austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

The train's not breaking

Since Sunday was such a perfect day, magnificent in every way, Monday and Lake Compounce, in Bristol, would be hard-pressed to match. The park put in a fantastic effort, though, and if it weren't for the end of the day I would say it almost met the challenge. More of that sad story later.

Our hotel was just off the highway, but across an overpass and down a frontage road and the important thing is we missed it the first time around and had to loop back around. Ultimately we were tired enough we resorted to dinner from a supermarket. We'd do that again in a more dispirited mood Monday night.

I forgot to mention this in driving to Quassy, by the way, but what the heck. We went to a rest stop that was surprisingly far off the highway, because there's just not a lot of space in these Connecticut roads. As we were finally pulling into the lot bunny_hugger started mourning the loss of little travel amusement games, the sorts of things made of pegs and wood and cardboard that you could fiddle with on a long trip. They've all been replaced by smart phone games, which aren't even special to trips or anything.

And then literally inside the door of this truck stop was a huge diorama of travel games. Some were classics, like Interstate Bingo or travel cribbage. Some looked to be new. We spent a good ten minutes or so looking through the games and bunny_hugger ultimately bought a tiddlywinks variant. This one has the figures be birds, with different points given based on whether you flip them so they rest securely on a cup's lip, or dangle, or fall into the cup, or miss altogether. We'd thought about bringing this to game night at the local hipster bar --- every Tuesday is game night, whether there's pinball league or not --- but we have like clockwork forgotten every time since then. Maybe next week.

The highway situation is awfully confusing, anyway, and not just at that truck stop. From our hotel, Monday morning, we set out to get to the local AAA and buy discounted tickets. (We weren't sure that we could get discount tickets from a New England AAA, when we're merely part of the Michigan AAA, but supposed they wouldn't be that exclusive.) And we had to head back again right away because we left something behind; I forget what and it doesn't matter. But it took us through some twisty mazes of roads that all seemed to lose their labels at just the wrong moment.

It would also take us past a downtown district with memorial road names that looked uncannily like somewhere else we've been together, but I can't think where it was and bunny_hugger wasn't seeing it. I may have just been confused. The road to Lake Compounce also took us past the headquarters of the ESP Network. I knew we were in Bristol but I figured it's not that small a town.

Lake Compounce bills itself the oldest continuously-operating amusement park in the United States. It traces its operations back to 1846. You have to do some squinting to say there was such a thing as an amusement park in 1846. You also have to squint harder at the ``continuously-operating'' part. The park was severely pinched in the 1980s and 1990s, and for a couple of years in the early 90s opened for only a couple days in the summer, an official at-bat for a summer. It's also, says Wikipedia, the park where Milli Vanilli were first publicly caught lip-synching when their Live On MTv concert started skipping.

But the park was bought in the 90s by Kennywood Entertainment, owners and operators of it's right there on the label. Kennywood's a fantastic park. So is its sister park Idlewild, and so is Story Land, which the chain bought in the 2000s. Deep down I was expecting something with a lot of the feel of Kennywood or Idlewild as filtered through Coney Island Cincinnati or Clementon Park, parks that had gone through extinction-level events.

Thus I felt deeply betrayed when we got to the park and were charged for parking. None of the other Kennywood-chain parks charge (though they do charge for premium parking). I don't think it was more than eight dollars, and we had after all paid for parking the day before. But it felt like for all its warmth --- we would even go from the parking lot to the main entrance by a highway underpass, just as at Kennywood and Holiday World and Parc Festyland --- this stranger would have some barbed quills.

Trivia: The word ``gridiron'' is not a compound of ``grid'' and ``iron''. It develops from Middle English gredire, gridirne; or earlier gredil, gredil --- modern griddle -- and ultimately traces back to the Late Latin ``craticulum'', meaning ``fine wickerwork''. Source: Webster's Dictionary of Word Origins, Editor Frederick C Mish.

Currently Reading: Symmetry In Mechanics: A Gentle, Modern Introduction Stephanie Frank Singer.

Tags: amusement parks, lake compounce, new england parks tour
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