September 10th, 2013

krazy koati

You'll crash and burn in the bumper cars at Jersey's Steel Pier

Saturday, our plan was to go to Idlewild, outside Pittsburgh, but the weather forecast was for severe rainstorms moving in. Twitter and Facebook supported the argument that the weather was rotten at Idlewild, with people complaining about the storms. Idlewild is a Kennywood-run park (well, it's run by the same company that now runs Kennywood); they'd quite reasonably close early if the weather were rotten, and we already had one partly-rained-out day from a Kennywood park, and missed Tuscora Park due to rain. We didn't want to miss something entirely. So we figured to compromise. We'd go back into Knoebels, since there's no park admission, and spend an hour or two and ride whatever we felt we'd miss, and then re-check the weather and go to Idlewild if weather permitted. This seemed fair even if it might risk cheating Idlewild of time.

Free-admission parks are great that way. We got to eat under the pavilions with rotating conical roofs, of course, and went on the kiddie coaster, which is wonderful in that its path goes over a boats-in-canals ride. Sadly the line for the kiddie coaster was horrible, and it meant we didn't have time to also go on the boat ride, or to learn what the Cosmotron ride was (it's inside a building) or why it wasn't the Kozmo-tron, given the lead mascot. We also got in another go-round on the Grand Carousel, without seeing a hint of the brass ring, and just admired what a beautiful park it was.

There's a building there, something that looks roughly like a converted prefab warehouse, and it's called The Loaf. This is probably not coincidental to the roof being curled like a loaf of white bread's, with the cladding on the sides brownish and all bread-y. It's closed, though, whatever it was exactly is a mystery to us, and one that's strangely unexplained on site or, apparently, on the web. The park still holds glorious mysteries.

As promised we went out to check the weather forecast at Idlewild, and my iPad and weatherunderground.net suggested that Idlewild would, after the three hours of driving, be in the middle of two fingers of rain. We phoned them to find when their projected closing hours were. We were going to miss some of the park's venues, no matter what --- we'd be too late for the Story Book Land, a walk-through piece of fairy tale animatronics that dates back to the 60s, and is of a kind that's not seen so much anymore. But they weren't figuring to close early, regardless of the weather. We set out for the suburbs of Pittsburgh.

We started out roughly retracing our path from Altoona, which means that we went back past DelGrosso's Amusement Park and then past Lakemont Park (after a pit stop that proved to be at Penn State, for the second time I've been in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania to find Penn State a logical rest point; we used the bathrooms at the Official Visitors Center and found their ATM doesn't get along with the Michigan State credit union system, thus, demanding a fee from bunny_hugger to get at her own cash). We'd had days before when we saw two amusement parks, but, three amusement parks? And if Idlewild were open, four amusement parks?

Maybe. The point where we had to diverge from heading to Pittsburgh in order to reach Idlewild in Ligonier also took us into more detours so as to get around road construction. Of course. Detour led to detour and at one point we went past an atomic power plant, don't ask us which. Mostly we realized we were spending more and more of our time on the road and losing time we might have spent at Idlewild. We hoped to have at least three hours in the park; we'd be lucky to get two in. Idlewild's a small park, but that small?

Trivia: An electronic circuit in the space shuttle Challenger's toile malfunctioned after its second flight. It was replaced with the toilet from Discovery. Source: A History Of The Kennedy Space Center, Kenneth Lipartito, Orville R Butler.

Currently Reading: Easy To Remember: The Great American Songwriters and their Songs William Zinsser.