So with a niece on the way, and a return to teaching in hand, and a gorgeous afternoon --- high eighties, low humidity, cloudless sky --- free, what to do? I was awfully near ... why not go east a little bit, get to Seaside Heights, ride a roller coaster or two in triumph? Well, because despite it being a gorgeous day it was also after Labor Day and therefore it was unthinkable that someone would be at Seaside Heights at, say, 2:30 pm. The piers were closed.
But the arcades were open, so I played a little pinball which turned into a lot of pinball. Part of this was my feeling that I should put my dollar bills to supporting causes I like, such as having a row of pinball machines. Part of this was ... well, I know that a ``hot hand'' is pretty near invariably a statistical fluke, but I had it. I didn't get to any high score tables, but I did hit replay scores on nearly two of every three machines. I left my free credits on the machines, a gift to future players. Naturally I'd left my notepad back in the car, figuring, what were the odds I've have notworthy scores, so I used some ATM receipts to log my good scores. (Pinball score logging could be my petty App to write.)
I spent long enough at this, in fact, that the piers did open for the evening. And yet, despite the gorgeousness of the Friday afternoon, there still weren't enough people there. Sometimes roller coaster groups can arrange for private ride time as a group event. Here, I had it, for creepily long. The guys running Centrifuge were thankful to me for breaking up their boredom of sitting around waiting. (The ride also had, tucked in a corner, a prop of a corpse sitting up in bed; whether something relocated from Stillwalk Manor next to it or something being readied for Halloween livery, my discovery of it on the ride added extra excitement and surprise.) The fellow running Rotor thanked me for being the first rider nearly an hour after the pier opened.
At first I felt awkward, putting people to the bother of running a whole ride just for me, and for that matter of talking to the ride operators before and after to help soothe their need for human contact. But as time went on and I still got rides to myself --- there were some other people around, but they were getting individual rides too --- I started to feel more confident about taking the ride, and that I was giving the operators something to do. A lot of rides --- I'm thinking of ``Moby Dick'' particularly --- get more exciting solo, or at least accelerate noticeably faster. Still, I didn't have the courage to take a Musik Express ride by myself.
Trivia: An 1857 report to the House of Commons estimated that the laying of railroad track in the United States cost, per mile, about one-third that of laying track in Britain. Source: The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century, Wolfgang Schivelbusch. (At least one important factor was United States railroads had an easier time making curves around obstacles, rather than having to level or bring up to grade hills and valleys.)
Currently Reading: The Tower, Richard Martin Stern. If the name seems faintly familiar that's because it's one of the two books which fused to become The Towering Inferno, in movie form, and an awesome SCTV episode.