austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I'm the last of the good old fashioned steam-powered trains

What I saw from atop the Crossbow roller coaster was school buses. Four of them. Their loads of Yeshiva students were at Bowcraft's back gate. While we were riding, they had gotten whatever level of organization they needed, and they were allowed in. We were at the far end of the park, and up a hill, so we could watch hundreds of kids racing into the park, a flood of people.

This is not to complain about them. Not at all. School groups like this are what keep amusement parks, especially small ones, alive. And low-key family parks like this are exactly right for kids of their age, which were ... uhm ... I dunno. I'm going to guess like fifth- and sixth-graders. Many were converging on the roller coaster, and we figured to go right back around for another ride since, wow, with a mob like this who knows if we'd get on anything much again? Maybe it wasn't a capacity crowd, but it looked like enough people to overwhelm the staffing they had.

The Crossbow operator would tell us, while we waited in a busy queue, that yeah, there was always one person among the kids who'd try to get off the roller coaster in the wrong direction. Never a train without anyone, never a couple kids, but just one who'd not heed the instruction to exit to the left. Also in the crowding the operator ended up just trusting us that we were fastening our own seat belts properly; he was too busy trying to check the whole train on his own. Some of the kids asked us if the roller coaster was scary. That's a hard question to answer, not without knowing their baseline. We answered honestly, though: we didn't think it scary, but we've ridden a lot of things. We did think it was fun, though, with some great moments that made you feel as if you could be tossed out of your seat. Nobody seemed to think we had misled them, or at least didn't say so.

You might have had a thought nag your mind: how do a bunch of Yeshiva students keep their yarmulkes on their head throughout a roller coaster ride? And the answer is: imperfectly. Most of the time they managed it; the ride isn't that intense and you can put your hand on your head just fine, of course. But sometimes the caps went flying off anyway, and we saw several kids in the aftermath of a ride walking around, their hands on their heads as temporary cover, trying to find their yarmulkes if they flew off out of the fenced-off area, or finding a spare from somewhere. Not always, though. Several times the ride operator had to go into the roller coaster's infield to retrieve a lost yarmulke. At least one time when we were watching we saw him just hop down from the station, run across, and then climb back up the ride's supports, rather than go the long way around the queues or the proper screen gate. I suppose after enough of this you get casual. We were awestruck at someone just scaling the supports into the launch station. You don't see that sort of thing happening at Cedar Point. It made the park feel more personal to us.

And the flood of kids made the park more alive. The place was pleasant but sleepy before they came in. After, well, there were groups of kids everywhere, running around, gathering, dispersing, filling rides. Also being glared at sternly by their chaperones, tall, black-dressed men carrying megaphones that were only sometimes used. It added some chaos to the proceedings. At the bathroom sink one time --- well, look, I splash around a lot when I wash my hands. Have for a long time. It's part of good scrubbing. The kid who was there before me, though? I don't know what he did but it looked like the sink had exploded, scattering water as much as fifty feet into the air. I've been in oceans that were less wet. But, you know, semi-supervised kids in a fun place.

We stayed at the park, of course, and while we did more walking around and taking in scenery we also managed some rides. Which were more fun for being among crowds; waiting one or two ride cycles to have the experience with dozens of squealing, happy patrons is usually worth it. And then, after two hours ---

Well, they were gone. The chaperones walked around, glaring sternly, and kids went from their final rides to gather again at the back gate. Their whole day at the amusement park was two hours, which in hindsight, made their first mad dash for the roller coaster much more understandable. And the park was quiet again, sleepy, and all to ourselves.

We stayed another hour and change after the students vanished. It was enough time to take last rides on all the other things we cared to, and to photograph everything we could, and to see the first people getting the evening-admission specials coming in. We exited, back to the arcade building, to make sure we hadn't overlooked any pinball machines or otherwise interesting games there, and confirmed that we hadn't. And then, aware that we had evening plans, and would in 45 minutes be at the height of rush hour, we needed to head out.

The highway's divided in the area along Bowcraft, so we had to drive down a mile or so, take a jughandle-assisted U-turn, and head back. So that gave us one last look at Bowcraft, for the day, possibly forever.

Trivia: General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Yokohama he 28th of August, 1945, in preparation for the formal surrender of Japan. Source: The Second World War, John Keegan.

Currently Reading: Sail and Rail: A Narrative History of Transportation in Western Michigan, Lawrence Wakefield, Lucille Wakefield.


PS: More Kokomo's pictures:

SAM_7259.jpg

Golf club tossed into the scenery around the notorious, and impossible, 13th hole. We've all been there. It's a hole with three separate greens, separated by connecting tunnels, and can't even in theory be done in fewer than two strokes. It's kinda crazy.


SAM_7264.jpg

The Serpent, in sunset. Also bench seating that we guess was always there but had, until last year, been hidden behind what looked like the sort of giant inflatable structure the YMCA I went to as a kid kept their swimming pool in. That was gone now and some kind of sports field was now exposed.


PPS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: Open Set, which takes about 1300 words for me to get around to explaining. I'm getting more terse.

Tags: bowcraft, fifth anniversary trip, kokomo's, new jersey
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