Thursday of our trip was the day to get to Rye Playland. We liked the park anyway, and it would be the second-easiest one for bunny_hugger's brother to visit. (Easiest would be Coney Island, which we kept thinking about but which, once again, didn't make our cut.) But their derby racer --- the fastest we know of --- had recently repaired the mechanism that moves the horses in a file forward and backward randomly, the way Cedar Point's does, and we could not miss that. The mechanism is tetchy and hadn't been used in years. Who knows how long it would be that they'd last, and how long it would be before they ran again?
I thought, in passing, whether it was worth tweeting at rapidtrabbit to see if he might want to join us. But I had the idea that he was out of the New York City area, and if he weren't, supposed there'd be time to meet up sometime with more planning. Like if we were to go to Lake Compounce and need help exorcising the sour taste of that day. So I shelved the thought, and I'm sorry not to have tried since, who knows, something good might have happened.
We set out at what the Google Maps directions told us would be enough time to get to Playland about 2 pm. This would be off by something like an hour as we sat, mostly, waiting to get through the slice of Manhattan and the Bronx that we need to get to Rye from central New Jersey. The alternative route would have taken us more miles, but not much more time; the risk there would be that it would take us over the Tappan Zee Bridge. It happens the bridge didn't collapse then, and hasn't yet, but do you want to risk that? Anyway, it worked out all right since bunny_hugger's brother would be caught in traffic too --- a little bit later on some of the same traffic that caught us, if I'm not misunderstanding --- so that we got to the parking lot about the same time. He was also having some serious trouble with his car, to the point he was fairly sure that if he drove it 35 miles per hour or under on the way back it probably wouldn't freeze up in any way that he couldn't handle, which he took to be normal. He's still living at that point in life where you have a bunch of cars with malfunctions you figure you probably can compensate for most of the time if nothing else goes wrong.
We got to the parking lot at so close to the same time that bunny_hugger had that always-disturbing moment of talking to him on the cell phone, and trying to work out where in the parking lot he was, and realizing that she was hearing his voice twice over. He was about one row of cars over from us to start.
Our first priority was the Derby Racer, naturally, and we got there to worry that the forward-and-back mechanism wasn't actually running. There had been rumors that it only ran for a few seconds, when the ride was at its maximum speed (which, to be fair, is quite a maximum speed). The rumors were mistaken, at least in this case; the horses moved forward and back just as at Cedar Point's. bunny_hugger and I worried when we noticed the ride operators not doing the dramatic, daring leaping onto and off of the rotating turntable at speed. They just stayed on, or off, warning riders to lean to the left. But this was idiosyncratic to that hour: they did some leaping on and off when we checked back in later.
That was the highest-priority ride, naturally. But we went on a tour of the other key things right after that. First would be the Whip, which is among Rye's original block of rides and marked with the historical plaque as such. There's a lot that's appealing about Playland, including how its crowd feels like a more democratically driven blend of New York City-area populations than other pay-one-price parks do. That it has much of its original 1920s architecture and rides, though, and that it showcases this history in a way no other park but Kennywood and Idlewild do, is a big part of that charm.
And next to the Whip is the Crazy Mouse roller coaster --- not actually that exciting, except that it used to have a height limit that kept me and bunny_hugger's brother from riding it. In an earlier visit he had gone up to the ride, been asked his height, and answered honestly to be told he was too tall to ride. ``What if I had said I was (maximum allowed height)?'' he asked. The ride operator shrugged. So later in the day he went back, saying he was the maximum allowed height, and rode. Me, my first time, I was bumped for being too tall, and obviously past the height. But, now, things have changed; the Crazy Mouse doesn't have a height limit anymore, even without anything about the ride changing. So after that roundup I have to tell you we just got on, had a fine ride at the roller coaster that's parallel to the north end of the park and I suppose maybe goes past the gate on that side, and all was normal.
Trivia: The author Robert Louis Stevenson's grandfather constructed the Bell Rock lighthouse off the coast of Arbroath (near Angus, Scotland), completed in 1810. His map named treacherous offshore rocks after lawyers. Source: On The Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way The World Looks, Simon Garfield.
Currently Reading: Acceptance, Jeff Vandermeer.
PS: The reunion dinner wasn't quite done yet. Let's watch.
The class dinner was in the warehouse district downtown. We were on the fourth floor. This is peering down the elevator shaft through the very open wood-slat door. (See the shadow on the wall there.) bunny_hugger was nervous just watching me poke my camera through the slats.
Mysterious artefact outside the class dinner's venue, by the former railroad station. I have no explanation for this phenomenon.