austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

When you find peace of mind you won't want to leave

Lunch! Now that we had gotten to everything we would have felt cheated for not seeing or doing, we could eat. We were ready for the standard small-amusement-park choice of fries or pizza. They turned out to have vegetarian burgers, though. Not great ones; I think they were just your standard black bean patties. But decent enough ones. We ate on a part of the patio near enough to see, and especially hear, the carousel. And looked over the park's main office building. According to its ``On This Site --- Over The Years'' plaque it had not been on this site. It had been a pavilion on the end of the trolley line where the trolleys turned around and where the midway started. Then it was a restaurant, then a gift shop. Then in the late 1950s they lifted the building up, rotated it, and attached it to what's now the main food stands. The windows had many old park photographs, and a plaque about how long they had been members of an amusement park trade organization. They joined in the 1930s, which seems like it's either weirdly late or weirdly early in the game.

And now we had plenty of time ahead of us. Seabreeze is a smaller amusement park than we had imagined, in size and in number of attractions. And it seems smaller still when there's no waiting for anything and no crowds to navigate through. It has the one main midway, and one side midway that's mostly the Kiddie City and path to the water park. The water park was closed for the weather, which kept threatening to reain without quite committing while we were there. There is a stage, but we were too early in the season for any scheduled shows. This is all okay. We could luxuriate in the park and enjoy how it changed in the light as evening came and, eventually, even twilight. Maybe, if the sun was in our favor, sunset.

Of course we rode the roller coasters again. We could compare Jack Rabbit's rides in the front seat and in the back seat, coming to the conclusion that yeah, we do prefer the front seat but the back does make some of the latter hills a bit easier to ride. And I was able to get some video of the ride operator working the levers and how that affected the train's dispatch and braking.

To Bobsleds again. We did not manage to get a ride on the full set of four countries. The ride operators were happy to talk with us, especially since they saw how we realized this was a weird and delightful ride and that's always something easy to talk about. But asking to skip a turn to we could get, say, the Italia car seemed a touch too weird. And to Whirlwind, for rides that were sometimes a little more spinny, sometimes less so. We got a couple where we went down and up hills sideways, a motion that's so novel and weird as to delight.

But we could take time to enjoy the rest of the park. The Tilt-A-Whirl, for example, which had the air of being a very old instance of this model. The Time Machine, a Victorian-clock-themed version of the Miami ride. This is the one all the riders sit in one long row, which a pair of levers swing perpendicular to the line of vision, clockwise and then counterclockwise. It didn't swing quite as madly fast as the Moby Dick-themed rides of this kind at the Jersey Shore, but it was fast enough, and you always stayed in view of Jack Rabbit. The Sea Dragon swinging-ship ride, which I'd mentioned yesterday as the one where we encountered the guy who'd been greeting people at the front gate.

We'd spent some time, waiting for Jack Rabbit to be ready to load, watching the adjacent Log Flume ride. Few people were going on it, and for good reason. We would not ride it, but we would admire its motion and regret that it was too chilly and too ready-to-rain for us. Log flumes like this are passing out of amusement parks, and they were so much in vogue in our childhood that their replacement is a reminder of our cohort's mortality.

Running beside the log flume, close enough that its tracks kept fooling my eyes into thinking it was part of the log flume somehow, was the miniature train. We went for a ride on that. We were the only passengers that circuit, although there were bigger groups just before and after us. Also most of the train cars were your ordinary covered ones, but they did have in the center one open car, with decoration along the side of a turkey holding up blue bunting (which formed the edges of the door). There was another open car and that wasn't nearly so decorated. We took the ride, which didn't get into the deep inaccessible parts of the park we might have hoped for. It did take us around the small pond that the Log Flume circles, though, and it brought us to some nice corners of Jack Rabbit, including to see the orange-painted tunnel that's part of its return leg.

We spent a little time admiring the gardens and watching the log flume. I noticed the sign warning water park guests that 'SHIRT AND SHOES must be worn beyond this point'. What I noticed is that 'SHIRT' was on a flap of metal, attached by hinge, and that the flap would cover the word 'AND'. On examination, apparently, the flap could be turned down so it would only demand SHOES be worn past this point. Why an adjustable shirt-and-shoes sign? What circumstances would make the main body of the park non-shirt-mandatory? It's a good question and deserves an answer.

This brought us near enough the carousel for another ride on that. And, here ... you know? We were tired. We'd had a long drive Thursday, a twelve-hour amusement park day Friday, more driving and park Saturday, and now we'd driven an hour and been amusement-park-going for five hours, and we had maybe five hours to do. They had nice reclined chairs outside the carousel. We sat down and rested for a while, watching the carousel and listening to the Wurlitzer. I'm certain I nodded off a bit. It was worth it.

So we got up after maybe fifteen minutes, ready for the rest of the day. Our carousel location naturally lead us to go to Whirlwind and to the Bobsleds roller coasters again. There was an On This Site sign beside Whirlwind which marked where the Circle Swing had been. It looked to have been a Hiram Maxim-style captive swing ride, and it teased that there had been a miniature golf course with windmill and lighthouse, just as you'd hope. I'm not clear when those were renovated out of the park; it did say the golf course was moved down the hill, next to Skee Ball. Here we had that Sea Dragon ride I've mentioned so.

And we noticed the arcade was already closed. This was disappointing; bunny_hugger was up for maybe another round of the T-Rex game, or maybe to play the miniature Skee-Ball-like games. Also it spoke to how slow a day it was, if it wasn't worth staffing those booths. We should have realized sooner what this implied. But we went back to the carousel, inspecting again all the historical plaques and markers and a timeline with photographs and narration of what the park was like through the decades.

We had read through to about the 1960s when a security guard came to us.

A line of storms was moving in, they said. They were closing at 6:00. We had minutes. We jumped on the carousel for one last ride, one last moment of the park. bunny_hugger suspected that if we had moved the moment we knew we might have gotten a last ride on Jack Rabbit. She was probably right: we had gotten off the carousel and were walking disappointed to the front gate as the last Jack Rabbit ride of the day unloaded. But we had no way to know what was already closed, and the sure thing of the carousel ride was better than the hope of a roller coaster.

They gave out rain checks, as per the policy, of course. This is at least the third park we've gotten a rain check for. They cut and confiscated our wristbands, but we have tickets as new administrative souvenirs. They were sympathetic to us, having driven from Michigan, but what was there to do in the face of severe weather?

It was drizzling as we left the park, and started the hourlong drive back to our hotel in Batavia.

If it did turn to a heavy storm in Rochester, the rain did not reach as far inland as Batavia. It drizzled a while and then cleared up again. It's hard to not think evil thoughts, that they closed the park because it was too slow and figured they could fob us off with a weather forecast. But maybe the storm hugged the Lake Ontario coast. We never did see the park at night.

And there was the problem of what to do. We hadn't eaten, and we had a whole evening free. We went back to that family restaurant, ordering the same things as the previous night --- a grilled cheese and a macaroni and cheese --- but for the other person around this time. It still left us a lot of time and we debated what to do. bunny_hugger had found the nearest place with a substantial number of pinball machines. It's a place called The Pocketeer, a pool hall near Buffalo. It was about 45 minutes away. I voted for going, and then, slowly, talked myself out of it. Even if we set out right away we'd get under two hours there, and would that really be better for us than just resting up and getting to bed early for tomorrow?

Usually, not doing something on the grounds that you're tired is a bad move. I mean, fatigued, yes, that's one thing. But almost always, we have found, we're better off for stirring ourselves and doing a thing. Especially in the limited hours of a vacation. But this time? After three days of amusement parks, and our already being so tired we'd had to sit for fifteen minutes mid-day? And our plan to get to Darien Lake amusement park for tomorrow? Yeah, resting up seemed the better course, and I think we made the right choice.

Trivia: Before the launch of Apollo 11, Manned Spacecraft Center geologist Elbert King assured Neil Armstrong he should not worry about making mistakes. Simply talk as much as possible about what he saw on the moon, and collect all the samples that he could, and no reasonable geologist could fault his scientific work. Source: Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of NASA's Apollo Lunar Expeditions, William David Compton.

Currently Reading: The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight For A Generation, Michael Cassutt.

PS: Finally, a roller coaster at La Feria!


The Aztec-themed entrance to Montaña Rusa. Entrances, plural, since the ride is a racing roller coaster, with two lift hills ... but only the one track. This is one of three Möbius-strip roller coasters, so that if you go out in the left train, you return on the right side of the track, and vice-versa. We had been on the other two Möbius-strip wooden roller coasters, at Kennywood and at Blackpool; a big reason to come to Mexico City was for the chance to ride this.


Closer detail of the serpent-heads at the top of the Montaña Rusa entrance sign.


View of the launch station, with the train coming in to the left loading station (as judged by the direction of train travel). The disappointing thing about Montaña Rusa is that it no longer races, and hasn't for years. Only one train loads and dispatches at a time, so while you can ride the whole track you don't get the experience of racing against another train that's returning to the side of the station you left.

Tags: la feria, niagara full, seabreeze

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