people get called out by line attendants and thrown out of line. (Green Lantern specifically – there was a guy standing in the station watching the queue below and he would call linejumpers out over the speaker. It was amazing. I would BE SO GOOD AT THAT JOB!!)

Anyway, Henry and I got in line for Maverick at 7:30, 30 minutes before the park closed. OF FUCKING COURSE it broke down while we were in line, but while we were in it, we saw security escorting out a dad and his kid and then right after that, we came around a switchback and I saw HEAT STROKE KAREN – coincidence?!?!

Also, the kids from the Gatekeeper were in this line with us and HSK, which made me feel nostalgic in some weird way?! Then a bunch of grown-ass adults cut the whole entire line in order to join the rest of their family in front of us and I was so pissed. I think it actually is worse when ADULTS do this. Kids are fucking stupid and it’s not an excuse but their brains are underdeveloped and whatever, who cares, kids suck. But when you see FUCKING ADULTS doing this, like they are so goddamned entitled, it makes me more mad. I started mouthing off about them to Henry and they knew I was talking about them so they all avoided eye contact with me but unlike HSK, I’m not about to cause a scene because I have seen enough videos of actual brawls erupting over shit like this and I’m not trying to get a tooth knocked – or worse, being an unwitting star of a viral TikTok video where I guarantee I will look like the BAD GUY / KAREN, so like 99% of line-standers, I dealt with it.

Then Chooch texted because it was after 8 and the park was technically closed so he and his friends were waiting outside of the entrance for us. Henry and I left the line WITH PLEASURE. Maverick is actually so damn frustrating. Of all the times we’ve been to Cedar Point I think I have only ridden it twice. It breaks down constantly and just perpetually has a ridiculous line.

The day was super frustrating but how mad can you be when the park has views like this??

Afterward, we checked into that same weird-ass motel thing that we stayed at two years ago and then went to Dianna’s for a late dinner and dessert! I love this fucking crazy family restaurant. Part of the neon sign outside the door was broken and zapping perilously, so that was scary.

We walked inside and Ben breathed it in and said, “This is America.”

We sat at separate tables – Chooch and his friends got the same waitress we had the last time (I would never forget her!) and Henry and I had a waitress with a face tattoo. There was an old couple sitting across from us that were talking some straight nonsense – I guess the lady part of the couple works at Cedar Point because she was wearing an employee sweatshirt. She looked like if my coaster friend Pam was about 20 years older with a gray mullet.

A very interesting end to a strange day at Cedar Point. Oh and did I mention that Sandusky was in the throes of a mayfly infestation? It was so bad that the outside patio of the Grand Pavilion cafe in the boardwalk area was closed off because the tables were COVERED in them, literally like they were wearing tarps made of mayflies. It was so gross. This was definitely one of the worst days I’ve ever had at the park.

 

May 042024
 

Look, you had to know that we would find a way to incorporate roller coasters into Mission: Marriage. We had only been to two amusement parks in Korea on our past trips, so we had a handful of others to choose from this time. I had my eye on Gyeongju World because they have a B&M invert and that’s my jam. And then once I started researching Gyeongju in general, it was a done deal.

We arrived right around the time it opened for the day on Friday, along with fleets of buses carting in hordes of school kids. But, unlike AMERICA, this didn’t present a problem. I thought for sure we’d spend all day standing in outrageous lines, but….where did all the kids go!? So bizarre. A mystery.

I actually don’t have all that much to say about this park because while it’s a decent size, there just wasn’t too much going on ride-wise. The dive coaster was down for maintenance (we did know this ahead of time so it wasn’t a surprise) but it didn’t bother us too much because it’s a clone of Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I’m not the biggest dive coaster buff anyway.

But, anticipating long lines, we speed-walked over to Phaethon, the B&M invert. (I would say that as far as steel coasters go, inverts are my #2 after hypers, and B&M is definitely the top dawg in these categories. Just in case you cared.)

Totally stoked!

Anyway, as luck would have it, the line WAS NOT LONG. We did have to wait for about 10 minutes for the ride to officially open, and then after that it was probably another 10 minutes before we got on because it was running one train and Korea is notorious for slow ops. It’s kind of weird because for a balli balli balli (fast fast fast) society, their theme parks definitely run on a different speed. At least in my experience, having visited three of them now!

Another fun thing to note – Korean teenagers are VERY hyperbolic and dramatic on amusement park rides. It’s actually one of my favorite parts of the experience, hearing them scream OMMA (MOM)! and WE’RE GOING TO DIE and just generally acting like they have been forced onto this as punishment. It’s hilarious and entertaining!

Overall? I loved Phaethon! A solid B&M invert. Apparently, the layout is similar to Raptor at Cedar Point and I LOVE RAPTOR so it makes sense that this was so much fun for me. Henry was like, “It was a little rough” and to that I say, “You LOOK a little rough, STFU.”

A solid first coaster of 2024! Which I fear is going to be a bad year for us as far as coasters go what with all this college preparation, graduation partying, Kpop concerts, etc. :(

OMG then Chooch and I rode Valkyrie, a Gerstlauer shuttle coaster and the first one of its kind that we have ever experienced. I would have to say that I prefer this over the deluge of family boomerangs that we have been seeing going in parks all over the world! I was PLEASANTLY surprised. It felt like a longer ride cycle too than the boomerangs.

Do you know what my favorite part of this ride was? When we were standing in line (roughly a 20 minute wait), the kids in front of us saw one of their buddies walking past the ride and they began to furiously call him over. I was like, “Oh boy, here we go, happens in every country, the line-jumping epidemic.”

BUT YOU GUYS. Do you know what happened? They LEFT THEIR SPOT and met him at THE BACK OF THE LINE. I couldn’t believe it. Such consideration!!

Yeah, I really enjoyed this. Kennywood should get one! This is such a good family steel coaster and is something that Kennywood lacks, so I think this would be a really great fit for that park. I could even see it going in the Kiddieland section. Why not.

GW’s theming was so adorable actually.

Also? Super clean restrooms. No surprise there.

My only complaint, and we weren’t really looking TOO hard, was that there wasn’t much food available for vegetarians and I’m going to wager probably nothing for vegans. They have a Mom’s Touch and I’m pretty sure they have vegan chicken there now, but the one in Gyeongju World has a very limited menu.

Chooch made me ride this and it was quite terrible. It didn’t totally take me out but I also had trouble walking in a straight line for a while afterward.

FIERCE.

While we were in this funhouse, parts of it began powering down, lol. It was literally like a fuse was blown halfway through. Definitely not on par with the European funhouses that spoiled us, but moreso on an American county fair level. Definitely accumulated bruises in various iterations of this at the Big Butler Fair.

It’s a photo zone, yo.

I made them ride the train because by this point, we were running out of things to do.

Lots of unnecessary train selfies. Choo choo, motherconductors. (OMG SHOULD THIS BE MY SIGN-OFF??? Maybe I’ll ask group chat what they think next week, although I think I’ve been getting on their nerves lately lol. Yesterday, SPEAKING OF COUNTY FAIRS, I told them about the time I was in a LOVE TRIANGLE at the Big Butler Fair and they were like “….ok.” I would have just given them the link to my blog post but apparently my blog is now blocked at work because of MALICIOUS CONTENT but also I thought I was getting fired recently over an UNAUTHORIZED BROWSER issue which is a whole other story that still keeps me up at night, so maybe these two things are correlated and I’m being WATCHED now, I don’t know.)

You guys, while we were on the train, we passed a field that had RMC raptor track laying in it!! So, there was already a rumor that GW is potentially getting an RMC raptor next year for their….50th??…anniversary, but it was still really exciting to SEE THE TRACK IN REAL LIFE and confirm that yes, the rumors are true!! Actually, several weeks after this, RMCD (Rollercoaster Database) added it as a TBD project by RMC at Gyeongju World, so now it’s also on the wiki page for GW. And we saw it!

You knew it was coming….

If a park has a carousel….

Bitch, it’s #carouselfie time!!

It was a cute carousel! I have some video which will be included at the end of my LAST GYEONGJU POST. Yes, just one more after this and then we go back to Seoul!

We really only stayed here for about 3 hours, got our coaster creds (just 2), rode the carousel, and bought a shit ton of merch because their gift shop was pretty cray. They sadly didn’t have any t-shirts, but TONS of other GW-themed items (I actually had a hard time choosing which magnet I wanted, there were so many cute ones!) and actually a lot of really cute Gyeongju souvenirs in general.

“Oh great, more glass,” Chooch muttered as I scooped up a tiny glass Gyeongju coffee cup and also a set of 4 TENNIS-THEMED JUICE CUPS that were on sale for W9,900 so like, $7!!!! They are so freaking cute too!!!

After we left the park, we walked back to the WRONG BUS STOP from the day before, because the area where they’re holding the RMC track was right past that.

Ahhhhh!!! Korea’s FIRST RMC!!! This is so exciting! I already was sold on revisiting Gyeongju in the future, but now I’m definitely going to have to come back and scratch this RMC off my list! (I don’t count coasters, just RMCs lol.)

Dude, pre-2018 I never would have given a shit if we stumbled upon TBD coaster track out in the wild, but present day Erin was dorking out over it pretty heavily.

Anyway, after this, we walked back to the park entrance-ish and waited for our Kakao Taxi to take us back to the tumuli area of Gyeongju so we could lunch it up, buy some last minute things, eyeball the burial mounds one last time before we had to catch our 4:50pm train back to Seoul – you know, Gyeongju thangs.

Apr 272024
 

When we got the invitation to admitted student’s day at Drexel, of fucking course the first thing I did was go to Hershey Park’s website to see if they were open yet in April. Henry was like, “Please be closed, please be closed” because Tight Wad Dad hates spending additional money. Lucky for me, they were open so a “quick weekend away” turned into more of a mini-vaca, much to Henry’s chagrin.

Look – it’s not even that I LOOOOOVE Hershey Park, OK? In fact, I wouldn’t even say we’re frenemies. We just…know each other casually but less casually than acquaintances. We work for the same company, different departments.

I need a nap.

But! Last summer, the park got it’s very first RMC and you know that RMC is my ult bias in coaster manufacturing land. And not only that but the new coaster – Wildcat’s Revenge – also had the distinction of being the first RMC in all of Pennsylvania!

(Petition for Kennywood to have RMC turn Steel Curtain into a single rail.)

We didn’t make it out to Hershey last year to ride Wildcat’s Revenge in its inaugural season, opting to head south for a jaunt on ArieForce One instead and I stand by that decision! But I was having big time FOMO being on that Norden Coaster Crew trip last August and hearing everyone comparing Arie to Wildcat, that’s for sure.

So, it was time! If we were going to be THAT CLOSE to Hershey, why not – right? Henry’s made of money – right??

First off, we went on a Sunday and even though the plaza looked super packed before the gates opened, it ended up being not too bad that day! Still, we had major coaster thoosie anxiety and half-jogged all the way to the other side of the park as soon as the rope dropped, expecting a huge line to have already been formed…

Yo, it was a STATION WAIT. Actually, it would have been a walk-on if we weren’t back row elitists, and even then we only had to wait one cycle.

My first thought  – the locker area is REALLY SMALL. It wasn’t bad for us since we were there on a slow day, but I can only imagine how jammed up it must get on busy summer weekends. And I’m sure this is a NO NO but there were no signs that I saw stating so, but since it was such a low-crowd day, we were leaving our stuff in the assigned locker and running around for re-rides. We didn’t do this more than twice in a row though, because we’re not total assholes. But there is no way we were taking up a locker that someone else could have been using because the crowds just turning out for Wildcat that day. Even later in the afternoon, it was STILL A STATION WAIT.

My thoughts? I loved it. I love all of RMC’s coasters. They’re insane, they defy logic, they push the limit. After the first ride, I initially said that I liked it better than Arie, but I retract that statement. It’s fun, but I think after several more rides, I decided that it would be “upper-middle tier” for me. Wildfire in Sweden is Chooch’s current RMC bae and he said that he wouldn’t rank Wildcat above that.

But you guys, it’s still a solid fucking coaster. If you live in PA and have never been on an RMC, this is a great introduction to the sorcery that is Rocky Mountain Construction.

So that was a highlight!

Ugh, Henry and his man-purse.

More highlights: not having to wait 90 minutes to ride Fahrenheit, which I’m sorry – this coaster is NOT THAT GREAT?! I mean, it’s a lot more fun when you only have to wait 15 minutes to get on it, that’s for fucking sure. But I could definitely skip this one:

Other than that though, we rode Lightning Racer which….wasn’t racing. It was also a walk-on. I enjoyed it! It was only my second time riding it but I think this would be one that I would try to get on every time I was there, if the line wasn’t outrageous. It is rough, but not intolerable. As Henry said, “It didn’t give me a headache. It was alright.”

The longest line we stood in was for Skyrush and that was only about 30 minutes. I actually hate this one a lot, definitely in the camp of haters who call it Thigh Crush. BUT over the off-season, they got new trains with different restraints and even the most vocal haters were changing their tune.

Is there something wrong with me? Because while I can agree that it no longer hurts to ride it, I still just think it’s that great of a coaster! Even Chooch was like, “It’s fine.” I don’t know, there is just something about this ride that is not enjoyable to me, even without the thigh-crushing.

Additionally, we rode Great Bear (still love it, this might be my fave in the park still, even with Wildcat’s Revenge) which was a station wait and Candymonium which was a walk-on but we got stuck on the brake run for about 10 minutes and it was a chilly day, so that was a great end to the day!

I don’t know – is this a me problem? Am I missing something? Because Hershey just doesn’t do it for me! I think also what irritates me is that the layout is stupid and it’s just not, in my opinion, a beautiful park. Yes, Cedar Point is fucking annoying, crowded, unreliable, etc. BUT Cedar Point is fucking beautiful. It’s just PRETTY. The landscaping is nice, it has that sweet fucking lakeside setting. You could spend a day just sitting on a bench and it would be….well, a fucking waste of time but at least the surrounding area would probably be nice to look at.

Other things to note real quick:

  • There was some dance championship happening that weekend so we were treated to a horde of rhinestoned bitches that stunk like AquaNet and Target perfume.
  • Chooch got a piece of a napkin in his eye (?!?!?!?!) while we were eating soft pretzels (their soft pretzels taste weird) and there was a bit of drama over that. I said, “Do you remember recently when we went to a park and I immediately got a bug in my eye?” and Henry and Chooch both said NO because they don’t pay attention to me.
  • DOES HERSHEY NOT SELL THE BUCKETS OF HOT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES ANYMORE?!?! We couldn’t find them anywhere and that was honestly the best thing they had going for them.
  • We stopped at Chocolate World afterward so Henry could stock up and Chooch and I could go on the free chocolate factory ride, which still excites. Obviously my favorite part is getting the free mini Hersheys bar at the end. I do which they would add a trick track, a little drop somewhere in there like OH NO WE’RE GOING DOWN THE CHOCO-FALL NOW! HOLD ON, KIDS!
  • Witnessed some entitled brat having a fucking meltdown in the checkout line and her dad quietly carrying her out under his arm like a newspaper. I would have made the bitch walk. Look at me, with my 18 year old kid who is so past all of the meltdowns and tantrums haha. (Future Henry is reading this like, “ok but when will YOU be so past all the meltdowns and tantrums…”)

Yeah, that was our day (eh…half day) at Hershey. Overall – the best out of the three visits but still didn’t WOW me. I want to be DAZZLED. I’ll go back the next time they get a new coaster, I guess.

Dec 302023
 

Friday, August 17th was another BEEP BEEP WAKE UP MOTHERFUCKER Stupid:Early AM wakeup call. We were taking a 2+ hour bus ride to Tampere, Finland in order to visit our last park of the trip: Sarkanniemi. First, we had to embark on a short trip to the bus station. I would have preferred to take a train, which is faster, but apparently there was some issue / construction going on with the track somewhere, so we would have had to transfer to a bus at some point anyway. (According to google, a bus ride to Tampere is about 2 hours and 45 minutes which seems longer than what our trip was, but OK.

After not getting back from Tallinn until after 1:30AM, we were D R A G G I N G. But that’s the life of a coaster enthusiast, I guess! (I don’t know what I’m talking about it.)

I have to be honest here, this bus ride was the most uncomfortable mode of transportation we experienced the ENTIRE trip. The bus was a double-decker, but it was TIGHT and also? It was completely sold-out. I thought this was kind of curious since it was a Friday morning, why were all these people (ALL COLLEGE STUDENT-AGED, IT APPEARED) going to Tampere?? It was just a shit ton of mostly young girls who had no couth, no spatial- or self-awareness, one was watching cartoons on her laptop with no headphones, one was practically sprawled out in the aisle so people struggled to pass her when they needed to get to the bathroom, and it was HOT AF in there. Just very uncomfortable, honestly, and made me feel like I was in America.

But you know, it was a cheap ticket I imagine (Henry booked it, what do I know) and it got us there in decent time. That’s when we:

  1. had to find a local bus to get us to the park;
  2. learned that the reason hordes of YOUTH were flocking to Tampere was because Blockfest, a big hip hop festival, was happening. Apparently, Ice Spice was there lol.

Sarkanniemi is not a very big park, but it does have some coasters and I liked that it sits along Näsijärvi Lake. Aesthetics matter. 

Right away, Chooch and I ran to the line for Tornado, which ended up being a walk-on. Henry was being a bitch because he thought it looked too much like an SLC and opted out:

(NOT MY PICTURE; FROM WEBSITE)

But yoooo, this was excellent! Also, the guy in front of us was wearing a Six Flags eyeglass strap, a Busch Gardens t-shirt, and had a vlogging camera. “Chooch, that guy is definitely American,” I said, nudging him with my elbow. “I’m going to talk to him when we get off!”

“Please don’t,” he mumbled.

BUT I DID, AND YEAH BOY, ANOTHER AMERICAN THOOSIE! We had a nice chat with him – he’s from Atlanta and needed to use up some PTO time at work and was like, “Finland it is!” So that was really cool – we told him all about our trip too and he was just very nice to talk to and didn’t act like he was too cool for us or whatever. (I WISH I COULD REMEMBER HIS YOUTUBE NAME!! I subscribed to it on the spot but can’t find it in my list.)

I mean, come on man. Look at that beautiful water.

Anyway, right after that, we started walking to the next coaster and Henry goes, “OMG look who it is!” AND IT WAS ROBERT, DAWN, AND ARNOLD FROM COASTER CREW!!!!!

OMG I was so happy to see them!!! We spent the next several hours riding everything with them and it was THE BEST WAY TO END THE TRIP. 100%.

We took over the kiddie coaster like old times!

I…don’t know why I took this picture.

This was A NO for me. Totally uncomfortable. One and done. Actually, aside from Tornado and the flat rides, it was a one-and-done themed park for sure.

I miss these people. Also, this was a fun log flume!

At some point, we lost our friends because we needed to eat and I think they left because they had already been there for a bit before we arrived. :( Their plan was to go to Power Park farther up in Finland the next day, and then Robert and Dawn were heading home on Sunday, but Arnold was heading to Tallinn. Chooch gave him the heads up on the +1 credit there “because I’m a nice guy,” he said.

Gorgina!!! (Any Ur Mom stans here?)

I think that this park is really clean and I love the pops of color. I think they also a great and quirky collection of flat rides, but if they could get one outstanding coaster to pair up with Tornado for that one-two punch, I think this park could be taken to the next level. As it stands, unless you have little kids and pay extra for the separate “Doghill Fairytale Farm” petting zoo and aquarium, this is not a full-day park and not worth the visit to Tampere alone (Tampere has plenty of other things going for it though so it is still 100% worth visiting and I’m actually disappointed that we didn’t allow ourselves more time to explore outside of the park before having to rush back to catch our bus back to Helsinki!).

Another Euro-park, another fantastic bathroom!

For a second, I couldn’t remember why we didn’t end up eating here but then I remembered it was because we found out another place had vegan hotdogs!

Chooch just came home and exclaimed, “You’re still talking about this!?” Um, if by talking you mean blogging, then yes. (Although blogging really is like talking to my stuffed animals, all lined up on the couch with cups of tea duct-taped to their hands. HOLD ON, HAROLD, I’LL TAKE YOU TO THE BATHROOM AS SOON AS I FINISH THIS PARAGRAPH, JESUS CHRIST.)

Immediately squirts mustard on himself.

Yeah, this ‘dog was worth the burger swap. Usually if a vegan dog is on the menu, it’s gonna be of the basic nuked store bought variety and those are so unsatisfying. I can make that myself in my own kitchen, bitch please.

I don’t know what this thing was but it was adorable, super antique-feeling, and just good old-fashioned fun.

Chooch probably disagreed.

Oh, I just looked it up and it’s literally called Lake Carousel. It’s spins and tilts but not very aggressively. You can imagine bitches from the past riding this in their floor length gowns and bonnets or whatever. (I don’t know how old this ride itself is but apparently the amusement park has been around since 1975 so it’s only slightly older than me, which ISN’T YOUNG.

LOL according to Wiki, this ride opened in 1996. So yeah, you can imagine bitches from the past riding this in their BUM Equipment sweatshirts and scrunchies or whatever.

FINLAND. <3

Even the car ride was one of the most scenic rides I’ve ever been on.

Henry and underwear friend.

Fun fact: Sarkanniemi means “Cape of Sandbank.”

I thought this was going to be popcorn-flavored ice cream but it was literally ice cream topped with popcorn lol.

Chooch was being a big crybaby over hot chocolate so don’t worry, big baby got his hot chocolate. Also, he was mildly pouting because there was supposed to be some stupid Angry Birds kiddie ride there and he roamed around aimlessly looking for it for the first hour before realizing that it had been rethemed to carrots, LOLOLOL.

I was so excited when I saw this weird game because I thought it was a Finnish thing but then later I found out that we have these here in America too, so.

Literally just did my Carouselfie 2023 post the other day so if you’ve already seen these, YES I KNOW I ALREADY POSTED THEM.

I really did have an enjoyable time here but 1/3 of a day is really all you need. One of the coasters was closed (no tears were shed about this though because it’s a Zamperla Volare coaster, which are AWFUL. Granted, I’ve only been on one in Canada’s Wonderland, but it’s not something I’d ever happily line-up for ever again.

By 3:30pm, we were ready to say goodbye and try to get a bus back to the bus station since our transfer had run out and we didn’t know where to go around there to get a new ticket. My favorite part of traveling! The bus driver was like, “Oh for God’s sake just get in and sit down” in so many Finnish words so yay! Thank you, Tampere public transportation!

By 4:22pm, we were on our bus back to Helsinki!

The bus ride back was WAY BETTER – not crowded and no annoying YOUNGS. (My actual “final night in Helsinki” post can be found here.

The next day, we left our airbnb at….4am I think??? It was ungodly. I don’t even want to think about that travel day, actually. Let’s just end the vacation here! I DID IT, I WRAPPED IT UP BEFORE THE END OF 2023!!! ONE WHOLE DAY TO SPARE!

Dec 282023
 

I still have one more amusement park to recap on here and hopefully I will get to that by the end of the year, but I wanted to skip ahead and do my annual Carouselfie Collection post! NONE are from the US! We did go to several US parks this year but they were ones where we already have carouselfies from, or they didn’t have a carousel (Fun Spot America).

So, with the exception of the first one pictured, these are all from our Coaster Crew trip, which makes them even more special to me! (Of course, none of these are printed, framed, and hung yet but it’s been a stupid several months).

First carouselfie of the year was also our first park of the year – Canada’s Wonderland! It was our first time visiting this pretty massive park right outside of Toronto and it was aight. I feel like the first park after a long, boring winter is always kind of weird – for me, at least – because I have to remember how to tolerate crowds.

I thought it was a really cute carousel though!

Next up was this crazy carousel in Denmark’s Bakken (the oldest amusement park in the world!) where you just run and jump on it while it’s still moving. Mmm, I wasn’t super OK with that, but I guess that’s the American sue-culture in me. But yeah, our first European carouselfie!

It doesn’t look so scary, but man, I really thought I was going to get a foot chopped off jumping on this thing.

NEXT UP: Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen!

I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to get a good carouselfie because Henry and I had to sit in a spinny thing so I tried to do a video edition instead. Don’t worry, that didn’t become a thing, lol.

We’re all wearing the same clothes as we were in the first carouselfie not because our luggage was lost but because this was the SAME DAY. You would know that if you read my blog.
The next day, we also did two parks but the first one didn’t have a carousel sadly. So, these photos are from Tivoli Friheden, somewhere in Denmark.
I wasn’t a big fan of this park in general, but I thought the carousel was beautiful. It was also super sloooooow, though. Some kids actually asked to stay on and I couldn’t tell if it was ironically or not.
The next park didn’t have a carousel, so this was the next-next park: Farup Sommerland, also in Denmark. I loved this one! It was woodland creatures and motorcycles!
HOW COULD I NOT LOVE THIS ONE?!
First and only carouselfie in Norway! If it looks like Henry and Chooch are wearing the same clothes as the last picture, it’s because THEY WERE because everyone slept in the bus while we drove overnight to Norway after the biggest storm in 20 years cancelled all ferries. I was prepared and made sure I had a shirt to change into though because, vanity.
Anyway, this was at Tusenfryd and I was generally super in love with this park. Loved the vibe, loved the views. It was beautiful.

OK stop – was Liseberg the best park of the trip? And was this also our first carouselfie in Sweden? Ugh, there are no lies here. We spent two days here and it was a goddamn dream. I hope to return here one day! I hope that Chooch has children someday and we can take them, too because this place was built on magic. Disney is cool, BUT LISEBERG BLEW MY HAIR BACK.

Fun fact – adults (Chooch included) aren’t allowed to ride on the animals on the carousel here so we had to sit in the spinny tea cup thing.

Yo, Stockholm carouselfie! This was at Grona Lund, our last park with Coaster Crew. :( We also went to two other places prior to this one but no carousels were to be found.
First Finnish carouselfie!! Linnanmaki is another park that I hope to return to some day. It was so quirky and pleasant and just a joy to be at.

And lastly, here is the one that I haven’t actually recapped yet, but we did a day trip to Tampere in Finland and went to Sarkanniemi, which was….meh but super scenic and something really unexpected happened while we were there so I guess you will just have to check back and see if I ever get around to posting about it!

My legs look like giant hotdogs and it’s creeping me out.

OK, that was fun. A bunch of carouselfies. I hope Chooch doesn’t think that he’ll be exempt from these once he starts college??

Nov 252023
 

I am having a pretty good day and I hope you are too. (Look at me being positive and nice!) The past week was pretty good too aside from some weird work anxieties – nothing major but I think I am just very on edge lately since OMG CHANGES IN MY LIFE. I just really don’t adjust to change all that well. The best way I can describe the last month-and-a-half is by comparing it to the time middle school was on vacation with my grandparents. I think we were gone for nearly 3 weeks, just long enough for me to really experience homesickness. I was happy to come home to my dogs (mm probably not the rest of my family though LOL savage) and the familiarity of my bedroom. EXCEPT THAT MY MOTHER CHOSE TO REARRANGE MY ROOM WHILE I WAS GONE.

Kevin, excuse me but do you know how disorienting that is??

I think that’s similar to how I have been feeling lately. To be honest, I don’t think I really got back into the groove since we came back from vacation. That was a long time ago at this point. I just feel so uncomfortable every day? Nothing feels right? And then the new neighbor situation has really fucked me up and I can’t explain why. Yes, it’s been sort of stressful, but I think it’s more of the fact that my routine was bulldozed for weeks and I just can’t get back into it. I’m trying to start up my exercise routine again because that was totally ruined and my diet was fucked, all of this PLUS the stress causing me to gain weight and you know the underlying theme of my life is WEIGHT OBSESSION / FOOD PHOBIA etc. so god bless my neighbors for sending over plates of delicious food and homemade bread, but I know associate them as a whole unit with WEIGHT GAIN and I am to the point where I am almost hiding from them and that’s so fucked up. I am fucked up. Do I need therapy, you think? Here are these people just trying to be nice neighbors by feeding us and I’m over here developing an aversity to them because I’m fucking neurotic. I hate myself.

Anyway, all of that aside, some nice things happened over the past week to get me out of the house and talking to people aside from online chatting with my work friends (not knocking that AT ALL but sometimes I need some IRL conversing).

I had brunch plans last Saturday with my friend Lindsey and I was reallllly looking forward to it. It’s only our second time hanging out but, at least on my end, it feels like she is an old friend (I mean, she *is* Internet-wise!) and the nerves are not there at all, which I really appreciate. Henry drove me though because Chooch had his gaming class at Pitt right before that and it was convenient for us to drop him off together so that we could then go to Home Depot and pick up paint for our current project. There is this one person I used to follow in IG who would drop little bread crumbs about her latest project and then say I CAN’T WAIT TO SHOW YOU WHAT IT IS and half the time she never would. I will not be like and just tell you that we (LOL *WE*) are redoing the twin to the current beverage buffet we have and we are doing it in a garish clown theme. No big secret to reveal later, unless you want me to assign it a gender and have a dramatic announcement when it’s done.

OK so the whole point in me telling you this is because we had the best cashier ever, this super personable older black woman who first initiated conversation by saying that she liked my hamburger purse and then she started asking me questions about it like is it wagyu I don’t fucking know and I was like, “Oh, I just bought it because I thought it was funny since I’m a vegetarian” and she was like, “Oh ok. Are you ready for Thanksgiving? What are you cooking?”

I laughed, like a really hard staccato HA! and said, “Nothing!” She looked at me like I was FUCKING CRAZY. “Trust me, no one wants me cooking!”

Henry was off to the side making grunts of agreeance. Then he said he does all the cooking and she was like, “WHY YOU DON’T YOU TEACH HER??”

“Oh trust me, we’ve been together over 20 years. There is no teaching her.” And I added, “It’s true. He has tried and I get so distracted and start looking up at the ceiling.”

She was dying. Then I told her about the time I tried to make Chooch pierogies and didn’t realize that I had melted the spatula on it until I saw him about to shove a forkful of pierogi and spatula tendril into his mouth.

We had actually already finished checking out and were still standing there talking about this and it was one of the rare times lately where the small talk felt so real and natural?? It reminded me of how I used to be before the world and texting and the Internet ruined my knack for verbal communication. I forgot that I used to be really good at it and would have good chats with people everywhere I went! I kind of feel inspired to do that again??

Then it was time for brunch with Lindsey at Scratch!! First of all, it was so awesome to see her again and eat what were quite possibly the best donuts I’ve had in Pittsburgh? My friend Wendi was raving about them to me, and I can confirm that they were worth the hype!

The avocado toast was also totally filling and also beautiful – look at it up there! I can be kind of bratty about avocado toast because trends also annoy me but sometimes a good avocado toast can be so satisfying.

Then one of the waiters interrupted us to tell Lindsey that she has the best laugh and I totally second that! But then it was kind of awkward because I wasn’t sure if he was going to ask to join us….? He just sort of lingered there and then eventually offered to take our order because our original server was busy with a large party, but honestly, I kind of felt like he was he interested in Lindsey and then lost his nerve and tried to play it off by taking our order?! LINDSEY IF YOU’RE READING THIS, DID YOU GET THAT VIBE FROM HIM?

We overstayed our 90 minute welcome window and were asked (politely!) to leave, lol. I mean, the host did offer to move us to the bar area, to be fair! I can’t believe how fast that 90 minutes flew by though! It was so fun to catch up, complain about Pgh’s food scene (eff you, Oak Hill Post!!), and tell her the Coaster Crew trip deep cuts.

I totally forgot to ask someone to take our picture!

My Coaster Crew friend Pam is in town this weekend for an event at Kennywood (it’s being held by a different coaster club) but she made time to see me after she got into town yesterday! We met at Yinz Coffee (owned by the former owner of Crazy Mocha which was the ONLY cafe in Pgh that had a good chai latte and I’m happy to report that Yinz Coffee uses the same recipe thank god) and had a wonderful catch-up sesh! Kind of surreal seeing her here in Pgh and not out in the wild of some Scandinavian amusement park. #tears

Henry came in toward the end and Pam was like, “IT’S HENRY!” Ugh, Henry! Henry! Henry! Henry barely even talked to anyone on that trip and I guarantee he’s still the one people would remember the most!

That was really fun, and it made me want to have a reunion with everyone from that trip so I posted on Instagram that we should have a Phantom’s Revenge marathon party next year and then everyone can stay at my house and Jean (!!!) commented and said, “Let’s do it!” and Henry was like, “DO THEY KNOW HOW SMALL OUR HOUSE IS?!?!” But if we wait until Chooch goes to college, we’ll technically have two spare rooms to fill with beds and sleeping bags?!

Or we could be grown-ups and buy a house.

I was really thinking a lot last night about our Coaster Crew friends and it made me wonder if any of them were at the Coastin’ By the Ocean event we did in 2022 – it was technically an event held by Morey’s Piers but you had to be a card-carrying member of a coaster group to be able to register, so we were able to do it as Coaster Crew members. Of course, we had never done a Coaster Crew event before that so we had no idea if anyone from that group was there.

I looked up the group picture and literally SCREAMED:

FREAKING DAWN AND ROBERT, TWO OF OUR FAVORITE PEOPLE WHO WE ALSO RAN INTO IN FINLAND?? (Spoiler – I haven’t written about that yet, oh well!) And they were RIGHT IN FRONT OF US? I am shook. Honestly, the world is so small sometimes. It’s humbling.

Today, Chooch and I met Janna, her sister Julie and bro-in-law Marcus and their son August at Eat n Park so that they could talk to Chooch about his college plans, tell him about their experience at CMU, answer questions for him, etc. It was really informative and interesting even for me, the big stoop at the table. It also occurred to me on the drive there* that I don’t think I have seen Julie since high school??

*(You’ll be shocked to know that I actually drove Chooch and myself there and here’s why I did: I knew I would be able to park there; if I am going somewhere with street parking, Henry better drop what he’s doing because I will have an anxiety attack before I even grab my purse, requiring him to drive me and drop me off like I’m fucking Miss Daisy or a 4-year-old going to preschool.)

Anyway, I really really really appreciate that Julie and Marcus took time out from their holiday visit to meet with Chooch and I don’t know how he’s feeling about it because he never tells me this shit, but I know that I for one felt a bit better and less stressed about it by the time we left.

The college process in general I think (OK I  know) is another reason why this fall has felt so alien to me. Most nights, I lie in bed with such anxiety, that I can feel my blood rushing even in my gums. Like a sizzle/tingle along my teeth. I know, I know, “this too shall pass,” but I am having such a hard time calming down. I need one of those sweaters that dog’s wear to keep them calm during thunderstorms. Maybe the human version of that is a hug? I don’t know.

Nov 192023
 

One of the first things I like to do before going to a new park is looking on their website to see if there are veg/vegan options. I don’t know if you guys have noticed but the websites for most American parks are stupidly unhelpful. If you’re luck and can find a “dietary restrictions” section, they might have a list of their “restaurants” that have something for us of the NO-MEATS persuasion, but then you get there and find out it’s a soft pretzel, a wilted salad, OR if you’re really lucky, a soggy ill-cooked veggie burger.

These parks on our trip though – they spoiled us rotten. Linnanmaki was no exception! Before we even left Pittsburgh, I had like 4 places there that I wanted to eat at and knew it would have to be a game time decision. Can I just point out that every single food place on this list has the vegan symbol??

We ended up choosing Hurlumhei, which offered TOFU BURGERS. I love tofu. I will choose that over an Impossible/Beyond/black bean burger any day.

Look how fun the interior is! It definitely didn’t feel like we were eating inside an amusement park. I think that’s such a great perk to parks that are free to enter – they usually tend to step up the food game so that non-riders are inspired to pop inside for food. There seemed to be quite a few nice sit-down restaurants in this place. Maybe not at the level of Bakken, Tivoli Gardens, or Liseberg, but better than, OH I DON’T KNOW, Kennywood.

We have season passes for Kennywood and I think we would go more often if they had better food options, where we could maybe say, “Hey, while we’re out this way, let’s go to Kennywood for dinner and ride Phantom several dozen times.” But instead, it’s like, “Let’s eat at home first and then go to Kennywood for rides and an ice cream cone.”

Chooch got a fancy frappucino-ish thing and then acted like I was making him cut out his own kidney with shrapnel from a sardine can when I asked for a taste. He is SO GERM-PHOBY and also really just a brat at the core of it all.

I honestly think he tries to mask the stinginess with the fact that he doesn’t want anyone using his straw. Mm.

FIRST FINNISH SQUIRREL SIGHTING!! Living his best life, lunchmeat in hand/paw. We spent entirely too much time interacting with this cutie, to the point where people were walking by and stopping to see what the hell was so fascinating to these idiot Americans.

Is it weird that I think a lot about how I wasn’t squirrel-obsessed yet when we went to Korea, so I didn’t notice the squirrels there but now that’s near the top of my list of things to do if we go back, above “get married”? Because I’m really gonna go to Seoul Forest. How we have been to S.Korea twice yet never made it to Seoul Forest either of those times is kind of criminal and in the vein of “But Did You Even Really Go to Korea?”

I will say that Finnish squirrels look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale, though. 10/10, exceeded expectations.

Omg the slowest ops in the world were running this ride. They really wanted every single car to be filled so they had us just sitting there picking at our cuticles waiting for more riders to maybe show up even though this ride was buried in the back of the park in a dead end!

Fun ride though.

Chooch made me take this picture because I think his phone was dead and he wanted to send it to a friend because it was the opposite of Ice Spice. I don’t know why I kept it?!

I loved this little arcade and snack area!I want to have neon spirals on my ceiling!!

Finally, it was #CAROUSELFIE time. Also, these benches. This landscaping. Am I in Snow White’s backyard?! I will never be able to properly convey the magic that this park exudes. You know a place has to be pumping out subtle wafts of serotonin when the three of us manage to go the whole time without temper tantrums, empty “THIS IS THE LAST TIME WE’RE GOING ANYWHERE TOGETHER” threats, or disparaging remarks about each other’s annoying breathing/eating/chewing/attitude. I mean, of course Henry was annoying but there is not very much out there that can distract from that.

Which one should we use for the #carouselfie wall??

17 and he still pouts when he doesn’t get the carousel animal he wants but this time he snagged his #1 choice of elephant so he was pacified.

Wouldn’t it be fun if Henry learned how to make fiberglass sculptures and then we could turn our yard into a creepy storybook forest type of nightmarescape that would maybe deter religious solicitors?

I also think it would be cool to have this is a bed post.

Vuoristorata!

I will never stop missing the licorice selection. It was A++++++ in every country we visited on this trip. Lands o’ Licorice.

As usual, magnificent restrooms!

Ugh Kirnu. Back-to-back parks with these awful Intamin Zack Spins. I am not sad that there are none left in the US. Anyway, behind it, you can see the water tower that now houses an indoor family coaster, which you can choose to ride with VR goggles. I think there were three themes to choose from, and we all ended up choosing the horror one. IT WAS SO FUCKING GOOD!! I couldn’t believe how much it elevated this basic little dime-a-dozen family coaster that you find pretty much in every park. It was excellent and I have no idea why we didn’t go back and try the other two themes?!

Chooch and I also rode a bunch of unique flat rides, the rapids ride, and we all rode the train. We stayed until the park was about to close and then began our short journey back to the apartment. I felt sad immediately after leaving. This place, man. What a babe.

Here’s a video of our first day in Finland, including Linnanmaki footage but starting with arriving on the ferry that morning, the train ride to Helsinki, the rickety elevator in the apartment building we were staying in, to the walk back after getting off the tram from Linnanmaki. Now that I’m recapping this, it’s hard to believe that all of this was just one day. I feel tired reliving it.

Nov 162023
 

Weird to say “BUT THEY’RE SO CLOSE!!” when talking about two countries that are separated by a large body of water (and are only accessible by car/bus/train in the far northern regions, not applicable in our case)* but when I saw how cheap and easy it would be to, you know, just hop over to Helsinki from Stockholm, I started really drilling home my case for Linnanmaki, Helsinki’s amusement park.

*(I had to come back a day later and add this because in my head, I knew what I meant but I figured it was only a matter of time before someone called me out for being geographical ignorant, I mean, in a world where strangers still actually read this shit, you know what I mean?)

  1. It looks fucking precious in every video I watched;
  2. It has Taiga, an Intamin Blitz coaster that opened 2 years before what is arguably one of the best coasters in the world: VelociCoaster at Islands of Adventure. We are obvi huge fans of VelociCoaster, so I used that as a big selling point;
  3. I just really wanted to go to Finland in general and this seemed like a good “excuse”;
  4. It’s for a good cause, as Linnanmaki is “owned by the non-profit Children’s Day Foundation, which operates the park in order to raise funds for Finnish child welfare work. In 2019, the foundation donated €4.5 million, and so far has donated a total of over €120 million to this cause.” – Wiki
  5. Including Taiga, it has an impressive 8 coasters –  not too shabby (ugh I actually hate that phrase so I have no idea why I used it and furthermore no idea why I didn’t just delete it?? My old boss at Olan Mills used to say that all of the time and it’s not like I didn’t like her, but it was so annoying) for a small city park!

Um, now that I’m really reading this Wiki page, I’m learning so much. Here’s a … fun? … fact:

Since its opening in 1950, two people have died in amusement ride accidents at Linnanmäki, both caused by negligence on the part of the rider. In 1953, an employee, a roller coaster brakeman* who was sitting in the front row after his shift on the last ride of the evening did not attach the safety bar, fell off and was hit by the train. In 1985, a guest, a boy, also sitting in the front row, had managed to open the safety bar and stood up to wave to his friends. The boy then fell in front of the train, which ran over him.

*Also, if you’re wondering what a coaster brakeman is, shame on you for not reading my Tivoli Garden post, where we rode our first ever brakeman-operated coaster!

Another fun fact, this one I already knew, is that the park is built on a hill about a mile outside of Helsinki, and derives its name from Vesilinnanmäki (lit. ’Water Castle Hill’), the name locals gave to the hill way back in the day since it had two water towers. Both towers are no longer in operation, but some kind of city zoning law prohibits the towers from being removed. One of them was converted to a maintenance shed for the park, and the other now houses an indoor family coaster!! I love that. That particular water tower especially is now an iconic landmark in  the park. Also, thank god it doesn’t look like the gross kinds we have in America. I would never ride a roller coaster inside one of those. Fuck you.

NOT MY PHOTO, TAKEN FROM WIKI:

(Now I’m Googling Finnish water towers and all of their water towers are like sculptures, quirky architectural feats. Fill a coffee table book with ’em, they’re so photogenic and not GROSS AND LOOMING like ours. Ugh.)

Anyway, we took a tram from our apartment and then had to walk for maybe 10 minutes or so before reaching the park. I will never complain about walking while on vacation – it’s truly the best way to experience a new city! If we had taken a bus all the way there, Chooch couldn’t have mocked whoever this Paavo Nurmi pal is.

J/K guys, of course I know that he was a Finnish Olympic running man pal.

Totally without Googling just now.

Actually, guess where he was from, spefically?

TURKU, the city that Henry RUINEDU. That actually does a ring bell now, know that he’s from Turku because in one of the many travel videos I watched in preparation for our day in Turki that never happened, I remember seeing some monument to an Olympic runner and honestly, how many Olympic runners could Turku possibly have produced?

This underpass had cool murals and did not even have a HINT of a piss stench like Pgh underpasses.

I’m not sure we took the best walking route to the park, but after hiking up a hill (Vesilinnanmäki amirite??), we made it to the entrance! The timestamp on my phone says we arrived at 3:24PM.

Tervetulua! (One of the only words I remember from the one solid week of Finnish I limped through on Duolingo.)

After getting our wristbands, we went STRAIGHT for Taiga which is located near the entrance so good for us, etc. etc. The queue itself was amazing, but since there was barely a line at all, we didn’t really get to take much of it in. I mean, I’m not complaining! Apparently, “taiga” is a type of bird in Finland, I think.

There was a brief line that we had to wait in only because it was one-train ops, and right away, we noticed that SAM from our Norden Coaster Trip was in line for the front row! He spotted us too and actually left his spot to run back and say hi to us and my heart, you guys. My heart. He fist-bumped Chooch and me, and then also Henry which was an “ugh why” moment, but still – it was so fun to see a familiar face!

He said he had been at the park all day and was just marathoning Taiga at this point, having already collected all of the other coaster creds. It was such a whirlwind – he IS SO HIGH ENERGY that all I remember was him just spraying us with excited sentiments while shaking his head in his That’s So Sam manner, telling us to look him up if we ever come to LA, and then running back to reclaim his spot. I didn’t even have a chance to ask him if he was with anyone! I guess not, because he was one of the singles on our trip. We somehow never saw him again after that so that was sad. :(

No^^^This one is a BIG NOPE. Imagine the most Wild Mouse-type of coaster you’ve been on, probably in like a mall parking lot for your local town’s traveling carnival, right? Where you’re thinking you’re gonna tip right over the edge every time it whips around a hairpin turn? Now imagine that same ride, but the car purposely tips and tilts as it careens along the track.

That’s this piece of shit ride.

IT WAS SO AWFUL.

Right next to it is the park’s power-coaster mine train which was fine! Henry was pissed though because Chooch and I left him in the dust and got on a train before him and he had to wait for the next one even though there was still room on ours?? He was acting like such a fucking martyr about it too. He PURPOSELY stayed back in line rather than follow us onto the platform. Well, his mistake because since he was on the train after ours, I was able to stand at the exit and film him riding a family coaster alone with a frown on his face :)  Video compilation to come!

STAN LOONA! It’s still crazy to me how worldwide popular Kpop is now. Also is it weird that I want to join the Kosogang without knowing anything about it?? I just spent an absurd amount of time thinking about it.

This was in line for the park’s Mauer spinning crazy mouse – SALAMA. Um….did I enjoy this ride better than Taiga?? I THINK I DID?? Don’t get me wrong, Taiga was great – great layout, great launch – but am I becoming too snobby?? Too hard to impress?? I think what I want to say is, come for Taiga, stay for the rest. Because honestly, if it wasn’t for Taiga, I’m not sure this park would have even been on our radar, and what a PITY (lol, I will never say that in full seriousness, has to be backed by major drama kid emotion) that would have been because damn you guys, just DAMN, this ended up being one of my favorite places on the whole trip.

Linnanmaki, you are a fucking BABE AND A HALF. Be my forever Valentine.

Chooch Up Close.

The family that ignores each other….fights less together? I dunno. Still seems like we fight a lot. However, we were like besties the entire time we were at Linnanmaki. It was just that good. Totally brought us together. Aw, the audience says collectively.

The garbage and recycling bins!! Love you, Finland.

Each section of the park was themed so well. The landscaping was on point. Bathrooms were spotless. Employees were delightful. There weren’t even any annoying park guests!

This is the subject of my current gem art project, which is twice as big as the ones I’ve done in the past so RIP my back. But yeah, you know I’m always down to clown. This darkride was fun and the cars were like suspended half eggs, which was very cool (I have video, you’ll see!) but overall it was just one scene after another of clowns doing stuff, like cleaning up elephant shit? It was nice but not very memorable. Except for the elephant shit part, I guess.

There’s another dark ride over by Taiga and THAT one was a real treat though! It was themed after a haunted hotel and I loved it.

Not as death-trappy as some of the other fun houses we got banged up in on the trip, but idiot Chooch temporarily lost his phone in the exit slide because it fell out of his pocket and didn’t make it all the way down the slide. Someone had to fetch it for him, he’s so embarrassing.

Some of the brakemasters that have worked on the famous Vuoristorata coaster! Chooch and I sat in the back, and I thought it was rather delightful, but apparently he and Henry didn’t care for it. Please watch this video – I am so happy that we got to ride two of these (three if the one in Bakken hadn’t recently been updated to eliminate the need for a brakeman!) on this trip. It’s a slice of history! It’s things like this that make amusement parks worth visiting when you’re traveling abroad – you get to experience things you can’t here in the US and isn’t that a huge reason to travel?? I need to remember the next time someone mocks me for planning vacations around roller coasters because up to now, my only comeback has been, “Shut up.”

Fuck this ride too!! Ukko, more like F-Ukko, amirite fellow 5th graders on the same humor level as me. You go up a vertical lift hill and then travel upside down for way too many seconds before finally reaching that twist in the track way up there. I was screaming you guys. Fucking screaming. ONE AND DONE for this broad.

I think I will end on that note for now, since I actually packed this post with LITERAL FACTS and shit, can you believe it?? I always want to go into these posts with all of the 411 but then I get lazy and it’s like, “Here are pictures, we rode stuff, Henry was mean and wouldn’t buy me xyz.”

Oct 272023
 

Spoiler but not: I end up crying, lol.

I kept seeing ads for a Pippi circus while we were in Stockholm!! The original Swedish Pippi movie was Kelly Family Favorite back in the 80s. My brother Ryan and I used to watch it A LOT and make fun of it, but also I was low-key terrified by it??

Yo, Grona Lund is so freaking beautiful. Vaguely reminiscent of Indiana Beach in that it sits along water, but um, obviously Stockholm trumps anything in Indiana (sorry, Indiana peoples) so I’m going to have to give Grona Lund the win here. The beautiful thing about nearly every park we visited on this trip is that they have so much aesthetic appeal and the rides are almost secondary to the experience of just BEING THERE. I can see Grona Lund being a place where people would go just to walk around, eat, enjoy being next to the water, bickering with people on Reddit over the Lost finale.

I don’t know, just seems like a peaceful locale to really settle in for some comment section belligerence.

They have THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DROP TOWERS. Calm down, Grona Lund.

Being tormented by MOMMY as usual. I think he was pissed because some of the cool guys from our group were sitting nearby, drinking beers and he didn’t want to be seen being mommy’s monkey.

Me looking old AF because news flash, this was not a chill, relaxing vacation lol.

We would be on that ferry in approx. 24 hours from when this picture was taken!

Yeah like imagine going here on a date, you know? Shit, son, how romantic!

If I had brought the good camera into the park with us, I would have made Chooch stand here for senior portraits. What a missed opportunity. Notable about this bridge though is that it was the FIRST TIME of the trip we had a convo with Alex from Coaster Spot! Well, technically Chooch had previously conversed with him AND ridden with him too probably, OK cool guy.

But anyway, he was filming stuff and then stopped to say something to us, I can’t remember what, but we started chatting and then I blurted out ARE YOU COASTER SPOT and he very reluctantly admitted that yes, yes he is. I’m a subscriber of his YouTube channel but he is notoriously ALWAYS behind the camera and usually only films his wife. I had THOUGHT that they were going to be on this trip but then when 2 days passed and I never saw his wife, I figured they didn’t come. But then SOMEONE on the bus said he was on the trip and I was like, “WHAT.” One day, Henry was standing near him and recognized his voice and said to me later, “Hey I think that’s Coaster Spot” and I was like, “no way, his wife isn’t here…” but yeah, it really was him! Anyway, he very bitterly said, “[XXXXX] outed me” and I said, “Yup,  that’s exactly how I heard you were here.”

Apparently, that same person is an absolute menace to coaster personalities on the internet and a lot of them had to block him. But it was a bonding moment, lol. And then he said, “You should have talked to me sooner!” and I wanted to be like, “Well, you were always with the girl who hates me, so.”

He hasn’t posted a single video yet from this trip but I’m really looking forward to it because he does a lot of walk-thrus whereas the other guys heavily edit theirs. I want to be able to relive more of the experience by watching someone’s walk-thru!!

Stockholm carouselfie!! This carousel was a tiny baby thing.

We had fun in kiddie land!

I think LARRY took this! We were riding with Dawn, Robert, Arnold and Eamon!

Plus a random dad and kid who got stuck riding this with a bunch of Coaster Crew dumbos lol. We kept hand-slapping every time we went around a bend since the train would curve, but I could never reach anyone!!

Chooch and I caused a scene when we rode this and were the only ones who couldn’t get their elephant to fly. People were laughing at us and I really wanted to bury my head in the sand, or in Dumbo’s butt.

Random collection of Beatles artifacts.

Two shots of my LICORICE ICE CREAM with LICORICE TOPPING.

Wow, Henry is so cool.

At one point, Chooch and I were in line for something and looked down (a lot of the rides have elevated stations) and saw Marshall sitting on a bench, smoking. “Did he even ride anything on this trip?” Chooch mused out loud. “All I ever see him doing is sitting down and smoking. ‘Hmm, I wonder what it would be like to smoke cigarettes in Sweden. *signs up for trip*'”

This trip turned Chooch into a stand-up comic. I mean, he’s always made me laugh, but this was next level guffawing.

GUFFAWHAWHAW.

We made Henry go on the fairy dark ride since he skipped out the first time and it was his favorite ride at Grona Lund in case you needed it to support the Henry’s Nude Fairy Fetish section of your “Henry: Inside the Mind of a Man & His Beard” dissertation.

Man, did this day go by quick. (You would never know based on how long it took me to recap it, Jesus Christ, get it together, Erin.) But I will always remember how it ended: It was getting close to the end of the night so we decided to get a final ride on Monster. It was a walk-on for the back row and Sam ran over and asked if he could ride with us. Of course we said yes! That kid is soooo full-throttle adrenaline, I swear to god. It’s contagious. So we were all pumped up by the time we returned to the station and the ride attendants said we could stay on if no one was waiting for our row. NO ONE WAS! So me, Chooch, and Sam stayed on but Cry Baby Henry got off. That was fine though because Dewey came and sat with me! It was my first time talking to him the whole trip so we bonded as best as we could in the short amount of time we had left.

“I really think I’m going to cry!” I yelled across my restraints. And he said, “I know, I can’t believe it’s our last night!”

And you guys. You guys. You guys you guys you guys. Almost the whole train was Coaster Crew, last ride of the night, and we were shrieking, “Coaster Crew! Coaster Crew!”

It was so fucking wholesome. So pure. And Henry missed it!

After that, we all gathered around near the front of the park, waiting to get back on the bus. It was a sad drive back to the Sheraton. A bunch of us talked outside while Tim handed out our room keys and then we had to go to the luggage storage room to grab our shit because we had dropped everything off prior to going to Grona Lund since we weren’t going to have the same bus bringing us back. Or something. I can’t remember. This is a boring detail anyway.

I made Chooch take pictures of Pam and me. I MISS HER MOST OF ALL. I’m crying right now, LOL. Ugh.

Anyway, after this, I gave Tim the special Liseberg print I got him with the thank you note I scribbled on the back. He was like, “Should I read this now?” and I screamed “NO!!” but the gesture alone made him tear up and then I teared up and then we were both tearing up and hugging and he called us a sweet family which made me laugh but it came out as a blubber on account of all the tearing up.

Jesus Christ, I can’t handle it. There wasn’t much more that I wanted to say here but I will include it in the beginning of the next post which was A PARK-FREE day, can you even believe it?? And I will leave you with this comprehensive video of the second half of this day. I will warn you – the beginning of this is a LOT of “bus window scenery” content. SORRY but I thought everything was so beautiful and I didn’t want to forget it OK?? Sue me.

Oct 252023
 

Henry and I went to Kennywood last Thursday after work. It was a pretty good time, minimal crowds, some terrific night rides on Phantom which is honestly the only reason we even went.

Not too much to report, but I did take some pictures on Lapse and just finally figured out how to save them to my camera roll rather than screenshotting them which was turning them into tiny-tots.

IN LINE FOR JACK RABBIT. Fun fact: I have been riding this literally since I was like 5 probably and I still to this day can’t keep both my hands up on the double dip. I always scream, “HAHAHA I CAN’T! I CAN’T DO IT!! HAHAHAHA!” and then, you know, I don’t do it.

This haunt was called Dark Shadows. It was fine. However, when we were in line for the haunt next to it, some hospital thing that was actually REALLY FUN and I was SHOCKED because KENNYWOOD, there was this totally annoying middle aged broad (I know, I described myself) in front of us, and I knew she was a Karen before she even revealed herself to be a Karen a few minutes later by telling the TOTALLY DISINTERESTED guy she was about how LAST YEAR she went into the Dark Shadows haunt and it was SO DARK SHE COULDN’T SEE so she USED HER PHONE TO SEE and one of the scare actors told her TO PUT HER PHONE AWAY. She COULDN’T BELIEVE THE AUDACITY! How was she was SUPPOSED TO SEE in the HAUNTED HOUSE that is literally made so that ONE CANNOT SEE??

The guy she was with barely grunted in response, in fact, it might have been him swallowing a burp and not actually reacting to her KAREN KARENOWOLSKI complaint because I have a feeling Guy wasn’t even listening to her bitch fest. Fuck off.

The only reason we came!! The ride crew was ON FIRE. They were so efficient and had a goal to NOT STACK THE TRAINS which was nuts considering that it was a walk-on all night. When Phantom has the elite crew working, BRACE YOURSELF. Because they’re gon’ send you before you even have time to miss the phone you left behind.

NO TRIMS!!

I think I spent the entire night talking and worrying about our new neighbors. I might be obsessed. I can’t tell if Henry is annoyed with me yet or if he truly is just immune to my emotional chaos anymore.

Well guys, that’s about all I have to say about that. A fun evening but not very eventful unless you want me to write an essay on my love for Phantom and how it gets stronger at night. Because I will do that. We left around 8:30 and went to Sheetz for snacks because there was nothing at Kennywood that seemed appealing.

Oct 242023
 

Before I continue onto part 2 of Grona Lund, I want to tell you about the craziest, most terrifying, and BEST MOTHERWHOMPING fun house I have EVER conquered. But let me tell you – that mother almost conquered ME. Those steps in the beginning?? I have never done ones that were this steep and intense but when I say I couldn’t get a groove and almost fell backward twice – I’m not kidding you guys, I probably would have had to go to the hospital. Or worse.

I had the whole “I dreamt I was falling” full body shudder / panic as I started to fall back and I have never grabbed on to anything so tight before in my life.

Whooooo boy. And you people thought I was going to die on a shady Nordic coaster. Nope. Moving funhouse steps? Way more likely.

By the time I got NEARLY to the top, I got a rhythm going and figured out how to just ride it out by coasting on one step at a time. I had no game plan or strategy when I started at the bottom, just forged ahead like gangbusters, and nearly did a full split as the steps pulled my legs in opposite directions and just…kept going.

That was unpleasant.

Shit you guys – this was probably the best fun house I’ve been in. I haven’t done any of the other crazy ones in Germany or Prater in Vienna, though. So, for now, I think this is my #1 as far as fun houses go, lol. And the best part is that you’re in there for a substantial amount of time!

The grand finale slide thing called for a souvenir magnet.

Oct 232023
 

Guys, this is it. We’ve reached the last part of the Coaster Crew portion of our Scandinavia & Beyond coaster trip. I was so excited to get to Stockholm, but hoo-boy was it bittersweet!

On the drive to Grona Lund from Kolmarden, I was whisper-hissing back and forth to Chooch from across the aisle of the bus because we HAD to give away some of the chocolate he won at Liseberg. I mean, it was either that or bring upon extreme diarrhea trying to eat it all ourselves rather than try and fly home with it in a few days. That giant box had FOUR DOUBLE-LAYERED boxes inside of it. So much chocolate. And you guys, it was GOOD chocolate too. I think I mentioned this already but when I looked those assortment boxes up online, they sell for over $30 a box.

And we had FOUR of them.

We kept two for ourselves and I passed around the other two to everyone on the bus because I am apparently the spokesperson of our family. Chooch REFUSED to initiate this chocolate-sharing experience. Some of the REALLY COOL GUYS were sitting in front of me and I was SWEATING. Aside from Mark and Hunter, I didn’t really make much contact with these guys so I was like, “ARE THEY GOING TO SNEER AT ME AND BE LIKE WHY WOULD WE WANT YOUR CHOCOLATE, LADY?” But no! It was the opposite! I tapped one of them (Jeremy I think?) on the shoulder and said, “Hey, do you guys want to take some of this and pass it around? We can’t take all of this home with us!” and they were like “YES PLEASE YAY CHOCOLATE!” I gave the other box to the guys behind me (who I was shipping so hard, btw) and they each selected a piece and passed it back like you normally would, while the cool guys in front of us were taking this VERY SERIOUSLY, reading every description, discussing amongst themselves…Chooch texted me and was like, “Good one, they’re never going to pass it on.” They did though and we STILL ended up having some chocolate left in one of the boxes.

It was so fun though, hearing everyone being stoked for surprise bus chocolates.

This is why I love group trips! We gotta start doing these more. There are benefits to also traveling solo / without a tour group, but being on this bus with these amazing people really made me sentimental. I loved the organized group trips of my youth, like when I met Olivia, had my first Older Man Crush, and made possibly my first Frenemy, Steve.

We took this group picture as soon as we entered the park and I was like, “Goddammit, don’t cry.” Also, another picture where the Oh Honestlys are not together, LOLOLOL. Seriously, we probably were known behind our backs as the Family Who Was Always Fighting, lol. (To be fair, we actually did not fight that often!) But I think this is a true testament to how comfortable we had become with the group that we didn’t need to be attached to each other like lemmings like we usually are at home.

Coaster Crew: Norden Sub-Crew 4L.

But yeah, Grona Lund, baby! I have watched so much YouTube content of this place over the years that I truly built it up so much in my head. Did it live up? Actually, although it was SMALLER than I imagined, it was more magical than I could have dreamed. It’s located on one of the many archipelagos of Stockholm! One of the ways to access it is by ferry, which we would actually do the next day because there were other things we wanted to do on this particular archipelago (a word that will never not be difficult for me to say, spell, remember. Pretty sure I called it an archbishop at one point).

Views of Monster, the new B&M invert, as soon as you enter. Cameras out: Thoosies gon’ thoosie.

One of the many little alleys of Grona Lund. And more chocolate roulette!

I think there are THREE drop towers here. Insane.

Our first credit was Vilda Musen – Wild Mouse! The people in front of us are Lucas and his friend whose name I never learned but they were sitting on the bus facing us on the way to Kolmarden and coughed the whole time and I’m 100% sure they got me and Chooch sick. Anyway, we rode this with them (I can’t remember how we got separated from Henry – OH I KNOW it’s because we told the ride attendent there were two of us and she sent Chooch and me on the same car as those two and we left Henry behind hahaha) and I said, “Hey it’s our first time riding together, you guys!” and they were like, “Mm heh.”

My giddy charm didn’t penetrate everyone on this trip, sadly.

Ew, I took this for Corey and I don’t think I ever sent it to him but we HATE Machine Gun Kelly and I wanted him to see that he performed there a month prior to us visiting. Ugh. Grona Lund actually holds some pretty amazing concerts. My Chemical Romance even played there!

Oh real quick another fun fact about Grona Lund that I didn’t know until I watched Airtime Thrills’ Kolmarden vlog, but they were actually the park in talks with RMC but since they didn’t have enough room to spare, they BOUGHT land in Kolmarden and had RMC build Wildfire there. In case you were wondering how a zoo in Sweden randomly became home to one of the best coasters in the world.

You know, it might come up one day. At a brewery trivia or something. And then you might win a giftcard to said brewery because that was the question that propelled you to first place. So, you know where to send the THANK CARD. (Or maybe not. But I will give you my address if you ask because I like getting mail.)

(Maybe I’ll just give you Janna’s address because I have been muy paranoid lately.)

Henry and his new family.

The Wild Mouse was pretty good but also scary because these ones always terrify me because of the jankiness. But real talk, if you can see that blue track that interacts with the Wild Mouse track, that belongs to Jetline, a coaster that’s currently standing-but-not-operating (SBNO) because of a fatal accident that occurred literally about a month or two before our trip. Never want to hear about anything tragic happening in a place meant for people to have fun. I don’t know what happened. I tend to cover my ears and sing the LA LA LA song rather than face reality, but man my heart goes out to her family. I think she was a mom there with her kids?

I actually hadn’t heard a thing about this at first but my sister sent me a link to the article and was like DON’T RIDE THIS WHEN YOU’RE THERE. :/

The facade a Kvasten (The Broom), a Vekoma suspended family coaster that was actually a real fucking delight! From the creepy witch hunt station to the smooth ride experience, I highly enjoyed this one! Henry didn’t ride it because he’s a little bitch and thought it was going to be like a shitty Vekoma SLC, so his loss.

Grona Lund is so goddamn charming, I can’t.

The station for Monster was impeccably themed! Also, it was pretty much a walk-on all evening.

House of Nightmares was an upcharge haunted walk-thru – of course we did it. It was decent! Better some of the ones over here that we go to during haunted house season, honestly, and I feel like it was only an extra $5 for each of us? I know it couldn’t have been that much if Frugal Henry opted in.

Basically, this joint has facades on lock. I really felt like I was in another land. I mean, I *was* in another land to me, but you know what I mean. The whole park had fairy tale vibes. Not quite Grimm’s but a similar feel, if you know what I mean? You smrobly don’t and that’s OK.

OK but pretend like you knew what I meant up there and now apply taht aesthetic to the dark rides here at Grona Lund because holy shit. HOLY SHIT. I wish I was still a member of the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts club so I could tell them all about these dark rides of Scandinavia and Finland at their next meeting j/k they didn’t have meetings when I was a member, just events at various parks where the group leader acted like he had no idea who I was even though we interacted with each other for years on Facebook and we visited his home haunt one October?!?

He’s no Tim, that’s for damn sure.

Looking at these photos has me nearly in tears. If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the Grona Lund vibes.

I wish the front of my house looked like this :(

And I wish all of the ceilings in my house looked like this. :(

This is Jetline :/ (The blue track.)

Us having no idea what we were in for.

Us coming out with lots to think about….More on this one later – I have pictures and some video too I think which I’ll put in PART 2 like that’s actually enough to entice you to come back for seconds.

Honestly though. You can keep your shooter dark rides. I want more vintage dark rides like these, please. I wish Kennywood hadn’t:

  1. let Le Cachot burn down;
  2. turned Gold Rusher into a dumb shooter ride;
  3. ruined the Old Mill repeatedly

Come on, Kennywood. Give us an old-ass Sally Darkride with pretzel cars and a musty water smell.

Post-faux-chicken nuggets. I was annoyed because Grona Lund had legit restaurants, but we ate at one of the fast food type of joints probably because Chooch was crying about it. Also, he was probably quoting Mark here for the thousandth time, saying, “Guys, I’m going to marathon Insane all night.”

Insane, by the way, was one of the most fucked up coasters I’ve ever ridden. It’s an Intamin Zack Spin, and well, it was Insane. Plus, I had to pee AND ALMOST PEED MY PANTS ON A COASTER FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, AT THE AGE OF 44.

Which, you know, would make just as much sense if I were 4. I can barely sneeze or, I dunno, do jumping jacks without the risk of peeing my pants these days.

The view from the chicken nugget place. Grona Lund, you da best, girl.

OK, second part forthcoming! Keep prolonging the inevitable, Erin! The trip came to an end, it’s BEEN DONE. Move on with your life. Shit.

FUCK.