We followed my possible hallucination of a train running on Mean Streak before the appointed 6:00 hour. And for a wonder I wasn't wrong; the ride was going, early. Maybe we misunderstood when they were going to start. Maybe they figured they needed to get people their last rides in.
They had a little stage set up outside the ride entrance. It had a podium and the logo for the U R Daid undertakers, a name common to Halloweekends of the past. And there were memorial wreaths and flowers with cards, some of them quite clever. The grounds crew saying how they were going to miss not having to tend the ride's infield. The merchandise crew saying how they were going to miss how well its licensed stuff was selling. The Beast, at sister park Kings Island, sending regrets at another wooden roller coaster's demise. (The last particularly tickled us.) Despite this being the ride's last day, its last 90 minutes, the ride's queue sign said there was a 15-minute wait. Mean Streak never did get its respect.
15 minutes was probably a fair estimate. It was a fair crowd for Mean Streak. People were pointing out stuff like concrete piles with mysterious dots of red paint on them. Or talking about rumors of what would happen to the ride. It's getting some kind of conversion by Rocky Mountain Construction. There's just no telling exactly what. Their Mean Streak work isn't even listed on their Wikipedia page. It's a strange radio silence Cedar Point has settled on here.
Anyway, it was wonderful being around a bunch of people eager to ride Mean Streak and talking about their love of the ride. The Group Consensus on Mean Streak was always that it was a rough, hard, unpopular ride. There'd be less of that this day. We got there to see one of the ride's greatest boosters: Mean Streak Henry. According to the sign at the station he'd ridden the roller coaster something like 16,000 times since it opened. He was there getting in last rides, hopping in to the other seat whenever a single rider needed one. People were waving him over, begging him to be their ride partner. He took one with a kid who was two or three rows behind us.
There were people waiting for a front-seat ride. Or a last-seat ride. We chose to not be so greedy, special as these rides can be. We were looking at the time, and figured that if we didn't wait for a special ride we might get back in the queue and get another ride in. What you would do in this situation probably tells you something important about your values.
It's hard to do something for what you know is, or will likely be, the last time. You spend so much time taking it all in you forget to have the experience. I tried to pay attention on the long lift hill to the magnificence of the structure --- there's a turn that the lift hill goes through, underneath the path of the track --- and on the Cedar Point lighthouse you could glimpse out the left side. And the view, to the right, of the whole park laid before you. It wasn't yet twilight, but it was getting there, and the park was taking on that curious wonderful glow.
Cedar Point had promised souvenirs to people who rode Mean Streak its last day. We didn't know what to expect. Or where it might be; there were people hanging around the exit path that didn't seem to have anything to do there. They weren't the ones giving stuff away. What they had instead was a table set up just outside the ride, at its photo booth. I don't believe I ever saw Mean Streak's photo booth working. They were giving away pins for The Last Ride, showing off the ride's logo and the date and all that. We put them on, technically speaking doing some damage to our Mean Streak t-shirts. They also gave everyone a Mean Streak keychain. I'd bought one when we got our Mean Streak t-shirts the month before.
It was before 7:00, so we figured to go back and try getting a second ride in. And now there was a line for Mean Streak. A huge one, one that spilled out past the queue entry and down beyond the railroad track one has to cross (twice!) to get to the ride. The queue's length was inflated by the fact the ride's proper queues never had their switchbacks opened. But still, it might be an hour plus to ride. It would certainly be after 7:00. We would take that. If they weren't turning people away then we'd take our chances. Even if they did shut the ride before the line was through, we didn't want to miss the ceremony after the ride's closing.
And so we got in our last Mean Streak ride, after the longest wait we'd had for it in ages. Mean Streak has great ride capacity, but it was running only two of the tree trains. And it had abnormally high demand. Abnormally happy demand, too. People were talking about how they liked it. People were wearing their own homemade fan t-shirts, some of them good enough we thought they might be legitimate merchandise. It had the air of a party, a last getting-together of people who have this wonderful thing to share.
After our last ride, another desperate attempt to capture everything about the experience weighed own by wondering what would remain afterwards, we shuffled off. I wondered if we'd get a second round of the buttons and keychains; there didn't seem any reason to take a second. They were out of buttons by the time we got to the photo booth, though. They still had keychains. I considered taking one for MWS, who wasn't able to get to Cedar Point before Mean Streak closed (or at all this season, it turned out), but didn't quite have the nerve to take another.
And besides there was an enormous crowd to step into.
Trivia: In 1697 Captain William Kidd raised several small ships in the Arabian Sea. In 1698 he seized the Quedah Merchant, with a cargo valued at £30,000. Source: The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company, John Keay.
Currently Reading: Furthest, Suzette Haden Elgin.
PS: The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Smooth, the functions with a great name to them.