austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Weekend happiness-seekers, pent-up saturation

It's always dangerous to bring a friend to something special. You never know what they're going to think and if they don't like it, your heart breaks and you never feel quite the same about them. Especially if it's something like an amusement park that's so subject to unpredictable things like the crowd's size and mood, the weather, whether key rides are working, that kind of thing. Things went well in 2016 introducing MWS and K to Kennywood. Now MWS's second visit and JTK and CVK's first?

But some show of how things went. After the carousel we went to the Kangaroo. This is the lone survivor of a once-common kind of ride called a flying coaster. It's a circular flat ride, cars rolling along in a loop. But there's a hill, letting cars jump into the air and bounce back down. bunny_hugger and I wouldn't miss it. MWS was up for it after securing his hat (K's flew off on the ride last year, and just missed landing on the track where it would have been run over again and again). CVK was open to trying, but JTK had to be coaxed into a strange-looking ride of dubious point. Still, he didn't want to be the spoiler in the group. After one or two circuits he was smiling. After the ride operator triggered the sound effect --- the cartoony ``boing-oing-oing!'' you know from everything in the 50s --- he was cackling, laughing. He was sold on the ride by the end.

I don't want to suggest that JTK was skeptical about many things, or a near-spoiler to the group. He was up for pretty much anything. It's just that he and CVK kept having a better time than I had worried the might, and I kept feeling relieved that, well, they were liking it.

Another ride for an example. Kennywood has one of the last two Turtle Rides (Tumble Bugs) still running. (Conneaut Lake Park has the other.) You sit in circular cars on a track that runs in a circle, with two hills and two valleys. The movement feels a lot like that of a Himalaya or Musik Express ride, except that you're sitting loose and can fall forward or back easily. The ancient machinery chugs along in an iambic pattern that (recent?) lore matches to the machinery going ``turtle turtle''. The ride operator has discretion to come on the speaker and go ``turtle turtle'' along with the ride. So she did the first time the five of us took a ride. In the evening we went back, to appreciate the ride and its neon and its position underneath one roller coaster and next to another. JTK, a veteran of one ride on the Turtle, said that the ride operator better come on and say ``turtle turtle''. He already had his opinion of what the ride needs to be just right. She did, and he was happy.

Not everyone chose to go on marginal rides. In the heat and direct sun of the afternoon we started looking at the Log Jammer. Like much at Kennywood it has historic import. This ride, installed 1975, was Kennywood's first million-dollar ride. It marked a huge, confident pile of capital put into a single ride. It might have been the last blow to knock down Pittsburgh's other trolley park, West View Park, which closed in 1977. bunny_hugger and I aren't much for log flumes, but it was hot and sunny and the line was surprisingly not too bad. JTK and CVK were up for it. MWS looked thoughtfully at it and decided not to ride.

A couple weeks after our visit, Kennywood announced they were closing the Log Jammer. It's understandable, at last. Even in the queue and excited for the ride JTK couldn't help pointing out the many spots where the log flume leaked. (At least some of them looked, to me, designed-in to handle the changing water flow. But there were a fair number of patches in the track too.) The park's possibly the most land-starved one I know. You can't keep every ride that's ever been there. And the popularity of a log flume is so weather-dependent, moreso than many other rides. Park publicity noted in the gently passive-aggressive way amusement parks have to defend taking out ``my favorite ride'' in ten days that many people weren't riding it, and they need the space for ... I don't think they've actually said. Which makes me wonder if they discovered some critical problem that was beyond reasonable repair.

I'm glad we did get this unknowing farewell ride, and that we had no idea. MWS was kicking himself for not riding it when he had the chance. But there's no way to ride everything, not at any but the smallest parks, and there's no knowing when something will be going away. JTK and CVK were sad on the news that the wouldn't get a second ride. And the legacy of the ride being the final blow that made West View Park give up, to me, makes taking the Log Jammer out feel disrespectful. I suppose that's always the way; the something so big and dramatic that it can knock out an amusement park itself rots away. It's chilling to face, is all.

Trivia: Before the New York Herald opened its headquarters there the Herald Square area of Manhattan was known as Dodge Place. Source: The Paper: The Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune, Richard Kluger.

Currently Reading: Wonder Woman: The War Years, 1941 - 1945, Editor Roy Thomas. Selected World War II-era comic books that often leaves me feeling like I missed something in a comic not included. Also: OK, so apparently in the daily strip Wonder Woman took and passed nursing certification with superhuman ease, OK. In the comic book, she just bought the nursing license and pretended to be someone who was leaving for South America to be with her fiancee. I realize 1941 was like seven completely different worlds stacked on top of each other but whoa.

PS: Letterboxing at the Dorothy B Kearns Park outside Charleston! With bunny_hugger and showing my dad how it's done. (My mother was laid up with a Martian Death Cold.)

SAM_9680.jpg

Letterboxing in the park in South Carolina was very different from what we see in Michigan, since they have all kinds of crazy scraggly trees with branches that are clearly haunted limbs trying to pull you into a liminal realm. (It felt surprisingly akin to the parks I remembered from Singapore, really.)


SAM_9685.jpg

The park used to house a plantation, of course, and this building was either the smokehouse or icehouse in those days. The sign doesn't commit to which it is. The place is moderately well graffitied over, as the sign probably told you already. Also notice bunny_hugger's famed chicken purse peeking in.


SAM_9688.jpg

Still it's not far from the Interstate and the handsome bridge that can't be used if it's cold out. There's also a container-cargo port nearby.


Tags: charleston, kennywood, pinburgh 2017
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