July 12th, 2014

krazy koati

It's the eye of the tiger

Last year we had intended Waldameer, in Erie, Pennsylvania, to be the last park we spent a day at. It got cheated in time because we stopped in Conneaut Lake Park and that ended up being so much more fascinating than we could have imagined. We could only give Waldameer a partial-day trip, and while it's a smaller park it was also clearly worth a full day. This time around we were ready and set aside full days for both northwestern-Pennsylvania parks.

I also managed to immediately screw things up a little by failing to bring my camera along. We had a hotel that was barely two miles from the park, which was great, but it did mean giving up our great, by-the-gate parking lot. But that was saved by the rain which came through. In what we guessed was the tail end of the storms which kept visiting Conneaut Lake Park the previous day, a heavy rainstorm started just about as we entered the parking lot and it carried on as we drove back to the hotel, returned to the amusement park --- we were able to get a slightly worse spot, but still first row, against the gate --- and had some time to sit and wait as the rain receded. I suppose it's better we spent the time in the car driving back and forth rather than sitting in the car in the parking lot, or hiding under a pavilion enclosure. Still, I felt dumb.

The rain we were a little optimistic about, since if there were heavy storms in the late morning or early afternoon we might see lesser lines. And it was a weekday during the school year, but we forgot that every school in the area would be sending out delegations on field trip days. This set off a debate about values: both bunny_hugger and I had school field trips to amusement parks, when we were in school. Hers put up some pretense of being educational by giving students worksheets to fill out information like how high a roller coaster is and how fast it goes at fastest; mine just trusted we would, eventually, get the school bus back home. In no case is spending a day messing around at an amusement park of any educational merit, so, what's worse: her schools for pretending this was a good use of the 180 class days per year, or mine for admitting it's a June day and we're not going to do anything useful in the ovens of our classrooms anyway?

Still, there were several schools having field trip days so that promised to send flocks of kids, often running through rides ahead of us, at least until the appointed hour for the school buses to return people home.

We got our wristbands for unlimited rides --- Waldameer offers both pay-one-price and buy-one-ticket admission to rides, so you can just walk into the park and hang out if you feel like that --- and were right next to the arcade so we naturally poked in to see if they had a pinball machine. We'd checked for pinball machines at all the arcades but seen none, not even at Kennywood (if Conneaut Lake had a functional arcade we missed it), and Waldameer wasn't an exception. They had video and redemption games, though.

We did try playing some of the rolling-ball games, ones akin to Fascination. bunny_hugger turned out to be a natural at this Blackjack-inspired one where rolling the balls scored various cards and you got tickets for rolling up to 21 (and lots of points for getting 21 on exactly five balls), and soon racked up very many token tickets. We looked over the merchandise and found that we'd have to get several hundred more tickets to afford the cheapest attractive thing, a triangular pendant for the park made in the style of triangular pendants from the 70s and 80s, and stashed the tickets back in the car. We would come back later in the day and get the rest of the tickets needed so we had this little triumph, and at a cost certainly not three times what just buying the pendant in the gift shop would have been. (Besides treating the real prize as playing enough to get the prize, we didn't suspect the pendant was for sale in the gift store until after we'd won it, anyway.)

Trivia: The parliament organized in Frankfurt in 1848 contained 95 lawyers, 105 professors and secondary-school teachers, 124 bureaucrats, and 100 judicial officials. Source: 1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe, Peter N Stearns.

Currently Reading: A Call To Arms: Mobilizing America For World War II, Maury Klein.

PS: To Build A Universe, a spot of mathematical physics creeping into what happens if you just let the universe run on long enough.