Our previous visit to Michigan's Adventure had been packed, the result of going on a hot late-July day with bunny_hugger's brother and his girlfriend on one of the summer's few really hot, water-park-worthy days. This was different. This was Labor Day, and I believe the day after the water park closed for the season. The remaining amusement park is a fine spot, mind you, but is also perhaps the biggest low-key park you could get.
We spent some time thinking of a common morbid late-season amusement park thing: is there anything we really should get a photograph of because it's going to be gone next season? We'd heard no hints of any projects, major or minor, coming to Michigan's Adventure. The park is still absorbing the steel roller coaster it got from the now-closed Geauga Lake park nearly a decade ago. Still, next year is the park's 60th.
It's had some small changes, like opening a beer garden, and taking out the adult-sized go-kart track, in the past couple years but nothing big. We just didn't spot anything that had that already-been-doomed air. We did take some pictures of some of the children's rides, little airplane rides or the drummer-boy spinning-cup ride. They don't seem to be obviously in peril, but they are the sorts of things nobody pays attention to until you realize they are gone. Also some of those rides are probably among the park's oldest, although it's hard to be sure.
The park was already winding up for the summer. There'd be one more operating weekend, which we would have to miss. They were already out of the season's special souvenir cups, which we never buy anyway. They also had none of the Boardwalk Fries shops open, as far as we could tell. We would go to the Coasters restaurant, the only indoors restaurant and a place that clearly used to be a Johnny Rockets, for milkshakes that took surprisingly long to get. This did reveal to us they had vegetarian burgers there now. Could be useful information.
It would've been useful that day: we had figured on driving back we could eat in Grand Rapids, at the restaurant that has a couple pinball machines there. They were closed. The bar where the Grand Rapids pinball league runs was open, but they don't serve food. We tried finding somewhere nearby but a surprising amount of Grand Rapids was closed for Labor Day. I suggested we take the first Denny's we saw, driving home, since we had missed going to any on amusement park tours all summer. We didn't see one. (bunny_hugger saw a Bob Evans, which would have been at least as good, but she mistook me as determined to eat at Denny's and didn't mention.) We ended up getting sandwiches at a Meijer's halfway between Grand Rapids and home and being irritated by the food problems.
If we'd had reason to suspect any of that, we'd have eaten there. But there wasn't anything to give us reason to suspect that. We enjoyed the day instead, observing things like how the pumpkin patch near the Shivering Timbers roller coaster had grown and wondering what they were doing with those.
Also we ran into another American Coaster Enthusiast member. He didn't explicitly introduce himself as such. But he was wearing a fanny pack and a T-shirt from a water park nowhere near Michigan, so, he was explicitly introducing himself as such. We passed him a couple of times and actually chatted with him near the end of the night, on line for Shivering Timbers. We'd announced ourselves as coaster enthusiasts to him by my wearing, I believe, the Leap The Dips T-shirt from Lakemont Park (the oldest roller coaster still running) and Roar-o-Saurus from Story Book Land. We didn't actually start out speaking to him; instead, he was talking about some ride or other to another group of people, and we melted into that conversation somehow. We were all generally in favor of amusement parks.
Trivia: Magician Horace Goldin (1867 - 1939) popularized the illusion of sawing a woman in half. By 1921 he operated a half a dozen road companies specializing in the act. He would develop a version in which the woman's torso was visible to the audience, and the cutting done by a buzz saw. He would have an ambulance parked outside the theater with the sign, ``In Case The Saw Slips''. Source: The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville, Anthony Slide.
Currently Reading: The Laser in America, 1950 - 1970, Joan Lisa Bromberg.
PS: Why Was Someone Upset With Ramsey Theory In 1979?, me wondering about an old and faint childhood memory that recent reading brought back up.