When we approached Gemini they were calling for people to come off the midway and join the ride. We'd seen that the month before and now knew that was because the ride needed a minimum population to run without stalling out. We figured this was great for giving us the chance at rerides. And it was; when the first go-round on Gemini ended they said anyone wanting another ride could sit and, if nobody was waiting for that seat, go again. Of course we went again. And they offered it again when that ride was done and we figured to take this hat-trick of Gemini rides and then head to the front of the park to close out the season.
At the end of the Gemini tracks are this slightly abrupt turn bunny_hugger calls out the Arrow Transition, because Arrow Dynamics made a lot of steel roller coasters and never quite got the hang of a smooth transition from a straight path to a helix; it's a jolt, but one you can be ready for, especially with her yelling out the about-to-come smacking about. But after this transition on the third go-round we had an abrupt braking, punching our guts as the ride stopped a good bit short of the station.
Inside the station, on this incredibly slow day on a ride that needs a lot of people to ride, was the other red train, sitting at the station and waiting desperately for a minimum population that wasn't there. Gemini had, it turned out, not been running one red and one blue train all day, but instead was running two red trains. And yes, this was insane; the ride operators told us, they'd been trying to take one train out of service for hours, so that the ridership could be concentrated in a single normally-running train, but their supervisors insisted on having two red trains going and would not let them give in to the tiny crowd.
The trouble is, the train we were on couldn't pull into the station until the train in there left, and the train in there had two riders, who were getting tired of waiting and figuring on leaving, and that train needed a lot more people to go. Even if some of the ride operators jumped on the train that wouldn't do any good, especially when the two riders in the other red train did give up and left. One of the guys in the train with us talked about how he'd one had to be walked off a ride, and they took down his name and his zip code, and we wondered if they'd walk us off this ride or just take the other train out of service and let us pull in.
Finally Gemini's ride staff got permission, and the necessary supervisor, to come out and do what is technically a walk-down from the ride. We were to get out of the train, one car at a time, and walk with guidance back to the station. As death-defying feats go this isn't much of one: at this point of the ride the track is horizontal, and the wooden path is maybe narrower than you'd normally walk on, but it's wide enough for one person and there's a handrail and obviously there's no cutting in line. The riskiest part was probably getting out of the train, since you had to step down a little farther than normal, and that's still not too risky. And they did indeed take down our names and our zip codes, as part of some logging process necessitated whenever anyone leaves a ride other than at the designated station.
And that is how bunny_hugger and I had our first walk-down from a stopped roller coaster.
As these go it's not quite a thrilling story --- we didn't have to walk down a lift hill, particularly, and we were close to the ground and walking on a level surface --- but hey, it's happened.
We dashed off to the bathroom (some women in the car ahead of us desperately had to go, which made their wait a lot less tolerable than ours) and worked out what time we had left. Getting carousel rides and Blue Streak in was hopeless but maybe we could get the roller coaster in.
About halfway there bunny_hugger asked if we'd make it to Blue Streak before 8:00, the official closing hour. I said sure we would, and then looked at my watch, and there was no chance of that. We were only about halfway there, so we ducked into the roller coaster we were nearest, which was Corkscrew. The crew was one again in a giddy mood (they seem to have a particularly high morale at that ride) and joking about how, yeah, they think the ride needs a couple more safety checks and they'll just have to ride it themselves some.
We got in line for the front row of what would be the last Corkscrew ride of the night, and thus of the season (unless the ride operators give their friends rides after park closing). Our ride started just a touch after 8 pm and it was dark and cold and not quite windy, but we were there, and bunny_hugger yelled ``Last Corkscrew of the year!'' to the people under the midway as we looped over them. We'd tried applauding when we got back in but with everybody wearing gloves and mittens who could hear it?
And that closed out the rides of Cedar Point, 2014. We walked back up front, as stuff turned off, and saw them closing the arcade before we could get a last pinball game in (I don't blame them for this). We defied my lurking fears by not forgetting our packages, which had been brought safe and sound to the front desk, and we left to drive home.
Trivia: The Gauge Act of 1846 specified a standard gauge for all British railways, except that the Great Western system was allowed to use its own (broad) gauge, for its existing system and for future expansions. Source: The Age Of Paradox: A Biography Of England, 1841 - 1851, John W Dodds.
Currently Reading: The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales Of Love, War, And Genius, As Written By Our Genetic Code, Sam Kean. You know, there's such a patch of the history of genetics in the 20th century that's dominated by women doing amazing (but often unheralded) work that I wonder if genetics wasn't perceived as a feminine field of science. Taking that way too far, then, I wonder about how in science fiction, biology is (to garble james_nicoll's description) the science most likely to appear on-screen with black eyes and bruises it'll refuse to explain. There's probably not a casual sexism link that deep --- SF writers just skipping out on science seems like enough explanation --- but it's a bold idea.
PS: Another Reason Why It's Got To Be 2, answering that geometry puzzle from last week in another way and one I think's easier to follow. Third of these since the last roundup.