austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Why does my heart go on beating

With The Exterminator down there was only one more roller coaster to ride. The line was still unpromising but we didn't really have any better time for it. So we went to the front of the park, and Sky Rocket. The path took us past a couple Kennywood attractions, like the windmill that used to be the center of its lagoon, and a statue of George Washington. Kennywood has a bunch of historical plaques and monuments to the French and Indian War, the world war which George Washington started ... somewhere near here. The plaques admit that as best we can figure none of the skirmishes he was in were actually on what are not park grounds, but they'd be fools not to bring up the historic connections.

Sky Rocket --- if my photographs' time stamps are an indicator, a 20-to-25-minute queue --- is the park's newest roller coaster. It's a steel one, near the front of the park and running largely parallel to the highway outside the park. It's also a launched coaster, accelerating by electromagnetic thrust. It's a small, fast one, with a very comfortable stomach-hugging restraint that leaves your arms and head free while it loops upside-down. I suspect MWS liked this best of all the roller coasters. It's a respectable choice, though I'm fonder of wooden roller coaster generally.

So we had all our must-ride experiences done, and at only about a quarter past six. We could enjoy the four hours slated remaining without having to worry about getting stuff done. So we could ride something like the bumper cars, fun but essentially the same experience at every park. And we could share the fun of noticing a Kennywood Arrow at the bumper car ride at Lake Compounce; the bumper car ride at Kennywood hasn't got an arrow pointing to the park itself. I suppose there would be the problem of where to point it. The bumper car ride isn't one of those with a divided center and one-way traffic so arrows wouldn't be incidentally useful.

We spent a little time in a gift shop, the one that's vaguely UFO-shaped, figuring what we would want to take home. But we didn't buy anything, figuring we didn't want to carry that around for four hours and not wanting to waste time walking to the car and back. This might have been a mistake; I'd almost coaxed myself into getting a Noah's Ark T-shirt and as it turned out the gift shops closed before I could buy one. Such happens.

We did go back to Lost Kennywood and to the Black Widow, per K's request. And this time, thanks in part to bunny_hugger, I do know what happened. We were on line for it when it began to sprinkle. And then the ride shut down for the weather. And then the weather really hit, a pretty solid rain. It reminded me of being turned out of Kennywood our first visit and I wondered a bit if they were going to close early after all.

But they didn't make any announcement of this, and we ran in-between raindrops to the Ghostwood Estate. That's their Interactive Dark Ride, but on the idea that you're shooting ghosts with a Ghost Blaster as you putter around the rooms of Lord Kenneth Ghostwood's old manor house. It's one of those that keeps score as you shoot targets. I'm pretty sure K won our ride. In the event, it was a worthwhile ride getting on because while the line was long, the queue was also sheltered and we could stay dry while the storm carried on its unwelcome program.

That didn't quite outlast the storm, although between that and some lingering in other gift shops and waiting for K to get dog tags made (and there's a joke somewhere in there as he was wearing a retro-style Pound Puppies T-shirt) we were able to get to the far end of the rain, and find that the park wasn't closing early after all.

So we got to show MWS and K the wonders of Kennywood in twilight. Any amusement park looks better as the sun sets, and afterwards. But Kennywood looks really good. And add to that the many complicated reflections from a fresh rain! There's a reason movies shooting night scenes will soak the streets. The animated neon sign of the Turtle ride would be fantastic in any case. Add to it the maze of reflections and refracted light and the darkening sky and you have magic.

We would get a couple of night rides in. Sad to say Noah's Ark was closed and apparently stayed closed. Lost Kennywood, with its 1920s-style grand fountain and lights underneath and White City-inspired buildings trimmed with bulbs, was spectacular. And we could get a night ride on The Phantom's Revenge, which includes the highest vantage point for the park and the chance to, quickly, see the whole jewel in the Pittsburgh night.

We made it back to the main lagoon enough to see the laser light show, which didn't seem to have changed from the last time bunny_hugger and I were there. Also to get one last ride on Jack Rabbit for the night, one for which (I believe) we were lucky enough to get back-seat rides. (Not every roller coaster is best in the back seat, but Jack Rabbit is a probably one of them.)

We had time to run to one last ride, if we were lucky. Kennywood closes ride queues early so that everything shuts down pretty near the night's designated closing hour. Could we get back to Thunderbolt? ... Sky Rocket? ... no, we went for something safe, the Carousel. Which would be the right decision. We got there --- not too far from Jack Rabbit --- in time for the last ride of the night. They do hold the queue open longer than normal for the last ride of the night, mind. And it gave us an extra-full carousel ride for the close of the evening and the Kennywood Closing Theme.

We didn't hurry out right away. We lingered, especially on the bridge over the central lagoon, watching the lights and taking our own versions of the photo of the Racer and Jack Rabbit roller coasters over the water. bunny_hugger has one of these photos framed in the hallway. She re-takes it every visit, although it's impossible to quite duplicate anymore. A tree has grown up to the point that Jack Rabbit's neon logo is now obscured. Such is time.

And finally we left, at the back but not the very end of the mass of people. I was able to leap up to tap the Kennywood ``Goodbye'' heart, over the tunnel under the highway. Also we discovered there's apparently at least some people who holler all the way through the tunnel. Maybe it's a new thing. Hopefully it's not a lasting thing. Of park fan heritage I'd rather they pick up slapping the other riders on the racing coaster.

We made our way back to the car, and back to the hotel room, and none of us expected the news that would be there in the morning.

Trivia: As King of England, James I had his mother's body reinterred in Westminster Abbey, in a chapel opposite to the one holding Queen Elizabeth I's body. Source: The Life Of Elizabeth I, Alison Weir.

Currently Reading: Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, William B Jones Jr.

PS: The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: General Covariance, one of those entries about which I don't feel satisfied but which I did have to stop writing.

Tags: amusement parks, kennywood

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