austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I went to Balboa Island and laid in the sand

After the lighthouse we went to Michigan's Adventure, the modest but charming amusement park that we say is in Muskegon even though it's technically only in the Muskegon Municipal Area. Remarkably this was the first time we'd been to one of our home parks this season. In fact we still haven't made it to Cedar Point and that's shockingly late. But we'd still get to the important business of riding roller coasters on our anniversary.

One of the wooden roller coasters, Wolverine Wildcat, felt a bit more eject-y and more fun than it has in past years. It's not as great as its template, the Phoenix at Knoebels, but it did seem better to me. Also on the very long Shivering Timbers wooden roller coaster we'd noticed the final helix, the roughest part of the ride, had gotten a lot of wood replaced. That ending stretch is a good bit smoother than it had been and that makes the ride quite a bit better.

The most mysterious discovery of the day was that there was a pumpkin patch growing in some of the parklands to the side of the railroad and along Shivering Timbers's path. Why would they be doing this? It's not near anything that can be accessed by the public. A source of pumpkins for the park's Halloween events? But the park isn't open for Halloween. It's not even got lights along the midways; the park couldn't be open evenings in September or October if they wanted. Pumpkins for sister parks? But surely it'd be cheaper to buy pumpkins in Sandusky, Ohio, than to grow a tiny patch and ship them from Muskegon. We have no idea what this might signify.

One of the gift shops had heavily discounted merchandise. It seemed to be clearing-house stuff for old park memorabilia. We found a coffee mug and little plate that featured Michigan Adventure's old logo, from the days before the park was purchased by Cedar Fair. We couldn't resist that. The coffee mug displays Shivering Timbers's logo and brags about its statistics, although curiously, it gives the ride's speed at 55 mph. It actually runs at 65 mph, and always has. Why would they understate it on the coffee mugs? Or is that why the merchandise was left in a back room and lost for a decade?

The gift shop's manager mentioned the special deal that month was buy-one, get one half-off, and told us we were lucky getting there by the end of June because July's deal wasn't as good. She also offered tips on how to avoid long-line days at Michigan's Adventure, which we thought very funny because the park never has long lines. Watch this space for our laughter to return as tears.

The path from Muskegon to Lansing takes us naturally near Grand Rapids. So we stopped in at the painfully hip bar Stella's, where we could play some pinball, particularly FunHouse. Sadly, a pinball sharp out of Pittsburgh had come in and run up some impossibly high scores on the table --- including a score of over 100 million, which must have taken the best part of an hour to do --- and so the high score table is out of reach of mere mortals like us. But then also we were able to play the game into the very late night hours. Our anniversary could celebrate lighthouses, amusement parks, and pinball together, and it's wonderful that it could.

Trivia: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's first maritime venture was the operation of a state-owned grain terminal at Gowanus Bay in Brooklyn, which it assumed in 1943. Source: Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed The World, Brian J Cudahy.

Currently Reading: Capitulation, 1945: The Story Of The Dönitz Regime, Marlis G Steinart. Translator Richard Barry. This book about the Flensberg Government, which I don't think I ever heard of before about four years ago, starts by mentioning how the subject had recently (late 1960s) become the subject of a lot of writing.


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