I didn't ride roller coasters, not seriously, before I was with bunny_hugger. I'd ridden some, mostly at Great Adventure, but I didn't go often to amusement parks other than that, and not even that after working at the park one summer. After we got together, I rode, of course. She wanted to share her hobby with me, and I was happy to take it up, and got to really appreciating roller coasters in my own right in a progression from novice to experienced rider you got to see here in elaborate detail.
Still, this amazed bunny_hugger and me. At the end of 2017 I had ridden, and logged on coaster-count.com, rides on 198 different roller coasters. What is astounding about this is that at the start of 2017, when we went to Six Flags over Texas after bunny_hugger played in the Women's World Pinball Championship, she had logged her 200th roller coaster. She had been a serious rider for a decade longer than I had, and we almost both reached the same milestone the same year. I could catch up for lucky reasons. We went to many parks --- Cedar Point, Michigan's Adventure, Kennywood, the Pennsylvania Parks Tour --- that brought her no roller coaster credits she didn't already have, but that counted up my totals. We went to many parks --- the New England Parks Tour, for example --- together. And she still has a big lead on me: she finished 2017 with 225 roller coasters, that 225th being the Li'l Phantom at Kennywood.
At least, roughly. We had discovered last spring that bunny_hugger had failed to log two roller coasters from Rye Playland, and so what we had thought was her 200th ride, Six Flags Over Texas's wooden roller coaster Judge Roy Scream, was her 202nd. Her actual 200th, we worked out then, was Thunderbird at Holiday World, which we rode to start out 2016. It's disappointing for the milestone to not be a wooden roller coaster, but at least it's one at a great park that we can visit any time we want to make an overnight trip of things. This led to a great bit of discussion about how there is an inherent arbitrariness to logging anything, especially something like this where early experiences can be missed or forgotten. Who knows how many Wacky Worm-class roller coasters we were on as kids that we didn't remember, or that our parents forgot? Or a small portable roller coaster at a fair that was everything to us at age six and unknown now because we have two faded, blurry pictures that survived the house flood and that only show off a Scrambler? Thinking myself back to Great Adventure: it's very likely that I rode both sides of Rolling Thunder, a racing wooden roller coaster, but could I swear to having ridden both the left and the right hills? (Only one was ever running when I went to the park with bunny_hugger.) There were two separate tracks for Lightnin' Loops, and I certainly rode it, but both tracks? And that before we come to definitional cases. What about rides like the Devil's Den at Conneaut Lake Park, which coaster-count.com didn't list as a roller coaster until sometime last year? Or Freefall (Great Adventure)/Demon Drop (Dorney Park), which I've never seen listed as a roller coaster, but which is a closed-loop gravity-driven ride made with roller coaster cars and tracks and brakes and such?
But still. 198 roller coasters. And two amusement parks we figured to get to in Mexico City. Before we left I printed out a nice tasteful ``200'' to wear in a ride photo, ultimately to be sent to the American Coaster Enthusiasts for their milestones page. And there was an obvious great choice to be my 200th roller coaster: Montaña Rusa. Literally, ``Russian Mountain'', a common non-English name for roller coasters. It's at La Feria Chapultepec Magico. It's a wooden roller coaster. It's also a M&oum;bius-strip roller coaster one of only three still extant. We'd ridden the other two: the Racer at Blackpool Pleasure Beach on our honeymoon. The Racer at Kennywood on our Pennsylvania Parks Tour and in repeated visits since. And now --- this? With bunny_hugger feeling that she could take a slow day of the conference off for a lower-stress, more pleasant amusement park visit, this would surely be the ride to be my milestone coaster.
It wouldn't be. Thursday night bunny_hugger gave me news that seemed too bizarre to be true: La Feria wasn't open Friday. It would be open Sunday, the conference's only really unscheduled day. But there was the other amusement park; we could go there.
That was Six Flags Mexico. And it was really, really close by: it was in view from outside the hotel. Indeed, if we were more confident in the mapping, we could have walked there in under a half-hour. It had a couple disadvantages. No wooden roller coasters. A Six Flags park, so we had little reason to expect the personality or weirdness or style that our favorite places have. On the other hand, it had some advantages. As a Six Flags park there'd be this weird corporate thematic unity to Six Flags Over Texas, where bunny_hugger had what we thought then was her milestone. It would also have thematic unity to Six Flags Great Adventure, which was always the park when I was growing up. And if they didn't have a proper wooden roller coaster, they did have Medusa Steel Coaster, a former wooden coaster given the Rocky Mountain Construction Company refitting. (It was formerly Medusa.) It could be a taste of what Cedar Point's Mean Streak is becoming. (And had we not made this trip at all there's a good chance that Mean Streak's successor of Steel Vengeance would have been my 200th, so ... look, I don't know. It makes sense to me.)
So we had our plan. We'd go to Six Flags Mexico. And ride something of the eight roller coasters they had there. And then hope that Medusa Steel Coaster was running. If not ... well, there's not a mine ride that would be a better dual to something at Great Adventure. But we would improvise. The important thing was having the plan for a 200th roller coaster.
Funny thing we discovered after the whole trip was done. It's about Dorney Park, in northeast Pennsylvania. bunny_hugger and I had visited the place in 2011, with my sister and her then-boyfriend and rode all the roller coasters there. Years later, when I first logged things on coaster-count.com, I recorded my having ridden all the roller coasters there. Dorney Park added a roller coaster, Stinger, in 2012. The only time we visited Dorney Park after Stinger opened was that day we dropped in, returning from Knoebels, and enjoyed the most crazy busy day in Dorney Park History. We didn't ride Stinger then; didn't even know it existed. I only know the ride existed because Dorney announced this winter they were taking the ride out. So I had actually started 2018 with 197 roller coasters. Unless I did ride both lift hills of Rolling Thunder, or both tracks of Lightning Loops, or any other roller coaster now lost to memory.
But I still figured Medusa Steel Coaster would be my milestone.
Trivia: A 19th century household treadmill-powered butter churn advertised that suitable power could be gotten from dogs, goats, sheep, and small children. Source: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle, Steven Vogel. (Vogel doesn't specify who sold it as such.)
Currently Reading: Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers, Matt Kaplan.
PS: Is A Basketball Tournament Interesting? My Thoughts, continuing my little tradition of repackaging content for Saturdays.
PPS: Some more of AnthrOhio's cake-decorating contest.
One of the cake-decorating tables, with people working on their cakes and checking their phones and getting a couple slices of pizza too.
Someone else's cake, done in mixed media as the cake that by default wins these things all the time is. I think it was meant to be a post-apocalyptic shelter maybe based on a video game.
I'm still not at ease with people taking parts of their fursuits off in public. But a pose like this, suiting the lower body, really tickles me as looking pretty good.