August 14th, 2016

krazy koati

Take your time from the birds, now you all know the words, tweet, tweet tweet, tweet tweet

Next to Tig'rr Coaster, and the second ride we went on, was Indiana Beach's oldest wooden roller coaster. It's the Hoosier Hurricane and if that name seems like one you might make up in order to mock the idea of an Indiana amusement park just wait until you hear about their other wooden coaster. The part of the name that bugs me is 'hurricane'; I mean, it's in Indiana. (Well, I guess there was the 1996 Lake Huron Cyclone.) It's of a classic style, a coaster that goes mostly out and back, along the length of the boardwalk. From it you get a good view of a lot of the park, and the river/lake it's nestled against.

It's up fairly high. A lot of Indiana Beach is. The park is almost desperately land-poor. It resorts to the same stunt Blackpool Pleasure Beach and frustrated Roller Coaster Tycoon players do, and that's build upward. There are many spots where a ride is above another ride, especially stuff like roller coaster that take up a lot of space but maybe don't exactly need it, or at least can make allowances for other rides to go beneath it. I think there are spots where a ride is vertically stacked with as many as three other rides. It makes the park seem bigger, not just because there's more to do but because there are no long sight lines besides the main boardwalk. And you keep finding stuff you didn't notice was there before.

For example, while on the Hoosier Hurricane I noticed what looked like a small roller coaster, somewhere down on the ground. A little one, the sort of Dragon Wagon that's good for travelling fairs and carnivals and for kids who want a roller coaster experience without something terrifying. This would inspire a brief search and a moral crisis for bunny_hugger.

She's started keeping count of the roller coasters she knows she has been on. (I have, too.) And earlier this summer she realized she was getting into the 190s. With the trips to Kentucky Kingdom and Holiday World she got up to number 198. Valravn at Cedar Point gave her number 199. What to ride for roller coaster number 200?

200 used to be a magical, almost inaccessible number for roller coaster enthusiasts. If you could get to two hundred different rides you were a serious enthusiast, awe-inspiring in your devotion to the hobby. Today it's less awesome a number. There's more big regional parks that stuff in eight roller coasters. With the Internet making it so much easier to network there's more tours that take people to many parks and many roller coasters in convenient vacations. With it so much easier to compare coaster counts there's encouragement to boost your records. 200 is still a great milestone, but it's more the point at which you are becoming an elite rather than one who's already made it.

Still, it's something to note. Something to take a picture of yourself holding up the coaster count at, and to send in to the American Coaster Enthusiasts for their milestone-photos roundup. bunny_hugger knew we would likely reach her 200th this summer. Reaching coaster number 200 on our anniversary would be sweet. But ... on a dinky little children's coaster?

And on the other hand, why not? There is snobbery in roller coaster fandom, as with everything. ``Roller coaster'' defies a perfect definition; some people will include entirely or partly powered ones, some will omit them. Some will include water coasters or coasters with a lot of water elements, some will omit them. Some will include bobsled coasters (which haven't got a fixed track), some will omit them. bunny_hugger has decided to include just about everything in her count. The main restriction is that if there isn't a part of the ride where the train is rolling under gravity's influence then it can't really be a coaster. Also she doesn't count Cedar Point's Pipe Scream, but nobody counts that except when Cedar Point is trying to boost their roller coaster count. (At that, I can see a defensible argument for it. I just don't buy it.)

So ... make this number 200? It's a hard decision.

We wandered around the base of the park, pausing by the miniature train which runs at grade and is mostly unfenced, to our delight. And past the kiddieland area that clearly used to be something else. My best guess was it used to be a bumper car area that got subdivided into Junior Whips and the like. And past all that we found the Dragon Wagon, installed last year, and thus a new roller coaster to her.

It wasn't running. It looked a bit like it might never have run; it looked like it was stil being installed. I guess if it did open in 2015 it must have run and was just down now for major maintenance, but in any case it wasn't a risk of running on our anniversary. We could put off the 200th roller coaster decision. We still have. There's two roller coasters bunny_hugger has picked out for the honor, if all goes unchanged. One is at a family entertainment center maybe ninety minutes from here. Another is at the Camden Park amusement park in West Virginia. If not for our pet rabbit's shaky health we'd probably have made a weekend trip there already, but some things are more important.

For the record I, with many fewer years riding roller coasters, have only 170 to my count. (167 if you only count the stuff nobody disputes would be a roller coaster.) I am amazed I've gotten up that high with so little time put into it.

Trivia: After the outbreak of the Great War, Newark, New Jersey, offered to take over hosting the games. (It wasn't alone in United States cities to make the offer.) Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times, Lucy Lethbridge.