austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Still I can't take it any more

We were drawn to something a bit out of character for us. Among the rides is the Saw Mill Plunge, a mid-80s-era log flume. We don't do log flumes often, but it was sunny and pretty warm. And we looked at people coming off, who didn't seem all that soaked. We could risk it. It's from the era when log flumes were first becoming must-have attractions for parks, and that generation of log flumes is becoming rarer. And it's from Arrow Dynamics, the people who did so much to put looping steel roller coasters in every amusement park in the 1980s.

The line was enormous, and we did wonder several times if it was wise to join it. But the line was also moving, quite a bit, thanks to people ahead of us giving up and drifting away. That was counteracted some by people, mostly kids, sneaking back in and ducking under the queue rails to get wherever they were going. One thing we were clear about by this point: Lake Compounce has a lot of line-cutting people in its crowd. The last half-hour or so of waiting was one of a lot of seething, as what already seemed to be a slow-moving line got slowed down by people just squeezing in ahead of us.

It's a pleasant log flume, though. And its warning sign, a cheezy cartoon promising ``You'll Absolutely, Positively Get Soaked On This Ride!'' overstates things. Like many log flumes of the era it sprays a lot of water out, but not so much back into the boat. And the boat ride takes you up and into the woods. It's surely close to Boulder Dash, although I don't think we get more than a glimpse of the roller coaster from there. Mostly it's a chance to drift on an artificial river into the slightly mysterious distant woods, far enough even the noises of the park don't carry. It makes for some lovely tranquility in the late day.

We went walking along the outside path of Boulder Dash, mostly, and found a lovely surprise. There's a classic streetcar-style trolley at the park. Lake Compounce had started as a trolley park, though trolley service from the Bristol and Plainville Tramway Company ended during the Great Depression. Their streetcar trolley, bright yellow but otherwise looking quite like the trolley that runs to the Land of Make-Believe, runs a little path along a lakefront. On the walkway beside the trolley path is a fence marked by a ``Lake Compounce Time Line''. The signs explain the state's ``a great state to learn geology''. So it's got one of those science-museum type walks, matching distance along the fence to the deepness of time, going back to the Precambrian era.

We walked the way out, the better to see and copy-edit the geological-history signs and to watch Boulder Dash at its extent. We took the trolley, ``Special Car to Lake Compounce' number 1414, back. It's got advertisements in the overhead, things that look vintage for stuf like Fels-Naptha and Sloan's Liniment that may still be in existence but that feel like they're products that disappeared generations ago. The historic plaque explains the car's a survivor of the open cars that used to run in Connecticut, though it doesn't promise that this car --- on loan from the Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven, a thing I didn't know existed but now would kind of like to see --- actually ran to the park in its day. That's all right; the true thing would be like this.

We got in another carousel ride, of course. And then went to bumper car ride. There was some weird delay getting started. It appeared to be something needing the intervention of maintenance. And there were weird clumps of people when the ride got going. That happened on the ride cycle ahead of us, and there was a similar problem when we got our turn. Somehow, the Lake Compounce crowd apparently doesn't quite get bumper cars. They needed a lot of guidance from the ride operator, particularly, on ``if you keep your foot on the gas and keep turning the wheel you'll eventually go backwards, and get out of the jam''. Goodness knows why people were just getting stuck instead.

But we noticed something which delighted us on the ride. There's arrows pointing the direction of travel, of course. They come in different colors and some in different shapes, wriggly arrows or ones without tails or things like that. But there is one perfectly formed Kennywood arrow. We don't know that it actually points the correct path to Kennywood. But the little touch, something sure to delight anyone who was an amusement park enthusiast, or any Pittsburgh-area local who was in Bristol for some reason, brought us joy.

Another thing we rode was the Wipeout. This is a Chance-built modern version of the Trabant, a spinning-disc ride that gets tilted upward on an axis that itself rotates. That'd be good enough by itself, although this adds a twist to the ride. When the ride is lowering back to horizontal, the end of the cycle, the rotation of the platform speeds up, which just never happens. So what's normally a sadder part of the ride, its gradual close, instead has an interesting and exciting part. Obviously any ride could have that; I just don't remember being on one that made anything of the endgame like that.

Also delightful is that we could see an older era of paint, underneath the modern paint job. It was fragmentary in only a couple spots but we could see where what's now solid blue used to be red, with silver, curly inset letters reading WIPEOUT. We love peeks into what the park used to be such as that.

With the end of the day approaching we figured the thing to do was get one more round in on the wooden roller coasters. Wildcat first. It was about as far away, but we figured it would have a shorter queue, and that we'd be able to get a ride on that and then a ride on Boulder Dash to close out the night. We were right about the queue being shorter, although it wasn't yet short. The operators were no less chatty and sociable and there were one or two more Happy Birthday rounds while we waited.

So after that we were expecting the end of a really very good day on a fantastic roller coaster.

Trivia: J C F Guntsmuth's 1796 rules for das englische Base-ball indicates that if a batter swung at and missed the third strike of an at-bat, then the batter was obliged to run for first base. The game had no catcher, giving the runner a fair chance at making it. Source: Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search For The Roots Of The Game, David Block.

Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler.

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