With the particularly appealing things about Funtown Pier visited bunny_hugger and I wandered back in the direction of Casino Pier, where we had the really long and wonderful day last year, and also toward the antique carousel which was such a perfect capstone for us. This time it would be the midpoint of the visit. We also stopped in at a little shop which sells, among other things, carousel tchotchkes and little motorized replicas of rides and which already had a 2010 calendar featuring carousel horse carvings. Playing as the store's music was a CD of music played on a band organ, except this one in tune, where I was able to successfully identify the song then playing as ``How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm, now that they've seen Paris?'' I know just enough of the chorus to this song that it drives me crazy I can't remember the rest of the chorus, and the rest of the music parts are of course a lost cause.
When we found our way back to the antique carousel we spent actually about a ride's length photographing it in slightly different ways, including some video that bunny_hugger took because her camera records videos. (Mine does too, although without sound, so I have only a few short videos, one of them the middle cat pawing helplessly at the sliding glass door.) We also looked very carefully at the sign bragging about the Wurlitzer band organ which the carousel has and how very few even antique carousels actually play their organs, which we concluded yes, does not precisely claim that they play the Wurlitzer they have there. It's clearly playing prerecorded music piped in, possibly from one of the CDs at the store we'd visited.
And we took a ride, of course, which we could not possibly have resisted at all. Even if we had any chance to resist the discovery of a pair of animals next to each other with our respective real-life last names painted on them would have overwhelmed that chance. The ride didn't have the sense of emotional climax and perfect moment that last year's had; but then, as the centerpiece of the day, dividing one pier from the other, it had a feeling no less magical. It came at just the right time to look from one animal to the other, and reach across to hold hands.
It's possible we noticed the animals with the coincidence of names last year, but we didn't remember offhand and I haven't looked yet to see if I recorded such an event. (The vending machine to buy ride tokens was broken. Just observing.)
From the carousel we went out along the pier (if you imagine the pier as the long leg of a capital T and the boardwalk as the top, the carousel is tucked just above the intersection), looking at the rides we had spent so much time on last year, now all brightly lit as night had somehow already come. (The overcastness didn't hurt the impression of the dark.) We did get to taking pictures of things that we were too distracted by last year to photograph, and we noticed that one of the rides, a Tilt-A-Whirl, was new. It was also freshly imported from Cypress Gardens, and they hadn't got around to repainting the cars yet.
We did buy a new booklet of twenty tickets, this so that we could ride the wild mouse, Mighty Mouse, which last year was our first roller coaster, and the first roller coaster we'd ridden twice. It became the first we'd ridden three times, and this was our first chance riding it after sunset. Last year bunny_hugger had a particularly thrilling ride since I was doughy enough that there was quite some space between her and the restraint bar as we sat together. This year she still had maybe more space than would be ideal, but not nearly so much chance to rattle around loose. It remains a most splendid ride.
We did some admiring of rides that we'd been on, now in the dark, such as the swing or the Moby Dick ride, or the skyscraper ride where you get brought up way, waaaay high up in a rotating cage and that we were both pretty sure we weren't going to ride, thank you. Some of the rides looked remarkably different in the lights, such as the Convoy ride which in daylight seemed to be a perfectly unremarkable ride where kids sit in vehicles and go on an oval track. With the darkness surrounding it and light coming from the ride it looked much more fun, albeit for people smaller than we are.
And we looked over the Musik Express, another of the Himalaya-type rides, with the particularly fun and solicitous operator who played the crowd so very well, and at one point called out to the riders and the onlookers by talking about the ``couple dancing over there'', which was us. Well, it was more me kind of swaying periodically while wrapping my arms around bunny_hugger and keeping my chin on her head, but that's as good as dancing in the circumstances. We realized we wanted to ride this again, suggesting the need to buy more tickets. (The unlimited-ride wristbands are definitely the way to go.) We developed a plan: another book of tickets and we would be able to ride both that and the Stillwalk Manor dark ride, a really nicely done ride through a haunted house.
So that's what we did, going to Stillwalk Manor first because the Musik Express seemed more fitting as a last-ride sort of event. This may seem a bit odd but I think the ride worked better at night, when my eyes were generally more dark-adapted than they were in the afternoon last time. I would have guessed that having an easier time seeing the props and how they were made would spoil the surprise when things popped out or suddenly moved. Instead, I suppose, there was more suspense. Certainly I was better able to see details and so would have a harder time picking out where the next action was coming from. Unconsciously, I'm sure, we ended up sitting in the same spots as last time, so that bunny_hugger got a few sharp whistles and bangs just as last time and I'm sorry we didn't sit the other way and equalize the experiences.
Last year, on either the Musik Express or the similar Rock-and-Roll, both strangely similarly-themed rides of the same class near one another for maximal confusion (in fact, we almost got on the wrong one this time), we found to my disappointment that we weren't able to fit in the same car. Well, I've lost weight since then. We were able to fit quite neatly into the same car and did so very nicely, for the whole length of the rather loud, quite shiny, occasionally stroboscopic --- which is an effect that's stunning and naturally works only at night --- length of the prolonged spinning experience. This was, unmistakably, the right ride for this end of the night. What I saw at the end of the ride was bunny_hugger, lit by the ambient red around, with the brilliance of the wild mouse and, farther back, the boardwalk behind her, one of those beautiful scenes that has to be experienced because even a photograph loses the warmth of the vision.
An additional little triumph of the night was that we were able to unlock the ride ourselves. A minor theme of the visit had been that we weren't able to get any of the rides open even when the operators were giving helpful instructions like ``pull the knob out and up'', so we'd needed assistance out of the restraints pretty much all the time except for the Funtown Pier wild mouse, which was just seat belts.
Over the course of the day bunny_hugger had mentioned a conversation about frozen custard, and wondered what the difference was compared to ice cream. I'd had to admit, I didn't actually know. However, there wasn't a shortage of ice cream or frozen custard stands on the pier, and we went to one where she got a vanilla frozen custard cone and I got a chocolate-vanilla blend. I'm still not sure I could specify just how frozen custard differs from ice cream, besides feeling generally a bit richer; however, to sit down, across from the right person, licking up custard and nibbling salt water taffy, again, that's just the right sort of thing to do at times.
Given the weather we weren't tempted to step out onto the beach, or particularly into the surf. But we did wander back around the pier, enjoying the rides in new light (was there always a kiddie bumper car ride decorated with Public Domain DVD images of Tom and Jerry? I think so; the adult bumper car ride with Public Domain Blues Brothers or Public Domain Fonzie was certainly there)y and photographing, for me, in a fit of optimism regarding my camera's low-light behavior (they came out more or less all right, although without the fine details that the LCD suggested they should). And we wandered back to the shop from earlier where bunny_hugger chose to buy that carousel calendar and to pick up a CD of band organ music to complement a volume which turned out to be more than just the one volume she knew about.
Following more wandering and talking we sought to find my car, and bunny_hugger had better instincts than I had about just which road to go down. (I wanted to go down one block farther south, which is the sort of thing that got us into so much trouble last year.) The post office was right down the road she identified, though, and my car was ... ah ... they had moved it, it was now tucked on the far end of the lot by the chain-link fence, and I tried looking for someone to show my receipt. A guy wandered over a bit, and asked if I needed help; I said I was just retrieving my car and started to take out my receipt. He said it was fine and went off to deal with something else, leaving me to ... enter my unlocked car, pick the key off the mat, and drive off.
I would have felt so much more comfortable if I'd had to at least show that I had a parking receipt. There's a Law and Order episode going to grow out of this someday, I tell you.
With us safely back in a slightly dust-encrusted car --- it wasn't a paved lot, and there'd be dust left from this on the car through to Friday because I kept assuming the bits of rain we were getting might amount to something, and until Friday they didn't --- bunny_hugger opened the CD of carousel music to discover that she'd gotten the wrong disc. The discs in the store had been tucked behind the counter, and she'd specified what one she wanted, and the wrong one was picked up, and nobody noticed up to that point. She decided this was as good as the other, though, particularly since she's comfortable with this whole buying-things-online concept. And now she had the names of two lines of music she's interested in.
Between us we actually knew almost none of the songs included on the CD, except for the Marines Hymn, and my nagging feeling that I ought to know ``Humoresque''. (I kind of did: it sounds like it should be the background for any cartoon character shuffling around, and I'm pretty sure it was used for Mortimer Snerd occasionally. But I couldn't place it ahead of time.) Mostly what came to my mind was how very often they'd hit on a phrase of music which almost but not quite matched ``Let me call you sweetheart, I'm in love with you'', leading to a discussion of music theory and how often many of the songs of one genre will be made of the same pieces. They do sound very similar, really.
We thought somewhat seriously, for us, about what to have for dinner although we didn't stop at either the diner we visited last year or one that we noticed earlier in the day with a wonderfully chrome-plated design to it. We also passed a McDonald's which felt it worth putting on the message segment beneath the billions-and-billions serviced the simple message, ``September 26''. Clearly they're fans of International Rabbit Day. We did get to thinking about what was back home and would be good, such as macaroni and cheese, and figured we would have plenty to graze on back there. We had looked into macaroni and cheese the previous night --- in fact, there were several varieties --- and we even had several sorts of butter, some of them actual butter. What we lacked was milk, which made the whole project rather more dubious. We had bagels instead, as I'd gotten a couple from the supermarket ahead of her visit and we had whipped cream cheese to go on top. So just shy of home we stopped at Wawa to pick up milk, and Mallo Cups, and I think also a little tub of sliced melons to pass off as nutritionally aware eating too. And then somehow we didn't make macaroni and cheese anyway.
Although the salt water taffy helped stretch things out.
Trivia: The Cadillac company --- which had been founded in part by Henry Ford --- became part of General Motors in 1909. Source: Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire, Ricahrd Bak.
Currently Reading: Napoleon On The Art of War, Edited by Jay Luvaas. I'm kind of amazed by how much of Napoleon's advice --- pieced together from orders and letters sent subordinates --- amounts to ``pay attention to what's actually going on, you clods'' and ``make sure your soldiers actually have something to fight with''.