Sep 252021
 

Maybe you remember last year, right after the pandemic started, I reposted my old Indiana Beach blog posts as a tribute to the park after it was announced that the 2019 was the last season and they were officially shuttering. I was gutted over this! Sure, Indiana Beach isn’t Six Flags-level by any means but I remembered it to be a really quaint and quirky park, perched on a scenic lake, laden with Midwest charm and friendly staff. Back then, we had been lured there by the promise of dark rides, and it did not disappoint in that department.

I had barley even finished pouring one out for this lakeside park when it was announced that some rich-ass businessman in Chicago, Gene Staples, had granted the wishes of thousands of thoosies around the country by writing a check and saving this park’s ass. (And also a park in NJ and NY too! Gene Staples, you da man. Wish you had bought Conneaut too, since whoever the asshole is that “saved” that place has been busy selling off rides left and right. Asshole.)

Because I am constantly in a state of panic about RUNNING OUT OF TIME, I suggested rather spontaneously that we revisit this cute boardwalk resort and Henry was like, “OK fine twist my arm” because he is actually really into going to amusement parks lately – I think he’s having a midlife crisis if we’re being honest, and if he would rather work that out by riding rollercoasters instead of throwing down for a Mustang or a Harley, then I am happy to hold his hand through this…season of his life.

(The A Beautiful Mess broads use that saying for everything and I want to scream. “We gave up on our AirBNB dreams because it just wasn’t the right season of our lives” – OK if that’s how you want to sugarcoat zoning issues, cool. Cool cool.)

So anyway, that’s why we were in Indiana last weekend! We left Friday as soon as I logged off work, stayed overnight in Dayton, and then made it to Indiana Beach right as they opened at 11. (After driving past miles and miles of cornfields and wind turbines, literally like the good folks in Indiana decided to construct lifesized dioramas of  my nightmares for my window-viewing pleasure. I was screaming! Chooch even googled it because he thought for sure this had to be one of the most wind turbined-areas in  the US but it apparently Indiana only has a combined 2000-some, whereas the state that takes the top spot, Texas, has over 30,000. I’m gagging. You just can’t see me.)

Last time we visited, we knew NOTHING about this place, but since joining the Coaster Community, we learned that we parked in the wrong lot last time. For some reason, GPS will always lead you to the side lot which is NOT the main entrance. The good entrance has you crossing over a swaying bridge across Lake Shafer, with the most excellent views of three of  the park’s coasters. It was beautiful. If you ever go there, ignore the GPS and get yourself to the main entrance instead! (I actually don’t know how Henry got there, I was too busy listening to Taemin.)

One of the unique things about this place is that rides are built on top of each other, on top of snack bars, literally in the lake….it’s just a jumble of tracks and supports and it’s really crazy to see!  I actually forgot about that.

It was like 87 degrees and I definitely forgot to stay properly hydrated. Kids, drink your water. Don’t be distracted by all of the RIDES like I was. Also, Henry: be a better guardian. Thanks

There was a healthy crowd that day but I have no idea where everyone was going or what they were doing because nearly every ride, coasters includes, were walk-ons or station waits. There must be some townie secret that I was not privy to. Also, this “boardwalk” was adorable but was it as nice as WILDWOOD? No, Mary. The answer is NO.

I just loved the color scheme here! I took this picture from the train, which winds all around under coaster tracks and goes next to the antique car route and through a tunnel cut into Frankenstein’s Castle and right along the lake. I mean it was still kind of boring because it’s a train ride but it was cool to see the park from that perspective.

LOOK AT HOW THE  TRACK GOES RIGHT OVER THE LAKE!!!!??? I was so confused and then Henry started to explain construction things to me and I was like, “yeah I’m not actually that interested but nice try. Put the protractor back in your pocket, buddy.”

The website is all AND COME SHOP AT THE BOARDWALK SHOPS but there really wasn’t much I wanted to buy, lol. Not quite my aesthetic.

This crow in 1930s men’s swimwear is their mascot! (I guess at the year, I have no idea but I know men used to wear strange two-piece suits at the beach back in the olden days because I have eyeballs and have seen photographs. And that is what I pass off as “research” on these pages.)

I’ll do separate posts for the rides and food and whatever, but I took so many pictures of just the park itself that I really wanted to designate one entire post to just that, especially after we had that PARK IS CLOSED FOREVER scare in 2020. I’m super obsessive about MEMORIES and DOCUMENTATION and even if Indiana Beach does go belly-up at some point, at least I can contribute to the pictures that remain floating around in its honor.

I wish that my family took more pictures of the boardwalk all those times we went to Wildwood because most of those rides are gone and I think at least one or two of the actual piers are gone too. I also wish I had more pictures from Kennywood from the 80s and 90s. It’s so different there now and definitely not in a good way. :(

The park closed at 7 (7!!! OK fine, I guess it is technically off-season now.) so I didn’t get to capture any good night shots with the lights on but it sure did look pretty at dusk, I also had to laugh because Henry acted like we were only going to stay for a few hours and we closed that bitch down. Chooch and I got the last ride of the night on the Flying Bobs, which I found myself heavily fixating on the motor and the wheels that run seemingly haphazardly along the track next to the ride.

But it’s so pretty, even with the threat of perishing!

Of course Chooch and I fought no less than a dozen times but it sure was a pleasant day, regardless. Henry keeps telling me to just ignore him when he gets in his shitty moods and I am trying but I am a Leo and I eat shitty moods for snacks. So this arrangement doesn’t always play out well. It is my nature to thrive off the negative vibes of others.

Oh wait, this isn’t my paper diary. K, bye!

Sep 212021
 

A few years ago (2014, I think??), we went to Indiana Beach in Monticello, IN upon my insistence and relentless begging. We stayed in a town called Logansport which was not on my radar at all, until we randomly ate at a family-run fast-food establishment called MR. HAPPY BURGER and I became o-b-s-e-s-s-e-d that I demanded we eat at the second location as well AND I bought a commemorative t-shirt. I know, everything in this paragraph sounds so unlike me!

We semi-spontaneously revisited Indiana Beach over the weekend and I was almost as excited to go back to Mr. Happy Burger! It wasn’t that the food was amazing, but they did have grilled cheese on the menu which is almost unheard of for a burger-centric fast food joint, so that was a huge plus for me and Chooch, but it was mostly the VIBES, you guys. You know I’m all about the VIBES.

Sadly, the owner of Mr. Happy Burger recently decided to retire and put one of the locations up for sale. We drove past it and I will admit that I had a fleeting desire to buy that bitch up and rebrand it as Miss Happy Veggie Burger, the vegan mistress of Mr. Happy Burger.

But, I don’t think  that would be very well-received in that part of Indiana, lol.

Oh shit bitches, get ready to grill up some cheeses, because we’re back.

(I tried so hard to get Henry to order a Mr. Pib with his burger but he wouldn’t do it. The cashier was not amused. She had this dour, “Just fucking pick a bev” look on her face.)

There was a small group sitting a few tables over and one of them had just completed an 8-scoop ice cream challenge, not sanctioned by Mr Happy Burger.

“And he ate a double burger, too!” one of the people in his party exclaimed for everyone within earshot.

“Now I gotta go and drink some beer,” he said, completely unimpressed with himself, as they left the building.

Oh, Indiana.

There is something about orange and green as a color combo that is horrific and nostalgic all at once.  I declared that I was going to keep one of the fry wrappers and made a big production of dumping all the crumbs and salt specks onto the table, and then smoothing it out tenderly. I left it off to  the side, on the table, but then HENRY THE OBLIVIOUS put it on the tray with all the trash and I unknowingly threw it out, THANKS HENRY THE OBLIV.

I got really upset about this and he was like I WILL FIX IT, HOLD PLEASE and went back to the dour cashier and went through this whole awkward and confusing exchange before she finally understood what he wanted and he proudly returned to me with a clean wrapper in his hand, like a Viking returning home to his fur-wrapped woman, waving the head of the enemy on a spear.

Cool story, Henry.

I also wanted to get an orange version of the Haps shirt, but Henry just frowned and of course I didn’t have my wallet.

Their grilled cheese is better than most grilled cheeses I’ve had at diners and other restaurants. For instance, we were recently at Hyde’s in Cincinnati and the grilled cheese we both had there was so fucking pitiful, I can’t even believe they charged us for it. It was like they made it with scrap bread slices, and split one entire piece of cheese between mine and Chooch’s. I mean, I could make a better grilled cheese and we all know that’s saying a lot!

But Mr. Happy Burger serves up a substantial grilled cheese with a decent bread:cheese ratio. The bread is thick and buttery, and the cheese is actually thoroughly melted and not just a limp, cold slice between two half-toasted bread rejects.

I Just Said No to ice cream all day at Indiana Beach because I remembered that Mr. Happy has an ice cream parlor in the location that remained open. I dunno why but at the last minute, I happened to see a small menu of froyo flavors taped to the ice cream display. My eyes flickered across the “banana pecan” option and I thought, “bitch why not” so that’s what I ordered, and then almost immediately had remorse but I returned to our table, determined to live with my choice.

Yo, they actually blend up their froyos on the spot, boy! I watched that young ice cream princess cut up a banana and everything. And that was one BITCHIN’ cup of froyo, and also a flavor combo  that I wouldn’t have immediately paired together on my own. Apparently, the ice cream girls aren’t used to getting that as an order either because they had to double check with Henry after I sat back down and they made an unsure, “hmm, ok” face.

Henry for some reason also went the low fat froyo route and went with pineapple coconut. OH SHIT, YOU GUYS, that was motherfucking divine too! I took several hearty spoonfuls of it and felt like I had been personally transported to a beach in a first class seat on the Mr. Happy Burger train. Refreshing! Tropical! Exotic! Without even leaving Logansport, Indiana.

Dang, Mr. Happy Burger, please don’t leave. Surely someone in the Mr. Happy family wants to see the legacy live on!?

Oh, I contemplated bringing my Haps shirt on the trip but is that adjacent to the tackiness of wearing the band’s shirt to their concert? Sike, I don’t really care about that but I just truly forgot to pack it, lol.

 

Um, I never actually realized how lumpy that HB logo is. Is it supposed to be a burger? Mr. Happy himself? A potato??

Sep 162021
 

I’m not going to lie: I was HANGRY by the time we left Great Escape. I mean, we were in the middle of a line for the little antique car ride thing and I cried uncle. I just needed to leave and stuff food in my maw.

Surely someone out there can relate to this, but I often get so HUNGRY that I actually don’t even register the hunger and go straight to crimson-vision Murder Town where the only thing that seems tasty to me is lacerating the feelings of everyone around me with my silver-tongued vitriol.

Well, that’s what was happening Sunday evening when Henry rolled up to the pre-determined diner of his choice and we made it as far as the vestibule before I shouted about not wanting to eat there and stomped back off to the car.

TRAVELING WITH ERIN! The sign-up sheet is behind Todd’s desk.

(Sorry. That’s where they always put the sign-up sheets food parties at work BACK WHEN WE SHARED OFFICE AIR AND FOOD, I barely remember.)

Henry, you would think, should be used to this by now but he still gets a bee up his butt when I show signs of distress or discontent. Like hello maybe try harder to impress and satisfy me while simultaneously squashing my hunger, bitch. So he started to just angrily drive aimlessly around this foreign part of New York while Chooch was in the backseat mumbling, “Here we go.” Ah, family road trips!

He drove back past Great Escape.

Past the road he should have taken to get back to our hotel in Utica.

Past some annoying Outlets which had Chooch screaming because OMG Adidas.

Past…wait—these mini golf places are fucking cool.

IS THAT A SMALL AMUSEMENT PARK OVER THERE.

I actually gasped out loud at one point, to my horror, because Erin-Pouts-A-Lot was still very much in the throes of The Silent Treatment portion of that Sunday’s tantrum du jour.

Ah yes, my friends, Henry had unknowingly driven us right into the tourist trap of LAKE GEORGE. I had never heard of this so-called LAKE WITH THE MAN’S NAME but from the car window, it appeared to be a Pigeon Forge Lite and I desperately needed Henry to stop the car, but instead of just asking him to, you know, stop the car like a regular, functioning grown-up would, I had to play my little baby games with him by saying things like, “Wow OK cool you just passed up like 7 places where we could have eaten, but sure, just keep driving” and “A real man would have parked the car by now” and “Oh wait, I keep forgetting that you’re too cheap to take your family to a place like this.”

LOL wow it’s really amazing that he didn’t park the car in the middle of the street solely to dump my body in the lake.

Anyway, we went back and forth like this for a while, with him saying, “I SAID I AM LOOKING FOR A PARKING SPOT” and me saying, “OH JUST FORGET IT” and then him finally finding a parking spot and me complaining because I wasn’t wearing nicer shoes for the LAKE GEORGE EXPERIENCE and Chooch saying, “Hello, remember me? The growing boy who sincerely needs to be fed?”

Things calmed down very quickly once we parked, but I found it odd that while we were standing in front of the parking meter, two separate old guys basically pushed us out of the way so they could use it, and they were dumping POCKETSFULL of quarters into that thing while complaining about how it didn’t work?? One of them came back and asked us, “Did you get it to work?” and Henry was like, “Uh yeah, I used the app.”

Dumb old people.

And then right off the bat, we lost Chooch to an arcade.

We were all so hungry but I wanted to walk around while it was still light out.

I never would have thought of myself as A LAKE PERSON but I liked what I saw and now I’m desperate to go back and do LAKE THINGS as long as I don’t have to actually GO INTO THE LAKE. I want to go on one of the big boat cruise things they have though!

This reminded me so much of Europe! Probably the closest I’ll get to that in a while, fucking covid.

There’s a lot of Native American history ’round these parts. Maybe if we come and go on one of the BOAT TOURS, we will learn stuff.

Chooch spotted some Italian restaurant called Mezza Luna and his taste buds imprinted on it immediately. We had no choice but to dine here, and it was pretty decent!

MIRROR SELFIE.

There was some King of Queens asshole sitting in a nearby booth bragging to his date about how much his collectible nerd toys cost (Chooch whipped around in his seat to look at him when he price-dropped something in his collection and it was SO OBVIOUS, thanks Chooch). I couldn’t wait for him to leave because he kept doing a powerful trucker-sniffle and I cannot stand that shit, ugh.

I haven’t had pasta in a hot minute, yo, and I was pretty happy. Chooch and Henry both got different personal pizzas and our some-kind-of-European-accented waiter DENNY brought us plates to share.  Then he dropped a plate over by the bar and Henry and I both murmured, “Good job, Denny” at the same time – I hate when we’re on the same wavelength when I’m still trying to be mad at him!!

When we got the check, we marveled over the fact that it was only $10 more than the total from when Henry and Chooch had dinner at lame-ass Eat n Park several weeks ago. Look, Eat n Park, you ain’t worth all that, ok.

THEN WE WENT TO THE HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN!! Usually Henry frowns upon these things but he actually was like, “Fine, let’s do it.” I think Henry is really changing, you guys. It’s almost like he WANTS to have fun now??

I took this by accident but thought it was cool. I bet that snot-suckler at Mezza Luna knows how much these monster figurines are worth.

Anyway, this place was so much better than anticipated! You just walk through and peer into various windows to have your mind blown with the macabre, you know?

The only bad part was when the family behind caught up to us because they were practically running past everything instead of taking the time to really let the sinister vignettes simmer into their system. The patriarch (dad? grandpa?) of the crew was practically leering over Henry’s shoulder and it was so uncomfortable. Like, just go around us, assholes! We were actually trying to enjoy what Frankenstein had to offer.

Then Henry and Chooch got ice cream and I was going to as well but the dour girls working the scoop zone didn’t inspire me much. I have slight regertz now though because Chooch let me taste his ice cream and it was really good and he raved for the rest of  the night about how it might have been the best ice cream he’s ever had, but it was definitely the best waffle and I was like, “OK I GET IT, I FUCKED UP. TOO LATE NOW.”

Chooch kept saying this in a leprechaun voice, like “pray to me god” instead of “pray to my god” and I couldn’t stop cracking up over it.

Then we drove back to the ice cream place across from Great Escape so I could get this supposedly famous Dandee Creme that was featured on the Today Show.

Of course Henry picked the slowest line because we were behind a group that all ordered milk shakes. That was OK though because I kept wavering on what flavor I wanted and at the last minute went with raspberry and chocolate twist with sprinkles.

It was OK! I’ve had a lot of soft serve and custard in my days so I’m not sure if this really has that write-home-ability to it but it got the job done. This was a SMALL size though and I wish I had known they were that big so I could have went with the kid cone because woo-wee. That put a lot of junk in my trunk at 9:30pm at night. Yikes.

Then we had to drive nearly two hours back to our hotel in Utica, so that was tons of fun for Henry, haha!

But overall, wow Lake George, way to salvage an evening that was quickly going south! I am so dead-set on returning that I already had a travel guide mailed to us, haha. Let’s gooooo.

Sep 122021
 

Since Seabreeze was such a small park, we decided to just do a half day there and then drive another hour or so away to Sylvan Beach, a small little resort village on Lake Oneida which is similar in some ways to our Conneaut Lake Park in that the area is pretty but the amusement park is janky AF. Sylvan Beach’s park was even smaller than Conneaut’s but I ended up loving this place so much more. The vibes were solid.

And the colors were poppin’!

This is one of those places where you can either pay for a ride-all-day wristband (not worth it unless you’re a small child because the bulk of the rides were kiddie rides) so we just calculated how many tickets we’d need to knock out the rides we came to ride: the carnival-scale roller coaster called Galaxi, the Rotor, Laffland (a Pretzel darkride!!!), and one or two flat rides. SADLY, Galaxi was closed because it’s being repainted – no idea why they wouldn’t wait until the off-season to accomplish this, but you do you, Sylvan Beach. And the Rotor was also inexplicably closed. So, that was sad but we still managed to eke out a good three hours at this place, somehow, and had a lot of fun.

There was a sign on the ticket booth that said something like, “Just stand in front of the ride you want to ride and a ride operator will be over shortly.” It was that kind of a place, lol.

The first item on the agenda was FOOD. We didn’t eat at Seabreeze and were running off of vegan donut-fumes at that point. Henry went right up to some old man and asked him where he got the pizza that he was in the process of raising up to his lips, way to be a rude-ass, Henry. The guy pointed us to KAHUNA’S, where Henry went hogwild and ordered a whole cheese pizza and fries. Wow, don’t hold back, Big Guy. But then we had time to kill so we went to the nearby arcade, which apparently isn’t affiliated with Sylvan Beach but sure does enjoy that prime location right smack in the middle of this place.

You guys, I am SO SICK of Chooch’s obsession with arcades. When will it end?? Will it just eventually morph into a gambling addiction? Are Las Vegas benders in his future?? And there were like THREE separate arcades here too, I wanted to die.

Some older man walked past us at one point and dropped a quarter. Henry picked it up and tried to hand it back to him, but he dropped it again and said with a creepy, puddin’ face, “It’s for the kids.” We were like OK buddy but Chooch was like, “Wait, really??” and noticed that some young child was following in the guy’s wake, snatching up the purposely-discarded questers, so then Chocoh decided to get in on this action too and started beating the kid to the punch.

Wow, Chooch was getting some DEATH GLARES from that little kid.

Anyway, turns out that that kid was the son of the Quarter Dropper, so good fucking job, Chooch, you thief.

Meanwhile, Henry kept saying, “How hasn’t he run out of quarters yet?” OH FOR GOD’S SAKE, HENRY, KEEP UP!

Henry’s fries were done before the pizza. We stole a bunch before Henry sent us off. “GO RIDE SOMETHING WHILE WE’RE WAITING FOR THIS PIZZA!” he demanded, because he was sick of us, I guess. Even the Henrys of the world need some quiet time.

I wanted to ride this contraption called Tip Top, which appeared to be something akin to Tea Cups, but nope. So much worse. First, though, we had to wait for the ride operator over at the Tilt-a-Whirl to finish her cycle before coming over to operate the Tip Top.

Oh also, it took forever to even start the ride because two little girls were standing on the ride platform looking lost so  the ride operator came over and was like, “Hello, please sit down” and the older of the two was like, “She wants to sit in the blue one because blue is her favorite color, but…” and then pointed the already-occupied blue one. So the ride operator was like, “Aw, well how about this nice pink one right here” and the older one was like, “Blue is her favorite color” and the younger one was on the verge of crying and I kind of wanted her too because sometimes I think I feed off of children’s disappointment. Anyway, this went on forever and I was like, “COME  THE FUCK ON I WANT TO RIDE THIS THING AND EAT MY PIZZA JUST TELL THE BITCH THAT THE PINK ONE IS A RARE SHADE OF BLUE” but they ended up getting off the ride like little bitches.

Idiots.

OMG this ride was so scary. First of all, it started out Teacup-esque, where it just spins in a circle while you make your own car spin too. But then the whole platform (which was basically made of PLYWOOD) tilts up and does all kinds of other tilt-y, unsafe things and I was SCREAMING. Mostly because I felt v. unsafe and then I thought Chooch was going to fall out of the opening in our car and so he started purposely flailing around and I was like THIS IS HOW PEOPLE DIE and the ride operator wasn’t stopping the ride after like 55 rotations WHY WASN’T SHE STOPPING THE RIDE.

It was a JOURNEY.

Meanwhile, the pizza was done and Henry had already housed half of it by the time we were done having our Tips Topped.

Ew.

But not-ew was this pizza! It tasted like roller rink pizza and I was so happy about it! Also while we were eating, whatever radio station was playing announced that JACKSON WANG was coming on air in a bit, STRAIGHT FROM CHINA, to answer some of the listeners’ questions. I started freaking out! I love Jackson Wang! He was/is in one of my favorite kpop groups, GOT7. Not sure what their future is looking like as a group because none of them resigned with their agency, but they also won’t say that they’ve disbanded.

Anyway, that was a nice surprise! Of course I didn’t get to actually hear him because we were done eating by then.

For as fly-by-night as this place was, I really couldn’t get over how colorful it was. I can tell that it must have been a very nice place at one time, and it feels like they’re trying to bring back some of that magic. I think they can do it!

The fact that they have preserved this piece of amusement history is worth supporting Sylvan Beach. I am a big dark ride fan and even without the prospect of getting that +1 credit (I just learned this term! It means when you go out of your way to a small park that only has one dinky coaster just to get that credit), I would have definitely suggested that we factor this into our NY road trip, because it is a CLASSIC PRETZEL DARK RIDE.

When I was a kid in the 80s, Le Cachot was one of my favorite rides at Kennywood. Back then, I didn’t know shit about ride manufacturers and “pretzel cars” but Le Cachot had them and if you’ve been on a ride like this, you will know that there is a certain electric-zapping-whirring sound that the cars make as they whip around corners. Hearing this sound again that evening, in Laffland, was like have a bucket of ice cold nostalgia dumped on me.

Literally NO ONE was in line for this. The young guy manning the Fun Slides right next to Laffland came over and told us to hold on while he fetched the ride operator – this super friendly woman who was delighted to send some patrons through her ride.

Henry and I rode together and Chooch went in after us. He said that while he was still standing outside, he could hear me screaming through the whole thing and it was “embarrassing.” Lol.

But OMG it was wonderful! I fucking LOVE DARK RIDES. Not those newfangled shooter ones. I want the old shit! I want the hokey animatronics and the strobe lights. I want the tilted floors and laughing witches.

Ya gotta come to Sylvan Beach for the Laffland. It costs like 3 tickets. I think each ticket was $1.50 or something. It’s worth it, I fucking promise you. The sounds and the old-timey stench alone will make you remember all the best parts of being a kid and whoa, OMG – I am totally one of those Elders pining for the past.

OH BOY ANOTHER ARCADE. This one had skeeball and games that were similar to Fascination but poker-themed or something, I didn’t understand it.

AND ANOTHER ARCADE. I couldn’t stay in this one long because the guy had country music blasting and it was too much.

The ride area is basically akin to a local church carnival set-up. They don’t have much going on there, especially once you take the coaster and the Rotor out of the equation. I think the ride-all-day wristband was $25 or $35 and that was just really not worth it. We bought about $25 worth of tickets for the three of us to ride Laffland, and Chooch and I also rode that Tip Top thing and whatever that one ride is called that looks like the Zipper and a Ferris wheel had a baby. It was OK. We couldn’t get our cages to flip all the way though and I was too scared to be any more forceful with it than I already was because Sylvan Beach was cool but I didn’t want to die there.

SPEAKING OF DYING THERE, apparently some employee did just that many years ago in the Playland arcade and it’s allegedly haunted. They do after-hours ghost tours  (I will back for that, trust) and one of those dumb ghost hunting shows filmed an episode there too. I can totally see a place like this being haunted. It’s  been around since the late 1800s! Plenty of time for spirits to collect.

Then it was Carousel time! Since the carousel is independently owned, we had to buy separate tickets for it. The horses didn’t go up and down either, but it was still a fun ride.

Fascination was closed and Henry was so sad.

 

The rides looked so much better at night, lol.

We left Chooch in the arcade and walked over the lake. I had never heard of Lake Oneida before but it sure was pretty. I learned lots of geography-ish things on this trip! Like, we drove near the Finger Lakes, which is where my friend Alyson loves to go and get wine, and I had NO IDEA that was where they were in NY. Mind blown.

Also, we were in the area where my friend Val lives. Also had no idea until we drove past an exit sign and I recognized the name of her town! We didn’t have time to give her a heads up, but we will be back and I hope she is prepared, lol.

I think this trip has turned me into a lake person even though we didn’t actually do lake-things at all.

“Let’s pretend we’re a couple.”

Before we left, Henry wanted to get ice cream. I didn’t want any but said I would just have a bite or two of us. He was like, “What do you want me to get, blueberry?” and I was like, “Ooh ok” AGAIN, FORGETTING THAT HE DOESN’T LIKE BLUEBERRY LOL. So I had two bites of this and then he was left to sadly finish the cup on his own, all the while imagining he was eating the butter pecan that he actually wanted (I would have been happy if he had ordered that instead because I love me some butter pecan).

Anyway, wow! What a quaint little place. I was so obsessed with it that I demanded we swing through on our way home on Labor Day. I think Sylvan Beach could really get back to a poppin’ nature with some extra TLC and it does look like the owners are trying based on the fact that they’re repainting their coaster. I’d definitely go back to get that Galaxi credit, ride Laffland again, and inhale some of that pizza. And DEFINITELY eat at the Pancake House again. I dunno why I grew such an attachment to that place. Oh, because I’m Erin Rachelle Kelly, that’s why.

We left Sylvan Beach around 9 that night and drove for something like 30 minutes to the nearby Utica, where we stayed for two nights at Red Roof Inn which actually wasn’t too bad except for that stupid headboard that almost knocked me out. The next day was SIX FLAGS GREAT ESCAPE so check back for that scintillating recap, hahaha ugh. Sorry this is basically just an amusement park blog now but I’ve got little else going on!

Sep 092021
 

Hello. Last Saturday, we went to a small amusement park in Rochester, NY called SEABREEZE. It’s right on Lake Ontario and it was a pure delight. We opted to go to smaller-scale parks since it was a holiday weekend and Covid is running rampant. I didn’t want to go somewhere that would be super crowded and run the risk of catching that shit. Turns out, our mini NY road trip was perfect, and Seabreeze really kicked it off well.

I don’t think I have a single bad thing to say about this place. Oh! Magnets. They didn’t have them! And you know I collect magnets from everywhere we go! So I had to buy a postcard and a sticker instead. Ugh.

The first coaster cred of the trip was the historic Jack Rabbit! When it was built in 1920, it was the FASTEST IN THE WORLD! There is only one coaster in the country that’s older than this one and that is Pennsylvania’s own Leap the Dips, which is also the oldest in the world (allegedly) and Chooch actually got this credit when he was like…2 or 3??

Anyway, this bitch is so old that a ride operator has to manually brake it with these big levers when it comes back to the brake run. I thought that was fascinating.

I really love experiencing history on such a tangible level.

Henry and I went back later to get a second ride on it before we left and Son of the Year actually left the arcade to take a picture of us on it.

I didn’t ride the kiddie coaster because I don’t care that much about credits, but Chooch pocketed his pride and strode right up to the station. The sign actually said that you can’t ride this over a certain height unless you’re accompanying a kid, but the ride operator was probably only 2 years older than Chooch and did not give a fuck at all about the rules, so he walked right on and claimed the last row.

I love how it looks like he’s holding this little bitch in his lap, lull.

“That actually had some decent pops of ejector air,” he said sardonically when he rejoined us.

I liked this area here with all the games and food stands.

OMFG this ride!! It was built in-house by the park owners and it, well, SLAPS. (I watch a lot of young guys on YouTube talking about roller coasters and I can’t help it if I talk like them now too please kindly step off.) It had the longest line in the park and for good reason.

(Because it, you know, SLAPS.)

When we were in line, Chooch nudged me and motioned toward the ground where some dollars had dropped out of the pocket of the man in front of us. He gave me approximately .000003 seconds to react before shoving past me and saying, “I’LL JUST PICK IT UP MYSELF” and then in a polite tone he goes, “Excuse me sir, you dropped this.” The man acted like Chooch was a goddamn hero and kept thanking him and I was like, “OK it was $11 calm down he didn’t lift a car off your kid for Christ’s sake.”

Chooch sneered at me after the man turned back around and I spat, “Well, if you had given me more than a millimeter of a second to react—”

“DO YOU NOT KNOW HOW TIME WORKS?” Chooch screamed, well Henry was mumbling about how, “No, that’s not it, Erin.”

“I was hoping he would just let me keep it,” Chooch admitted later. THERE HE IS! THERE IS THE SON THAT I KNOW.

Before the BIG MONEY DROP, but after some kids were talking amongst themselves about how they LIKED MY SHOES.

Chooch was desperate to get the Suisse car and of course it worked out that he did because he’s Chooch and he gets everything, but Henry and I got the Jamaica one and I was happy with that because really I just didn’t want the stupid USA one ugh kill me.

But yeah, this ride was so much fun and if the line had been shorter, I would have marathoned the shit out of this. As it was, it was only about a 25 minute wait but nearly everything else was a walk-on and we had another place of amusement to patronize later that evening.

This is my crooked HENRY IS ACTUALLY RIDING THE MUSIC EXPRESS WITH ME smile. I think the last time this happened was probably in 2002 when he was still desperately trying to keep me.

HERE ARE THE SHOES THOSE CHILDREN LIKED.

“Yeah, probably because they’re VELCRO, for BABIES,” Chooch scoffed, because he hates when anyone likes my stuff.

Chooch’s 4th and final credit was this crazy mouse-esque ride which we assumed was going to be like the one at Waldameer which is similar, which spinning cars.

But this fucker ended up being INSANE. The spins were out of control and I was screaming my face off and laughing so hard. It was incredible! Until the end, when the ride stopped but I couldn’t get my eyes to stop bouncing from side to side. This one almost took me out of commission! Yet somehow I agreed with Chooch that it was my favorite ride there, lol

Carousel time!

So happy about it!

This was when we realized that Chooch and I were both wearing Warped Tour shirts (his is from 2018. mine is from 2008) so I made Henry take this picture, much to Chooch’s chagrin.

I dunno which #carouselfie I want to use for the wall!

Chooch was super annoying with arcade shit as usual. He cashed in his tickets for candy and some stupid jar of slime which he kept jamming his fingers into when we were in the car and the slurpy/sucky noises emanating from the backseat were so disturbing and I was screaming at him to stop, ugh. I hate slime.

OMG wahhhh.

The last ride we went on was the Screamin’ Eagle which was similar to our beloved Aero 360 at Kennywood. We got stuck in one of the inner sections though and I hate sitting there because you have to face the people across from you and in our case it was two women who were probably younger than me but had that Responsible Mom air to them and that is something that I lack. Anyway, the one lady JUST HAD A BABY 10 DAYS PRIOR TO THIS which I know because her friend said, “I can’t believe you just had a baby 10 days ago” and I was like OMFG how are you HERE? Aren’t you like, leaking entrails and placenta residue??

(Look, I didn’t major in BABY-HAVIN’ OK??)

Anyway, this park was a real cutie. The only thing it was missing, in my opinion, was one really good, old dark ride. I wonder if they used to have one back in the day? I would love to revisit someday and spend some time near the lake too, maybe eat at one of the restaurants nearby. The town of Seabreeze looked adorable from what we saw of it in the drive to the park.

Sep 062021
 

In lieu of live blogging, I want to just check in and talk about how much I adore Sylvan Beach, a tiny resort town on Lake Oneida in New York. We stopped here for a few hours Saturday night, after leaving Seabreeze Park, because there’s a little carnival-esque coaster and a dark ride that I wanted to go on. Sadly, the coaster is currently closed because it’s being repainted (why they didn’t wait until the off season is beyond me but you do you, Sylvan Beach!) but we ended up liking it here so much that I begged Henry to stop here again on our way home today so that we could eat breakfast at the Pancake House, which I became inexplicably obsessed with when I saw their website before coming here.

We were seated right away but it took nearly an hour to get our food because they were so busy. Luckily, the staff was really friendly and the atmosphere was delightful, but most importantly they were playing 80s music (two Phil songs played while we there, plus OMD, Flock of Seagulls, and Cutting Crew so who can be mad with all that massaging your aural passages??).

We shamed Chooch for ordering two glasses of chocolate milk (these teenage boy years are fascinating) but then the SHORT STACK of French toast. I was like OK but you’re still going to be hungry.

Henry got MEATS and EGGS and BISCUITS doused with MORE MEATS.

I got the daily special: orange pancakes!! They were divine! Subtly orange flavored and topped with mandarin oranges, and I got the cream cheese icing on the side so I wouldn’t get sick. It was perfect. Of course I only managed to eat one and then Henry and Chooch finished the rest lol.

One of the waitresses liked my shoes! Chooch hated that part of breakfast.

Oh and the hostess here was the most pure being of all time, I really think so.

Loved it. 5 ✨.

Then I wanted to walk down to the lake because if there is one thing I have learned from Korean culture, it’s that walking after a meal is good for digestion and it is so much better than getting right back in the car for four hours!

It is SO PRETTY HERE. I’m obsessed with it. Chooch? Ambivalent as always.

I let Henry get in a picture with me even though I’m still mad at for him for his callous response to me hitting my head off the headboard this morning at the hotel. It was the third time this weekend that it happened because it has A LIP ON TOP OF IT and is actually pretty low so it’s super easy to hit your head if you’re sitting up in the bed. Anyway, Henry the Gallant said, “most people learn from their mistakes” and I just lost it. I mean I was already trying not to cry from the pain of smacking my head against a sharp wooden edge, but now he’s LITERALLY ADDING INSULT TO INJURY and, well, 20 years with this guy! Congratulations to me.

Then Chooch wanted to get a picture of the Galaxi Coaster so we ditched Henry and walked one to the amusement park, which was closed but is ungated so we could just walk right in. Still, I didn’t want to creep around so I asked one of the employees if we could walk over just to take a picture and it ended up being the lady who was running the dark ride on Saturday! She was so nice! She said we could certainly do that, but not to climb over the fence, and I was like, “oh I don’t think I could do that anyway” and she laughed and then I laughed and it was so pleasant. It made me remember that I used to like people!

They also have a ROTOR there which also sadly was not operating. But this just gives us a reason to go back someday!

Sylvan Beach is pretty fucking amazing, and I’m so glad our amusement park addiction brought us here!

Sep 052021
 

Good morning from somewhere near Albany I think. We just stopped in Fort Plain for breakfast before we resorted to killing each other.

Their breakfast special was a French toast bake which sounded delightful to me but I also knew that I didn’t want to eat anything heavy for breakfast before spending a day at an amusement park. Look, I know my gastronomical idiosyncrasies and plan accordingly, OK? This is my life, love that for me.

So I told Henry to order it so I could try it. Have you seen Henry? He is very much a PLATE OF EGGS AND MEATS breakfast beast. But he is also afraid of crossing me so he agreed.

“And I will get an omelette so you can have some of that in exchange,” I offered in an effort to sweeten the pot. He seemed ok with this.

“Do you want me to get blueberry?” he asked, since the choices were cherry, strawberry, or blueberry and he knew that blueberry was Best out of those options. I said sure.

So we placed out orders and then he got all ruffled when I asked for my omelette to be made with Egg Beaters. When the waitress departed, he said, “Oh that’s great. You said we were going to share but then you got it with Egg Beaters. I hate Egg Beaters. Just like I hate blueberries. This breakfast is everything I hate,” he pouted, and I burst out laughing because I JUST LEARNED THAT HE HATES BLUEBERRIES THIS SUMMER AND ALREADY FORGOT LOLOLOL.

I coaxed him into calling the waitress over and changing it to either strawberries or cherries. He put on his BIG BOY PANTS and did just that, but after he changed it to strawberries, I mumbled, “I would have said cherry, but whatever.”

I am a very slappable human being.

Henry and his frou frou breakfast!

I took one bite and said, “that’s good but I’m glad I didn’t get it” and he mumbled something incoherent under his breath.

Meanwhile, at another table, some man was asking for a SIDE OF CORNED BEEF HASH and I said, “I bet you’re really sad that you didn’t get to have that.”

“Why, does he like that?” Chooch asked while Henry dabbing the whipped cream from the corners of his mouth.

“Probably,” I said. “I can picture it hanging off his beard.” And then we started cracking up while Henry dutifully ignored us.

Here’s Henry paying the bill and leering at the COCONUT CREAM PIE sign.

I asked Henry what he thought of his breakfast and he said, “it wasn’t bad. It’s not something I would usually order. Or ever again.”

Then we drove down the street and I made him pull over so I could take a picture of this BEAVER WITH BOOBS because it’s a Roadside America attraction.

Ok. Now we’re back on the way to Six Flags Great Escape and driving thru Amsterdam NY which is adorbs so I want to go back to looking out the window. Byeeeee.

Sep 042021
 

Chooch and I (definitely mostly Chooch) matched these two walls today at Sylvan Beach so I couldn’t pass up the photo op.

Anyway, day 1 of our Labor Day weekend is in the bag and it was goooood. Well, except for first thing in the morning when we left because I hate leaving the cats. :( We got vegan donuts at Misfit Donuts in Rochester, NY, spent most of the afternoon at Seabreeze Amusement Park also in Rochester, and then drove out to Sylvan Beach to cap off the day at a pretty janky carnival-esque park but the people there were super friendly and everything was totally colorful which is, as you know, TOTALLY MY STYLE.

Now we’re at a Red Roof Inn in Utica, but part of the R is burnt out so it looks like Ded Roof Inn. Henry told us numerous times how NICE THE GUY WAS at the front desk like OK HANK WE GET IT. There is a woman a few doors down who totally lives here. She has plants in the window and just had groceries delivered when we arrived.

Anyway, I’ve never been to this part of NY before so I’m living for the new-to-me views!

Jul 052021
 

On our way from King’s Island this afternoon, we stopped at Rt 73 Diner in Wilmington, Ohio. It was a semi-rural looking area BUT I looked ahead and saw that they had VEGGIE BURGERS on the menu and I wanted that.

Chooch made us sit at one of the high-top tables which I never prefer but it was better than the tiny table we were also offered in between two giant parties of people. But that is besides the point.

When our waitress came over, it was pretty obvious she was borderline flustered. Then when she asked us how we doing, she responded to our reciprocation of the question with a very sarcastic, “Oh I’m doing just great.”

Henry blurted out, “you look great.”

“Really?” she asked, looking up from her order pad.

And you guys…

He fucking said, “No.”

No!!!

Chooch and I were ready to slide under the table to shield ourselves from the eye-daggers she was launching at Henry.

I didn’t even know how to save him from that one aside from explaining to her what I thought maybe had happened, which was that his first response was supposed to be matching her sarcasm, meaning she looked the opposite of great so that when she asked him if he meant it, he said no. But I honestly didn’t want to walk into that fire, backdraft-style. So instead I just mumbled, “coffee and water” when she asked for my drink order.

Henry was perplexed when she left and chooch and I finally were free to voice our discomfort. He had no idea that what he said was insulting!

“You might as well have just told her to smile more,” Chooch cried.

So then Henry was pretty much ducking every time she came near us and I was trying to overcompensate by bubble-wrapping our table with pleases and thank yous.

Henry had the poor timing of snagging her when she was en route to another table, and asking, “can we get some napkins?” She gave him a really tight smile and actually spun on her heels to go back and get us napkins which she didn’t SLAM into our table but she also didn’t set them down GENTLY.

“Wow she really hates us,” Henry said sheepishly.

“Yeah, you literally made her hate us right away, after the first thing you said!” Chooch yelled.

“Just don’t ever talk again,” I pleaded.

Then as we were leaving, Chooch stood up right as she was about to pass from behind him and almost made her slam into him.

For what it’s worth, she really did look great regardless of the quality of day she was having. She reminded me a bit of our friend Dawn from Castle Blood and Dawn is pretty AF!

(Also during this lunch, Henry was trying to tell me shit about the recent semi-derailment of the coaster El Toro in NJ. “I already told you everything you just told me,” I said. Henry said that I didn’t “do a good job” giving him the facts BUT LUCKILY a fellow man explained it better so now Henry understands. Is it still mansplaining when it’s man-to-man? Or is it just plain explaining?)

Henry left the waitress a hearty tip and then we ran out of there. My veggie burger was super good, though the jury is out whether or not she spit in it. Hopefully just in Henry’s burger!

P.S. one of the waiters (maybe the owner?) opened a large freezer behind the counter and there at least 15 boxes of BOSCO STICKS all stacked up in there. Whyyyyyy. They’re fucking haunting me!

Jun 212021
 

Oh hi hello annyeong, it’s me, Erin R. Kelly. I am home now from a whirlwind trip to Cedar Point and have many many many things to say about that but first I want to give a shout out to this bitchin’ small lake town in Ohio named VERMILION. It’s about 30ish minutes outside of Sandusky (home of Cedar Point, le duh), and just super fucking adorable and quaint. We actually stopped here on the way home from another Cedar Point trip in 2019 but it was a Sunday and nothing was open expect for a Hungarian restaurant that had nothing for vegetarians except for pretzels which would have been fine if Chooch and I didn’t require a full meal every now and then (i.e. when Henry remembers).

We stopped here to eat for real this time and then walked around for a bit and I do not usually think, “BOY I COULD LIVE HERE” but the thought did cross my mind once until I remembered: OHIO HAS WINTERS AND THERE IS A THING CALLED THE LAKE EFFECT, NOPE, NO THANKS. But it was a nice and breezy 70 degrees up in that piece today and that lake air kind of brainwashed me for a minute or two. Here are some pictures before I go upstairs and hit the hay HARD-LIKE.

#SmoothMove

We ate at Big Ed’s and can I just say once again how fucking exciting it is to be eating in restaurants again?! The power of vaccinations! We chose Big Ed’s because their menu boasted, DOWNRIGHT INSISTED, that they served VEGGIE BURGERS.

However, when Chooch tried to order one, the waitress’s face fell into a GOSH DARNIT expression as she relayed the bad news that they had unfortunately JUST RUN OUT OF THEM. So I asked if they had grilled cheese, which wasn’t listed on the menu, but she said they could do that for us and I was like THANK GOD LADY BECAUSE THIS PLACE IS THE FUCKING BEES KNEES (seems like something they’d say in Vermilion) AND WE DON’T WANT TO TAKE OUR MEAT-FREE BUSINESS ELSEWHERE.

I didn’t really desire a grilled cheese because Chooch and I both had one for a late dinner the night before after leaving Cedar Point at a very suspect family restaurant that wasn’t very satisfying and had no vibes of any sort but we did have a very nice waitress named Carey who made the experience OK; sometimes the waitstaff really does make all the difference and it was the same case here, too, because our waitress was so nice that we didn’t want to be like FUCK YALL CARNIVOROUS TOWNIE BITCHES and walk out.

Plus, this place was a whole ass retro mood (ruined only by the inexplicable need to be playing COUNTRY MUSIC instead of like, Frankie Valli or that 1950s “Lollipop” song on repeat). Henry even found one of his old lunchboxes on display. (This was after he divulged in the car that one of the first CDs he bought was MR MISTER – it was a big day of Henry Stuffs.)

I appreciated that my coffee came in this old floral cup. And the grilled cheese was better than DIANNE’S FAMILY RESTAURANT or whatever the place in Sandusky was called, who cares. However, the fries were better at the “who cares” place, BUT! Don’t get it twisted because they still weren’t “the good kinds.” I have a very specific french fry palate.

This place is like, renown for their ice cream and SODA PARLOR bullshit. Like, they have egg creams (had this one time ever in 1998 at a diner in Philly after the Dracula’s Ball and t’was not for me.) and PHOSPHATES which even Henry had to google because I guess even though he is old, he is not old enough to know the simple pleasures of stool-spinning at the soda fountain after school with Sally, sipping on PHOSPHATES.

They also had a milkshake that Henry ALMOST indulged in, called the Green River and I sort of wished he had ordered it but I’m also glad that he didn’t because I kept thinking about the Green River Killer. (I mean, I make serial killer for not-a-living, so come on.)

After we ate, we strolled around town (“to digest,” I always say because I am an Old Person now). It was seriously the most precious place, even though every wall had may flies stuck to it. I don’t know if that’s what they were but it’s what Henry said and he knows everything, so. May flies.

Look at this quaint little Ohio Venice!

There was some informational placard about this light house but I got bored.

Just looking at Lake Erie. We’ve seen it before, but you know. Lake Respect.

After Chooch realized I was taking pictures, ugh.

And then I caught him mid-stretch, looking like he’s reciting some epic Shakespeare soliloquy to the lake.

He is not happy about this picture. Good thing the brat doesn’t read my blog.

And then we left and continued our drive home! I don’t think we fought at all, either! A miracle, really.

Maybe that’s why I’m so tired right now–from containing all of my tempers.

Aug 232020
 

Chooch and I went on our routine late-night walk last night, after a big storm passed by. It made Brookline look even creepier so we decided to make it a photo-walk. Here are some filterless pictures.

My favorite part of the walk was when Chooch shone his flashlight into the window of a house and then ran, leaving me frozen on the sidewalk so if anyone looked out, HERE I AM! I DID IT!

I mean, Brookline alleys are probably safe at 11pm on a Saturday?

I didn’t realize that the firemen were “loafing” outside of the fire station, totally watching Chooch and I being iPhone creeps. They’re used to us though.

Oh shit! I forgot to tell you. A few weeks ago, Henry and I were strolling along the boulevard and as we walked past this Sacred place which I still don’t exactly understand but I love their window, I happened to glance in the front door and saw some woman laying on the ground, looking dead. I freaked out and called Henry over. “SHOULD WE CALL 911???!!!” I screamed. But Henry looked in and said, “The whole room [which is small!!] is full of women laying down. I think  they’re  meditating or something.” He seemed unconcerned about this but I was like WHAT IF IT’S A SUICIDE CIRCLE!?

“I don’t think that’s what it is. I think they’re OK.”

But I really wanted to knock on the door, even if it meant disrupting their chi, or whatever. In any case, we continued on with our walk and on the way back, everyone inside was now standing, so I guess I was just being paranoid as usual—UNLESS THEIR BODIES WERE BEING CONTROLLED BY THE ANCIENT MAYAN WARLOCKS THEY CONJURED.

Back when I dated Psycho Mike, his mom was SUPER into angels. I don’t just mean she had like, porcelain angel shit around the house. I mean, she did, but also she believed that angels actually existed and she would attend these angel events where other angel stans would congregate in a circle and like, try to make the earth move or some bullshit? I dunno, she was super into it and also super not into me so maybe I really do have a devil on my shoulder.

This is where Parker’s used to be. :( I’m still pretty broken up at their decision to close, but now that we know that Oak Hill Post is going in this spot, we’ve been stalking them by peering in the window to see what additional items have been added to the menu (they have a pretty gourmet-sounding veggie burger that the mere thought of is making Chooch and I pool our collective saliva into an imaginary spittoon) and of course some Korean-fusion chicken thing because Americans gotta ride that wave into Overkillville.

Pictured, you can see Chooch shining his fucking flashlight into the window like we are the world’s most transparent burglars.

Today is a new day, bright and sunny. Please excuse me while I resume bossing Henry around.

Mar 082020
 

Here are some photos from last Sunday before I got sick.

We had decided to kick off Henry’s Coffee Corner again (this ship started to sink before it even left the dock, let’s be real here), so he chose Carnegie Coffee, which is in…you know, Carnegie. Not something I would have picked but OK.

I never bothered to take any pictures because we got there at 1:42 and were met with a sign on the door that said they were closing at 2 for a private event so that really lit a fire under our collective asses. I wanted to just go somewhere else, because I had a book under my arm and would have liked to have sat down and read a chapter but cook on, Carnegie Coffee.

It seemed comfortable enough inside – ample seating that extended to a second floor, and you know how much seating means to me. But he staff was unsmiling, and then Henry had a weird interaction with some weird-ass who came up to him and asked if we were in line. We were, in fact, in line, but the guy said, “Oh, because the line is usually over there” and pointed to the other side of the column we were standing next to. Really buddy. Sorry we’re not fucking regulars in your dumb townie cafe.

So that really set off Henry and then I was secondhand mad about it too, especially when the d-bag actually went over to the right side of the column and stood there, like wow, you’re really sticking it to us, Line-Standing Warrior.

I got a vanilla rose latte. It was fine, but now I associate it with the stomach flu, so that’s great. Chooch got hot chocolate. Henry got iced coffee I think, who can be sure. That stringent line stander got freakin’ hot tea because of course he did. He probably took it back to his table to daintily slurp while carousing Craigslist for, I don’t know, 1950s dinghies.

(?????????????)

Then we got our drinks and left because god forbid, 2:00pm event.

It was a decent enough day, weather-wise, so we decided to take a stroll, much to Chooch’s chagrin because I guess he had important things to attend to at home? We were in the same area where Janna and I went to see that play, Mumburger, last year, so we scoped out the posters for upcoming shows for that little theater and Henry and Chooch seemed moderately interested in maybe possibly attending a future show, so we’ll see if we can shoot some culture up Henry’s butt after all.

I got to see some churches and Chooch pet copious amounts of dogs (lol, actually just 2).

Chooch was really unimpressed with both churches. OK DAMIEN.

A thing we saw.

Then we went to Fresh Thyme (Henry and Chooch love this damn market and I’m just like, OK it’s still boring) and I washed my hands there twice and lubed up with hand sanitizer, came home and started to watch Knives Out with them and then 35 minutes into I excused myself to tend to an Olympian Vomiting Event which, on a scale from Hipster After a Bloody Mary Bar Brunch to Regan’s Pea Soup, I would rate myself a solid Carnival Ride Puking Scene From “Problem Child.”

Image result for problem child puke scene gif

Really looking forward to a better Sunday today!

Dec 052019
 

Many, many, many years ago, during the heyday of Farmville and its brethren on Facebook, I used to play some theme park game where, in order to be able to advance or collect coins or whatever, you would have to send invites to your other Facebook friends, which oftentimes would cause you to lose said Facebook friends. So I would opt for the other ways to advance: signing up for “free offers” and by that I mean I would sign up Henry.

One of the offers was from the Branson Tourism Board. I provided them with his phone number too and I will never forget how perplexed he was once day when he said, “Someone called me at work about travel offers for Branson, Missouri.”

And then they sent him a bunch of brochures and literature, too.

I remember cracking up over this and thinking, “Why the fuck does some town in MISSOURI have a tourism board!? Who would ever go to BRANSON, MISSOURI?!”

Fast forward a few years later and some broad whose blog I used to hate-read went to a theme park there called Silver Dollar City. Now this chick was a hugely annoying blogger who came up during that whole TWEE INVASION and she wears dresses meant for children so I immediately figured, “Oh, if the Skunkboy family is going to this place, it must be lame AS FUCK.”

But then…they got an RMC roller coaster and by now you probably now that I am an RMC ho bag. (True fact: the word for “pumpkin” in Korean sounds similar to ho bag.) So Silver Dollar City was firmly set in my sights, much to Henry’s chagrin because it’s nearly a 13-hour drive (we will not get on a plane in this household unless it’s absolutely necessary – we’ll road trip to our fucking graves, I guess). Anyway, if you don’t know, RMC is the manufacturer of some of my favorite roller coaster and my new life goal is to ride all of them (Japan here we come again, I guess?). I decided over the summer that this would make a lovely Thanksgiving weekend getaway, similar to our Dollywood trip last November.

Henry quickly reminded me that Pigeon Forge, TN is a much easier drive but I stayed firmly planted in La La Land and refused to give up hope.

I liveblogged our drive here, which took basically the entire day/night last Saturday. We had to stop a lot because Henry hurt his back Friday morning at work, as previously mentioned. Honestly, it’s a miracle that we went at all because I didn’t even get him  to officially confirm that we could go until Thanksgiving Eve, and we were supposed to leave Friday when he came home from work so that we weren’t rushing to get there. When I found out he hurt his back and wasn’t going to be able to go, I bluffed and said that Chooch and I discussed it and decided we were still going to go, just without him, and that sent Henry into a panic because I’m sure he had visions of us Thelma-and-Louise’ing off a cliff somewhere outside of Columbus, Ohio because let’s face it: there’s no way I was going to last for more than 3.5 hours behind the wheel.

All of this is to say, we didn’t even have a hotel reserved until Saturday afternoon, which Henry booked when we stopped from lunch in Indianapolis. And bitch, you know I complained about it too!

Here’s the dinky Christmas tree in the lobby.

Actually, it wasn’t the worst. The room was really nice except that the bathroom was SO SMALL—the kind of small where the sink is actually outside of the bathroom. I thought that the beds and pillows were way too hard but Brokeback Mountain over here was all, “I stan a (hard-ass) queen (bed)” and kept gushing about how wonderfully he slept. Wow, brag much.

We ate breakfast at the hotel and it was fine. Your typical continental hotel breakfast but the breakfast room was spacious and clean, and there was an old lady working there who I originally hated because she kept being in my way but then she came over to our table to clear our plates and she was super personable and had a nice Southern accent so then I felt bad for hating her which prompted Henry to launch his daily lecture about how I shouldn’t be so quick to hate people and he can really just go fuck himself, you know?

We headed out of the hotel around 9:00AM, figuring we could drive around and explore. FUNNY STORY: the night before, Henry left the hotel to find a store to buy Chooch gloves because of course he didn’t bring any, and he said that some old lady in the parking lot was glaring at him when he came back and nabbed  the parking spot she was gunning for. He and I went back out to the car right after that to look for our phone chargers, and Henry was like, “Look! There she is, she’s still glaring at me!” and nodded toward some old lady who was getting stuff out of the trunk of her car. The next morning, we were loading our bags in the trunk of the car before leaving when Henry noticed THAT HE PARKED IN A HANDICAP SPOT, NO FUCKING WONDER THAT BROAD WAS GLARING AT HIM!

“Well, I’m temporarily handicapped,” Henry pointed out, using this as yet another opportunity to whine about his back.

I somehow have no idea what the Ozarks really are I guess and assumed that there would be a mountain we could drive up and you know, look around, but it turns out the entire expanse of land around Branson is considered “The Ozarks” so there was no actual mountain to look at, like the Smokeys. I think that was my first mistake – I kept seeing things about how Branson and Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg are sister cities…but it’s more like step-sister cities. Maybe it’s because we were there on a gloomy, super windy December day, but Branson just felt really sad and run down in comparison to Pigeon Forge. Both are full of Ripleys attractions, tacky museums, $$$ hokey dinner theaters…but Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are just more beautiful areas.

Luckily, we weren’t there to ride go-karts or play mini-golf, so we bypassed the big touristy area and drove out to some Table Lake thing which is apparently mad-made and that’s kind of weird.

OMG the wind was so frigid. Also, Chooch’s hair, lol.

Our next stop was “historic downtown Branson” which was super homey and even on this cold day, everyone was all warm and friendly. Fuckin’ Missourians, amirite.

Anyway, downtown Branson was rife with variety stores, ice cream parlours, wig shops, whatever Henry’s Warehouse Outlet is…of course, most of the places were closed because Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but Henry kept harping about how DICK’S 5 & 10 was open, and I was like, “Why do you care about this place so much” and then we walked in and he went straight to the candy bar section like he’s been there before, I WONDER.

This was the type of place I hate, because it’s loaded with chintzy shit that I desperately want for my desk at work but also don’t really feel like paying for and no this isn’t my big dark confession about how I’m a klepto, thanks. And for every aisle of Erin-friendly bullshit they have, there are three more that are full of Americana decor bullshit, MAGA hates, and cooking shit.

BARF.

I kept saying things like, “EW VOMIT, THIS ISN’T  MY STYLE” and “EW WHO WOULD PUT THAT IN THEIR YARD” forgetting where I was, and then I would notice people giving me shifty side-eyes.

In the end, I ended up buying a Dick’s 5 & 10 magnet because I guess this is a legit Branson landmark, a mini marquee for my desk, and Henry got candy bars, one of which the cashier pretended she was going to steal and then asked where we were visiting from because we are obviously tourists everywhere we go, and 2 hours after I said “Pittsburgh,” I wailed, “OH NO SHOULD I HAVE SPECIFIED WHICH PITTSBURGH? WHAT IF SHE THINKS WE’RE FROM PITTSBURG, KANSAS? I DON’T WANT TO BE MISTAKEN FOR A DOROTHY!”

Whatever that means.

I literally know nothing about Kansas aside from tornadoes.

Amazingly, I managed to convince Mr. Hot-Blooded to wear a jacket. Getting him to zip it was a war I didn’t feel like waging that day, though.

We went into an antique store after that and I could hear Henry weakly murmur, “Please don’t find anything,” from behind me. Like what Henry? A WHEELCHAIR? A GIANT PIECE OF AN ARCADE GAME? A CHURCH PEW?

What I did find though was this one section full of vintage magazine ads so I texted my brother Ryan and asked, “WOULD DAD LIKE THESE” and he was like, “YES THE CHEVY AND OIL&GAS ONES” and I also found an old 7Up ad too because bottled beverages is another thing that my dad really enjoys – he has several vintage pop machines in his garage, next to his ’55 Chevy and whatever other old cars he has; he changes them up.

We walked out after only spending $9 and Henry mopped beads of sweat off his cheap-ass forehead.

Also, Chooch used the bathroom there because of course he did and then got pissed because we didn’t care about the dumb salt and pepper shakers he wanted us to look at.

Then we spent way too much time carefully selecting taffy from a candy shop run by a nice old lady and I have since eaten so much of it that I might as well get pre-fitted for dentures.

We eventually left downtown Branson because it wasn’t really that exciting and the only thing that interested me (Dino’s Cake & Coffee, home of the Famous 24K Cake?!) was closed. Dino, you motherfucker.

Chooch kept pronouncing it like “dino”saur but I said it was probably more like deeno.

“I know that because there was this guy named Dino who wanted to marry my aunt Susie so bad,” I explained.

“Didn’t everyone want to  marry your aunt Susie?” Henry scoffed, because apparently my family stories are jokes?!

I wonder what it’s like to have someone who wants to marry you….

Then we went to some lake thing where Chooch couldn’t skip a rock and I learned about ZEBRA MUSSELS because there were warning signs everywhere but thank god Henry the Pocket Biologist was there to mussel-splain to us that they are AN INVASIVE SPECIES blah blah blah LAKE ERIE HAD A PROBLEM WITH THEM TOO snore snore snore.

In between all of this, I checked the weather on my phone once every 7 minutes because certain rides are not operational if the temperature dips below a certain degree and I was OBSESSED with this all weekend. Henry was like, “Look, we’re here and it doesn’t really matter, you can’t change it, so let it go.”

OK Elsa.

Is that who sings that? I have made it this far in life without ever seeing Frozen or listening long enough to any media outlet to even know what it’s about. BIG DAB.

Then we drove around looking for a place for me  to pee (I’m really picky about public restrooms and we started to near a Walmart but my body language was a clear, undeniable, “DO NOT EVEN” that a speaker of any language would have easily understood, so instead, Henry found a Hardees and bought some fries* while I peed in a handicap stall next to some lady who was shitting.

*(I’m weird about going in a fast food place just to use the bathroom so I will always make Henry buy something.)

Then it was time to go to SILVER DOLLAR CITY!

Nov 042019
 

What’s a road trip without a stop at some obscure, dilapidated roadside attraction? We had about an hour to kill on Saturday because Lake Compounce didn’t open until 5 pm, so I convinced Henry to finally take me to Holy Land USA in nearby Waterbury, Connecticut. And by “finally,” I mean that I suggested we stop there once in 2013 when we were on our way home from visiting our friend Alyson in New Hampshire and he said “N-O.”

But you know me and odd religious things. Gotta see ’em all!

(Ex: Ultraviolet Apocalypse; Giant Mary, Museum of Religious Statues; Troy Hill Relics.)

Chooch, who had his headphones on for 99% of the trip, was like, “The fuck are we?” when we rolled to a stop at the crest of a hill in what appeared to be a Mexican part of town (I kept begging Henry to stop at one of the Mexican markets so we could get candy but he was like NOT TODAY so I guess the next time we’re driving through Connecticut? Henry has no jams.

I guess this place was built in the 50s and was meant to be an actual, booming religious theme park. Were there going to be rides though? How can you have a theme park without rides? I wish this place had taken off because I could have sold them my plans for the Crucifixion-themed restaurant I’ve wanted to open for like 20 years now – The Rusty Nail. (Side of Pontius pilaf anyone?)

Up until 2013, the land was possessively presided over by a group of nuns called the Religious Sisters of Filippi Greco who got all nuts anytime they were approached by people who wanted to restore it, but apparently they could be bought for $350,000, which is what some car dealer and the mayor offered them on June 20, 2013. So I guess now those goons own the place and so far, all they have managed to do was replace the cross with a new and larger lighted cross, and I guess they cleared away some of the weeds or whatever.

I found this picture when scouring the Internet for more information on what this place was like in its heyday and I found this picture:

Image result for holy land usa

I 100% would NOT recommend crawling inside any of the structures that are still standing at Holy Land. Chooch made me look inside one of the windows and I had so much trepidation, expecting to see the jaw of a cat and Satanic symbols in dried blood, but there was nothing – just dirt and cobwebs.

Thank god.

Although I can’t rule out that there weren’t any demonic spirits swirling about. That’s where I would loaf if I was Satan’s relative.

The whole area was so scraggly and ugly. Someone’s comment on Roadside America said to check for ticks before getting back into the car so then I began obsessing about ticks and Chooch was like, “We’re wearing pants and long-sleeves, and it’s November. I think we will be fine.”

Thank god Henry wasn’t there when I was spiraling-out about ticks (he walked a different direction than us, and then went back to the car to look at Reddit probably) or else I would have received sedation in the form of a Hencyclopedia diatribe about ticks.

The view of Waterbury from the summit of Holy Land, USA.

Chooch slipped on a rock and almost slid down a hill by the cross and then denied it when I was standing right there and saw it happen with my own two eyes, and then wondered why I was all, “NO WAY, MISTER NIMBLE” when he wanted to scale some treacherous pile of rocks a few minutes later, so I kept imitating him slipping on the rock and it’s a wonder I haven’t won any awards yet for excelsior parenting.

I looked inside the Tower of Babel, expecting to see the remains of a Devil’s Night sacrifice, but all I saw was an empty water bottle.

NOT EVEN ONE BEER CAN!

Rando key.

Several other people showed up while we there, with the intent of casually poking around just like us, so Henry was less concerned about trespassing at that point. He is a big follower of warning signs. Like, if I ever wanted to just completely shut myself off to him, a strategically-placed “no trespassing” sign would easily get the job done.

THAT IS ALL I’M SAYING.

We walked back to the car, where Henry was casually leaning against the hood, scrolling on his phone like a teenager, when Chooch decided he needed to go geocaching and then got tangled in the bare branches of a tree and fell on another rock, so that was cool. If anyone came back with ticks, it was that careless dumbass.

I mean, Holy Land USA was a cool place to stretch our legs, but unless you’re a HARDCORE Roadside America app user and obsessed with marking sights as BEEN THERE, then I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going too far out of your way to visit this run-down plot of ruins.

Jun 202019
 

Our Big Day On the Loose W/O Henry wasn’t over after we left Conneaut Lake Park, oh no. We had some kind of famous frozen custard that we needed to motorboat.

But first! Janna had to go the wrong way when leaving the Conneaut parking lot and proceed to turn around.

Janna’s murder podcast was still playing. Chooch told me later that he was frustrated because she had it playing on the back speakers only so he couldn’t hear what we were talking about and if there’s one thing about Chooch, it’s that he’s exactly like me and HATES missing out on adult conversations.

When I was a kid, I would always be desperate to know what my Pappap was talking about to other adults in the room so I would constantly be piping up with a “Who?” or “Why?” and he’d be all, “Are you writing a book? Leave this chapter out.”

HARSH.

Anyway, this joint isn’t too far from the lake and Janna seemed to know where she was going once she got her bearings. I guess Janna used to patronize this establishment a lot back when she went to college in this area, so that makes more sense now that I know this is why she follows them on Facebook and not just because she collects the Facebook pages of random ice cream parlors in the boonies.

I was mad when we got there though because it’s a CASH ONLY CREAMERY and Janna did not WARN ME of this! So we had to stand in line and wait for these two elderly women to push every button on the courtesy ATM and I feel like it’s blasphemy to mention my Pappap in a blog post and then go on to bash old ladies a few paragraphs later, but these bitches were so slow and annoying! I swear to God, I almost flipped out (not on them, on Janna) and demanded that we just leave because the hatred was making me not care for ice cream so much anymore!

ALSO, THE FLAVOR OF THE DAY WAS BANANA AND I DON’T LIKE BANANA-FLAVORED THINGS USUALLY.

(I love real bananas though and will typically slice one up as a mix-in for my pathetic everyday lunch of instant oatmeal at work.)

(Actually, for a while, A-ron thought that I was putting a banana in my tea because I make my oatmeal in my coffee cup using the hot water that everyone uses for tea…so he was going around telling people that I was making banana tea which I can’t tell if that sounds good or gross.)

Once those bitches finally got their money, it was my turn and now not only was I mad that those ladies got to the ATM first, I was additionally angry at the $2.50 service fee! UGH, JANNA!

AND THE SMALLEST DENOMINATION WAS $20!!

This is what happens when I’m out in the real world with Henry and now I have to be responsible for paying for things. Shit’s expensive! That inflation hullabaloo is real talk! Ugh, I really like it when I can be all young and ignorant while Henry is the one opening the wallet.

Luckily, the line to order went super fast because they were well-staffed and efficient. The guys in front of me got TWO SCOOPS each – one of banana and one of chocolate.

Well, now I was intrigued. I never considered mixing the banana with another flavor. So on a whim, I ordered the same and then prayed I wouldn’t have regerts. Unless it was like, banana cream pie, I would probably never get a banana-flavored scoop of ice cream so this was a big step for me.

I really hate banana popsicles too.

WAIT A MINUTE – banana pudding pops are pretty good though.

Sorry, I’m like really writing a research paper on my palate here.

You guys. Janna was right. So were the guys in front of me. This custard was AMAZE. I had assumed it was just going to be like the soft serve-esque version of custard but NO. It was thick, rich, creamy, and scooped straight from these giant metal vats.

And the banana tasted l like decadent banana pudding so I was SOLD. Even Chooch was like, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I do…” I mean, we liked it so much that it wasn’t even worth pretending like we didn’t just to piss Janna off. That should tell you something.

We were in love with these sweet lickable mounds.

Meanwhile, Janna got two scoops of chocolate (#NoAdventure) and then had the audacity to ask for JIMMIES but of course the scooper was like, “WTF, you mean, SPRINKLES?” I was so offended that Janna said “jimmies” and I’m glad that I didn’t hear it happen because it might have caused me to lose one of my scoops.

God, Janna.

It was still raining so we stood under the overhang of Hank’s right in front of the car of the OLD LADIES, like we were having an scoop-slurping standoff.

Then it was time for post-dessert dinner. We were still starving even though we were filled with Hank (gross) and to be honest, I probably could have sucked back another scoop or three. But we wanted real food now, and I was adamant that we go to this place we passed hours ago when we first got off the highway – it was a family restaurant/truck stop diner called Aunt Bee’s and for some reason, I had really latched on to it.

But first, Janna made us drive around Meadville so she could show Chooch her old college and say things like, “I REMEMBER DRIVING ACROSS THIS BRIDGE WHILE LISTENING TO KC & JOJO” and Chooch probably thought she was talking about Jojo Siwa but also he probably couldn’t hear her over all the murder in the backseat.

It was while looking for Aunt Bee’s that Janna committed the most U-Turns. When I think of this day, I will think of U-Turns first. I lost count of how many U-Turns happened, but there was definitely one instance where two U-Turns went down on the exact same part of this road road.

In Janna’s defense though, several of the U-Turns happened because the road that Aunt Bee’s is on literally looks like some gravel dumping ground for machinery, so we didn’t think it was right, but the Google bitch just kept repeating over and over to TURN LEFT ON SMOCK and Janna was like THIS CAN’T BE IT! And then somehow we ended up on a road above it, looking down at Aunt Bee’s, screaming, “HOW DO WE GET THERE?!” Finally, I told Janna that she was just going to have to take a leap of faith and drive her car off the overpass into the parking lot for Aunt Bee’s and she did that and sadly perished but Chooch and I survived.

See?:

Janna’s ghost took this picture for us. And by ghost, I mean the pinwheel made from her vertebrae.

Anyway, see how that sign that says “WELCOME”? Oh yeah OK. Sure. We were anything but welcome! We walked in and all the elderly townies swiveled in their seats and leered upon us like we were three Pee Wee Hermans entering a senior citizen biker bar after knocking over a row of their Hover-Rounds.

“Maybe they think we’re a lesbian couple!” I said to Janna and she was like, “You’re not my type.”

Their tagline should be, “GOOD LUCK FINDING US.”

Also, I love that they bake wedding cakes.

We were the youngest people there, except for our waitress who was so nice but Janna was kind of mean to her?! She was like, “IS THERE MAYO ON MY BLT?! OH WAIT, NEVER MIND THERE IS” and didn’t apologize for jumping to conclusions!

Also, Janna ordered potato soup that looked like a clump of mashed potatoes in a cup.

(The following Monday at a work lunch, Sue mentioned that she likes thick soups and I was like, “Boy, do I know a place for you!”)

Chooch ordered spaghetti and failed to note that it came with meatballs, so while making gagging noises, he attempted to transfer them onto his napkin but then one went rogue and nearly rolled off the table, causing all carnivores within a 5 mile radius to feel a sharp pain in their heart.

Me? Oh I just had a grilled cheese and the best fresh cut fries I’ve had in some time, so I was alright.

Baby animals and life advice on the wall of the bathroom. I was going to text this to my pal Alyson but her band was in LA playing a show at the Whiskey Go Go (!!!!!) so I didn’t want to interrupt that with a loo text even though I don’t think she would have minded too much!

Selfie in Aunt Bee’s bathroom.

Now I’m kind of sad that we didn’t have Hank’s way earlier in the day, before we went to Conneaut Lake Park, because I would have like to have stuck my thumb in one of their alleged fresh-baked pies.

And then we went home, but first Janna had to literally pass up the highway exit immediately after leaving Aunt Bee’s. Like, she even slowed down and looked right at it then failed to turn.

I can’t wait for our next day trip!!!