Aug 172021
 

Ugh, I have been trying to drag this out for as long as possible, but sadly (though happily for anyone still coming back to this thing), we’ve arrived at the last day of the vacation thing.

Henry and I woke up early again and went for one last walk. I wanted especially to get a picture by the WILDWOODS sign when it wasn’t overly crowded and it turns out that 7am is a good time to accomplish this though even then we had to hang back a bit and wait for other people to have their chance. Um, I know that this concrete beach ball is barely even that high off the ground but my heart was PALPITATING. I had to call upon my inner Suni Lee for some balance inspo.

#TOKYOOLYMPICS2020 #NEVERFORGET #WATCHEDITINEVERYHOTELWESTAYEDAT

But on the real though, I will always associate the Olympics with this vacation now!

I think I already mentioned this in my BIRTHDAY POST but some grandma was pushing a grandbaby in a stroller when we were doing our dumb photoshoot and she was adamant about taking a picture of the both of us but it was really awful and she cut a ton of the sign out, lol.  I preferred to be as far back as possible so as not to ruin the picture with my cringe.

I was starving when we got back to the room so we woke up SURLY CHOOCH and made him get ready for breakfast. He actually remembered to say Happy Birthday so that was cool. You would think I would have wanted to go somewhere to have a big fancy birthday morning meal but no – I was dying to eat at the restaurant below the OLYMPIC BEACH RESORT or whatever the Olympic is called now. So, just basic diner-ish food but I was cool with that, just for the chance to be THAT MUCH CLOSER to the inside of the OLYMPIC.

Henry was really over this whole OLYMPIC thing by now. And I don’t think Chooch even realized what was happening.

YESSSS.

I had French toast because it was my birthday. It was OK! I was just happy to be eating said French toast IN THE OLYMPIC. And the hostess thanked us profusely for coming in so I thought we were real VIPs for a second until she said the same shit to people who came in after us. :(

Afterward, I started to harass Chooch for coming to the beach and then…not going to the beach.

“I didn’t come to the beach,” he mumbled. “I was brought to the beach.”

WOW OH WOW JUST WOW, we are such sinister parents. Can you believe the GULL we must have, dragging this poor, precious boy to the JERSEY SHORE against his will? I know I’d rather be sitting in my dark bedroom playing MINECRAFT or whatever with internet friends.

“OK Bobby,” I said cheerfully, “take off your shoes, we’re going to the beach while your FATHER packs.”

Speaking of Back to the Beach (literally  try to reference this as much as possible IN THE REAL LIFE), when we were on the boardwalk, there was a picture of a young Frankie Avalon getting ice cream at Kohr Bros and Chooch grumpily muttered, “I don’t even know who that is.”

“IT’S FRANKIE AVALON,” I cried. “FROM BACK TO THE BEACH!” I bet he really wants that movie to be what he’s remembered for, lol. But I was a kid when that came out and literally had no idea who he was, just that PEE WEE HERMAN was in this movie and I had to see it, oh my god, so my Aunt Sharon took me to the theater, neither of us having any idea what the actual movie was about, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. I recorded the song that the cast sings at the end with the microphone of my old ass Fisher Price tape recorder, memorializing it on my first ever mixed tape (it was translucent yellow with a rainbow on the corner!) when I was in grade school. That tape will always live on in my heart.

(I also taped “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell from the TV at my Pappap’s house using the same method and I thought I was a fucking genius, probably.

Anyway. The beach. We went to there. I think Chooch had regERTZ for not actually wanting to spend more time there sooner but oh well, maybe listen to MOMMY next time, she knows best.

Chooch: who cares about the beach

Also Chooch: *compulsively makes a mess in the sand like a toddler*

Ugh, then we checked out around 10:30 (I will actually admit that the GOLD CREST was OK even though it wasn’t THE OLYMPIC and that maybe I would stay there again only because I don’t want Henry crapping on my good childhood memories and traditions with his dumb snoring and blank T-shirts or whatever.) From there, we drove to Six Flags Great Adventure, which was only about an hour away and look, I know I said that we had nixed this from the original itinerary because El Toro is closed for the season and then the brand new RMC single-rail – Jersey Devil – went down for maintenance, but listen Linda: the Jersey Devil ended up opening up again and I wanted to ride a fine-ass RMC on my motherfucking birthday, OK?

I figured it would be crowned, but it would be worth it to me to just go there, ride the damn thing, and then leave.

Also, I kept waking up throughout the night because the TV was playing commercials for Jersey Devil literally all night long. Like it was an omen.

LOL, but then we got there and it was CLOSED. And so was Nitro, the third most anticipated coaster I wanted to ride. So basically, the park’s top three (not even exaggerating, these are legitimately the park’s premier attractions) coasters were DOWN that day, which meant that even though it actually wasn’t that crowded, everyone was funneling into the other lines so some of the coasters had two-hour waits.

So that was a big let down, but I will say one thing: the atmosphere here was the best of the three Six Flags I’ve been to (well, four if you count that now-defunct Geauga Lake one in Ohio that Henry and I tried to have “a date” at in the salad days of our relationship lol. Ugh.

I mean, it’s not the Wildwood boardwalk, that’s for sure!

Anyway, I was super sulky and pouty about my shitty birthday luck (but at least we didn’t pay to get in!), so I just wanted to leave right away after finding out the bad news. But Chooch was all, “Can we just, I dunno, mosey on over to Kingda Ka, just to see?”

That was definitely my LEAST ANTICIPATED coaster of the whole park because I hate hate hate Top Thrill Dragster and this one is even higher (it’s actually the launch that I hate because it’s honestly so unnecessary, no one should ever want to feel like that). But fuck fuck fuck, the wait time was only about 30 minutes so I let him drag me on it and we got the back row and I honestly had a hard time walking after that; my legs were made of Jell-o.

You can see that piece of shit in the background  – that big tall dumb looking thing. It’s a strata coaster, so it’s over 400 feet high. I just hate it. I hate sitting there waiting for it to launch, it’s like waiting for a death sentence.

But in the forefront is EL TORO. It had a pretty terrible maintenance issue / accident in June when the back car of one of the trains partially derailed (no one was hurt). It happened early on in the ride so a shit ton of the track got busted from the derailed wheels scraping along the course. Needless to say, this bad boy is going to be down for a while and I’m gutted because this is such a bucket list coaster for me, and I’ll tell you why: it’s the closest thing to my beloved T-Express in South Korea’s Everland that I will ever get to until I go back to Korea one day. T-Express completely shattered my idea of what a roller-coaster – especially a wooden one – could accomplish. I just never really cared that much about coasters when we went to parks – I would ride them, but I was always on the prowl for crazy flat rides and unique dark rides. I mean, I was a card-carrying member of the Dark Ride & Funhouse Enthusiasts club, lest you forget.

The T-Express is an Intamin pre-fab coaster and it broke records when it was constructed. Then Intamin (with the help of RMC!!! DREAMTEAM) built El Toro several years later and EVERYONE gushes about El Toro. It’s in so many enthusiasts’ Top 10 and I am so sad that I will likely have to wait another year before finally experiencing it. The silver lining to this is that some of the coaster YouTubers I watch say that this coaster was running pretty rough and slowly over the last few years and that getting retracked is probably the best thing that could happen so HERE IS HOPING.

Other things we managed to ride that didn’t have terribly long lines:

  • Runaway Mine Train thing (so fucking rough and awful but that part of the park was very pretty)
  • The Joker, pictured above: Chooch’s and my first 4D free spin and it was not great and the line moved so slowly. I’ll take the good old, tried and true Zipper over this any day.
  • Harley Quinn’s Crazy Train or something, which was a surprisingly fun family coaster.
  • Skull Mountain – a really fucking shitty indoor wild mouse type coaster that had next to no theming and was basically just a half-dark warehouse with like, junk laying around.
  • Hall of Justice League – super long wait for a shooting ride, but the video they had playing during it was actually pretty entertaining even though I do not care about DC comic superhero stuff at all, and the ride itself was SHOCKINGLY fun for a shooting ride, which I usually hate.

Standing in line for Skull Mountain and having no idea how let down we were about to be, lol. Also, if you were following along on my birthday week adventures, you may recall that Chooch started repeating his t-shirts and that’s because we stupidly let him pack for himself and he thought we were only going to be gone “until Monday.” Luckily, he had some extra shirts but Henry to go to a Dollar General on our first day in Wildwood to buy him socks and underwear lol.

We left Six Flags around 3 or 4 (and I got yelled at by a custodian cleaning up puke by the exit for trying to go around him, which seemed on par for this lame birthday) because we were driving home that same day (WHO PLANNED A TRAVEL DAY ON MY BIRTHDAY, HENRY) and didn’t want to get home at like 3am. The drive was super boring and full of me being a big crybaby because nothing is ever good enough for Princess Erin. There is some additional stuff in this post that I wrote in the car when I was pointedly ignoring Henry. We got home around 1am and the cats didn’t even care because they hung out with my mom all week so they didn’t miss at all.

And I have been floating in post-vacation depression ever since.

UNTIL NEXT TIME, BYE.

Aug 142021
 

Thursday, aka Birthday Eve, was supposed to be our “relaxing day” where we didn’t have to drive for hours just to spend even more additional hours in a blacktop jungle surrounded by coasters with massive lines. We started the day off by rising and shining for an early AM walk on the beach. And by “we” I certainly only mean Henry and me because Surly Teen could not be stirred from his deep seaside slumber.

Wow. What a vision. Grumpy with a side of Get Off My Lawn.

As I said before, we’re not beach people in the sense that we’d ever be content with lugging chairs & towels & umbrellas, and whatever other beachy accouterment comes with the territory but I do enjoy walking along the water. Same with rivers and lakes – you won’t catch me doggy-paddling inside an innertube, but that wet nature just lures me to it.

Even though I may lose interest rather quickly.

After an invigorating morning stroll, Henry walked over to the OLYMPIC WHICH IS WHERE I STAYED WITH MY FAMILY IN CASE YOU MISSED THE PREVIOUS 87 TIMES I MENTIONED THAT and brought back some coffee and breakfast breadstuffs for us. Then we woke up The Surly One and took a drive over to Cape May because I was obsessed with revisiting it as an adult to see if it was still boring and I’m happy to report back that YES, CAPE MAY IS STILL FOR BORING PEOPLE who enjoy walking very slowly and buying ceramic things.

We drove around for a bit and I was honestly not inspired at all to park and do much of anything else.

“Why did we come here again?” Henry wrenched open his perm-frowned lips long enough to ask.

There was always one day on our vacations when my grandma would INSIST that we go to Cape May. Back then, it always seemed like it was so goddamn far away and I would sulk the whole there in the backseat, knowing that it was going to one fucking boutique and novelty shop after another, waiting for my grandma to boost the local economy while the rest of stood on sidewalks staring into space.

One time I bought Mexican jumping beans at some toy store there, and a pair of wooden domino earrings. That was the only semi-positive memory I have of this place. I think this is where we took a dolphin-watching boat tour one summer too and even in that picture, I look like I belong on the cover of a straight-to-VHS Firestarter sequel.

Anyway, what a boring drive. Congratulations Henry: you somehow made Cape May even more boring than my grandma did.

Came back to the GOLD CREST – DID I MENTION WE DIDN’T STAY AT THE OLYMPIC. Henry and Chooch “played ping pong” briefly before we walked to lunch. Quite possibly the shortest game of ping pong that ever pinged and ponged.

Shit I already forget the name of this place. Sea Side Diner or something? It was on the way to the boardwalk which is where were heading after lunch. Henry thought our waitress was rude (she was just young) and Chooch was like WHY DON’T YOU TELL HER TO SMILE MORE but then he had to jump to clarify that he was joking because sometimes Henry is dumb.

Anyway, here is a series of pictures of Henry eating, courtesy of Chooch:

We almost matched, I hate when that happens.

Not me looking the most uncomfortable.

After lunch, we went back to the boardwalk because we promised Chooch that we’d play stupid mini golf.

I actually used to love mini golf when I was younger but lately, I do not have the patience or attention span for it. I get so bored when it’s not my turn! However, Henry was doing horribly for some reason so now that he was losing, I was suddenly inspired to give it my all.

He hit the ball way out of bounds at one point which is VERY OUT OF CHARACTER for him, and Chooch and I are usually the ones co-opting the Happy Gilmore title. Chooch and I had to do our patented pee-squat because we were laughing to the point of pee-drops as usual. Henry losing? LOVE TO SEE IT.

Then we went to MISTER SOFTEE which I had become obsessed with the day before when I learned that they had a Fruity Pebbles thing so I had tunnel vision after that and would not consider any other ice cream establishment. But then once we were there, my obsession spread to encompass the entire vibe of the place, which I would later go back to the room at the GOLD CREST, ALREADY KNOW to write about it on the same day because I was that stupid-excited. 

Of course right as we were walking over to it, three old broads swooped in like septuagenarian sea gulls from the left and cut us off, so now we had to wait for the Granny Brigade to fuck around with their reading glasses and CHANGE PURSES.

“God, go back to Cape May,” I mumbled under my breath, and Henry, having just experienced the drowsiness of that place that morning, actually laughed.

Henry like, never laughs at anything I say. Well, I mean, NO ONE does but you’d expect your life partner to toss you a rewarding chuck, gig, or chort every now and then.

Then we gave Surly Son a wad of cash for the arcade and went off to buy souvenirs. I mean, maybe I’d have hated Cape May a little less if my grandma had had the same courtesy, YOU KNOW. I’m sure there was a Pac Man machine somewhere in Cape May.

A really strange thing happened though. As Henry and I were walking along the boardwalk, there was a family below us riding bikes on a sidewalk. A little boy was screaming his sister’s name over and over, and the mom was like, “OK WYANT STOP YELLING YOUR SISTER’S NAME.”

So I sneered, “Yeah, Wyant, you dumb bitch.” Because that’s the kind of sweetheart I am when it comes to stranger children. But then in my head I thought, “What an uncommon name for a kid,” you know? You don’t really run into many Wyant’s these days. And then also in my head I started repeating the name of the girl he was screaming. And suddenly, I was like, “OMG IS THIS WESTLEY’S FAMILY.” Because there is a neighborhood kid that Chooch used to hang out with when he was still at his old school and I remember thinking it was funny that the boys in the family all had names that started with a W (there’s an older son too who has a W-name), but then the youngest is a girl who does not have a W-name. I knew for sure that the two younger boys are Wyant and Westley because how do you forget those names, but I texted Chooch and asked him what Westley’s sister’s name is AND HE CONFIRMED THAT IT WAS THE NAME THE LITTLE BOY WAS SHOUTING AND WHAT ARE THE ODDS THAT THIS COULD HAVE BEEN ANY OTHER FAMILY WITH KIDS NAMED WESTLEY, WYANT AND GEORGIE.

So I was like, “Congrats, they’re here in Wildwood” and of course Chooch was like, “WTF” because he and Westley ARE NOT BROS ANYMORE. And honestly,  thank god because I was lowkey jealous of the mom who apparently was a REAL MOM who was always baking cookies, dusting, feeding Chooch grilled cheese, etc etc. I got such a complex about her that I flipped out one day and accused him of wishing she was his mom so that year for Mother’s Day, he gave me a card that said “P.S. Fuck westley’s mom.”

AW.

Seriously though, I eventually met her at some school function and she seemed really nice. But apparently, Wesley turned into a jerk so Chooch is no longer friends with him and that’s probably for the best because they had a Trump flag in their yard last year.

So.

(Also I changed their names slightly lest I get in trouble for this blog again.)

I’m a sucker for good signage.

You know, I have never actually been on the tram car! At least, not that I can remember.

Chooch and I only did the rides on Wednesday, but Henry still had his ticket card so our plan was to hang out on the boardwalk until it got dark, put some credits on the card and take the Great White for a spin at night. Until then, we just enjoyed our time shopping for souvenirs and taffy and letting Chooch suck our wallets dry like the money-hungry arcade vampire that he is.

I just couldn’t get enough of this lighting package!

Chooch had pre-decided the day before that he would be dining on Hot Spot mozzarella stick pizza for dinner, so we sat with him while he ate and then went and got our own slices at Mack’s.

I don’t remember if we ever ate here when I was a kid, but I watched enough YouTube videos to understand that Mack’s is a big favorite among the Wildwood purists, so we definitely wanted to form our opinions through mastication.

Um, yes. Yes, this some good-ass motherfucking pizza, friends. I got a slice of plain (ONLY BECAUSE I DIDN’T SEE THE OPTION FOR BLACK OLIVES UNTIL AFTER FML) and one slice of white, and I can honestly tell you that Mack’s was the best slice of white pizza (NOT PICTURED) that this dirty mouth of mine ever did meet. Boardwalk pizza is so fucking good and I would actually be surprised if I found a slice anywhere there that I didn’t like, to be quite frank, and my new goal is to go back there next summer and try them all.

I’m a THIN CRUST bitch.

 

We were walking past this one arcade when I noticed that there was a sign in the back that said FASCINATION and Chooch loves that game. So we went inside and it turns out it was some vintage arcade and so goddamn cool.

Also, I’m not saying this is a sign or anything, but clearly, I am living in the past with my obsession with the Olympic Motor Inn and have name-dropped it 234679827 times during this vacation recap (actually, now that I think about it, I even have some old pictures of it that I posted some time ago on here!), the summer Olympics were on-going while we were here so we ended every night with watching the latest from Tokyo in whatever hotel room we happened to be in that day, and then I just noticed that the Fascination sign has an OLYMPIC FLAME on it.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN.

I say this all the time but motherfuck, I wish there were word lotteries.

I would really like one or 5 of those chairs, please.

Oh, let’s talk about “It” some more, you say? I wish I could put this in my backyard.

Actually…one would fit quite nicely in my mom’s yard…

I think the worst (and only bad) moment of the day was when Henry and I were walking along and suddenly we heard, “*THUMP THUMP THUMP* what’s up guys?” as Chooch came casually striding up to us with the stupid ass basketball he traded his tickets in for.

“Yay,” Henry deadpanned. “A $60 basketball.”

Ugh, he’s always trying to win basketballs.

The sun had finally set so Chooch and I got our back row night ride on The Great White, and while waiting in the station I heard the previously mentioned Bush and Fuel song’s of my 90s past and wow. I literally could not have asked for a better end to a wonderful (don’t get too excited Cape May, I’m just pretending like you didn’t happen that day) Thursday.

On the walk back to, well, you know where, little pebbles were scattering around Henry’s feet. After finally reaching his limit, Henry spun around and yelled, “STOP KICKING ROCKS AT ME!” to Chooch the Pest, who calmly corrected, “I’m THROWING them at you, actually.”

Aug 122021
 

We capped off our first night in Wildwood by closing down the boardwalk. I definitely don’t think we ever did this when I was a kid! I know whenever I say that I’m just going to do a photo dump, I always end up pairing it with 2000 words but I swear I’m going to try and be chill about this. Like, let’s look at some night time pics from a cool ass boardwalk, no big deal.

We have barely been able to enjoy any amusement parks at night this summer, what with how early most places have been closing lately. I guess because of staffing issues. But it really sucks because we live for night rides on coasters! And really just the overall ambiance and bright lights, so it was AMAZING to be here at night. I just wanted to stuff my entire surroundings in a snow globe to keep FOREVER and I do mean that in the creepiest way possible.

I hope I never grow tired of the Musik Express! I love when they also go backward, and this one did! The one at Kennywood doesn’t (at least it didn’t when we were there on Tuesday and now I can’t remember if it ever has!) and that’s lame AF, TBQH.

THE VIBES.

Chooch tries to avoid the camera now and I pretty much fucking hate that. I told him it’s his obligation to pose for pictures since I brought him into this world and I have every parental right to take pictures of him, whether he’s mid-bite of a veggie burger or riding on the fucking Tilt-a-Whirl, say cheese mothercheffer.

Can you tell I was a little obsessed with The Hot Spot??

I wish I knew what happened to Hot Spot B.

Chooch spotting the mozzarella stick pizza which he would (SPOILER ALERT) have for dinner the next day.

‘It’ was the last ride we rode that night, right as everything was shutting down. It was exhilarating! Like my beloved CLAW from the Butler County Fair, but much more scenic and that LIGHTING PACKAGE, oh my lord, I want my house to light up like that (so do my neighbors, I bet).

Chooch should just get a job there.

I’d have grabbed a veggie wiener if they had one.

We got some Curley’s fries before heading out. I’m kicking myself for being so vehement about my dislike of crinkle-cut fries when we were hanging out in Cincinnati with Christina and Katie in July because I have since had NOT ONE BUT TWO great orders of curly fries (one was that very same day, like less than hour after I turned my nose up at the very mention of them lol). Actually, we only stopped here because cry baby Chooch was whining about wanting lemonade and then Henry had the audacity to order fries for himself without consulting with us!

We showed him though because after he came strutting over with “his” fries, I incredulously asked, “Wait, you didn’t get any special sauce?!” So while he was dejectedly ordering a $2.50 tiny container of whatever the special sauce was because god forbid I should just use ketchup after I had already seen SPECIAL SAUCE on the window (I can’t remember what it was called now), Chooch and I scarfed nearly the whole cup of fries. And then when Henry came back and started complaining, we were like, “Well, you should have ordered the bigger size I guess.”

I took this on the way out: LOOK AT THE MOON BEHIND GREAT WHITE.

I almost had over 30,000 steps that day but we didn’t get back to the hotel until after midnight so my stupid Fitbit stopped at 28,000ish for Wednesday and then put the remainder on Thursday, ugh. LOL, what a dumb thing to “ugh” about. But yeah, we went back to the GOLD CREST NOT THE OLYMPIC BECAUSE HENRY IS NOT MY PAPPAP and crashed. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep immediately after getting into bed, worn out probably mostly from all the crying and temper-tantruming I did earlier that day OH THE TRIALS & TRIBS OF ERIN RACHELLE.

Aug 112021
 

I WAS SO STOKED FOR MOREY’S PIERS!! Also, I was super worried that it wouldn’t be a magical as it was when I was a kid and obviously I expected that it wasn’t going to be same because a shit ton of rides are gone (RIP Castle Dracula and Keystone Kops). But it still felt the same in my heart, you guys. It still felt the same. I am crying right now.

This bad boy, The Great White, was built several years after my last visit but honestly it looks like it has been there forever. I was so excited to ride this later!

We started out on Mariner’s Landing, because the other two piers don’t start running their rides until 5pm. Our main focus was to knock out all the coasters while it was still pretty uncrowded to ensure that Chooch would get all  the creds. Luckily, everything was running that day!

LOL our first ride, a stupid SBF Visa spinner. These things are pretty terrible but this one was good because….Wildwood, and also because the ride operator was 1000000% more animated than the one who was running it at Waldameer, PLUS Duran Duran’s “Rio” was playing and the day was beautiful and the ocean was RIGHT THERE and the sea gulls were so cute and everything was fucking perfect.

Actually, let me take a minute here to gush over the impeccable music selection of Morey’s Piers. It was ALL 80s, and not bullshit 80s either, but fucking Depeche Mode, the aforementioned Duran Duran, ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, Talk Talk (their original version of “It’s My Life” and not the shitty No Doubt cover!!). Two fucking Cure songs!! “Boys Don’t Cry” played when Chooch and I were in the station for the Great Nor’easter, and then later that day, “Friday I’m In Love” was playing as our train was being loaded on The Great White, which was located on a pier that was playing primarily 90s music. The next night, as Chooch waited in line for a coveted back row night ride on this bad boy, Bush’s “Chemicals Between Us” and Fuel’s “Shimmer” came on and I was nearly openly weeping. Especially because I had just recently fallen down the Bush nostalgia spiral thanks to the Fear Street movies.

And that Fuel song. Oh god, that Fuel song. That was like my Summer of 1998 but make it a song so that I can lose my mind and cry every time I hear it for the rest of my life while also feeling the uncontrollable need to scream the lyrics until my voice gives out.

And at one point during the day, I am not kidding, Henry and I were walking to the gift shop when suddenly (or, my favorite Korean word: 갑자기) the opening drone of my beloved rollerskating jam, HEART AND SOUL BY T’PAU, sizzled down from the heavens. I grabbed Henry’s arm dramatically and yelled, “STOP. WAIT!” And then pointed up at the sky. When it was clear that Henry had no idea what was going on, I hissed impatiently, “THE SONG?!”

I am 100% sure that he still had no idea what was going on because the song hadn’t even yet fully kicked on and also it was buffeted by screaming sea gulls, the motors of rides in motion, people laughing, modern day boardwalk carnies on loud speakers reeling people in with false promises…my ears are actually super human when it comes to detecting a song beneath layers of miscellaneous cacophony. Henry can never hear the music over the din of talking and silverware scraping plates in restaurants, but I am always ready to scream, “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS SONG IS PLAYING.”

Anyway, this Heart and Soul was playing and I had to make Henry sit down a bench with me while I listened to it because I was so obsessed with this jam as a kid that for two years in a row it was my “birthday party song request” at the VIP Roller Rink. It was also one of the first records I bought at National Record Mart and I remember so vividly not knowing who sang it so whoever took me to the mall, probably my mom – I guess I’m not remembering this as vividly as I initially boasted lol – told me to go ask someone to help me so there I was, some idiot elementary school kid probably wearing a corduroy jumper and knee high socks, telling the NRM associate, “I don’t know who sings it but she looks like Tracy Ullmann” BECAUSE I USED TO WATCH THE TRACY ULLMANN SHOW LOL.

It was almost like someone called Morey’s Piers and told them I was coming so that they could play the literal soundtrack to my childhood summers in Wildwood.

Phew. OK now that I got that out of my system, let’s look at some pictures of rides!

Rollie’s Coaster was Chooch’s second credit at Morey’s and it was more fun than we expected! I loved the vintage aesthetics.

The infamous Sea Serpent. I was TERRIFIED of this ride as a kid and never did ride it back then. I was actually kind of dreading this even now because it’s a Vekoma boomerang and I hate boomerangs. They’re usually so painful and kind of worthless!

That guy is totally ranting about how BIGBANG has not yet had a post-military comeback in any capacity.

“I MEAN, CAN G-DRAGON PUT DOWN THE NIKES AND PIC UP A MIC??”

Here’s Chooch and me in the fifth row, I look so thrilled, lol.

OK I’m not just saying this because it’s Wildwood but I really think this was the least worst boomerang I’ve been on. It was surprisingly smooth, but still terrifying. Also, I didn’t know this until recently, but the Sea Serpent is the very first Vekoma boomerang built in the US! Did I run back in line as soon as I got off? I mean…no. But it was still really satisfying on some nostalgic level to ride this coaster that looms in the background of so many old Wildwood pictures.

Goddamn. Life was really good in that moment, as simple as that sounds.

Chooch and I rode this seagull pedal ride thingie and it was fun but he was pedaling too fast and I was trying to enjoy the scenery.

We had to stop because an actual seagull was on the track!

View of the Great White from my perch on the suspended seagull.

When Chooch wasn’t being summoned by the arcades, he was cruising the piers for carnival games to play. This was definitely his scene.

Henry the Tight Wad got a ticket card and put enough money on it to ride the carousel and Great White, what a Dad.

LOVE THIS NEW ADDITION TO OUR CAROUSELFIE WALL!

Runaway Tram!

WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLEASE. I can’t believe it’s the same recording as it was in the 80s. I can’t even be annoyed about it.

This ride was just the absolute cutest! I think it only opened very recently, like in 2019 or 2020. It’s an adorable addition.

Oh god, an SLC (suspended looping coaster), another of my “favorites.”

Another major plus for Morey’s Piers is: THE RIDE ATTENDANTS AND OPERATORS ARE FUCKING AMAZING. Like, Disney-levels of enthusiasm. They smile and wave as every ride starts and you can’t help but feel inspired/obligated to wave back. Well, unless you’re Henry. And they have a program where students from other countries can work there so you get to interact with people from all over the world and it’s just really cool.

It’s been a long time since I went to Indiana Beach, but from what I remember, they have a similar situation  there too. I remember talking to various ride operators with Eastern European-sounding accents and thinking that was so odd and cool since we were in some remote part of Indiana.

But yeah, everyone we encountered from the rides to the pizza parlors seemed genuinely happy to be there.

Even their Wild Mouse is adorably-themed!

OK so as mentioned earlier, I really miss the old dark rides that used to be so synonymous with Morey’s Piers (was it even called that back when I was a kid?!? I can’t remember! I do know that they had more piers back then, that’s for sure). There are three there currently, but two are closed for the season (because of covid/staffing, I assume). Dante’s Dungeon was open though and it was so good! From the creepy ride operator in a pagan-ish robe who whispered, “Are you ready?” before sending our car into the dungeon to the person who jump-scared us from the shadows on  the other side, this was a dark ride that would make any purist happy. And if you remember, dark rides are really where my heart lies, not coasters. So when we find a place that has a good coaster collection and dark rides? Henry, hold my phone. Mama’s going in.

The last coaster we needed was Great White and I was so stoked for this!

I love a good wooden coaster, and this one is an actual delight. Plus, it goes off the boardwalk and onto the beach. What more can you ask for in a wooden coaster? Of course we didn’t wait for Henry so Chooch and I rode without him, leaving him waiting in the station, lol. We were dying because he ended up having a riding companion – some equally-as-old dude who talked to him the whole way up the lift hill and Henry told him about the trip we were on. Henry said, “he’s an enthusiast, too” as he regaled us with the detail of their convo, and Chooch and I were like, “BUT DID WE ASK.”

After this highly anticipated ride that did not disappoint, we walked back to the GOLD CREST NOT THE OLYMPIC BUT THAT’S OK to rest for a bit and then came back for some night action.

God, I love reliving this but it’s also making me mucho sad-o.

Aug 082021
 

I’ve been so excited to finally get to the Wildwood portion of this trip (in real life, and also in blog life too) because it was hands down the most magical time. I am sure anyone reading this is sick of reading about HOW SENTIMENTAL this place is to me but this place is SO SENTIMENTAL TO ME. Some of my earliest memories are from Wildwood because my family (including my grandparents) used to vacation here every summer. I’m not sure why we stopped, but the last time I was here was in 1991, and it makes me sad because my youngest brother Corey would have only been a bit over a year old and has said that he doesn’t really have any memories of this place.

Henry and I had tossed around the idea of vacationing here in the past but then it never panned out for one reason or another, and honestly, as much as I love this place, I was worried that a full week would be overkill. WE.ARE.NOT.BEACH.PEOPLE. I guess I was as a kid, but the thought of spending all day laying on a beach, for multiple days, just sounds horrific to me. I need action and scenery changes. So we decided for my birthday trip that we would spend two nights there and plan everything else around it.

We left our dumb hotel in Baltimore early Wednesday morning (after I pissed around trying to feed a local Mr. Gray Guy* a peanut and didn’t realize that there was a man sitting next to me in his car the whole time spectating me waving a peanut at a tree) and grabbed breakfast at a nearby Sheetz then proceeded to Wildwood!

*(We keep peanuts in the car now for when we run into squirrels away from home, oh my god, we all need help don’t we?)

Ugh but first we had to stop and get Chooch new shoes because he’s an idiot.

But then suddenly we started seeing signs for Wildwood and I was bugging out bad.

Literally started crying when I saw this.

OK I’m not going to get into this because it’s just me being a negative asshole but I got really angry about the place Henry booked and let’s face it, it’s 100% only because it wasn’t one of the places we used to stay when I was a kid and I was FIXATED on that, as I live boldly with one foot constantly in the past. Can’t change, won’t change! So this resulted in me bluffing about how I just wanted to go home and Henry (allegedly *not* bluffing) saying “FINE” and us getting in the car and starting to drive home. We had An Argument about how he is Not My Papppap and cannot afford to give me the Wildwood Trip of My Childhood but that he is Doing the Best That He Can and then after I spat out some torrent of obscenities, the car spoke back to me, “I’m sorry, I cannot find Fuck you Henry you ruin everything you dumb cunt” and then I started laughing so hard that I was crying and Henry turned the car around and we went back to Wildwood and proceeded to have the BEST TIME EVER.

LITERALLY.

THE BEST.

WE ALL GOT ALONG. NO ARGUING. HENRY BOUGHT ME EVERYTHING I WANTED. CHOOCH GOT TO BLOW MONEY IN THE ARCADES.

The Gold Crest 100% wasn’t even bad at all, and Henry if you’re reading this, I’m sorry that I let my emotions control me as usual. It was a struggle for me at first being back there because my Pappap was the greatest person in my whole entire life and I am so totally not over his death and still cry about him often (like right now as I type this) and I low key will admit that this is part of the reason I haven’t been back to Wildwood in over 30 years. I was so worried it wouldn’t hold up, that it was only as Babylonian as it was because my Pappap was there with me, that I had it built up too much in my head and would be disappointed returning there as an adult.

The Gold Crest ended up being perfect for us. It was actually across the street from my beloved Olympic, which, to be honest, might have actually been a let down had we stayed there because shortly after our last time there, they rebranded from the Olympic Motor Inn to the Olympic Island Beach Resort or something and that might have fucked with my brain. I think it’s better that we stayed somewhere different and now we can have a “new” traditional place to stay if we ever go back (LOL we are going back ASAP, bitch try and stop me).

I mean, part of the novelty of Wildwood is staying in a room with Golden Girls vibes and this place provided.

Chooch was happy because he got his own room and TV.

Dude. That 80s hotel art. Perfection.

After we got settled in (we were able to check-in early, thank god), we set off for THE BOARDWALK which was a walkable distance from the Gold Crest and the amount of times we’d walk and forth between the boardwalk and our hotel was staggering and is what helped push me past 40,000 steps on our second day in Wildwood!

Here are some pictures of Chooch grudgingly posing in front of the Boardwalk sign with me. He, at this point, still had no idea the fantastical things, sounds, and smells that were about to greet him once we walked up those steps!

In an effort to keep this post from being a novel, I’m just going to post pictures of the boardwalk and do a separate post about the rides at Morey’s Pier. OK, also it’s because I want to drag this out for as long as possible because this is the most happy and excited I’ve been since Korea. So sue me.

That moment when the RIDES BECAME VISIBLE.

Oh shit, you guys, my family was obsessed with “Hot Spot B” when we used to visit, and I have vague memories of sitting on a stool and eating a hotdog while being super anxious to get back to the rides. Hot Spot B isn’t there anymore but the original Hot Spot is, as well as two others. I was so excited to eat here!!

Chooch wasn’t impressed, he never is.

I mean you can’t really go wrong with boardwalk pizza!

I was just sad because they didn’t have any SHIRTS for sale.

Then Chooch got sucked into an arcade like a…Chooch to a Claw Machine.

This carpet gave me slight Gillcrest Gameroom vibes. </3

Chooch reminded me of Corey Haim’s character Sam from The Lost Boys, except that instead of a comic book store on the boardwalk, it was multiple arcades. He’d just text us when he needed more money. LOOK AT HIM IN THERE. Where did my little BABY GO.

Kohr Bros! I 100% do not remember this from my childhood but it must have been there because it says SINCE 1919??

I couldn’t spend a week on the beach, but I could probably spend a week cruising this boardwalk. Everything about it made me so happy.

A rare sighting of Chooch outside of his arcade habitat.

We left the boardwalk around 7:00pm, went back to the room and rested for a bit, and then came back around 9:00pm for some night ride action, which we will get to in the next post!

Literally, every time we walked past the Olympic, I made sure to make some asshole-y comment about how we COULD HAVE been staying there but Henry just blocked me out. There was a hotel nearby that was gutted and I said to Chooch, “I’m surprised he didn’t just have us squatting there for two nights” and then the next day, Henry tried to make a similar joke when we walked past it but Chooch and I both cut him off and said, “YEAH WE ALREADY SAID THAT TRY TO KEEP UP.” It’s amazing that Henry didn’t attempt to dump our bodies in the Atlantic.

I did really like the red door / turquoise curtains aesthetic that the Gold Crest had going for it though.

Morey’s Pier and boardwalk-after-dark recap coming next. Ciao for now!

Aug 072021
 

But first! Here’s a mirror selfie from the lobby of whatever hotel we stayed at in Williamsburg the night before. I remember it being moderately decent so thank you Henry for considering my standards when booking this place. Also, I look like a crazy person here, probably because of THE LOCH NESS MONSTER run-around from earlier that night, omg just read the previous post if you have no idea what I’m talking about, god!

On Tuesday morning, we had plenty of time for once so we eschewed the complimentary hotel breakfast and had The Mama Steve’s Experience which was quite honestly a BIG HIGHLIGHT of the trip for me. You just never know what obscure feature of an itinerary is going to thoroughly tickle my obsession bone.

After my hyper-exciting Mama Steve’s visit, we began the hour-ish drive to Doswell, Virginia for some King’s Dominion action. We were recently here in 2019 so there are no new creds for Chooch to snag, but this park is too amazing to pass by, especially when we have Cedar Fair passes that give us free parking and entry. I mean, why the hell would you willingly skip a park that has one of the best B&M gigas, and a world-class RMC hybrid coaster?! Literally two of our favorite types of coasters!

We arrived a bit before gates opened, around 11:00am, and it was already a scorcher out there. That’s what I remember the most about waiting in that line:  feeling the rivulets of sweat sluicing down my back, ugh the horror.

Hilariously, once the gates opened and the line started to move, some bitches had the audacity to try to cut in front of us when we were next to go through security. Their excuse was that they had been standing near the front of the line but got out to go to the bathroom and when they came back, the line was moving. I said, “Oh well” and angled my body so they couldn’t squeeze in. I’m just so fucking sick of it. Go stand in line like everyone else! I swear to god we did not experience this bullshit at any amusement park we went to in South Korea or Japan. Maybe if we only went to one or  two parks a year, it wouldn’t make me so angry when you go to as many as we do and you see it happen at each damn place, the entitlement and 눈치 없다 (LACK OF CONSIDERATION) really starts to wear on a person.

Furthermore, yes they were letting us inside the park but only the front section is open and the rest of the pathways are cordoned off until noon, so what the fuck is the damn rush anyway, get to the back of the line. And it clearly didn’t take them that much longer to get inside, because once we walked to the path we needed for Twisted Timbers, they showed up less than 5 minutes after us. P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E.

Anyway!! We did not have to suffer through the National Anthem at 11:58am. Instead,  the security guard manning the gate at the path we were on yelled out a bunch of rules or whatever, and then (slowly!!) opened the gate for us. A handful of people ran but I had already proclaimed that I was not running since it wasn’t even that crowded to begin with, and it turned out we didn’t even need to because only one old Super Coaster Fan and a group of 5 teenaged boys beat us to the entrance of Twisted Timbers, which of course WASN’T EVEN DONE TESTING YET so we had to wait AGAIN.

I was super annoyed because the guy stationed at the entrance of the line sat there like an oaf the entire time, knowing full well that the kids in front of us wouldn’t be able to go through the line because they were wearing fanny packs and some coasters have a new-ish rule where all items larger than phones, wallets and keys have to be stored in a paid locker, and then once you get near the ride station and go through a metal detector, you’re directed off to an area of free complimentary lockers to stow away your small items. I love this new system and hope more parks start using it because it makes the actual ride ops go much smoother since people aren’t having to climb over the seats to put their shit in a bin on the other side of the platform, or worse – they’re trying to smuggle their phones on the ride and then slowing down the process because now they’re being stubborn and arguing with the ride operators. UGH. Just follow the goddamn rules – no one wants to get their teeth knocked out when you lose your grip on your phone because you’re trying to record a TikTok on a rollercoaster.

Honestly!!

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that this employee stared at these kids for the full 20 minutes they were standing there waiting for the line to open up, only to wait until he unchained the entrance to say, “You have to get a locker for those.” If he had said something to them earlier, I would have gladly let them back in line, especially because only one of them would have had to get out of line to do that, and the lockers were right across from us. Also, because they weren’t annoying me and it was kind of endearing because two of them had never ridden Twisted Timbers or anything remotely like it (one even said “what’s that?” when one of the friends mentioned airtime), and I really wanted them to get on this ride and love it!

So now, the older Coaster Enthusiast (who was in the Fast Pass line) was pretty much already at the station, while we were being held up behind a group of boys frantically trying to figure out what to do. Some dad got out of line to come over and tell them to just stash their stuff behind a bush, but surly unsmiling Twisted Timbers line guardian monotoned, “You can’t do that.”

FINALLY one of the guys took one for the team and said, “Here just give me your stuff and ride without me. I’ll get a locker.”

The Ultimate Sacrifice. The Henry of the Group.

What a hero!

By now though, no one else had joined Older Coaster Enthusiast (Henry said, “That guy probably comes here alone every day, rides his faves then leaves.” WHAT A LIFE!) so he got to ride the first train, alone and in the front seat! I WAS SO JEALOUS!!

But we got on the second one. Also taking one for the team was Our Henry who took all of our phones with him through the line and got the free locker, which caused him to fall behind us but he still managed to get on the train right after us and then called us assholes because we never wait for him and your whole group is actually supposed to leave the line together in order to get a locker but we were like BYEEE SUCKER.

Oh shit you guys, I can’t believe that the first time I ever rode this bad boy, I was underwhelmed. It was running SO GOOD on this day, and Chooch and I immediately got right back in line (without Henry lol). If you’ve never ridden an RMC, ya gotta get yourself on one. It will change your whole idea of what a roller coaster can be, IFSTG. Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point is still my favorite, but Twisted Timbers is probably my second. I’m dying to go to Poland and experience Zadra which looks like it COULD be the one to dethrone SteVe, ugh Covid please kindly fuck off.

The rest of the day was spent re-experiencing other faves, like Back Lot Stunt Coaster which might be run down and old at this point, and the effects don’t work anymore, but it’s still a fun time. AND we rode it with this super entertaining group. One of the guys behind us screamed really loud and high-pitched at the end when the train comes tearing out of the building and underneath the ride queue, and it was hilarious. Then he said something about how he hoped he wasn’t going to lose his voice since he had to be on TV the next day, causing Chooch and me to exchange silent “Ooooh?”s with our eyeballs. I bet he’s a news person, he had a news person voice.

As with almost every other park this year, staffing is an issue so tons of food places were closed for the season. The only ice cream place that was opened was a hard-packed ice cream joint and I just wanted soft serve. So that left Rita’s. Which, you know, was fine. Custard is good and their sprinkle mix has purple ones in it! That doesn’t happen often!

Sometimes I think I get soft serve just for the sprinkles. But don’t get it twisted (timbers) – I don’t like just ANY sprinkle. I’ve had some really gross ones before that have ruined the whole experience for me. These ones were pleasant though.

Made them ride the Racer. It was…not as fun as I remember, BUT it was memorable because the one ride attendant was a girl named Ty and she was SO JOYFUL. Henry and I were in the last row and she hung back there and engaged in conversations with every single person, including this one equally-chatty preteen who was telling her some long-winded story and Ty was being so polite that she almost got in trouble because she was supposed to be checking restraints – don’t worry, she checked them! She was just waiting for the girl to finish her story. Lol.

The chatty preteen told me she liked my Marcy tattoo and thank god Chooch was out of earshot because as you know he hates when I receive compliments. SORRY I AM NOT A PLAIN MOM.

I laughed when I saw this because my squirrels make that same pose as Henry sometimes! They sit up and look at me, one paw on their chest, as if they’re saying, “Who, me?” God I missed those kids while we were away! And the cats too obviously but I knew my mom was feeding them and playing with them while we were gone but I worried she wasn’t paying enough attention the squirrels. :/

I still don’t get why people love this ride so much, I truly thought I was going to die on it.

King’s Dominion is so beautiful. I think King’s Island has a SLIGHTLY better coaster collection, but King’s Dominion is the prettier of the two. And everyone there is so nice.

Halfway through the day, we had just gotten off a family ride on Apple Zapple when Chooch started to get real snotty. I can’t even remember what we started arguing about but it had something to do with where we were going to eat there and he just always has to have the last word which doesn’t work in this household because I’m the OG House Member and I am the one who has to have the last word. So then Henry Buttinsky had to get involved and I didn’t like the fact that he was on his OWN side and not defending me so I just fucking lost my shit and screamed, “THANKS FOR RUINING MY DAY. WE’RE LEAVING.” And then I proceeded to storm off without them, all the way back to the car. When they finally caught up with me and Henry unlocked the door, I got in and slammed the door while Chooch was trying to apologize but you know what? BY THIS POINT IT WAS HENRY WHO I HATED so when he opened the driver’s side door I started screaming in his face about how he undermined my parental authority when he’s the one who always says, “If you have a problem with Chooch you need to handle it” like oh OK thanks dad, can you leave the parenting manual behind while you kindly go FUCK YOURSELF STRAIGHT TO HELL.

I don’t know if anyone was around in the parking lot for this but if they had been, they surely got a free show because my temper was making ALL OF MY VEINS pulsate and then I started full-on sobbing which is my body’s Code Red response to anger (we’ve yet to reach the Code Black response yet, which is surely murder). So now Henry had adopted his soothing therapist voice and Chooch was in the backseat profusely apologizing and I was hiccuping, “I hate both of you, you ruined my life!” But then I started laughing, dried off my face, and we all went back into the park where we managed to have a wonderful second half of the day.

Chooch had to pose for every picture I wanted After the Fight.

We rode Intimidator three times. I love this beast so much but holy shit, it is so forceful and rough – I grayed out so bad on one of the rides that I was actually concerned I wasn’t going to come back lol. The last time we rode it, there was a man in front of Henry who was SO EXCITED and he kept screaming about how many times he’d ridden Intimidator that day and how he was going to get right back on it. He was so pure. Be that guy.

I just asked Chooch if he has anything to add before I publish this and he said, “Hot. It was hot.” You can always count on Henry Jr. for scintillating reviews.

But yeah, it was hot. My face was MOIST with sweat puddles all day. It was so hot that we willingly went on Boo Blasters and Flight of Fear just for the A/C.

Love ya, King’s Dominion!

We decided to leave around 7 and get dinner outside of the park and miraculously we found a place about 30 minutes away that had veggie burgers!

Yo, Tito’s.

Yelp said that they were open until 9 and it was 7:45 when we got there BUT GUESS WHAT they actually closed at 8. We asked the waitress and she was like, “Yeah it’s OK though, you’re fine!” but I still felt bad. Luckily there were still people eating by the time we left so we didn’t actually close the place out.

You know we had the Heat Exhaustion when neither Chooch nor I could finish our meals. We ended up taking them to go and Chooch almost immediately started eating it in the car, oh to be a teenaged boy.

No, never mind. I do NOT want to be a teenaged boy.

It’s definitely still bizarre eating in restaurants again but I can tell you that after this trip, we are back to strictly take-out for the time being thanks to all the ANTI-VAXXERS making this pandemic worse for all of us again. It was wild while it lasted, but see ya on the other side, restaurants.

Anyway, after Tito’s we made our way to Baltimore, which is where we were crashing for the night before heading to WILDWOOD on Wednesday morning! Henry got us a room at a shitty LaQuinta because he loves to terrorize me with his cheapness but it turned out to be mostly OK I guess. All I want is to be able to sleep in a room without hearing screaming and (probably paid) fucking.

Aug 052021
 

We knew that at some point on Monday, the sky was going to piss on us. What we didn’t know was just HOW LONG this storm was going to last! About an hour prior to the very first drop of rain, the park started playing an announcement over and over about how some park operations were going to temporarily stop until the inclement weather passed. Then it changed to ALL PARK OPERATIONS. And SEEK SHELTER.

I’m not going to lie, it was pretty exciting. We snagged a bench under some large alcove in the Irish area and it was surprising how few people took refuge here.

We chilled there (lol it was 95 degrees but cool on, Erin) for a good hour and all three of us even fell asleep for parts of that duration too. I mean, not surprising that Henry did. But wow that storm made me drowsy.

We were sitting right next to a door that opened to some SECRET EMPLOYEE room where Camp Busch Gardens kids were hanging out. Every time they opened the door, a glorious sheath of AC wafted over us like a scentless fart from an ice fairy. I dunno what they do at Camp Busch Gardens but everyone seemed to be having fun each time the door opened and I felt left out.

I’d like to also take this moment to PRAISE BE that no one fucking annoying or scream-y was in our shelter spot. It was actually a pleasant, but boring, experience.

After about an hour, the rain mostly stopped so we emerged from hiding and strolled around the nearly empty park. Everything was still shut down but all the shops and opened.

Even soggy and wet, this park is amazing.

I dunno why I took a picture of this. It holds no significance for me.

Listen Linda, I hate drop towers but even I can admit that this Mach Tower is GORGE.

Post-storm Verbolten is sizzlin’ – no really, look at that steam! It was SO HOT that day.

I was obsessed with this snappy German pop song but Chooch ruined the video by acknowledging the video.

OK. This is where things got depressing. We walked down by Loch Ness Monster and you guys, I can’t even remember if this coaster was that great or not, but I do have a vague recollection of liking it and I was sincerely looking forward to riding it on our highly anticipated return to the park. Earlier in the day, I attempted this TWICE but for some reason, the line was long both times and Chooch was being a big entitled bitch about it. OK cool, almost everything else was a walk-on, but I still wanted to ride this thing!!

#CoasterHistory

It’s actually super creepy down in this area. It’s right by the water and I don’t think many people use this as a thoroughfare because it requires you to walk up steps to get back to the main park area. God forbid. We were the only people there, so couple that with the post-storm dreariness and it felt extra desolate. I fucking loved it.

OK I will try not to be super-wordy about this next part but it was A BIG DEAL to me for some reason. It was around 6pm at this point and none of the rides had reopened yet. However, we noticed that there were small lines formed at some rides, so Chooch and I decided to see if anyone was waiting for Loch Ness.

Two guys ended up walking in with us and I said, “I’m not sure if it’s open,” and  the one guy said that some of the smaller rides were testing, so we decided to press our luck. There were a handful of people in the station! Chooch and I claimed the empty last row and we proceeded to eavesdrop on the conversation that some of the people in line were having with one of the (kinda nerdy but adorable) ride attendants. I wish I had gotten his name! Someone in line asked him how long far away the storm has to be before they’re allowed to restart the rides, and he said he wasn’t sure but that was what Dispatch was there for, to watch the storm. He basically kept giving vague answers, insinuating that the rides were not going to run again that night but that the park wasn’t going to officially call it because then they’d have to issue rain checks.

His partner was sitting over at the controls, looking thoroughly bored. Eventually, she said she was going to “take her 45.” I was confused because I thought that the park closed at 7 so why was she taking a 45 minute break after 6:30??

While she was gone, one of the ride operators from  the nearby Finnegan’s Flight came in and took Nerdy Guy’s place, who was now sitting at the control booth thing. New Guy was so awesome!! I think his name was Jhordan?? I can’t remember but it had a cool spelling and he was TOTALLY CUTE and chatty.

But then, THE PHONE RANG. Nerdy Guy answered and we all got so quiet.

He hung up and Jhordan was like, “WELL??” and Nerdy Guy was like, “They said to cycle it.”

It was about 7 at this point so I thought, “Oh, I guess the park is staying open longer to try and get the rides started” but apparently it was always open until 9 and I was just confused as usual!

I turned to the guys who followed us into line and gushed, “I feel like we were really a part of something there!” I LOVE FEELING LIKE THAT! I think because I don’t often feel like I’m part of a group or anything, so whenever I get to experience something that brings strangers close together, it’s exciting to me. (I mean, as long as it’s not a tragedy.)

Anyway, it turned out that Nerdy Guy didn’t actually know how to get the ride started so Jhordan had to call out directions to him from the other side of the platform, so now I was A BIT SCARED.

But they went through the process of pushing down all of the restraints and then Nerdy Guy shakily did his thing at the control desk and they both put their thumbs up. As the train left the station, the whole building erupted in cheers and applause. It felt SO SPECIAL.

While waiting for the train to do its cycle, Jhordan came over and stood by me.

“Did you see that?” he asked me. “I swear I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my eye.” We both turned and looked out of the station and over to where the Griffon and Alpengeist tracks were.

I did. I saw it. It was definitely lightning, I thought.

While this was happening, Griffon and Alpengeist were cycling test trains too and someone said that the flash of light must have been from the on-ride camera flash. Jhordan did NOT seem to accept this theory though, but still, when the train came back, the restraints came up and the gates opened. Once again, we all cheered as we boarded the train. They had JUST LOCKED OUR RESTRAINTS when the fucking phone rang again.

It was Dispatch reneging on their previous “all clear.”  MOTHERFUCKER. But Jhordan was so relieved. “I knew in my heart that was lightning!” he said. “It did not feel right sending this thing.”

So the restraints came up and we all had to get back on the platform – some people completely exited but at this point, I was invested. All in. Every last egg in this fucking Loch Ness basket. And hilariously, we had now been in line for an hour, so probably longer than we would have waited earlier in the day but noooo, Mr. Impatience wouldn’t do it.

Jhordan taught me about the various color codes that the park implements for storms.  Currently, they were back up to a CODE RED which means no rides can operate. One of the colors means that rides under a certain height can still operate (I think yellow?) and CODE BLACK is basically SHUT ‘ER DOWN AND TAKE COVER, NO ONE CAN LEAVE. He said that actually happened one time accidentally, when it was just drizzling, and it sent everyone into a panic.

Now I really felt like I was part of something special! And it was exciting to see them doing the X with their arms and saying “Cross” every time they had to climb across the track to get to the other side of the platform – even when the rides are down, they follow amusement park law!

Then the phone rang and we all held our breath. When Nerdy Guy hung up, we were like “WELL???” and he said, “Wha—oh, it was nothing important.” My favorite part was when someone squawked over a walkie talkie something that sounded like “code green” and we all froze. Jhordan mouthed, “the fuck???” so Nerdy Guy had to get back on the phone with Dispatch who confirmed that no, it was still very much Code Red. I mean, it wasn’t raining anymore but there was still thunder.

Girl Operator came back from her 45 and we were laughing at how much she missed while she was gone. With her being back, Nerdy Guy got to leave since his work day was technically done. But all he did was leave and come back in a white t-shirt with headphones around his neck, role-playing as a member of the general public and asking if the rides were going to start back up at all. Jhordan was like, “Naw dude, I highly doubt it, you better just leave” and I felt like all three ride operators at this point where sending us signals so we’d stop wasting our time, because as Jhordan told me earlier, they’re not allowed to flat out tell us to leave the line. But I really felt that this was them taking pity on us.

Our friends in the queue next to us had already left and now hardly anyone was still waiting. Plus, Jhordan was now over at the control desk and Girl Operator was standing next to us but she wasn’t conversational like the other two so it just didn’t feel the same anymore. At this point, we had been standing for AN HOUR AND A HALF I think. I looked at Chooch and said, “OK, I’m calling it.” So we dejectedly left the Loch Ness Monster station to the tune of sad trombones and thunder.

Meanwhile, Henry was hanging out under a small pavilion with some other people and was like, “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ALMOST LET YOU ON THAT WITH ALL THIS LIGHTNING” and then he showed me the following video he took which is actually less bad than the bout of lightning that happened prior to him filming:

This video is super small because Henry’s phone is dumb.

So, that was my Loch Ness odyssey. We walked around the park for a little bit and bought some souvenirs. I bought several postcards but decided to keep this one for myself as reminder of my supreme stubbornness and also the bonding time spent with strangers staring at a parked roller coaster train.

It was 8pm at this point and it seemed like none of the coasters were going to be cleared to run again so I sadly and with major POUTING LIPS said, “Fine let’s just leave.” And of course, as soon as we walked through the parking lot to our car, I turned around just in time to see fucking Griffon running.

Fuccccccckkkkk.

I comforted myself with  the reminder that this place isn’t THAT far away and we will be back again for Pantheon anyway, so I can ride Loch Ness Monster until I require a neck brace.

OMG wait I can’t believe I failed to mention this in my last post! But after the second time we attempted to ride Loch Ness, Chooch wandered over to the nearby lockers after we got out of line. I didn’t really pay much mind to this at first because I was busy bitching to Henry about how he wouldn’t wait in line. But then I was like, “The fuck is he doing?”

Here, one of his friends from a Discord chat group he’s in was at Busch Gardens a few days before us and left him a note hidden behind a wall in those lockers. So he was looking like a common criminal, retrieving drugs probably and not a note from an Internet friend inside a Ziploc bag. Don’t ask him who it’s from exactly, or what it says, hoooo boy, you’ll be sorry. #ChoochsSecretLife

Anyway, I’m coming back for you, Nessie.  You just wait.

Aug 042021
 

Busch Gardens was the second-most anticipated part of the trip! I’ve only been there once before, in 2015–remember the TIMESHARE that we suffered through a presentation for just to get free tickets to Busch Gardens and then we ended up falling prey to the spiel anyway and wound up with a timeshare that we used once and then…

Anyway!! There weren’t very many new coaster credits for Chooch to get here because he was tall enough to ride everything the last time, but they do have a new wooden coaster and apparently a new kiddie coaster (lol).

Let’s just focus on how beautiful this damn park is though, ok? Because I really believe that it’s the prettiest, best-themed park in the US aside from like, I dunno, Universal Studios. So in today’s vacation recap post, we will be enjoying the Euro-themed goodness of Busch Gardens.

I have 100% never skied before in my life (I mean, I just spent 3 minutes fighting with spellcheck because I wanted to spell it “skii” in the worst way) but I love love love the area around Alpengeist, the park’s VISCIOUS B&M invert. Jesus Christ, I forgot how intense this coaster is! You’re meant to be an out-of-control ski lift and yep, B&M nailed it.

This was me, about to ride it for the second time, directly after eating pizza.

It was a really strange day at Busch Gardens because when we first arrived, the parking lot didn’t look too stuffed. But then we got into the park and it seemed pretty crowded. The first ride we went to (Loch Ness Monster) had a really long line and I was like OH GREAT, GOOD JOB HENRY, THANKS because everything that went south on this trip was his fault.

Literally! Our original itinerary didn’t have us going south at all but then he axed Six Flags Great Adventure due to El Toro and Jersey Devil being down, and also deep-sixed Luna Park on Coney Island because you can only buy four-hour blocks of time there right now and he made the unilateral decision to go there another time. So that’s how the southern leg of the trip came into fruition. You know, in case you were wondering.

“You.”

Anyway, we walked to another area of the park and realized that everyone was just congregating over by Loch Ness because it was near the entrance I guess, and everything else was pretty much a station wait or a walk-on! We decided to live it up and waited a bit extra for the front row of Griffon, the park’s dive coaster, and it was only about 15 minutes! If we had opted for any other row, it would have been almost a walk-on.

Plus? Ops at Busch Gardens are AMAZING. These people know how to hustle and safely send trains out of the station.

That bad bitch, Griffon aka Better Than Valravn. Sorry, Cedar Point, but you can’t always be the best at everything! Henry didn’t ride this the last time we visited, probably because he forgot to eat his POWER PRUNES that time and was too scared. So this was actually his first dive coaster, what a lamer.

Verbolten was Chooch’s and my favorite coaster the last time we visited and we talked about it all the time for the rest of the summer  like it was a pet we had to get put to sleep. That is how much we missed it! So we were stoked to stuff our butts on this bitch again! Look at the theming in the queue! It’s so wonderful!

We had to wait about 20 minutes for this one but that’s OK, it’s worth it. And again, ops are great at Busch Gardens and also no one there was annoying us that day either.

We were triggered at the sight of the gnomes because the day before at Carowinds, one of the things we had to do during that Plants v. Zombies ride was find golden gnomes for extra points and again, our team sucked so bad and we were CRUSHED by the Plants team.

YES, TO BE IN THIS STATION AGAIN!! Henry had to ride by himself and at the last minute, a single rider squeezed through just as the gates were closing and plopped down next to him. CHOOCH AND I LOVE WHEN THIS HAPPENS!! WILL THEY ACKNOWLEDGE EACH OTHER? WILL THEY GIGGLE AND SCREAM TOGETHER??

In this case, no. But Henry was annoyed because his seat partner was really quiet until the train left the station and then he started screaming.

Wow. Imagine people….SCREAMING….on a roller coaster. What a barbarian.

#CAROUSELFIE

Fun fact: we did not take a carouselfie at Carowinds because that park made me angry and I don’t want an ANGRY CAROUSELFIE on my wall of happiness.

Oh shit, this ride was pretty good! Busch Garden’s first wooden coaster and it was wild. Henry rode by himself on the train before ours, lol, he doesn’t even bother trying to get on the same ride as us anymore.

Also – new credit for Chooch, since this was built two years after we last visited!

OMG there was DRAMA when we were line for Escape from Pompeii! FIRST, there was several girls in line who were wearing crop tops and the ride operator got on her microphone to announce that shirts must be worn on this ride, and bikini tops or sports bras or shirts that could pass as sports bras ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE. The girls in line were like DA FUQ and even I, the Ageing Prude, thought that the girls were appropriately covered. I mean, it’s summer – crop tops and belly shirts are everywhere. They definitely did not look scantily clad to me, nor did their shirts even remotely resemble bikini tops!?

I stopped paying attention so I don’t know what happened after that but I think they must have pled their case because I did not see them leave.

Then the ride operators eased up on the fashion policing because the security footage showed them that someone on one of the in-flight boats HAD STOOD UP INSIDE THE BUILDING AND WAS SWINGING OFF THE BOAT whatever that means?!!?

There is all kinds or pyrotechnics poppin’ off inside the ride building so I can only imagine the dangers that could have befallen them, not to mention they endangered the other people in the boat!

The BOAT IN QUESTION happened to return right when we were boarding ours, so I got to hear one of the ride operators stroll over there in FULL ON BAD COP persona and demand, “So which one of you was it” and they all played dumb. I’m so pissed that we were already boarded and not still standing in the line because I wanted to see how this was going to play out!!

Chooch’s memory of this ride was much richer than what it actually is. I mean, yeah the building part is cool but it’s no Splash Mountain. (Gotta throw Disney a bone every now and then, I’m not a total monster!)

Anyway, that’s us in the backseat. I was super smug because I managed to keep my pink lemonade Vans 100% dry, Mary!

We walked past this ride about 10 minutes later and IT WAS SHUT DOWN. Was it because of the BOAT SWINGER!?!

But then we found this kiddie coaster that wasn’t there the last time because the entire kiddie area is new. Henry said it’s not new but Chooch and I are always right and I definitely do not remember an entire Sesame Street area? Go on and Google it if you want and let me know if I’m a liar, Linda, because I don’t care enough to do it myself.

Anyway, we got yelled at kind of because it was a station wait, but then it looked like there was an open seat on the train  that was being loaded so we shrugged and decided to just take it because who cares about waiting for the front row on a fucking Grovermobile, but as we went to step inside, not one, not two, BUT THREE ride attendants yelled, “NO NO NO” and batted us away. Apparently, the seat was already taken by a parent and little kid who had to step across to the other side of the station in order for the kid to be measured AND GUESS WHAT THEY DIDN’T END  UP RIDING IT ANYWAY, THANKS FOR SCOLDING US FOR NOTHING, ASSHOLES.

Chooch was so angry with me because he had wanted to wait for the front seat anyway and I was the one who was like WE AIN’T GOT TIME FOR THAT SHIT LET’S JUST STEAL THIS SEAT HERE BRO.

Anyway, one of the ride attendants was actually getting trained and we learned here that when an attendant needs to cross the track to the other side of the platform, the have to make an X with their arms and yell CROSS.

I was really excited about this.

Also, the guy who was doing the training looked mean. Well, he DID yell at us, so that may have swayed my opinion.

Um, this ride was supposed to open last year, then this summer, but it’s not even being tested daily so who knows!? But it looks so good and I already can’t wait to go back once it’s open.

The one and only negative thing (aside from the understaffing resulting in a bunch of food places being closed) was the lack of hand sanitizer around the park. I mean, we are still very much in a pandemic and even though many of us are vaccinated, we are not invincible! Hand washing and sanitizer will forever be something I do obsessively now and I was so angry every time I pushed down on ANOTHER empty sanitizer pump. Ughhhhh.

And yeah, the understaffing thing is such a problem at every park, and it is really sad. I am trying to give parks a pass when it’s clear that Covid is directly correlated with me having a bad time at a park, so I cannot dock points from Busch Gardens because I was unable to deep throat an ice cream cone because their ice cream shop was closed for the entire day/probably whole season.

But come on, do better with the sanitization amenities, Busch Gardens, jeez. What do you think this is, 2019??

Then we ate pizza at Festhaus which was a MISTAKE because we all got sick from it. It was so good but way too much. Also, Chooch snuck that $5 pickle log on his tray and then only took two bites.

LOL.

Then a storm rolled through and we had to take cover but I will be back for my post-storm thoughts later because Henry just had the audacity to sneeze without warning me and now my evening is ruined. That motherfucker.

Aug 022021
 

One of my favorite things about Wildwood as a kid was all the cool ass neon signs along that main drag of motels. I didn’t know that “doo wop” is not just a music genre but also a type of architecture until I watched a Wildwood documentary last year (BRUCE WILLIS IS IN IT). I’m really glad that this stuff is preserved as best as it can be because it’s glorious.

On Thursday night, I was really close to hitting 40,000 for the second time since I started Fitbitting at least 6 years ago, so I made Henry walk around the block and check out the neon signs with me. It really is like a mini-Vegas strip out there.

Here are some of my faves!

You guys I was OBSESSED with the Waikiki when I was little. We always stayed across from it at the Olympic but one year I got my grandparents to be like OMFG OK and we stayed at the Waikiki!! Here’s a picture of MY MOM AND ME having breakfast in the rooftop restaurant!!

Oh man it gave me chills to see this bitch ip close again!!

Then next door is my beloved, my BAE, the Olympic. This place definitely rebranded since I was last there. It used to be the Olympic Motor Inn and definitely did not have that intense neon bling clinging to the side. Damn.

That’s originally where I wanted to stay when we were planning this trip a few mths ago but holy shit, rates were poppin’ off. Was it that expensive when my family used to go?? Jesus.

So dumb Henry ended up getting a room across the street at the GOLD CREST which was fine I guess (I mean, don’t worry, I still threw a massive it when we got there on Wednesday but that’s a story for another day, Mary) but THE SIGN WAS NOT COOL!!

And the rooms didn’t have cool colored lights outside of them, like our neighbor the Cara Mara. I was really angry about this and finally Henry said, “SORRY. NEXT TIME I’LL ASK ‘excuse me, but can you tell me what you’re night time light package is like?’ BEFORE I COMMIT TO A HOTEL.”

Lol. He gets so mad!

Meanwhile:

The last time I crossed the 40,000 step threshold was EXACTLY four years ago when we were in Toronto for the GDragon concert!

Aug 012021
 

I really hate to start off my roller coaster birthday road trip posts on a bad note, but our first park was not great, Bob.

(Fun fact: I have never watched a single episode of Mad Men* but my friend Sandy would always quote from it when I sat near her in the office.)

(*I have always been interested in watching it though!)

Anyway. As I mentioned in the live blog from Day 1 of this trip, we did pop into Carowinds on Saturday evening after we arrived in the Charlotte-esque area and checked into our hotel.

The first thing you see from the parking lot and as you’re walking through the entrance is Carowinds massive, hulking giga coaster, Fury 325. This is 100% the sole reason we came to this park.

Now, I knew it would be crowded since it was a Saturday night so that is not a thing I will be complaining about here. My issue was that the ride operators and attendants on *most* of the coasters were slow and acted bored, the lines were a fucking mess because people were cutting left and right, the app was worthless as far as wait times go, and the park aesthetically was nothing special to look at.

The line for this piece of shit ride was actually relatively short but no one was checking Fast Lane, the two ride attendants were stuck in “meander mode” took anywhere from 3-6 minutes to get a train ready to send, and the queues in the station were a straight-up cluster fuck. We waited nearly an hour FOR AN ARROW CORKSCREW COASTER.

Also, there were two dumb Crocs-clad white kids in line behind us who wiled away the time by spitting incessantly at the wood fence next to us. It was FUCKING AWESOME.
What a piece of shit ride. We were only able to get this and one ride on Hurler that night before calling it and leaving to get a late dinner.
FUN FACT about the Hurler: It’s an OK wooden coaster, pretty non-descript and not memorable at all. But there was a clone of it at King’s Dominion which got the RMC treatment a few years ago and is now known as Twisted Timbers. That ride is a fucking RMC prince, I swear to god. So even though Hurler was pretty basic, it was still pretty interesting to see what it was like before RMC elevated its clone to elite status.

We came back the next day right before gates opened in an attempt to join the running of the bulls to Fury.

There were many annoying families with humungous strollers, and since we were in THE SOUTH, people were really giving a shit about singing the National Anthem before the security guard opened the gate for us. I think it’s REALLY WEIRD that some amusement parks go through this whole patriotic rigamarole, but I also pretty much hate America, so there’s that. Henry didn’t take his hat off like most of the other ‘MURRICA men did, so that made him kind of attractive to me in that moment, though I’m sure he just forgot to remove it and he wasn’t actually MAKING A STATEMENT.

I will say this: the crew working on Fury 325  that morning WAS EXCELLENT. They were fast and efficient and you could tell they took their jobs seriously. It was the first time since exploring Carowinds that it finally felt like we were at a Cedar Fair park, so that was super nice. If you have ever been to Cedar Point, you know that even when it is insanely crowded and rides are breaking down, the staff there is SO PROFESSIONAL and on top of things.

You can’t have an elite giga coaster at your park and assigning ops to ambivalent teenagers.

ANYWAY. We got a back row ride, after only waiting about 10 minutes (if even!) and I was SO HAPPY. It was just as fierce as I imagined it would be, and I wasn’t underwhelmed at all. I even made the bold statement that it was my new favorite giga – it’s our 4th one! Henry and Chooch wouldn’t commit to this lofty declaration, though they both agreed it was a phenomenal time.

Next, we had to book it on over to the other park’s premier attraction, their newest coaster Copperhead Strike. It has a multi-launch so I was really excited for it because I love launched coasters (well, mostly—am not a fan of strata coasters like Top Thrill Dragster because that launch is just a bit too much for my weakened old lady heart). The line was still pretty short but Henry to pee first; Chooch and I will 100% not wait for him anymore when he pulls this “I have to pee” bullshit so we were like, “Have fun with that” and got in line without him. He did eventually get in line and actually wasn’t too far back. But, we’re not ASSHOLES like it seems most park-goers are so we didn’t frantically and blatantly wave him over to us. I swear to god, people put placeholders in the form of other family members in almost every line we were in, and then like 7 people would do the EXCUSE ME PARDON ME routine until they were practically at the fucking station.

Anyway, Chooch and I got a back row ride. He really liked it. I thought it was just ok. Henry managed to cut off a Fast Lane group at the station just in time to snag on the front row when it was his turn to ride and he ended up really liking it too. Maybe I need to get in more rides, I dunno, but I was just expecting a little more I guess. And the launches were so weak, like why even bother.

It *does* have a Jo Jo Roll right out of the station though and I looooove screaming JO JO ROLL so that was a nice perk.

Cedar Fair parks are doing some weird Grand Carnivale festival thing which we 100% did not care about and made a point of missing the parade, lol. But you can purchase a tasting card and go around to various tents to try food from around the world. South Korea wasn’t one of the places so what did I care.

We got lucky and just happened to be walking past Night Hawk – the park’s flying coaster – right as the line opened so we jumped on that. And good thing too because that line got LONG REAL FAST. I mean, even getting in line that early, we were still behind the people that had already lined up in anticipation of it opening, so we had to wait about 20-30 minutes anyway (plus, ops were slow AF). Chooch and I entertained ourselves by waving to the people on the nearby mine train ride.

When it was finally our turn, we rode in a row with this single rider lady who was SO FRIENDLY and excited that it was our first time on it. Also, she said we were lucky to be riding it right then, because the line had grown so significantly since it opened that it was pushing a 2 hour wait time.

Um, after riding Night Hawk, I can confirm that it would not be worth that wait. But also, I do not like flying coasters, and this one was old and janky. I had NO IDEA what was going on for most of it because I was so fixated on the rattling and trying to remember the words to the Hail Mary.

But yeah, that lady we rode with was so sweet and one of the only highlights of the Carowinds experience.

(I will say that most of the people there were pretty inoffensive. It wasn’t like when you go to Holiday World and all the dads look like middle-aged bloated Jonny Craigs just released from prison.)

I begged Henry and Chooch to ride the mine train after this. I don’t know why, but I get the biggest kick out of mine train coasters! Sadly, this was another ride where some skanky pre-teen saved a spot in line for her younger siblings and frumpy mom who said, “Is it OK if we just squeeze on by.” I mumbled, “Not really,” as she SQUEEZED ON BY and hit me with her ugly-ass quilted mom bag that she probably traded in a diaper bag for.

We all look exactly how we feel on the inside here: overheated, tired, cranky.

Again, the line wasn’t very long but it was still an excessive wait, and then once we got to the station we saw why: THAT GIRL WAS THE SAME RIDE ATTENDANT ON CAROLINA CYCLONE THE NIGHT BEFORE. Ugh. Her name is Adora, by the way. Someone give her an intravenous Red Bull treatment, please.

LOL I love it when Henry has to stand in a line by himself, and also when it looks like his mustache got extensions.

Anyway, this was a fun, cute little mine ride! And it had a surprise tunnel! I LOVE WHEN RIDES HAVE TUNNELS THAT I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT! Chooch does not share this love.

At Carowinds, half the park is in North Carolina, and half is in South Carolina. I think North Carolina got the better rides, ngl.

OK the sleeper hit of the park for me was Afterburn. I say sleeper hit, because I only even hear people jerk off over Fury and Intimidator (and now Copperhead Strike) so I honestly hadn’t heard much about anything else in the coaster line-up. Plus, this bitch is kind of hidden in a weird location – we had to walk through Camp Snoopy to get there (and btw, that was the only area that I thought was pleasant – everything else was like a blacktop hellscape).

Henry opted out of this one, but then seamlessly stepped into the CRINGEY DAD ROLE when he cut all the way through the Fast Lane just to give Chooch a cup of Power Ade, causing everyone in line to stare at us. To be honest, I wasn’t even really paying attention when this happened, but Chooch was like digging himself a grave right there on the spot, he was so mortified.

“NOW EVERYONE IS AWARE OF US,” he kept hoarsely whispering to me.

Anyway, ops were soooooo bad on this. First of all, some jackass in the same row as us waited until the last minute to be like, “EXCUSE ME DO YOU HAVE ANY GREY POUPON” and I mean obviously that’s code for, “hey pal I know you guys just locked the restraints but I JUST NOW REALIZED that I am wearing my glasses and could you be a dear and put them over there on the side for me” and of course the ride attendant was like, “hell no, we can’t touch your shit because if it breaks you’ll try to blame us” SO THEY UNLOCKED EVERYONE’S RESTRAINTS JUST SO FOUR EYES OVER HERE COULD PUT HIS OWN GLASSES IN THE BIN.

Then after everyone got settled for the second time, the ride attendant came BACK TO OUR ROW and said, “Can you  guys take these seats up here instead” and so the two guys next to me took their restraints off AGAIN and got out of their seats and I was like WHAT IS HAPPENING ARE WE SUPPOSED TO MOVE TOO but no one was answering me and then two different guys came to our row and a different attendant was like HELLO PLEASE GIVE YOUR SEAT TO HIM to me and I was like WHAT WHY so Chooch and I had to move over to the now-vacated seats left by those other dumb guys.

Well, this was all a really long story just to say that I was apparently sitting in the oversized seat and some oversized dude needed it way more than me. But it was a lot of musical chairs and shuffling around. I was actually really scared for them to even send the train at this point but after sitting in the station for nearly 10 minutes, our train was finally cleared.

And it ended up being my favorite ride of the day after Fury, WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT. And it had surprise tunnels!!

I think that I really, really, really love B&M inverts.

I made Henry stand here because MILITARY AIR CRAFT, ETC.

“The caption should be ‘god bless America,'” Chooch said.

We also did Plants v. Zombies mostly because we wanted to sit an air-conditioned building because it was 95 degrees out there that day.

We were on the Zombie side and got creamed by the Plants because we had almost all children on our side and obviously they suck and should not be allowed to compete in such games.

Meanwhile, I was being POUTY ERIN which was actually my default personality on this trip because I wanted to ride Intimidator, Carowind’s hypercoaster, but Chooch kept saying THAT LINE IS SO FUCKING LONG ARE YOU KIDDING and I kept getting vetoed. But right before we left the park, I shouted, “I AM GOING TO CHECK OUT THAT LINE AGAIN” and it looked about the same but this time Henry had the audacity to cross Chooch by saying, “It actually doesn’t seem that long.” So, with Chooch being all huffy, we got in line and GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS IT ACTUALLY WASN’T THAT LONG.

It was maybe only around 30 minutes. And when all three of us are standing in line together, I don’t mind waiting. It’s when it’s just Chooch and me that I feel like I’m dying slowly in quicksand because most of the time he is too caught up in his stupid Dischord chat group to pay any attention to me and if I dare to speak to him while he’s texting, I get the Teenage Hiss of Fury in response.

It was around this moment in line when IN THE AIR TONIGHT started to play!! Phil Collins to the rescue!

You guys, I thought this was…..pretty good! Chooch and I had a Big Fight because he said that this is the one that people call InTRIMinator because of all of the trim brakes on the tracks but I was adamant that it was Intimidator 305 at King’s Dominion.

Um, anyway, I hate being wrong. Moving on…

Some random single rider rode with Henry and Chooch and I LOVE TO SEE IT. We get the biggest thrill out of seeing Henry riding uncomfortably with a stranger, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY START TALKING TO HIM, which this guy did once we reached the break run and ended up having to sit there for a few minutes while the ride attendants HOSED OFF the train that was in the station because I think someone yakked on it maybe.

We decided to leave for real after this, because the lines for everything were only getting longer as the day went on and it was SO FUCKING HOT. We got most of the coasters checked off the list and Chooch didn’t seem too broken up about skipping the remaining 4 coasters (2 of which were kiddie/family coasters).

And that’ll do it for our time at Carowinds, a park that I would not lose any sleep over if told I could never go back.

Jul 302021
 

Hi from the miserable car ride home. It’s my 42nd birthday today and Henry thought I’d be ok with it being a travel day. He literally does not know me even after 20 years LOL.

The morning was good at least because we were still in Wildwood, but it all went downhill after we checked out and went to Six Flags Great Adventure but I guess that’s kind of expected because how do you top Wildwood? Surprise flight to Korea, or GTFO I guess.

Some broad offered to take pictures of me and Henry at this WILDWOODS sign when we first got there at 7am this morning and I 100% did not want this to happen but didn’t have the heart to say no so she took a series of really ugly pictures of us that will never see the lift of day and I do appreciate her effort but then we had to pretend like we were leaving so we could come back and take real ones but she hung around for so long with whatever baby she had in a stroller, I think she was its grandma, but who could be sure.

I didn’t have a cake or anything birthday-ish today, although Henry and Chooch did stop in some bakery called Let’s Get Baked in some tiny town called Allentown, NJ after we left Six Flags. They got some cupcakes and a cookie. The cupcakes weren’t terrible but I also think they’re taking great liberties by passing them off as such because they had the consistency of cornbread.

Six Flags Great Adventure was the best Six Flags we’ve been to so far, ambiance and ride attendant-wise, but THREE of their BIGGEST COASTERS were down (one of which we knew about going in, but the other two were surprises) and then while we were there, two more went down, so all of the other big coasters had massive lines even though the park wasn’t crowded at all, because where else was everyone supposed to go?! We did get some rides in (Chooch got his Kingda Ka credit before it went down so – yay? I hate strata coasters so this was not a highlight for me).

We left after about five hours and ate dinner at some place in NJ called Club House Diner which was supposed to have a vegetable panini, grilled cheese, and veggie burger option according to their website.

When we walked in, I was like OH FUCK YEAH THIS IS THE JOINT because it was totally my style: all brown and tacky, looking like one of those family restaurants from the 60s that families probably got a little dressed up for. But now it’s just an outdated diner with a modpodge menu and a salad bar that no one in their right mind should be digging into during a pandemic yet we watched Elders going back for thirds and fourths.

But then guess what guys guess what no really guess I’ll wait.

THE WEBSITE WAS OUTDATED and none of the options i mentioned above were on the menu. CHooch was able to order a grilled cheese off the secret menu (sike, everyone knows you can request a grilled cheese) but I was like NO I WILL JUST ORDER SOMETHING I DONT WANT OUT OF PRINCIPLE so I got the “healthy vegetable omelette” made with egg whites and it might have been healthy-ish until the pile of hash browns sidled up next to it.

I ate about half and wanted to die, and then I got even more angry when we went to leave and I walked past the dessert case to see a delicious-looking CARROT CAKE and also a bangin’ apple pie but NO I wasted my “birthday treat” on a shitty cupcake and mediocre cookie. Choices were made.

If it weren’t for the super friendly waitress and the “my grandparents used to love that place” vibes, I would have been super pissed.

Oh also Chooch made my coffee splash all over my place mat when he got up to go to the baggy so that WAS ANOTHER STRIKE AGAINST THIS DAY.

So I made him take a mirror selfie with me after he wasted two dollars in the claw machine on the way out.

Henrys trying to say that it’s not his fault today sucks, it’s because Wildwood left the bar so high, like that’s going to work on me.

Anyway. You know you’re old when you have to pause to think real hard about your age and then it ends with finger-counting, calculator math, asking a friend. But I’ve confirmed that I am, in fact, 42 today even though I’m pretty sure I thought I already was 42 for this whole past year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go buy myself a Mister Softee t-shirt for my birthday.

Jul 292021
 

Hello from a Thursday in Wildwood! We’re having a dandy time and are currently resting in the room before Nighttime Boardwalk Action so I would like to take this time to update you, Dear Diary, about my newest random obsession: MISTER SOFTEE.

I understand that it’s a chain but we do not have these in Pittsburgh, so when I first heard the menacing ice cream truck-esque jingle wafting across the boardwalk, I was instantly lassoed.

“Why is this so great?” Chooch asked in a tone steeped in his signature teenage malaise.

“Because the logo is so terrifying! It’s like straight out of a horror movie! IT LOOKS LIKE HE’S BLEEDING DOWN HIS NECK,” I excitedly wheezed.

“Ask the girl if they have shirts for sale,” I begged Henry, but he wouldn’t because he said he didn’t think they did and obviously he knows everything.

“Ok then ask her if we can buy her shirt,” I said. “Excuse me can we buy your shirt?” I coached him to say, but he would NOT DO IT.

Don’t worry though. Henry checked the Mister Softee website and I can buy a shirt from there THANK GOD.

I had a Fruity Pebbles…Storm? I think that’s what their Blizzard-esque things were called. Was it mind-blowing? I mean not really but I love anything Fruity Pebbles so it was delicious. But it was the Mister Softee logo, not flavor, that captured my soul and made me a disciple.

My favorite part though is when Henry attempted to Shazam the ice cream truck-y tune and discovered that it was sampled in this SUPER KID-FRIENDLY song lol:

 

Jul 282021
 

Hello from vacation. We were at King’s Dominion all day yesterday and stayed over in Baltimore. Now we’re en route to our next stop so I am updating from the car!

On Monday, we went to Busch Gardens (I keep wanting to add an “e” to the end of Busch for some reason, thankfully auto-correct won’t let me) and I collected some pictures of Henry’s back which I will now share with you and you and ok fine, even you.

The “Gotta Get To the Rolly Coaster Before Everyone Else” shot.

The “Ditched His Old Family, Picked Up a New One, They’re Slow Too & Now He’s Got an Extra Kid” shot.

Bonus shot of Full Frontal Henry. This is the “Even Michael Myers Gets PTO and When He Does, The Mask Comes Off & He Goes to Theme Parks” shot.

The “FOLLOW THE STENCH OF BEER-N-MEAT” shot.

The “Thinking This Park Would Be Better if It Was Called Faygo Gardens & Now Wondering What His FAYGO Friends Are Doing Without Him in the Warehouse” shot.

The “Acknowledging My Family Long Enough To Show Them Turtles in the Water” shot.

The “Waiting Out the Storm, Thank God We’re By a Bathroom” shot.

 

The “HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU PPL” shot.

The “Someone Dared Scream My Name While I’m Inhaling a Soft Pretzel Which I Still Had Room For Even After Eating My Own Pizza and Then Finishing Off My Family’s Leftovers” shot.

The “If I Hear You Cry About Wanting to Ride the Loch Ness Monster ONE MORE TIME I will GIVE YOU SOMETHING REAL TO CRY ABOUT and It May Or Not Involve Being Bitch-Slapped By My Own Personal Loch Ness Monster” shot.

The “Thinks We’re Leaving But Erin & Chooch Will Foil That Plan By Proceeding to Wait 90 Minutes In Line For a Roller Coaster That Is Not Going to Be Cleared To Resume Operations Because There Is Lightning All Over The Williamsburg Skies But I Guess I Will Find A Bench To Park My Pizza Cheese-Corked Butt Hole and Read Reddit” shot.

***

Ok that’s all for now – we’re 40 minutes from our next destination – WILDWOOD!!

Jul 272021
 

Usually we opt to grab something fast and boring from the hotel’s complimentary breakfast because we’re in a hurry to get somewhere, but this morning we actually had some time since we were only an hour away from our next destination (King’s Dominion in Doswell, VA). So we drove around Williamsburg (and saw some places we remembered from last time in 2015!). Chooch saw a sign for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and said, “There’s a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not here??”

“Yeah,” henry deadpanned, “and believe it or not, we’re not going.”

“Wow you’re so funny,” Chooch and I said in tandem.

ANYWAY. Henry was being all bitchy because all the PANCAKE HOUSES and whatnot were packed. He made an offhand remark about how Mama Steve’s was the only one that didn’t look crowded but that “concerned” him. When he drove past it again, I was like, “Just go here, it doesn’t look that empty” also I didn’t give a shit because my stomach has been a’bubble with anxiety this whole trip and I knew going into this breakfast game that I was just getting oatmeal and like, all breakfast places have that shit on the menu.

Dude. You guys. From the instant we walked through the doors, I knew this place was The One. It smelt of the 1960s and was the perfect shade of blue.

I was smitten. They could have had actual bricks of shit on the menu (or worse: LIVERMUSH) and I would have just been content with a cup of coffee and that good good retro ambiance.

I turned around to take this picture JUST AS A WAITRESS WAS COMING OUT OF THE KITCHEN. We made eye contact and I think she hated me for a while but our waitress was super nice so who cares I guess, nothing was gonna bring me down in MAMA STEVE’S.

The color of the walls was mildly reminiscent of my grandparent’s dining room (Gillcrest respect) and this just made me want to gather the whole place up in my arms and squeeze it into my HEAVING BOSOM.

It’s hard to find the accurate words but this restaurant made me feel some kind of weird nostalgia for a time when families went on vacations in a station wagon and the Dad wore Hawaiian shirts and polyester pants.

I kept waiting for the Brady Bunch to come strolling in for some eggs n’ OJ before a day of exploring Colonial Williamsburg where some high school Thomas Jefferson cosplayer will inevitably fall in love with Marsha but JAN LIKES HIM.

MARSHA MARSHA MARSHA.

Meanwhile, some local Williamsburg rockabilly thugs are teaching Greg and Peter how to smoke TOBEY TREES while Bobby and Cindy accidentally uncover some ancient Presidential thing under a rock.

Me: I’m obsessed with it here. Aren’t you?

Chooch, glances around: No.

Me: But it’s got aesthetic. Vibes. It’s a whole mood.

Chooch: Omg shut up.

And then an instrumental cover of Steely Dan’s Babylon Sisters came on!!

Meanwhile, chooch asked the waitress if the vegetarian omelette had mushrooms in it.

“No,” she said apologetically, like that was going to be a deal breaker.

“Then I’ll take it,” Chooch said happily. He hates mushrooms which breaks my heart.

Mmmushrooms.

Me: I need to buy Mama Steve’s memorabilia.

Henry: I doubt they have anything.

Me: Well I’ll just go up with you when you pay and see for myself.

That bastard almost beat me there but I made it there as he was handing over the credit card, JUST IN TIME to pant, “AND THIS” as I slid a commemorative COFFEE CUP onto the counter. WHEW. #blessed #mamasteves4l

This is definitely going to be my go-to traditional dining spot next time we’re in Williamsburg (which shouldn’t be too far in the future because Busch Gardens should be opening their new coaster at some point I would hope since it was supposed to open in 2020 and is currently SBNO – standing but not operating).

PS it is three days later but I am back to add that two people at Mama Steve’s we’re wearing PITTSBURGH PENGUINS shirts and I heard one of the shirts-wearers say that he was ORIGINALLY FROM PITTSBURGH. Normally I have zero hometown pride but for some reason I get so stoked when I see someone wearing Penguins stuff when we’re on vacation. That’s all. Bye.

Jul 262021
 

…aside from Carowinds, which was most of the afternoon.

*(EDITORS NOTE: omg I don’t even know what day it is anymore. These are things we did on SUNDAY.)

We had some time to kill in the morning and Roadside America told me that we were mere minutes away from the site of the abandoned Heritage USA, the religious “theme park” created by Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker back in the day (late 80s? Early 90s? Who could be sure. Well, Google could but Vacation Erin don’t be caring).

The site is actually an operational church now (probably one of those wack ones no doubt) that contains some artifacts from the old Heritage USA Main Street but if anyone is going to get sucked into an extreme religion, it’s me so I lost interest and opted not to pursue this any further. Then Henry was like OH SHIT YOU GOTTA SEE THIS HOUSE WE JUST PASSED and when he turned around, I screamed “That’s the place I said you wouldn’t want to go, the Upper Room!!!” I didn’t realize we were that close to it! So he pulled in the parking lot and let me and Chooch off the leash long enough to walk the perimeter.

It’s supposed to be an exact replica of the room in which the Last Supper took place but of course it wasn’t open yet so I couldn’t peep that shit for myself. But I guess I will take their word for it?

When we were walking through the outside parts of the building, Chooch said, “It smells like your pappap’s house” and it really did. It’s hard to explain the scent but it’s old, musty, and nostalgic. Earthy kind of, too.

Then I spazzed out and cried about leaving my cats and we almost canceled the rest of the trip and came home but then I calmed down and we went to Carowinds except that if you know me, you know that this likely dragged on for an hour and was way more intense and hilly than any coaster we’d be riding that day.

BIG LOL.

Ugh.

We left Carowinds around 4 after doing everything we really wanted to do and making an executive decision not to wait 60+ minutes in line for a boomerang and a wild mouse just for credit purposes, and somehow managed to find a veg-friendly restaurant in Charlotte with actual ease and little frustration.

It was called FLOWER CHILD.

And it was wonderful. They had kombucha on tap.

Only I got kombucha. Henry and Chooch grimace at that heavenly nectar.

I got the Glow Bowl which had sweet potato noodles and a vegan-based curry. It was so filling, I couldn’t finish it all and that is unlike me. Henry also got some hippy bowl of some sort and actually liked it and also said that he was surprised how filling it was considering it didn’t appear to be much food. Chooch got a Thai tofu wrap and left all the vegetables but at least he ate the tofu.

Everyone was so friendly there and the aesthetic was 100% my style.

Look how cute the bathroom was!!

After we left, we were walking back to the car, which we had parked on a street about a block away. As we were approaching it, I saw that the drivers side door was open–not fully but also a bit more than just ajar. In my head I thought, “that can’t be our car” and then “OMG THATS OUR CAR.” I ran over with my heart in my throat but somehow, all of our stuff was still there. I had my backpack on the floor of the front seat, with my laptop in it but everything was untouched.

Henry was so confused because he said he knows he shut the door so we have NO IDEA what happened, if someone tried to get in but the alarm went off maybe? I mean, we weren’t on some desolate street – it was right across from a brewery that had plenty of patrons dining outside so — not very conducive for car-jacking or petty theft I guess? It was a very yuppie area.

Man we dodged that bullet but it took a while for my heart rate to go down, that’s for sure.

We drove to downtown Charlotte after that and attempted to walk off some of that anxiety-driven adrenaline. There was this cute city park that I wanted to see because there are giant bronze book statues according to roadside america and I, as you know, am a book dork. Chooch was soooo annoyed about this part of the itinerary.

Especially when I was being hyper-bossy about having my picture taken properly and then I hated every single one anyway so who cares.

I drew a portrait of Frederick Douglass in art one year in high school and I really think it was the best work I’ve ever done and I wish I still had it…why don’t I still have it?

DISCO CHICKEN! I have no idea what this really is but I loved it.

We started our drive to Durham afterward (we needed somewhere to crash on the way to Williamsburg, VA) and I found us an Ice cream joint in Greensboro called Lucha Libre and, as you’ve probably already ascertained by the name, it was bangin’.

This place was SO OVERWHELMING though. So many different things to order, some looked like they were just TOO MUCH though so we all chose something from what appeared to be the smallest, less decked-out menu.

I had such ordering anxiety that when it was my turn, I had to ask the guy what his favorite from that particular type was and he said “coconut” so I said, “Then that is what I want” and thank god because I truly love coconut. But I didn’t see it on the menu because everything had lucha libre and Spanish names with no descriptions so we were ordering blind.

But I don’t really think you could choose poorly at a place like that. I mean, unless you have an allergy of some sort.

Anyway, the guy who took our order ended up being the owner’s son (henry was “reading about the place” while we waited for our orders to be ready, apparently) and he told us that we came at a good time because usually the line loops around the whole place and that entire families (“You know, large families!”) come in after church and it can take over an hour for an order to be ready! It was just 25 minutes for ours and I didn’t mind because the place had a real festive atmosphere, like a dance party:


I mean, they played NKOTB at one point so it was pretty lively lol.

I had to text my work pal Megan because we just had a full-fledged NKOTB discussion on Jabber last week because I was reviewing something for a company called Step By Step and naturally it injected that song into my head. Neither of us were on that New Kids-wagon back in the day but I gotta admit, I always really liked The Right Stuff – the bridge is what did it for me!

YESSSS. And each one came with a syringe of chocolate sauce, too. I *fully* enjoyed this experience but you better believe I dropped to the ground and did sit-ups later that night in our hotel in Durham – The Millennium, which was Shining-esque in its hallways and also smelled like my Pappap’s house??!! We were only there from 10pm-7:30am so I didn’t really get to explore but the room was pretty huge and I had ample space to do my “DO THIS EVERY MORNING TO LOSE WEIGHT” Grow With Jo workout that I woke up extra early for this morning and this shit better work lol.

Also, henry and Chooch both used the bathroom at Lucha Libre which was basically a shared bathroom within the strip mall and they both are still talking about “the hallway of death” that they had to walk along to find the bathroom and Chooch said he heard scraping coming from behind a door and now I feel really left out because I didn’t use the bathroom too :(

When we left, the owner himself thanked us for coming and he was so adorable and now I am obsessed with this place and the friendly people so if you are in Greensboro, go there. Also, bonus points for it being in a shopping center full of Korean businesses too! It is always a joy to see Hangeul signs in the US.

OK, now we’re en route to Busch Garden so I’m peacing out!