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Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Time Event
Come, come, the sky is grey

The rain continued. For hours. All the way to sunset. It started to lighten up, eventually, slowly, and around 7:30 we decided that the rain was as light as it was going to get and if we were ever to get back to the park it'd have to be now. That or cheat Waldameer once more.

But returning was a good solid plan. By the time we bundled up as warm as we could, and drove to the park, the rain had finally stopped. Or stopped enough that my photos don't show it. We had been to Conneaut Lake Park after dark before, for Pumpkinfest in 2015. This was our first exposure to the park after dark under normal, regular circumstances. Where it's just lit under its own power, and not mobbed by people using its grounds to make a creepy haunted attraction.

The park hasn't got fancy lights, modern color-shifting LEDs and the like. How could it? It's got white lights, lots of them. (With exceptions, such as for the Blue Streak's sign.) And in good shape, too. The rides are these little islands of warmth in the onset darkness. I don't remember noticing any out, at least not more than any amusement park might have. My photographs don't show any obvious accidents or misfires or anything either. And I know what it sounds like, to be praising a park for getting the lights working. But remember that when we first encountered the park in 2013 it had a deserved reputation for looking post-apocalyptic. To look normal starting from that ... well, it's uplifting. If Conneaut Lake Park can be saved, why can't America?

The rides we most wanted to enjoy at night were the obvious ones. The carousel, for one. Where, I should have mentioned earlier, ``Artie'' the Artizan band organ was back in place and running at least some of the day. It had been missing when we visited in October 2015, and we'd worried something might have happened to it. Apparently it just needed more repairs than could be done conveniently on site. Not in operation: the brass ring dispenser. They still have it, although since the park now sells ride bands --- making a brass ring, the prize for which is a free ride, redundant --- and the machinery takes more people to operate probably it's not going to be running anytime soon. Plus there's the cost of getting steel and brass rings. Still, maybe.

And the Blue Streak, by night. The roller coaster heads into the edge of the woods, turning around at a spot near the road and the parking lot we used. We had always fantasized what it must be like riding that at night, because it would spend so much of its time in the utter quiet dark of the forest not-so-primeval. At Pumpkinfest the roller coaster was running, but as the final station in a 13-attraction haunted-park experience that had huge lines everywhere. This time, now ... this time we had the roller coaster, and the night.

It is every bit as magnificent as you might hope. The roller coaster is a basic design, going out with three hills and then coming back with several more hills. It's a good, exciting ride by itself in the sunlight. In the dark, moving up through trees you can spot against the moonlit clouds? In a roller coaster that's as rattly as you might hope for from a 75-year-old wooden ride? That gives, if you know where to look, the faintest silhouettes of the abandoned island that housed animal exhibits in decades past? One of the best rides out there.

We did want to get, in the hour or so we had, onto the Tumble Bug and hurtle back and forth in that aluminum-plated darkness. And to the carousel. And then to choose: do we close the night on the carousel or on the Blue Streak? We tried for the Blue Streak, and that is how we got the backseat (I think it was) ride on that inexplicably magic last train of the night.

So we had the long, slow walk out of the closed park, alongside the other people who were staying through to the last rides of the night. We could have hoped for the hours spent waiting for the rain to let up, but, we couldn't be seriously disappointed when the day offered a coda like that nighttime hour at the park.

An odd little point back at the hotel. We passed a room door that was locked. I mean, with a bracket mounted on the door and frame and secured by a padlock. We didn't work out a satisfactory explanation for this, but we also stopped trying after the first two or three attempts came up short.

Trivia: In 1955 Margaret Burbidge applied for a position at Mount Wilson observatory, to be told there were no toilet facilities for women on the mountain. Her husband, a theorist, was hired as a postdoc at Caltech, and she used his allocated observing time while he read books in the dark room. Source: The Perfect Machine: Building the Palomar Telescope, Ronald Florence.

Currently Reading: The Complete Peanuts, 1995 - 1996, Charles M Schulz. Editor Gary Groth.

PS: Revealed: Barney Google Lead Time, Desire To Mess With My Head, a little something that surprised me right after the Comics Kingdom strips for the day posted.

PPS: some more stuff from Dallas.


And isn't it nice to know you can play Skee-Ball while visiting the Master Control Program?


Back at the Fun! center, it's the Barb Wire pinball game I had no idea existed, based on the movie that the studio released instead of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie. They should totally make an MST3K pinball.


Pin-Golf. The struggle is to get enough points on each table; here,Road Kings, a late solid state that bunny_hugger managed to beat the hard way, not getting the jackpot shot. While she was playing she got on the stream again and (a) got a text from MWS moments after the game pulled some nonsense by unfairly kicking the ball to the outlane, and (b) made the score objective without hitting the jackpot shot, which the commenters guessed (correctly) was because she didn't know what it was. But getting the points the longer, harder way meant she still managed it ``like a boss''.

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