austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Let's take your car and mess around at the park all day

What bunny_hugger and I did most at Cedar Point was ride roller coasters, although it wasn't exclusively that. They appeared a lot, though.

One of the particularly fun coasters was Gemini, which I'd provide a picture of except that requires a minimum of effort on my part. But it's a racing coaster, meaning there are two sets of tracks and when the crowds are large enough the two will be set off at the same time and someone will finish ahead of the other. Likely you guessed that from the name. One track is done over in blue, and the other in red, maximizing the Tron-like feeling of the graphic design. It's also another entry for the used-to-be items because at some point in the ride's history it reversed the directions of where the entrance and where the exit are. I don't know why, particularly since it makes the approach queue a little more convoluted. The day we were there there was just the one track running.

Gemini is a steel design, but it's surrounded by wood trusses so that it gives the illusion of being a wooden roller coaster. And now if I add in the data points that it was opened in 1978, and that the ride's logo is printed in the typeface used for the routing information on the bottom of checks (remember checks?), then you probably have guessed the rough theme of the ride. It's got a faintly 70s-Space-Age motif, particularly with the station being designed to have that sort of triangular-mesh Com Station Epsilon Nine/Jurong East MRT stop model. It's also a satisfyingly long ride, and apparently was once the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world.

Nearby Gemini, but in the children's area so that we didn't ride it, is Junior Gemini. That has a similar station motif and logo, but that has just the single track. (Wikipedia says riders are sent through it twice.) It's yellow, which works nicely against the red and blue of Gemini, although I'd have counted on green more.

Generally, we didn't take rides we had to wait on line for, which deprived us of a couple of the newer rides like Mantis which I'd see in a couple of weeks listed by an MSNBC.com article as among the hottest roller coasters in the world. In fact, I think all the Cedar Point roller coasters MSNBC.com listed we had managed to miss. We also didn't get on the rides that threatened either of our senses of rational reservation about being way too high up in scary ways, such as the Skyhawk, one of those swings that pitches you upside-down at sixty miles per hour at a hundred feet up in the air.

The one important exception was we waited in line for Maverick. This threatened to give an hourlong wait for the ride, and the signs warning about this were accurate. It was long enough that we even took the precaution of having me try out the sample seat they put in front, verifying that I could fit in the harness even with my camera stuffed awkwardly into my pocket, before we started. Maverick is another of those used-to-be events, as the location had been used for a log flume ride before it became a ``Linear Synchronous Motor'' ride. (As a side effect of its existence, Cedar Point hasn't got any log flumes now, which seems like a regrettable gap, particularly on a sunny August day.) There were still parts of the station and, particularly, the queue that just looked like there used to be something else there.

At the ride, finally, I decided I didn't really want to have my camera stuffed in my pocket, since this is one of those rides that gets really fast really quickly, and it has such exciting features as a drop that's 95 degrees, steeper-than-vertical, and I wasn't at all sure that this wouldn't send my camera flying dramatically into something catastrophic. So I made my first use of the cubbyholes given for the different ride groups. They were trying to get people through the ride as fast as possible, given the huge line waiting for it, but the track takes a certain time and there's no disputing that, and so just before the station several trains would hang, waiting, for the chance to drop off and pick up passengers.

bunny_hugger had shared before I rode this a YouTube (or somebody) video of the ride. These ride videos are great in serving as reminders of what exactly I did experience, or warning about the major features of a ride, at least in the intervals between when the rapid motion turns the video into pixellated goo, which doesn't happen nearly so often in real life. The ride video here gave me a fair idea of the sorts of twists and turns to expect, but it mislead my imagination in one stretch: there's a 400-foot tunnel about halfway through the ride.

On the video, this looks like a brief 2001-type segment of lights of various shapes and dimensions fluttering past the viewer. That's the lights of the tunnel and of the sunny outside leaking through the tunnel sets. What I did not understand is that in this tunnel stretch the ride slows down pretty near to a stop, and then gets a fresh boost from the motors up to speed to get the second half of the ride going fast. Speed is always thrilling, but speed in an enclosed space while in the relative openness of a roller coaster harness, that's something else.

So. As previously noted, I get giggly when I'm excited. I was left extremely giggly, to the delight, I trust, of bunny_hugger. Wow.

Trivia: Buffalo was selected over Black Rock, New York, as the western terminus for the Erie Canal in 1816. The decision was revisited in 1818, reversed in 1820, reversed again, switched back to Black Rock in August 1821, and reversed back to Buffalo. Buffalo would be confirmed by the legislature in February 1825. By 1853, Black Rock was incorporated into Buffalo. Source: Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation, Peter L Bernstein.

Currently Reading: Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2009, Editor Stanley Schmidt.

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