austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

A pocketful of silver; the key to heaven's door

Well. Where were we. Lakeside Park. Great place to be. Cyclone is the biggest roller coaster there and, thanks to it going down early, our biggest disappointment. Unless you consider Zyklon, not yet opened, as a disappointment. And yes, there is that curious linguistic coincidence between the park's oldest standing coaster and newest standing coaster both being ``cyclone'' in different languages. Zyklon's the name of the model of the new ride; no idea what the new one will be named, if and when it opens.

The other major coaster and the one we rode the most is the Wild Chipmunk. This is a wild mouse roller coaster. Also one of the original generation of wild mouse roller coasters; it dates to 1955. These are rides with small cars that can, in principle, fit two people. They make tight, hairpin turns and then have sudden drops for the end of the ride. Run for maximum capacity, these cars barely even stop; you just get into or out of them as they roll slowly through the station. They're always popular; they're thrilling rides without ever looking frightening. (And they have low capacity, since the trains are usually single cars.) The Wild Chipmunk has three cars. Each car has a name. With that established you now know the three cars' names.

Our first time riding bunny_hugger and I took separate cars, which seemed wise enough as they were pretty tight fits. Our second time we looked at the cars and the bobsled-style seating and wondered if we might fit together. We asked the ride operator who looked us over and shrugged and was fine if we gave it a try. ``I dunno, give it a try'' is a Pennsylvania Parks-level weird reaction to roller coaster seating. If we were small enough we could fit, one in front of the other. We sit this way on log flumes (of course) and have fit on, for example, Flitzer rides where that's normal.

Here, though? We didn't quite fit. Not well. bunny_hugger sat more on my legs than on the seat. There's no seat belt. There's no lap bar. For an ordinary wild mouse that's fine. Their track layout doesn't need seat belts or lap bars except as a psychological benefit. But this ... is ... kind of outside the bounds of normal seat riding. We felt we had made a horrible mistake as we ratcheted up the lift hill. There wasn't anything we could do except, of course, hold on.

bunny_hugger was probably not in real danger of falling out of the car. The ride motions just do not have the negative-gee that would make that plausible. What she was in danger of doing was slamming down hard on her seat, which is to say, my legs. And by so doing to smash my knees into the sides of the car. She did not have a comfortable ride; she was sitting on bone instead of cushioned chair. I did not have a comfortable ride; I had a lovely adult bun smashing into my legs and smashing my legs into metal with every sharp turn or sudden drop. And yes, we both were grabbing hold of the sides as hard as we could, in case an errant hop somehow raised bunny_hugger's center of gravity the eighteen inches needed to fly out of the car. This was of course impossible, which is not to say the fear of it was not imminent.

This was a crazy thing for us to do. We are glad to have done it; it is the sort of thing that becomes a roller-coaster tall tale. It is surely the most wild and honestly dangerous thing since bunny_hugger's and my first roller coaster together, the Wild Mouse at Casino Pier, when my then-obese frame meant the lap bar was a good foot or so away from restraining her in any way. But we got out of the ride feeling thankful that nothing worse had come of it than temporary agony to our poor legs.

We would ride again, of course, and in separate cars thereafter. In the queue for one wait we happened to be in front of a park employee enjoying some off time with a favorite ride. And we got to talking about roller coasters and ones all of us had been on. Roller coaster fandom is a common fate in amusement park workers; hard to guess if workers are naturally fans or if fans get jobs in amusement parks. He let us know that the new roller coaster was not likely to operate in June. But they hoped very much to get it ready for inspection with the rest of the park's rides in July.

Apparently local lore has it that Lakeside Park's rides aren't inspected. The next day the daughter of the couple hosting us asked if we weren't afraid riding un-inspected rides like that. But no, of course not. No state is yet run by Republicans so insane they won't inspect amusement park rides. And it happens we did notice the inspection stickers on many of the attractions, and that they were issued in early July of 2017. Given how few amusement parks Colorado has we wondered how it took them that late in the year to get to them. But there's likely many county and local fairgrounds with rides, and family amusement centers, and all that, each needing their turn.

Other local lore --- according to bunny_hugger's brother, who went to college in Colorado --- has it that one of the Wild Chipmunk's cars had fallen off the track and into the lake. Roller coasters falling off tracks is a common legend. It basically can't happen; the wheels are designed to hug the track above, below, and often sideways. (Yes, if the wheel box collapses or the track breaks the train can derail, but you're not going to call that flying off the track, except figuratively.) Falling into the lake --- well, that's an interesting variant. But that also couldn't possibly be; the Wild Chipmunk is nowhere near Lake Rhoda, not even if you imagine a roller coaster car at maximum speed acting like a Dukes of Hazzard cliffhanger. We told bunny_hugger's brother, who saw but never actually visited the park when he had the chance, this. And he clarified the legend: that by ``the lake'' people meant the puddle that would form in the ground when there was abundant rain, or snow melt. This one can imagine having a base for. Take one of the cars off the track for extensive maintenance and then let spring melt rise around it? And consider that you can see into the park and see this ride from the Interstate running beside it? Okay, that legend makes sense, but is still nonsense.

Wild Chipmunk has two signs. One is just the ride's name, in blocky-letter lights, at the top of the ride. Another is the queue's ride sign. The no-longer-needed ticket booth is (of course) a beauty, this box with a curvy check mark that strives for Googie architecture. The sign by that, partly obscured by trees, is a pink dot with 'wild chipmunk' in neon lights in the style of a UPA cartoon's opening title. Gorgeous, throughout.

In one of our nighttime rides, as we walked toward the Wild Chipmunk, I saw something and cried out ``jackrabbit''! I was wrong, but in my defence, I was thinking roller coasters and Jackrabbit is a once-common name for roller coasters. It was a rabbit, though, a cottontail who apparently lives in the area and is sufficiently calm around crowds of people to go about its business in the evening. And calm enough to let me get several flash photographs before deciding that it had enough of this attention and was going off --- somewhere. We love to find wildlife at parks. Rabbits are a special delight.

Trivia: The Joseph-Louis Lagrange map projection, invented by Johann Heinrich Lambert, is conformal except at the poles; all the meridians and parallels are circular arcs, except for the equator and prime meridian. Source: Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society, Norman J W Thrower.

Currently Reading: Spacesuit: A History Through Fact and Fiction, Brett Gooden.

PS: More of Storybook Land.


A lucky discovery, in that pavilion near the carousel: this coin-operated dancing marionette machine. It's a complicated and pretty long song, considering.


Marionette witch who flies over some of the dancers in a scene I really couldn't tell you much about in the coin-op machine above.


Mouse caught running down a clock that's just struck one despite it being either 12 or 1:40.

Tags: denver dash, fifth anniversary trip, lakeside park, story book land

Posts from This Journal “denver dash” Tag

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