austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

We're heading for Venus

When bunny_hugger felt rested we could get to the serious business of riding stuff at Conneaut Lake Park. This would give us the completely novel experience of waiting for rides there. We'd had the experience of being essentially alone in the park; now, we were just part of a mob. There were some familiar sights, such as one guy who was clearly an American Coaster Enthusiasts member. He had the fanny pack and the obscure park T-shirt gear to prove it. I believe he also had a Geauga Lake park pin on his hat. We didn't catch up with him for a chat.

We rode the carousel first. It's still technically the antique mechanism, although at last report only five carousel figures were still original to its 1920s beginning. We tried and failed again to figure which ones they would be. Since the park has been selling off carousel mounts for money and replacing old figures with Carousel Works reconstructions, some of the replacement figures have to be a quarter-century old by now, which is getting to make them historic figures in their own right. They still had the equipment for the brass rings to grab, but didn't use it. Possibly this is just a personnel thing; it would require two rather than one employee operating the ride at least. Possibly they just haven't got the brass and steel rings to spare anymore.

Something did feel different and after a while it came to us: there was no music. Worse, ``Artie'', the Artizan band organ, wasn't even there. Could they have sold the antique organ, the way they'd sold most of the carousel figures? We thought we'd have heard about that; it would surely be one more of the park's many last-ditch efforts to keep doom away. But the park has been operating in bankruptcy through 2015, another of its last-ditch efforts to keep doom away. There's no way they could have sold the organ without court and creditor approval. If it were sold legally, at least, and I must admit it's imaginable that something less than proper might have at some point occurred. It's easier to imagine that the organ was taken out to some secure, enclosed, non-operating area for repairs, though, and here's hoping that was it.

You can have a crowd at the carousel, though. It's got capacity. And I even got a photograph of the operations manual, ``Merry-Go-Round, Manufacturer Philadelphia Toboggan, Serial Number CLP002 - Carousel''. I love getting views of park workings like that.

The Blue Streak roller coaster, though, that has a theoretical capacity of 16 riders per train. The actual capacity is less than that because some of the seats had fallen out and couldn't be put back in place. Some folks not used to the ways of Conneaut Lake Park were shocked they would run a train where some of the seats were no longer seats. We had seen that before, though. What we hadn't noticed before was a sign off in the interior, somewhere that seems inaccessible to normal patrons. The sign reads, ``Thank You For Your Patience Due To This Inconvenience''. We have no hypotheses about what this might mean.

We took a mid-car ride, because we didn't want to wait extra ride cycles for a front or backseat ride. The tunnel that starts the ride off, and that goes underneath the ``Thank You For Your Patience'' sign, was in slightly better shape than previous years. About half the roof had been repaired, though about half was still marked with holes and plastic bags and the threat of collected, moldy rainwater falling down your back. (It didn't on us.) The ride itself was a fine, classic out-and-back with so many hops that we'd enjoyed before. The last half of the ride is a bit duller in the front, as the hills don't seem to do very much. From the back half of the train, though, those hills are more fun. We don't have an opinion what the ride is like from the missing seats.

We had heard after past visits that the Conneaut Lake Park miniature golf course is a quite good one. We hadn't known on our first visit, the one made with time stolen from Waldameer. Our second visit the course was closed due to flooding. This time it was open, and we'd even seen the sign paraded around town as part of the park volunteers float. We got a bag of popcorn and bought a round. The golf balls were rented out at one of the park's food stalls, nowhere near the entrance to the golf course. At the golf course entrance were the putters. This seems to suggest if you brought your own ball and scorecard you'd be just on your honor not to use the golf course. I'm hard pressed to imagine who would be that cheap, though.

The course has got an old-west mining-town theme, so the course curbs are all wood and there's fixtures like railroad crossing signs and watering stations and the like. The most unsettling hole is one with an elevated watering trough, that drops water from about eight feet up into what's supposed to be a drain. It also sprays onto the green, of course, turning that part much more moldy-black than they mean. bunny_hugger avoided the hole's water. I pitched my ball right into it and spent the rest of the course wondering if there were somewhere I could clean my hand.

Nevertheless, it is a very fun course. The holes don't go in for many tricks or particularly devious props or stunts; they're just challenging without being unmanageable. We scored fairly close to par, certainly better than we did trying the Michigan's Adventure miniature golf course. And we could see the Blue Streak roller coaster from spots inside its footprint, a view we hadn't had before. It's certainly worth playing.

One of Conneaut Lake Park's other rare rides is the Tumble Bug. There is, apparently, only one other of the ride still operating, and that's at Kennywood, as the Turtle. It's a half-dozen circular cars chained together, that chugs along a circular track up-and-down and nobody tries calling this a roller coaster of any kind since it's not at Cedar Point anymore. Our previous visit the last car in the train had been roped off as out of order, somehow, even though the cars are literally just curved seats with a metal hoop in the center to grab and stabilize yourself. We ended up in the frontmost car, and by ourselves despite the line. Maybe people don't realize that four or five people could fit easily in them. It's a fun ride, one with a motion very like that of a Tilt-A-Whirl, and it makes this wonderful locomotive chugging noise. It's yet another of Conneaut Lake Park's charming rides. I got some arty pictures of the ride.

Trivia: Following the Panic of 1819 unemployment in Philadelphia's manufacturing sector may have reached an estimated 78 percent. Source: A Nation Of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters, Scott Reynolds Nelson.

Currently Reading: Giving Good Weight, John McPhee.

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