Sep 282021
 

Oh ho ho, if you thought the Indiana Beach posts were all dried up, you were wrong because I’m back with another and it’s nice and MOIST.  That doesn’t even make sense. I just wanted to type “moist” since it’s so triggering.

A few years ago, Chooch learned about the game of Fascination at Knoebels Amusement Park and has been, OK I’m going for it, FASCINATED by it ever since. If you’ve never had the odd experience of playing Fascination, or spectating Fascinators in action, it’s like a cross between Bingo and skeeball. I hear that Fascination parlors are very rare these days, but we have been to FIVE places this year alone that have a parlor: Knoebels, Morey’s Piers (there is a super cool antique arcade hidden in the back of a regular, modern arcade), Sylvan Beach (their parlor was closed though), Indiana Beach, and we didn’t know it at the time we were there but Six Flags Darien Lake also has one. Super random.

So far, Knoebels has the best Fascination parlor. Indiana Beach’s was nice because it was air-conditioned, but it was run by two teen guys who were also playing double-duty behind the prize counter, so the games weren’t being run as efficiently AND no one was on the horn doing play-by-plays and making everyone nervous by spotlighting the table number in the lead. But! Props to those kids were taking it seriously and hustling as best as they could.

Obligatory FAMILY FASCINATION RELFLECTION SELFIE but my phone covered most of my face. PROBS FOR THE BEST.

I really appreciated this relic of the HEAVY PUBLIC SMOKING past. Henry had to show me how it worked and it aroused a long-slumbering slideshow of SMOKING IN RESTAURANTS AND SHOPPING MALLS AND OLIVE GREEN WOOD-PANELED STATION WAGONS AND CIGARETTE MACHINES IN LAUDROMATS.

Whew, time-travel makes me tired.

Just like Fascination makes these two guys tired, I guess. (Side note: Henry said he’s never seen someone yawn for such an extended period of time and now I’m sad that I missed it. Maybe if we had locked eyes, he could have passed a demon onto me. DAMMIT.)

I wonder if Chooch’s next spreadsheet will be one to keep track of all the Fascination parlors he visits in his lifetime.  The only ones left in the US that he hasn’t played are:

  • Looff’s Lite-A-Line in Long Beach, CA
  • Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ohio
  • Funland in Seaside, Oregon

Plus the ones at Sylvan Beach and Darien Lake. Looks like this will be a pretty small spreadsheet, lol.

I wonder if Henry played Fascination with his SERVICE buddies.

He won a round and Chooch was so pissed, but I was happy because Henry’s virtual tickets got scanned onto Chooch’s Indiana Beach arcade card and I HAD MY EYE ON A RING IN THAT PRIZE CASE.

Actually, Chooch was the one who (GRUDGINGLY) cashed in his tickets on this ring (and later, a popsicle ring of my choosing!) and it was the most pathetic moment of my life, watching  my own flesh and blood be annoyed that he had to “waste” 35 tickets on a ring for his MOTHER when he could have used that on a Tootsie pop. Anyway, when I picked out the one I wanted, Yawner actually looked at Chooch and asked, “Is that OK?” like, excuse me but give a bitch her ring. Don’t ask the KID. Yes, it’s OK because I’m his mother and if he says no, I’m ripping that ticket card out of his hands and feeding it to the carp in Lake Shafer! NOW GIVE ME MY FUCKING RING.

Jesus Christ.

So, that’s Fascination. I’m not into it at all because it makes me nervous, but those two love it. I actually went outside and sat by myself on a bench the last time they ducked inside for a round. I felt sad, just sitting there watching families have fun on the bumper cars. It’s OK. Don’t cry for me, Indiana Beach.

Sep 262021
 

Henry actually fed us at Indiana Beach! I know, I’m just as shocked as you! Usually we are lucky if he buys one soft pretzel for us to share. And thank god, because I got hungry almost immediately after arriving, OK fine, we had been there for an hour but there is something about riding four roller coasters in a row on a sizzlin’ day that makes me want to sit down in an air-conditioned room and inhale greasy pizza. You too?

We opted for Earl’s Pizza and slid into the counter to order RIGHT BEFORE a large-ass family who entered right after us but from an entrance that was closer to the broad patiently waiting to take pizza orders.

Here we are after shouting our desired pizza orders at Henry and then abandoning him at the counter. I was excited because we all unknowingly matched that day, but then I realized how stupidly patriotic we looked and then I was just disgusted. Also, when I sat down to write this today, I challenged myself to try not to swear at all and I had to backspace 29 times already. I’m really bad at this, and also I’m very irritable this weekend for some reason. I think because we purposely didn’t make plans and free time makes me anxious. Just some BEHIND THE SCENES thoughts for you.

YOU GUYS, this pizza was legit! I’m not normally a fan of thick crust, but this personal pan pizza was delicious – the dough was springy and the curst was just crispy enough around the edges without making the whole thing dry, the sauce was well proportioned and tasted like fresh  tomatoes, and the cheese was nice and greasy. Good job, Earl! (Apparently this joint was new for 2021 and I approve. I can’t remember what we ate the last time we were there but I assume it was probably also pizza and apparently not very memorable.)

Hello. You might remember the last time we were at Indiana Beach, Henry was being a bitch-baby about tacos. He wanted one but was acting like a fucking (dammit) martyr because Chooch and I wanted pizza and I was like, “But you can still have tacos” and he was all, “NO. JUST FORGET IT. I WILL EAT WHAT MY WOMAN AND CHILD EAT.” Well, this time he opted to just share my pan pizza with me (Lord knows I probably could have housed the whole thing on my own but then I wouldn’t be riding anything after that, and that is the damn truth) and then he treated himself to a taco! EXCEPT THAT HE DID IT WHILE CHOOCH AND I WERE RIDING THE SWINGS! So the whole time we were cruising perilously over Lake Shafer, I had a bird’s eye view of that mustachioed fucker (I give up, self-challenge unaccepted) masticating a taco by the lakeside and I was not there to photograph this event. I was screaming (also because these were the scariest swings I’ve ever been on and Chooch, afterward, was like, “Duh, why do you think there was also a seatbelt that went across your torso?”) because I

NEEDED

TO

TAKE

A

PICTURE

for mocking purposes. Come on, you know this about me! Imagine how excruciating this was for me to witness from afar with no way to memorialize it!

Man, I almost bowled over the two dumb ginger preteens who were casually strolling through the exit in front of me after getting off the ride, but by the time I made it back to Henry (ignoring all of the NO RUNNING warnings spraypainted onto the ground) he was already so finished with the taco that digestion had officially begun.

“REALLY YOU ATE THAT WITHOUT ME?” I screeched.

“Yeah, it wasn’t that good,” he said calmly.

“OK BUT DID I ASK?” I cut my own self off to cry. “You know I wanted to take a picture of you eating it!”

Henry reached into his back pocket and pulled out his Tired Face. No, wrong one. Try again. OK, there it is – the Confused Face. “I didn’t know that,” he said innocently.

“Well go back and get another one!” This was the perfect solution, I thought, but he wouldn’t do it because he didn’t think it was that great.

“It was cold,” he said, now wearing his Concerned Foodie Face. “It was weird.”

Henry used to write food reviews for the Air Force ‘zine back in 1985, did you know that? “The pork-n-beans were good. I ate it all. I patted my belly after. Mm.”

Later, Chooch wanted to get something from the Kona Ice truck. Child has obviously never made his own snow cone before because his first attempt left 3/4 of the shaved ice untouched by syrup.

“You have to put more syrup in it so that it soaks all the way through,” I coached from the sidelines.

But then the moron drowned the poor ice and there was nothing left to soak up the syrup, so it started spilling over the sides. It was a fucking mess. I was embarrassed to be his mom. We had to take it to the nearby arcade which had tables to eat at and he left a huge trail of Kona-blood on the way through, right as a janitor walked by with a broom, giving us MAJOR CUSTODIAL SIDE-EYE.

“Great, now he hates us!” I hissed at Chooch. But dude clearly had bigger spills to sweep because he didn’t stop. Henry, meanwhile, was on  the hunt for napkins to help sop up some of the syrup flood. I had to actually change tables because I was so afraid this shit was going to start sluicing off the table edge and onto my white shoes. Fuck that shit. I take pride in keeping my shoes clean! Joke’s on me though because even all this, it was STILL CHOOCH who got my shoes dirty, all the way at the end of the night when his oafish self stepped on my foot. I wanted to cry! Henry was all, “It is OK. Calm down. Take it easy. You should smile more. I will clean them when we get home.”

Well, guess who’s been home for a week now and my shoe still has CHOOCH-TRANSFER-DIRT on the toe?

 

Here’s an example of how authentic and real Indiana Beach keeps it. Love those olive booths!

And for all of your caffeine cravings, there’s actually a pretty legit cafe at Indiana Beach, too! I’m not going to lie, I was expecting gas station swill, but instead Chooch and I got professionally handcrafted iced lattes made by the nicest lady and the other nicest lady who was being trained by the first nicest lady. I can’t remember the last time I went somewhere and willingly engaged in so much small talk, but these people at Indiana Beach were incredibly down to earth.

They also had a delightful assortment of baked goods, which eventually lured us back in later that evening, where we filled up on cookies and a raspberry bar. Chooch originally walked in and confidently announced that he wanted the charcuterie plate because he’s a weirdo and they were like, “We’re actually all out of those!” and Henry was like, “That’s OK, he just wanted to say ‘charcuterie.'” Which was 100% true, but I think Henry was secretly happy when Chooch went rogue and asked for one, knowing that he would get to throw back all the meat-stuffs that Chooch would be picking around. Sorry, Henry. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get salami grease on your fingerpads, though.

Another thing we didn’t know about the last time was the FREE 30 minute Shafer Queen boat rides! Look, this guy was the…boat driver!

I wanted to sit up top but Chooch the Elder was like IT IS TOO HOT, WE WILL SIT DOWN BELOW so he claimed a seat first and then I was like, “I WANTED TO SIT ON THE END” and then Henry was like, “Let’s change rows because there is a railing in the way” so then I got to sit by the water because I made it to the next row first and Chooch was going to stay behind us by himself but then a mom with like 878 kids came and tried to sit there but there wasn’t enough room so they got up and were wandering around looking for a place to sit. We made Chooch be a Big Boy and move to our row so that they could have his row and he was so pissed.

Look at him pouting! I mean, once you get past Henry’s future-salami-greased finger tip that looks like a penis. I was going to crop that shit out but it makes me so uncomfy and I want it to make you uncomfy too, Internet Diary.

Also, the guy in front of Chooch was the CAPTAIN. He knew the old couple in front of us so he sat down with them and they talked about the good ol’ days and I dunno, savings bonds probably.

The boat ride was pretty boring but we got to see some semi-fancy lake houses and then I started screaming because we had been stalking this one coaster, Steel Hawg, all day but it wasn’t running and then I saw it TESTING!!! This was one of two credits that Chooch didn’t get the first time we went and I thought for sure we were going to be batting 0 for 2 on that tip but seeing those test cars being sent gave me hope. Also, it made me panic because now we were literally stuck in the middle of a lake, totally at the mercy of the Shafer Queen, instead of pacing around the base of Steel Hawg like crazy people.

OK, I’ll end this here and be back with another post about rides or something maybe. I dunno how I dragged this out for nearly 2000 words. I’m lonely, I guess. Haha ugh.

 

Sep 252021
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 242021
 

Been dreading this one because I have to start off with honest-to-god one of the worst books I’ve ever read. Henry told me to just type out the title and then put ANGRY as my review because he doesn’t want his night to be ruined by me getting all worked up again over how shitty this book was. OK, let’s just do. *band-aid ripping etc etc*

7. The Book of Accidents – Chuck Wendig

The Book of Accidents

Yeah this guy really thinks he’s a clever motherfucker, that’s crystal clear. I’ve known at least 8 different versions of this guy throughout my years. The ones who have the better record collection. The ones who don’t think you’re smart enough to learn how to play their stupid Viking nerd games. The ones who have first editions of On the Road. That’s this pretentious writer. I don’t ever annotate books because they’re 99.9% always from the library but I honestly wish I had least written down every time this book (NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING SCARY, BTW) pissed me off, made me roll my eyes, had me shrieking, “OK REALLY” at the ceiling. For example, early on in the book, he wrote something about some dude’s stare being so strong it was pinning the other person to the wall like a movie poster, but then he used it AGAIN several chapters later?!

This book was full of overreaching shit like that and the dialogue was like, wtf really, has this guy ever actually had a conversation with a person in real life before? Nothing felt natural!!

Then! This! Happened!

IN WHAT WORLD IS SHEETZ INFERIOR TO WAWA?

Also there was an entire paragraph describing the “fat women” in clothing they “shouldn’t wear” in Wal-Mart and I was like, “OK BUDDY, GROW UP.” I mean, I wrote stupid body-shaming shit like that in LiveJournal and probably on here too but then I grew up and also guess what I’m not a published author and no one gives a shit what I say on here anyway.

I just fucking hate this guy. I hate-read this book so hard that I’m actually surprised it didn’t go up into sizzling flames while in my hands.

I don’t even want to write a synopsis. Just click the link if you want to know. I have to close this chapter (LOL) and move on with my life now.

No wait….

FUCK OFF, CHUCK.

OK, now I’m done.

8. Almost Flying – Jake Maia Arlow

Almost Flying

This is just what I needed after that previous disaster. I heard about this book from one of the coaster YouTubers I follow and I am so glad for the heads up because this book was pure and genuine, with a shit ton of good ass coaster talk thrown in. It’s a middle-aged book about Dalia, a girl who is really going through it – it’s the summer before 8th grade (7th? some middle school grade) and her old BFF has started hanging out with the popular crown, leaving Dalia in the dust. Plus, Dalia’s parents recently divorced and she’s getting used to living with just her dad in a new apartment. All that’s keeping her going in her love of roller coasters, except she’s never ridden one! She just watches POVs on YouTube (been there, girl) and is working up the nerve to ask her dad to  take her to an amusement park. But then she makes a new friend at swim lessons – Rani – and gets her excited about coasters too.

Then a bunch of shit happens with her dad being all, “btw I have a gf” and Dalia is all “FML” but then she ends up going on a theme park road trip with her dad’s new gf daughter who’s in college and Rani gets to go too and it’s just…the emotions felt real to me. There is conflict that felt like, “Yes, this is how I would have reacted to this shit too when I was in middle school.”

And while all of this is going on, we also get to witness Dalia realize that she has feelings for Rani. The LGBTQ+ rep was so beautiful here and I can only imagine how awesome and comforting this book must be to younger, confused kids.

And also, the roller coasters!

Yes! Boulder Dash is fucking AMAZE and Outlaw Run is fucking sickening! I was so excited that they referenced an RMC in here!!

(Side note: I kept taking pictures of the pages and texting them to Chooch who was getting so pissed because he is way too cool and old for a middle grade book and he was extra-pissed when he went to the library and I said, “OH WHILE YOU ARE THERE PLEASE PICK UP MY BOOK FOR ME” and he didn’t know it was going to be this one so he had to check it out in front of his friends lololololololol.)

YOU GUYS: I AM OBSESSED WITH JOJO ROLLS! It’s even my current name on Twitter! It’s not even my favorite element on a coaster, I just like the name, lol.

STEVE!!!!! STEVE WAS IN THIS BOOK!!!!!!! Two RMCs repped!

My only critique is that the road trip tackled 5 parks, from Six Flags Great Adventure in NJ to Cedar Point in Ohio, and they even stopped in Pittsburgh but DIDN’T GO TO KENNYWOOD? They went to DORNEY but not KENNYWOOD? (Not knocking you Dorney, but nothing you have tops Phantom’s Revenge.) No, they stopped in Pittsburgh to go to the aviary. OK.

But yeah, if you know any kids who love coasters or are struggling with their sexuality or identity or place in the world or all of the above, then gently place this book on their pillow because it’s precious. <3

9. The Perfect Family – Robyn Harding

The Perfect Family

I’m not going to expound too much on this one. It’s a domestic thriller. It was middle-of-the-road for me. I listened to the audio book and was about 1/4 of the way through before realizing that I had read another of this author’s books and thought it was kind of dumb, but I needed something mindless to listen to on my walks and…well, it did its job, I guess. I didn’t hate or love it.

10. Supermarket – Bobby Hall 

Supermarket

I got this from one of the Little Free Libraries in my ‘hood and then also found the audio for it so I did the whole “reading along while being read to” thing which is probably the only way I would have been able to get through this one. I didn’t know it at the time, but Bobby Hall is aka Logic and once I figured that out, the fact that the audiobook had sound effects and each chapter had intro music suddenly made a lot more sense.

The first half of this book was pretty good! It’s almost entirely set in a Supermarket and while there were definitely some cringey racial stereotyping going on but the characters were so dynamic and the dialogue was fast and sappy….but then the second part happened and it quickly became apparently that I was 2 dumbz0rz to fully “get” this book. Super psychological and Palahniuk-esque.

I can’t really say much more than that without SPOILERS. But I think this dude is a great writer, for sure.

11. The Family Plot – Megan Collins

The Family Plot

OK this book was weird (in a good way). It’s a really great thriller/mystery (actually, yeah, it’s more of a mystery really) about a girl who is returning to her family home for the first time in, I dunno, 10 years, because her dad has died. This is the second book I read that month with a main character named Dahlia/Dalia, coincidentally. The whole family is super into true crime and the mom named them all after famous murder victims and used to reenact murder scenes as an actual class while home schooling her kids. Totally bonkers and also something that I could kind of seeing my mom doing, OK ME, I COULD TOTALLY SEE ME DOING THIS. Chooch got off easy, when you really think about it.

Yeah, I liked this one. It was creepy and also kind of sad, because Dahlia has spent the last 10 years of her life desperately trying to find her twin brother who left the house on their 16th birthday. She has an older sister and brother who aren’t twins but are like, obsessed with each other.

To me, though, it kind of read like a YA mystery even though I’m pretty sure this was meant for adults, so I dunno. It was entertaining but didn’t have me screaming it’s praises with a voice string enough to pin a movie poster against a wall.

No, nothing like that.

And that was it. August was not great. September has been much better. I just finished a book yesterday that had me clutching my chest and I will DEFINITELY be screaming about that one for years to come but I guess you will have to wait for my September book round-up! GOOD-BYE, AUGUST BOOKS.

Sep 232021
 

Now that Chooch is back to school IRL, F2F, old school, however you want to say it, he’s been having to commute like a real life office worker. It’s the dumbest thing – his school is part of the Pittsburgh public school system but because of school bus driver shortages (this predates the pandemic BTW because we were already having to prepare for this for when he started high school in 2020), students at his school are required to take PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Chooch has mastered some pretty major subway systems in his short 15 years, so that wasn’t the concern for me, it was mostly the fact that getting to school requires one transfer no matter what, and he’s have to leave the house before 6AM to ensure he wasn’t late, which is ludicrous for a high school kid. Plus, I worried that he’d fall asleep and miss his stop/transfer/whatever.

Getting home is a piece of cake because he can basically get on any bus outside of his school that is going downtown, and he has numerous places where he can get off downtown and take the T home (way more convenient than buses). And he can take his time too, and oh, believe me, he has been. He and his new gang of friends have been cavorting around Oakland, trying to blend in with all the Pitt students, going to cafes, going to the main branch of the Carnegie library, eating at food trucks. He’s living the teenage dream, you guys, truly.

It’s only a 15 minute drive to Oakland from our house, so I’ve mom’d up (after years and years and years of him only having to walk two blocks to his old school, this is so hard for meeeeeee and me and me and me and only meeeeeee) and have been driving him to school every morning. It really isn’t that bad because I am a total morning person anyway and actually enjoy having a reason to get up an hour earlier. However, Chooch is NOT a morning person so nearly every car ride is peppered with vitriol and teenage angst (from both parties). He mostly just sits there texting his friends whom he will see in a short 20 minutes while responding to all my conversation starters with grunts and snotty quips.

Basically, he so very effortlessly makes me feel like the biggest loser while slumped in his seat like a sack of 15-year-old hormones spritzed with Axe Body Spray and superiority syndrome – it’s great!

Usually, I have Spotify playing BUT one day two weeks ago, I stupidly started driving with the radio on. Henry was the last one in the car and had left it on 100.7 which is just super annoying Top 40 but somehow more geared to soccer moms. I absolutely hate every song that comes on. That one song about date night at Applebee’s?!!? The first time I heard it, I was screaming and called Henry after Chooch got out of the car so I could bitch about it.

“Oh, I knew exactly what song it was going to be before you even told me,” he laughed.

That song is a disgrace to the act of hearing, like a total FUCK YOU to the collective cochlea worldwide.

And then there is some god-awful duet with Miley Cyrus and some dude? OMG kill me. That song is an abomination! You know I hate Miley Cyrus to begin with, but this song makes me want to donkey kick her in the throat. Both of these people sound like they have a skin of phlegm that desperately needs trucker-belched into the nearest spittoon.

All it took was one commute with this station on the dial to get Chooch’s attention though, because they play this stupid trivia game every morning called Escalation. And by “they” I mean the MOST ANNOYING LOCAL DJ THAT HAS BEEN POISONING PITTSBURGH AIRWAVES SINCE EVEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, BUBBA, and his basic bitch cohort Melanie. These people, oh brother. They pass Pittsburghese back and forth between themselves with wanton abandon like it’s some type of Yinzer Covid and they’re anti-maskers. I fucking can’t stand the Pittsburgh accent and I especially hate it when it feels like people are going out of their way to use it or exaggerate it. Like when people ironically say “yinz,” I want to fucking set a pile of Steeler jerseys alight.

Look, I have hometown pride, but my hometown embarrassment sometimes overshadows that. And Bubba is a fucking embarrassment fo’ sho’

OK so back to Escalation. Chooch LOVES games and the only thing he probably loves more than games is being right. So trivia is like a goddamn drug for him. This game is so dumb. You can win up to $100 but the questions start out at like, $5, $10, etc. And you have the option of taking the money or going-or-nothing. The worst part is the amount of times Bubba says “dollars” during this part of his pathetic radio show. I wish he would just start saying “bucks” instead so I wouldn’t have to hear him practically swallowing his tongue while chocking on his forced ‘burgh dialect.

Chooch INSISTS that we keep this station on every fucking morning now so he can make fun of the people who get the answers wrong and lose all  their money. Last week was “Special” because in addition to having the chance at winning $100, each morning’s Escalation player AUTOMATICALLY received Dan & Shay tickets. I do not who these “Dan & Shay” people are but I am willing to wager ALL OF THE ESCALATION WINNINGS that I will hate their music if I heard it.

I am actually in such a bad mood by the time I punt him out of my car every morning that my body shakes. THE WORST PART is that before Bubba (ugh) asks the final question, they cut to a song and it is always something that manages to enhance the tension in my jaw previously caused by Bubba’s grating bray.

But then it got worse. Because after a few days of this, Chooch decided that he was going to try and get on  the air for Escalation. I tried to tell him that I thought this was a terrible idea but yesterday morning, he took the leap and called in. His bluetooth kicked the call onto the car’s stereo, so the car was filled with the pulse-pumping notes of a busy signal. He started screaming at me for “talking over them” when they were saying the phone number so it was probably wrong, and I was like, “OK first of all, STFU I can talk whenever I want in MY CAR. And second of all, the fact that you got a busy signal means it’s probably the right number.”

So he just sat there, letting the busy signal continue to plow through the small space between us.

“Um, hang up,” I said.

“No, they might answer,” he shot back in his FUCKING TEENAGE TONE. UGH.

“That’s….not how that works,” I said slowly, trying to choose my words carefully as we were teetering on the precipice of the Early Morning Quarrel Quarry. “You have to hang up and call back. They can’t just ‘answer’ when you already have a busy signal.”

So then he got all huffy, ended the call and slammed his phone down into his lap.

A few moments later,  I tentatively asked, “Aren’t you going to call back?”

“YOU NEVER TOLD ME TO! YOU SAID IT WAS THE WRONG NUMBER!”

“NO, I FUCKING SAID IT WAS A BUSY SIGNAL AND YOU HAVE TO HANG UP AND CALL BACK!” I shouted right back at him, because oh OK, we’re doing this.

“THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU SAID!” he screamed. “I SAID I WAS WAITING TO SEE IF THEY WOULD PICK UP AND YOU SAID IT WAS THE WRONG NUMBER!”

“I SAID IT WAS A BUSY SIGNAL!!! IF YOU GET A BUSY SIGNAL, YOU HAVE TO HANG THE FUCK UP AND TRY AGAIN!!” My heart was now pounding. This kid can never be wrong and it is infuriating. Then I said, because I’m a tremendous parent and probably echoed a sentiment that TRUMP has spat out more than once to his children over the years, great Erin, just great, “You know, for someone so fucking smart, you’re a real a moron sometimes. You don’t even have basic life skills!”

“Oh, this,” he motioned furiously between his phone and the radio, “is a life skill???”

“KNOWING HOW TO MAKE A FUCKING PHONE CALL? YES!!!!!” I screamed.

We drove in silence after that. The dumb bitch who made it onto Escalation lost because she’s a fucking stoop, too.  By the end of Escalation, we had reached his school. He got out wordlessly and I seethed the whole way home.

***

Later that day, after he had been home from school for a few hours, he came downstairs and sat down on the wheelchair next to me. (Lol, that sounds so normal to me.)

“Traffic was really bad on the way home and I’m in a bad mood,” he growled, loosening his imaginary neck tie. “Also, I’m still mad about this morning.” And then we were maniacally arguing with each other again but this time we were laughing too and Henry was like YOU ARE BOTH THE SAME OMG KILL ME.

P.S. The broad who called in for Escalation today won but she TOTALLY WAS GOOGLING THE ANSWERS IT WAS SO FUCKING OBVI.

Sep 212021
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, Indiana.

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

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

Cool story, Henry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sep 202021
 

If I could concentrate on anything else right now other than my current favorite NCT127 song, that would be fantastic and perhaps I would instead be telling you all about Indiana Beach or our dinner at Mr Happy Burger, but this song and live performance have me too whipped, sorry, check back later.

Sep 192021
 

Hi from Logansport, Indiana. 8:24am. Let’s have a live blog to chronicle the probably lame trip home to PGH so as usual, check back throughout the day if you’re hard pressed for words to read.

First let’s start with the oatmeal Henry brought back to the room while I was exercising. He put syrup in it?? I never put syrup in oatmeal?? 20 years together and what has he ever learned about me??

He claims that I “change a lot” when it comes to food. Oh ok. And he fucks up a lot.

8:31 Good bye holiday Inn Express with the beautiful view of RURAL KING.

Apparently some guy from Logansport was a corporal who died at the Kabul airport last month :/ A lot of the businesses here have RIP messages on their signs and our hotel had a small memorial set up for him in the lobby. It was really sad to see. Then Chooch casually asked, “Wait, what happened there?”

So smart, and yet.

8:49am: BIG UPDATE we’re about to drive past the Air Force base Henry…did plane stuff at.

“There’s a museum? For what?? Are you in it?” I screamed. No he’s not in it, he said calmly.

Wow. It is really ugly here.

We just drove past Maple Farm Trailer Park and Henry said he once knew someone who lived in there and I asked WAS IT A WOMAN prepared to make lascivious accusations but it was a dude.

ALLEGEDLY.

9:09am: we just stopped at some convenience store with a STORYBOOK facade and facade is RIGHT because the store itself was so shitty and I was not getting coffee there also Henry almost hit a squirrel crossing the street.

10:33am: Still no coffee. Indiana is a dump. We just crossed over Cornbread Rd and normally that would have seemed cute to me but right now I’m just like go fuck a cornstalk, Indiana.

We found a Dunkin Donuts which isn’t great but I won’t go to Starbucks and there is literally a TRAIN stopped on the tracks blocking traffic but in a surprising twist of luck for us, DD happened to be right before the tracks thank god.

Fuckin’ Indiana.

Chooch just woke up while we’re in line at DD and said, “is that train just stopped there? Why??”

“Because it’s an asshole,” I snapped.

“I don’t think that’s why,” Henry white-knighted.

Then henry had the most embarrassing order-handoff with the poor young girl at the window who was just trying to do her job and Henry was like THIS IS WRONG but it wasn’t and Chooch and I were like THAT IS OUR ORDER, TAKE IT and then the poor girl was all flustered and then we started to pull away when Henry stopped and asked her for straws and Chooch and I screamed THEYRE IN THE BAG because unlike Henry we actually paid attention to what was going on and now Henry is trying to defend himself to us, saying that nothing he did was embarrassing and I screamed OMG NOW YOURE GASLIGHTING HER.

now Henry is pointing out some technical school he went to when he lived in Indiana and I truthfully don’t care, I am so hungry and bitter.

10:51am: “Wow that stop sign has LED lights around it,” Henry said. “They must really have a problem with people not stopping around here.”

I looked around at the corn fields on all sides of the road. “Yeah, that’s because all the Footloose kids are busy sneaking out at night to go drag racing and dancing in barns,” I spat. I hate Indiana. I don’t understand how we’re still here??

12:11pm: just left the big candle place, $70 later ugh we are ALL candle addicts so it’s actually amazing we didnt spend more. This place has the best kettle corn candle and I have been dreaming of going back for one ever since we were there a few years back on our way home from Holiday World.

Random Michael Myers sighting. I wonder how many pumpkin candles he purchased.

Rustic candle restroom selfie.

1:46pm: Columbus, finally.

2:13pm: Korean Fried Chicken special at Eden Burger.

Um, it was really good but didn’t even have a hint of Korean flavors? Can American restaurants stop trying to replicate Korean cuisine? Because they are failing. Aside from the confusing marketing of this sandwich, it was very good – vegan chicken is my jam. I will usually always go for that option over the burgers, but I made Henry get the OG Eden Burger because they make their patties in house and I wanted to try. It was DELICIOUS. I love when vegan restaurants make their own instead of just copping out with an Impossible patty and then masking it with loads of cray toppings U KNOW.

Anyway, Eden Burger has bomb fries also. I’m definitely not hungry anymore.

(Oh and Chooch got Buffalo chicken and whined the whole time about having to pee when we literally just came from a rest stop and he said he didn’t have to go.)

2:29pm: CHOOCH and HENRY (it keeps auto-capitalizing and I don’t care anymore) went to Kroger’s so CHOOCH could pee and he said while he was in there, some old lady on drugs came in screaming I HAVE TO PEE I HAVE TO PEE and then she got arrested. I miss everything.

3:30pm: Henry just said something about this being our last trip for the year while I’m over here googling “does Six Flags Over Georgia do a winger festival” and “how far from Pittsburgh to Atlanta” lol.

3:58pm: whoa, our first Sheetz stop since yesterday if you can believe it! I got a pumpkin chai and it’s ok!

I was randomly recalling to Henry the time my mom was dating some prison guard dude and I was pretty ambivalent toward him until the day he accompanied us to a car dealership because I was going to trade in my EAGLE TALON (miss her) for a new VW JETTA and my mom was all set to make this happen when he stepped in and said to her that he didn’t think a girl “my age” really needed “a brand new car” and then tried to get me to take a USED MALIBU instead. CAN YOU EVEN??

I was like BITCH WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE AND WHAT EVEN IS A USED MALIBU, EW.

I never had my mom tell me no before!!

Except for maybe when I was in high school and wanted her to drive me to Cleveland so I could see where Bone Thugs n Harmony lived. That was a hard no.

4:32pm: Chooch needed the charger but I was using it and the spare was in the trunk in Henry’s bag for some reason and I can’t explain it you guys but there was this whole argument where CHOOCH was like WHY CANT U JUST USE BLUETOOTH LIKE NORMAL PPL WHY DO U HAVE TO USE AUX and I was like STFU BITCH BOY and Henry was like LANGUAGE which made us lose our minds bc really DAD?

Then CHOOCH was rummaging through the bags and screaming and Henry was like IN THE BLACK BAG THE BIG BLACK BAG and I was laughing so hard that I started to cry and the whole left side of my face was spasming and then CHOOCH SUPPOSEDLY puked in Henry’s bag bc he too was laughing so hard and Henry had that “JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL” look on his face.

5:44pm: we are mere minutes away from home! This LiveBlog was lame! They all are, really! Until the next “not happening” trip, this is Erin signing off. Bitches.

Sep 172021
 

Hello. Here is a very half-hearted Friday Five. I have had a pretty down week.

THE RACCOON

There was a raccoon on our porch two nights ago, helping himself to the squirrel food in the bistro. It was so exciting! I screamed about how I had never seen a raccoon that up-close before, and Henry gave me the REALLY look and then I was like, OH….YEAH. Anyway, I wanted to give him some other things to snack on, so I grabbed a pack of cat treats that Henry recently bought for our cats because, unlike me, he is not aware of their finicky palates and did not know that this was a kind of treat (or TRIT as they call it) that they will not eat.

They watched me retrieve the bag. “Look, you guys don’t like these ones,” I reminded me, and put two on the ground for them so they would see which ones I had. Yeah, you’re right, we hate these, they said with their noses stuck up into the air.

But then they saw me toss some outside for the raccoon and oh, oh KAPCHUGGI they remembered that they too like these treats and went back and ATE THE TEST ONES I PUT OUT FOR THEM.

Totally out of principal! Cats really are such dicks. Lol.

Anyway, the raccoon was totally cute and using his cute (but probably deadly) paws to drag the treats closer to him and I wanted so badly to run out there and throw my arms around him but HENRY MY CONSCIOUS was like, “Erin…”

NEW RING

I bought me-self a new ring from Little Rooms <3 Commence a bunch of pictures of me pretending to be a hand model in 3…2…

I QUITE LIKE IT. I also bought a necklace that says TRUST ME on it, with a hand with crossed fingers LOLOL because that’s me.

A DELICIOUS PROJECT

A few weeks ago, Chooch and his friend Zakk went to the Exchange near our house and came back with a Goonies movie poster. I guess Chooch told him that I like that movie and Zakk bought it for us! This meant that I needed to make sure it was framed properly. When I told Henry that my newest project idea involved Baby Ruth wrappers, he was out the door before I evenhad a chance to finish the sentence, lol. This was a project he GLADLY contributed to!

The gold coins came from whatever recent arcade ticket cash-in transaction Chooch was a party to.

제가 바나나들예요

Oh boy, another Nooworks shirt! This was actually the first I ever bought. I love banana prints!

BUDDY

OK. I have been dreading this day, and I don’t even want to write/talk about it, but I will just say that on Saturday evening, Henry and I found one of my Buddys in the road by our house. We had literally just talked to him on our way to CVS. I was scolding him because he had tried to cross the street and a car had to abruptly stop to avoid hitting him. He ran back onto our side of the street and jumped in a tree where he watched me while I shook my finger at him and pleaded with him to be more careful. My heart was pounding but I was relieved he was OK.

Then, only about 10 minutes later, we were walking back from CVS and I saw him lying in the road, on the same block as our house. Henry kept saying things like, “Um, no, I don’t think that’s a squirrel….” but I knew. My eyes are bad, but they’re not THAT bad.

It was one of my Buddys. Pretty sure the same one we had talked to moments before. He didn’t appear to have been hit by a car, because he was fully intact and there was no blood, and oh my god this is killing me to relive….but he was dead, you guys. I asked Henry to bury him but I think he was already prepared to do so. I couldn’t just leave him in the middle of the street! So he is now buried with a peanut behind our house and my heart aches so bad. What if we had been a minute faster in CVS and we could have prevented this!?

I knew this day would eventually come. I am beyond attached to these guys and we live on a busy street, and…it was inevitable. Life is so fucking awful. Nature is horrific.

I want to believe that…maybe he was old? Maybe he was in the process of crossing the street, and his heart was like, “It’s time…” It still sucks, but that is what I need to believe.

Girl Buddy is still here, and a bunch of other Buddys, and the Mr. Gray Guys. But it still hurts knowing that the gang is now minus one big bushy brown tail.

</3

Sep 162021
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

He drove back past Great Escape.

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

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

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

IS THAT A SMALL AMUSEMENT PARK OVER THERE.

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

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

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

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

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

Dumb old people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIRROR SELFIE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 152021
 

Hello from a Six Flags that didn’t feel like a Six Flags which is the best compliment ever!!

Six Flags Great Escape is in Queensbury, NY, which is apparently nestled amongst the Adirondacks. I always forget about those mountains! And to be perfectly honestly with you guys (because HONESTY is kind of my BRAND lol ugh gag), I never would have just randomly said one day to Henry, “Hey hon, let’s take a drive up to them there Adirondacks,” nor would I ever call him HON.

Lol ugh gag.

Legend has it that this park was formerly known as Storyland or something like that, a quaint family park, but then Six Flags came in an usurped it. INCREDIBLY, they didn’t fuck with the adorable theming by spraying the whole park with their patented DC Comic jizz. They let the park retain its adorable woodland feel! And the Storybook forest-y shit is still there!!

As soon as we rolled up into the parking lot, I had a good feeling about this joint.

But then Henry randomly got searched and our season passes didn’t scan and the ticket scanner broad was not very nice to us. BUT! Then we went to customer services and a very nice guy named KAI got us all sorted out without making us feel fraudulent. Of course a guy named Kai wouldn’t let us down. Mmmh.

Nice little entrance are thingie with shops, etc. I see you, Great Escape.

So, I already wrote about our first coaster (Flashback) in my post about Henry’s doppelganger, but now let’s talk about the second coaster we stuffed our butts in: COMET.

Straight from the no-longer-there Crystal Beach Park in Canada, which also happened to be the setting of one of my fave books from 2020, Sodom Road Exit. I became moderately obsessed with this park after reading this lovely book and started watching YouTube videos about it. It closed in 1989 and I would give up grilled cheese to be able to go back in time and take a family road trip to this place, eat some of their famous waffles and butterscotch suckers, knock back a Loganberry or two (or not).

Comet was thankfully saved from turning into kindle back in the 90s when Great Escape bought it and gave it a new lease on life

My friend Dawn used to go to Crystal Beach as a kid and she flipped out when she saw this on my Instagram. I hope she takes a trip to THEM THERE ADIRONDACKS and relives her youth on this bad boy, because he is running RULL GOODLY. Talk about an airtime machine! And smooth (mostly)! I rode it three times in a row, in the third row from the back, the very back, and the front row.

This ride is the shit, man. I was expecting some janky lumbar crusher but no – this was excellent. I mean, even HENRY rode it three times in a row! I kept screaming about how pretty the mountains looked from the top of the lift hill but no one was agreeing with me.

Love a classic coaster! And it was a walk-on every time. Two train ops! Already this place did not feel like a Six Flags!

Dummies.

The landscaping and colors in this park were poppin’.

There was this one guy eating a turkey leg and wearing a shirt that said “if you don’t respect *picture of ameriKKKan flag*, then you can expect *dot dot dot, I couldn’t see what it was but can imagine it was probably a gun or fist*”. I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and tell him that I use flag scraps as panty-liners just to see what I could expect, but Henry was like DON’T. I’m 1000% sure I could have outrun him,  though! Dumb mountain man. (The t-shirt guy, not Henry.)

(Although I can see where you might think I meant Henry.)

Aren’t you glad they maintained that storybook integrity??? I am! I love shit like this!

Sadly, their Intamin bobsled coaster was closed for the day (season?), so we walked to the other side of the park and took Canyon Blaster for a spin.

Chooch pointed out that this is literally the same guy that sits on a bench at Kennywood, just with a different paint job! WHO USED THE MOLD FIRST, I WONDER???

(THROWBACK TO 2018)

Chooch barely spoke to us when we were in any line, pick a line, that day so I amused myself by taking selfies with Henry like we are an actual couple or something. Smile Henry, you’re stuck with me.

View of the western town facade thingie from the Canyon Blaster station.

This was one-train ops and one of the longest lines we stood in all day (a whopping 20 minutes, maybe).  It was OK! A runaway mine ride, family friendly, would have been better if there had been a tunnel. I liked it better than the one at Six Flags Great Adventure because I actually felt like I was going to perish on that one.

Chooch and I then rode Steamin’ Demon, an Arrow corkscrew which was SO FUCKING TERRIBLE I CAN’T EVEN…possibly the worst one I’ve ridden. I hate these types of coasters so damn much and would not be sad if they were completely eradicated from every park in the world, but this one was particularly painful. Going around the corkscrew, my head ping-ponged off both sides of the restraint and it caught me right in the jaw, below each ear. If I was in a Looney Tunes skit, hummingbirds and stars would have been undulated around my head like a YOU LOSE crown. Ugh, nope. Never again. We took that credit and ran. Well, I staggered.

Fuck you.

Next up, we cajoled Henry to ride the log flume with us.  It was good! Except we were behind this extended family of hillbillies and I was pretty turned off. “Not to be an asshole, but I feel like they were inbred,” I whispered to Henry later on and he was like OMG but didn’t disagree. So.

OMG they were so loud too and acted like they were the only people in line and then I saw the one guy grab one of the girls’ asses when they go into the flume and that whole time I thought she was his daughter…but I guess she still could have been. Never mind.

Oh, the log flume? It was fine! I liked that there was an inside part before the big drop, and it had a little “men cutting logs, etc” scene happening. I was worried that we were going to flip over though because the ride attendant split us up as two in the front, one in the back, and Henry was like ME BIG MAN, RIDE WITH ME WOMAN IN FRONT and I thought for sure this was going to throw off the weight balance, but the ride attendant didn’t even flinch and sent us on our way.

Surprise, we survived.

Now that we knocked out all of the coasters (Chooch ended up with 8 credits on this trip and I think that puts him to 181!), it was FLAT RIDE TIME, BITCHES! So Chooch and I went on the Condor! He was like, “We are NOT sitting together” because one of us would have had to straddle the other and that’s fine for hillbillies but not so much us. So Chooch got in the car behind me but before the ride attendant started making his rounds, I made Chooch move to one across from me so we could “wave to each other.” LOL you can see how thrilled he was in that picture!

I was stoked, though! This ride went up high and spun in circles. It was pleasant.

The ride next to the Condor, however…not so much.

It’s called the ADK Outlaw and it is fucking terrifying. It’s the newest ride at the park, debuting earlier this season, and I had seen some videos of it previously. Going in, I was firmly rooted in my I AM NOT RIDING THIS stance. But Chooch kept saying that he was going to ride it. And the more I looked at it, the more thrilling it appeared. And somehow, the closer we got, the more…doable it seemed. Like, for me personally. I could do this. It would be fine. Let’s do it.

So we got in line, which wasn’t too long but because of the way the ride is set up, only 8 people can be loaded off and on after each cycle. So we had plenty of time to listen to the broad in front of us scream about how she should have brought her sweater into the park and wow she could really use a sweater, boy it sure was sweater weather, OMG maybe so-and-so who is not in line will go to the car and get my sweater, *shouts to so-and-so about her sweater 3x before he hears her*, now so-and-so is going to the car to get her sweater, hope he comes back before she gets on the ride, oh there’s so-and-so in the parking lot!, so-and-so should be coming back soon I hope, it’s almost our turn and still no sweater, OH HERE HE IS WITH MY SWEATER, *catches sweater tossed over railing from so-and-so, *makes big production yanking North Face sweater down over her big ADK peaks*, OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE MY SWEATER RIGHT AS WE’RE GETTING ON THE RIDE YAY.

Literally, the worst. STFU.

So, this ride was…wow, just wow. It whips you up over 200 feet (I think? I don’t feel like looking) into the air and then you flip all over yourself in your seat at the same time and it’s miserable yet exhilarating and between you and me, Internet Diary, I kind of wanted to do it again.

The most terrifying part though is when the other side of the ride is unloading and reloading, and you’re stuck at the top trying to distract yourself by looking at the mountains and the Martha’s Dandee Cream across the street so that you forget that you’re essentially just a landing pad for, I dunno, hawks and eagles. AND CONDORS?

(Speaking of, Henry thought he was so cool and nature-y for point out that that other ride was called Condor but it had eagles depicted on it. Cool story, Henry the Zoo Keeper.)

Um, I dunno, watch this video if you want a better visual than I am able to conjure with words alone:

Guys look! There is a cool little ghost cave that you can walk through for no reason!

It has a waterfall going over the side of it! I love Great Escape!

There was an indoor Scrambler there called Blizzard (the building was shaped like an igloo, nice touch) and here we have Chooch being miserable in line because we were behind three pre-teen bitches and one of their little sisters who was six, and I know this because before the mom left them alone in line, she repeatedly reminded them that, “SHE IS SIX, OK? SHE IS SIX. BE NICE TO HER.” Lol, oh they were nice to her alright.

Wow, this ride was SOMETHING. First of all, the ride operator, GENE, was very meticulous with his seat assigning and took a very long time going around to make sure everyone was secured in place. Meanwhile, this song about COME AND TAKE ME AWAY was blasting and at first I thought this was a great song choice – it sounded like the Beatles maybe?? If my friend Megan was reading this, she would probably unfriend me for not knowing. It sound like it was from the 60s or 70s, OK?!

Gene started the ride up with no warning and Chooch was being SUCH AN ASSHOLE. First of all, we were sitting in the wrong position so I was the one getting crushed, and he was purposely pulling himself away from me and then letting go so he would slam into my side with full force. It was the rudest and I was screaming. Then he made me smash my finger between my leg and the side of the car and I thought my fingernail was going to fall off for like a FULL DAY even though Henry kept saying, “You are not going to lose your fingernail.”

Anyway, this ride rotation lasted so long and that same song kept playing and I was screaming, “YES, PLEASE COME AND TAKE ME AWAY, GOOD LORD” and Gene was all, “Woo hoo motherfuckers” except that he was way too pure to say motherfuckers and I felt like I was in hell. It was actually hell. I’m convinced.

Right after this, we went on another flat ride called PANDEMONIUM and right when it was on our turn to ride, one of the ride attendants was replaced by…..GENE!!!! I kept trying to get Henry’s attention so he could see Gene, my new favorite ride attendant, but of course he was too busy staring off into space, waiting with all of the other parents while The Kids rode Pandemonium. Chooch really wanted to kill me on this ride I think because I was SO GIDDY and when Gene asked, “Is everyone ready?” I expected everyone to scream so I unleashed a guttural YEAHHHHHHHHHH like I was opening my mouth for all of Hell to purge in a fiery death metal torrent…

…and no one else said a word. It was just me and my big fat YEAHHHHHHH driving away the birds in droves. The parents standing along the railing waiting to take pictures of their children all smiled at me, like, “Aw, that giant child is having fun, she is cute” while probably thinking I was there on an asylum field trip.

Then Gene got on his speaker and said, “HEY EVERYONE, CAN YOU GIVE THE CLOUDS A…..HIGH FIVE?” so of course I had to try and then I started screaming, “I’M DOING IT! CHOOCH, I’M REALLY DOING IT!” and he was like, “omg plz fuck off.”

The best part was when the ride ended and Chooch’s restraints didn’t unlock so….GENE HAD TO COME OVER AND HELP HIM!!!!!!!!!!! I loved every second of this! Chooch was not having fun!

But then he got to play games, so he was happy.

There’s an Alice in Wonderland walk-thru! It starts out real strong!

But then it gets boring.

I told him to stand here and HE DID.

Oh! There was a kiddie coaster in the kid section so Chooch and I meandered over there to see if we could ride it. There was literally NO ONE IN THAT SECTION, but the young ride attendant was like, “I’m sorry guys, you’re too big for this” and even went through the motions of pulling out his measuring stick (lol). I did an exaggerated “aw shucks” motion with my arm and said sarcastically, “Aw man, we needed that credit!”

He took me seriously and said, “If you cross over that bridge, you’ll find plenty of rides that you guys can enjoy.”

Totally rejected. It was mildly embarrassing but luckily no one was there to witness it. He really thought we were broken up about it though.

Some people count these Larson loopers as credits but Chooch doesn’t and that is fine by me because I will only ride these if Kirk is the ride operator.

And that was pretty much it for us. We got to do everything we wanted except for that bobsled coaster, and managed to get out of there early enough to go and get dinner outside of the park. We will pretty much do whatever we can to avoid having to pay for full meals at amusement parks, especially Six Flags!

Snapped one last shot of ADK Outlaw as we exited the park.

You guys, this place is so underrated. It is absolutely beautiful here. The staff is great. (Especially GENE. He’s a LEAD, whatever that means. It said so on his NAME TAG.) The ride collection is quirky and fun. I’d like to see them get a really good B&M (literally, Chooch kept jokingly saying, “So, where’s the B&M?”) or a modern hybrid woodie. I think they could demolish that awful corkscrew and put in some total showstopper babe right there that can be seen from the road. This park has so much potential, but obviously I do *not* want to see them become another corporate Six Flags clone. Keep that humble ambiance, Great Escape!

Sep 142021
 

August was a shit month as far as books went for me. I don’t think I read a single book that I actually REALLY, REALLY liked. And I definitely read at least one book that I REALLY, REALLY hated. Like, a lot. Like if it wasn’t a library book, I’d have turned it into real kindle.

Ugh. Let’s get this over with. I read 11 books. Here are 6.

  1. Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire

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People fucking LOVE THIS MIDDLE GRADE SERIES. I thought it was boring and stupid. Kids go through doorways into different realms and then when they get dumped back home, they have to go to the Home for Wayward Children in order to rehabilitate or something, I don’t fucking even know. I was bored and hated every character. It was stupid. Will 100% not be continuing this series.

Bitch, bye.

2. Every Vow You Break – Peter Swanson

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1 star. Every character is irritating. The plot is ridiculous. Hated it. Piss off, Peter Swanson.

3. For Your Own Good – Samantha Downing

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OK. Things are looking up now, August. I didn’t enjoy it as much as her last book (He Started It), but this was fun and the characters were so over-the-top and ridiculous, but it worked in this setting and plot. It was actually pretty laugh-out-loud funny at times, for a thriller. It takes place in a prestigious high school and follows one super Type A teacher who truly goes above and beyond to make sure his students learn their lessons and stay on the right path. There’s lots of murder and mayhem in this one, which makes it super fast-paced. I gave it 3.5!

4. The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer: Liza Rodman & Jennifer Jordan

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OK I didn’t realize when I picked this up that it’s actually both a memoir and true crime non-fiction. The chapters vacillate between Liza Rodman recounting her childhood summers growing up in Cape Cod, where her mom ran a motel and she was often left in the care of a handyman who worked at a neighboring hotel. She and her little sister would get in his truck and take trips through town and to the garbage dump. The other chapters are a compilation of facts pulled from interviews and other resources, detailing the life of Tony Costa, a man who would eventually be arrested for murdering numerous women in the 60s.

Even though I literally make serial killer greeting cards, I had never heard of Tony Costa, so this…dare I say “exciting” to read? He seemed somewhat Ted Bundy-ish, in that he was extremely charming. But also a bit of a Manson-type, accumulating small groups of hangers-on and acolytes.

Pretty entertaining and interesting, and also chilling for Liza Rodman, as she later realized what kind of man her mom was putting her in the care of.

Actually, sounds like something like my own mom would have done. Haha…ugh.

5. All’s Well – Mona Awad

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Oof. I don’t know what to say about this one. I fucking adore Mona Awad’s writing style – she is like no other. So goddamn smart and quirky, the dialogue is sharp-tongued and natural, her characters are always so interesting and flawed. But I had to be honest with myself and admit that I had reservations about this one when the plot was released a while back because it revolves almost entirely around a college theater, the director’s hell-bent desire to put on All’s Well, and the actors’ stubborn resistance. (They want to perform MacBeth that year.)

Well all of this is happening, the theater director – Miranda – is also suffering from chronic pain. And not just from the pain, but also from the frustrating doctors and her colleagues’ skepticism that her pain is real and not just psychosomatic.

The problem for me is that I am a Shakespeare dunce and am well-aware that a ton of references and allusions in this book were lost on me. I just didn’t care about the play at all. And Miranda was not a likeable character so there were times when I just didn’t care about her that much either.

We are VERY MUCH prisoners to Miranda’s thoughts and imagination for the entire duration of All’s Well and it was exhausting. While I still think that Mona Awad is a phenomenal writer, this particular subject matter just wasn’t for me. Man, I was really bummed about that too. I wanted to LOVE this book, but instead I just KIND OF LIKED it.

6. It Happened One Summer – Tessa Bailey

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OK, I’m going to end it here on a good note and do the other half on another day so writing about THE WORST BOOK doesn’t ruin my day today. Because I’m already on the edge. I picked this one up because a Booktuber said that the main girl reminded her a lot of Alexis from Schitt’s Creek and that was enough to have me sold. Love Schitt’s Creek and Alexis was everything. Anyway, this is a light-hearted romance about Piper Bellinger, kind of a Paris Hilton-type from Beverly Hills who goes on a post-dumping bender and ends up in the slammer. Her step-dad is like SHIT’S GON’ CHANGE ‘ROUND HERE, LITTLE LADY and sends her to some small fishing town in Washington where her mom used to live with her fisherman bio-dad before he died at sea. Turns out, he owned a bar and the stepdad has been having it maintained (barely) all these years, and now he wants Piper to go  there and prove that she can be a responsible adult by going there and actually running the place.  Her younger sister accompanies her and of course everyone in the town is like WHO ARE THESE FANCY OUTLANDERS – some take a liking to them, and some definitely do not.

One of those who don’t is Brendan, some super surly fishing captain WHO I KEPT PICTURING AS HENRY because Henry has that fisherman and lumberjack aesthetic. Also, Henry is super low-maintenance and blue collar and while I’m certainly not cruising Rodeo Drive, I was definitely brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth so we have that RICH GIRL POOR MAN trope going on even though I’m not a rich girl anymore, sniff sniff.

So I definitely enjoyed this book but I didn’t like how quickly the “opposites attract”/”hate to love” effect happened. I wanted more tension. And I also hated how Brendan was like “Baby” this and “Baby” that, fucking constantly. It creeped me out. What I did like was Piper’s character growth. It happened naturally and fluidly, and I believed it! There are also several Town Elders who were absolutely adorable and I loved Piper’s relationship with them, A LOT.

I’m still not wild about romances in general, but I really liked Piper a lot. Also, I don’t care how much money those crab fishermen make, I’m glad Henry’s in the beverage industry and not out to sea for weeks at a time – who would make me my smoothie bowls!?

 

 

Sep 132021
 

Before I get to the full Six Flags Great Escape review on here, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the best thing that happened during our entire Labor Day Weekend, and it happened within the first 30 minutes of arriving at Great Escape.

Chooch and I headed straight for the boomerang – Flashback – in order to get that credit out of the way. Boomerangs are definitely not my favorites so I’m never excited to line up for one.

The park wasn’t very crowded so the line was almost to the station by the time we took our places in it. The next train filled up right before it got to us, but we were stoked because that meant we’d get our choice of front or back once it was our turn. This also had us waiting in line right at the entrance to the station platform, so we were able to look across at the park goers, and watch as doting family members walked up the exit steps to the other side of the station in order to take pictures of their LOVED ONES in the train, ready to depart.

“I wish he’d be a good FAMILY GUY and walk up there to take pictures of US,” I said dejectedly, like Chooch and I were two orphans forced to eat cold, congealed gruel while watching loving parents chuck sugar plums and figgy pudding at their kids on the Flashback.

Just then, Chooch shouted, “OMG LOOK—” and I looked across the platform just to see Henry pop up.

“Wow,” I thought, “he’s actually here to take our pict—” and then, “—wait, why did he take off his hat? Wasn’t he wearing a different ugly plain shirt? EW IS THAT A HARLEY DAVIDSON HOODIE?” And then the rest of Chooch’s sentence registered in my ears.

“—that guy looks just like Him Man*!”

*(That’s what the cats call Henry, so now Chooch and I do, too, in case you are NEW HERE.)

You guys. I completely lost my shit at this point, standing in line for a shitty boomerang called the Flashback, not even caring that the people in line behind us were totally peeping my laughing hysterics. We have seen a lot of people that resemble Henry, usually because they too are wearing non-descript shirts or have beards or are eating a soft pretzel while grimacing at their family. But never, EVER have we seen a man who looks THIS MUCH like Henry. I was crying at this point, and having to squeeze my thighs together in order to activate the PEE DRIBBLE COMPRESSOR.

He wasn’t even standing there anymore but I couldn’t shake the image.

The people behind us for sure at this point were probably like “the fuck is a Him Man?” because I couldn’t stop screaming about what we had witnessed, this lightning-in-a-bottle doppelganger appearance. Now we were in even more of a rush to get the fuck on this ride so we could hurry up and try to find Henry v.2 to show our OG Henry. Except that Great Escape has the slooooooo-ho-west ops this side of…[insert big name river here]. The restraints aren’t automatic so the ride attendants have to go from car to car and manually release everyone from their seats, so the people standing in line can’t enter the station until each one of those assholes has exited the entire ride and let me just tell you, those ride attendants are chatty motherfuckers so they took their good ol’ time like they’re meandering about the bayou with a book of poetry up to their noses.

I mean, super nice guys! But slow AF.

So it took them forever to load our train, which gave Henry time to ACTUALLY WALK OVER TO THE FENCE AND WAVE TO US so we started screaming THERE IS A GUY THAT LOOKS LIKE YOU!!! and we were frantically trying to point in the direction we saw him walking (it looked like he had actually gone into the Flashback entrance) but Deaf Henry was like, “hahaha what” and looked terrified as usual because Chooch and I together can be quite terrifying, especially when we’re seen laughing conspiratorially over something.

So Henry just kind of nervously laughed and walked away.

And then we had to go through the whole ARE YOU READY I CAN’T HEAR YOU rigmarole, but I did find it charming that once our train had been pulled all the way up the lift hill, the one ride attendant got on his little microphone and did a countdown for us. That guy was cute in a “dorky sidekick in a John Hughes flick” kind of way.

Henry actually came through and took our picture after all!

The people behind us hated us so bad, I know it. Sometimes I try to imagine what we (OK, I) look like to bystanders when I’m suffering through a laughing fit, but then I quickly have to think of something else because I start to feel mortified.

OK so the ride itself? Not the worst boomerang I’ve been on! Didn’t bang my head, but the backward portion was so terrifying. I know that’s the whole point, but holy shit it gets me every time. I think the one at Morey’s Piers was the most intense one I’ve been on so far though.

Luckily we were in the front row so we got released first and practically fell over top of each other trying to race out of the platform and tell Henry about his twin. At the exact moment we caught up to Henry, HIS TWIN APPEARED RIGHT BEHIND US!! He apparently had been waiting for people who were riding the same cycle as us so he never left the area, THANK THE GOOD LORD! My hands were shaking so bad and I was juggling my phone like a hot potato, but I was able to snag THIS PICTURE:

THAT GUY COULD BE HENRY’S BROTHER. OMFG I CAN’T STAND IT. I was actually having stomach pains at this point and could feel my throat growing scratchier with every forceful vomit-like laugh that was blowing through my body. My eyes were watering and I could feel my face heating up but I could NOT stop laughing. Chooch wasn’t even really laughing that hard anymore, but I had reached the point of no return and felt deceased.

Meanwhile, Henry was like, “He doesn’t look at me at all, you assholes.” You guys. Henry’s hair looks like that right now when he takes his hat off because he needs a hair cut. Their glasses are almost the same. They have the same nose. LOOK AT THE FURROWED BROWS!!! He looks like when Chooch and I tried to make a Mii of Henry back in the Wii days. Granted, I never see the resemblance when people say I look like someone* but I honestly don’t know how Henry can deny this. He looks like the better version though, like the other Henry spends a lot of time in the bar and in front of poker machines and probably actually listens to Ted Nugent.

*(Once, some friends sent me a picture of some girl on a sign for a circus in Germany and were adamant that it was my doppelganger. I went along with it but did not see even the slightest resemblance and felt it was an insult to the girl in the ad, honestly!)

“DO YOU THINK HE REALIZES THAT HE LOOKS LIKE YOU?” I screeched and Henry was like, “NO BECAUSE HE DOESN’T.” But he definitely knew I was taking this picture, that’s for sure! I wonder if those kids with him did the same thing to him?!?! SURELY THEY APPRECIATED THIS UNCANNY RESEMBLANCE?!

Oh fuck, you guys. This damn thing had me cackling toward insanity, I swear. Even a week later, I’m sitting here screaming over this picture!! I spent the rest of the day texting it to people with no context. Wendy was like, “is this real?!” And then she asked if we talked to him, as if Henry would have ever let that happen!

Sep 122021
 

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

And the colors were poppin’!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idiots.

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

It was a JOURNEY.

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

Ew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fascination was closed and Henry was so sad.

 

The rides looked so much better at night, lol.

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

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

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

“Let’s pretend we’re a couple.”

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

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

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