austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky for we can fly

The Detroit suburb of Livonia began holding the Livonia Spree festival some years ago, when the town leadership realized nobody had any idea what Livonia was. So this settled that: now it's the place that holds this Livonia Spree festival in late June. It's a big one, filling the carnival fairgrounds and, in the evening of the last day, setting off fireworks that must take the place of their Fourth of July show. They can't be throwing around the money to do two massive municipal fireworks shows two weeks apart.

We got kind of snippy with each other driving in. We had started our ambitious plan to go to two carnivals late in the day. And lost time to the sprinkler mishap. And we argued over how far Livonia was to drive to from Howell. And we stayed at Balloonfest a bit longer than we had originally planned, taking more wild mouse rides than strictly necessary. And then as we got to Livonia the traffic got worse. Sunset was coming, and everyone in nearby towns was gathering for the fireworks. Which would be visible from the grounds, which were disjoint from the parking lot, which we were having trouble finding and which when we did find seemed to have no empty spaces. And then we had to get the shuttle from the parking lot to the fairgrounds. It was a bad energy we had going in, one not even helped much by being on a fairground in the glorious twilight and dark. Plus it was packed; apparently all of Livonia had gathered together for these last few hours and we realized, oh no, we'd just assumed there wouldn't be impossibly long lines for things.

But. We got to a ticket booth. We looked up the rides and figured, unsurprisingly, that pay-one-price wristbands would be wasteful. We got 25 tickets, enough to get rides on the Super Cyclone roller coaster and then also the Ferris wheel and we set off to the big, dazzling, bright beacon of the ride.

It was closed.

The lights were on, yes. But there wasn't anything going. There was no line. There were no operators. There were no signs the ride had run that day, really, or would have a chance at running. When we finally saw people at the ride later, they were clearly preparing it for transport; this was the last day of Livonia Spree and everything would have to pack up overnight or Monday day.

bunny_hugger said I looked like I might cry. I don't often get openly despairing but, yeah. All the frustrations of the day would have been washed away with the lift hill of this ride. That it might not be running never struck me as possible. If it had, it would have been from bunny_hugger's anxiety forecasting ways that things would go wrong, and I would have dismissed it as her anxiety always forecasting how everything would go wrong. She asked what we should do. I always have an answer. I had nothing.

Well, there was another roller coaster. Not actually a kiddie coaster either. A tiny one, yes, a spinning coaster named Jungle Twist. It's extremely portable. Can't be more than twelve feet high. It probably folds up into less than one trailer's length. It's got great signage, animals in a jungle, many of them spinning hula-hoops around themselves. It'd be a silly milestone coaster, if we rode it, but ... what choice did we have? Besides skipping it altogether and finding something else to be her 250th roller coaster.

We didn't make a mistake. This is a tiny roller coaster, yes. It makes up for its minuscule size by going on several circuits, just like a kiddie coaster might. But it's a fun movement, and we kept getting extremely spinny rides. The motion is very like a Tilt-a-Whirl's, but with straightaways that a Tilt-a-Whirl can't quite offer. In having a straight portion of track it's a little like The Whip, but The Whip can't spin the way a Tilt-a-Whirl or like Jungle Twist can. It kept surprising us with how intense the ride was. And so bunny_hugger got her milestone roller coaster, on a weird little one that travels. We joked that she would get such rare-coaster-riding credit for this. (It's not impossibly rare. Coaster-count.com lists it as having between 22 and 30 riders, in their logs, nowhere near as rare as that travelling Toboggan coaster we rode a couple years ago.)

Next to the Jungle Twist was the Merry-Go-Round, a tiny one with two horses in a file. We asked if we could ride, and the operator was ... eh ... not exactly turning us away. But he did want us to ride in the chariot, rather than on the horses. Fine by us. He told us not to get up to any hanky-panky. He also declined to take any tickets, I guess compensating for the disappointment of a chariot rather than a horse ride. We weren't disappointed, though. And we've never heard of a ride operator at a fair like this refusing to take tickets. We would invest the savings into one more ride on Jungle Twist.

The Jungle Twist and the Merry-Go-Round were the only things we rode. We did get ice cream from one of the stands; bunny_hugger got a sundae that was built on a warm cookie that she is still, a month and a half later, thinking about and smiling over. And then while waiting for the Jungle Twist again the fireworks began.

We did not anticipate how long or how big the fireworks show would be. You know how, in any fireworks show, you reach the point where you wonder, ``is this the Grand Finale? ... Wait, no, when they get to the Grand Finale I'll know it's the Grand Finale''? They reached what was surely the Grand Finale about ten minutes in, and then just ... kept going. And another Grand Finale about ten minutes after that. Finally, after nearly a half hour's worth of fireworks --- I have the timestamps on my camera to prove I am not exaggerating --- they reached the true Grand Finale, just in time for the official end of the night and of the Livonia Spree's final day. This is why we're sure they must put all their Fourth of July Fireworks budget into this instead. Also why all of southeast Michigan crowded in to see the show.

We walked around the closed, and closing up, fairgrounds a fair while, finishing our ice cream and taking photographs and cursing out the Super Cyclone for not being open. Also letting the crowd disperse some, so that we could take a shuttle-bus back to the parking lot without being too crowded. When we got off, someone outside the bus started arguing with the bus driver over some issue we could not understand. It seemed to be something about where he'd been let off the bus earlier. Not sure. But after all that, well, we were feeling good about ourselves. Still, we probably should have done the two events on different days. We'd have spared ourselves a lot of stress if we had.

Trivia: The astronomer Ulugh Beg (1394 - 1449), who briefly ruled Samarkand, calculated the length of the year at 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 15 seconds. This is only 25 seconds too long. Source: The Calendar: The 5000-Year Struggle to Align the Clock with the Heavens --- And What Happened to the Missing Ten Days, David Ewing Duncan. (Wikipedia notes this is a moniker, roughly meaning ``Great Ruler'', and that his name was more Mīrzā Muhammad Tāraghay bin Shāhrukh).

Currently Reading: Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America, Michael Ruhlman.


PS: Who We Just Know Is Not The Most Improved Pinball Player, finally resuming one of my many interrupted serieses.

PPS: Done with Gillian's Wonderland Pier, and walking back down Ocean City.

SAM_6831.jpg

Wonderland all closed up, with the boardwalk lights and a scattering of people heading off home or likewise. The beach and Atlantic Ocean are past the fence on the right.


SAM_6833.jpg

That dragon holding the side of the castle, as seen from the side. Slightly better view of his face from here.


SAM_6839.jpg

On the way back to our car we ran across an arcade that did indeed have pinball. And some rare games, too. We'd never seen the Stern-era Indiana Jones game before. And the Batman game there is based on the 1989 movie, again, one we'd never seen in the wild and haven't seen since either. The Sega Star Wars isn't one of those you see all over the place either.


Tags: fifth anniversary trip, gillian's wonderland pier
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