On Friday, bunny_hugger and I were able to sleep in to a reasonable hour. Our plan for the weekend was to go to Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, and to stay in a hotel on the peninsula --- The Breakers --- rather than come back home the same day. This would allow, obviously, much more time at the park, and skip the burden of six-plus hours of driving in going there and returning the same day.
While we'd naturally like to spend more time in the park, there wasn't any point to leaving too early, though. In October, Cedar Point shifts to the Halloweekend livery and opening schedule, starting up for the weekend in the evening on Friday. No sense leaving at 9 am for a closed park.
Thus we set off feeling refreshed and at something like our natural waking hours, and drove for several minutes until we found the nearest Quality Dairy to get doughnuts and (for her) coffee and (for me) ginger soda. They don't have anything like Vernor's in the mid-Atlantic states, so far as I know, and don't think that doesn't bother me. The drive was uneventful, except for my noticing that the toll ticket for the Ohio Turnpike listed several exchanges with no exits. This state of affairs baffled me, and I spread my confusion to bunny_hugger, and it was partly settled at a rest plaza where the information screen explained there were some exits with no exits for those going eastbound. That's all right, although as there seemed to be an equal number of closed-eastbound and closed-westbound exits I wondered why they needed the row of exits with ``XXXXX'' printed up as the fares, when they could just (say) use the Exit 215 for one direction and Exit 216 for the other. I guess what it comes to is there are things I don't understand about the Ohio Turnpike fare system.
In Sandusky we overshot the turn to actually go onto the peninsula, but this did allow us to find several interesting-looking small motels and a bowling alley that's hidden behind what look like an ordinary set of houses and things like that. It also meant after we turned around and came back we got views of Cedar Point that looked just like the skyline of the advertising materials. The park was still closed, but it would be only a couple hours away.
Our hotel, The Breakers, is a strange and sprawling and complicated facility which was originally built many decades ago and added to and renovated to make all the more complicated and weird. It has the rough layout of crystallized tobacco mosaic virus, and bunny_hugger was called into action to help people trying to find the entrance. The hotel, as with the park, was dressed up for the Halloween festivities, with fake spiderwebs and rubber bats and gorey pictures and mannequins decorating the hallway, and faint-green lights to add a ghastly color to everything. One might accuse this of being cheesey, but I thought it was great.
Our room would be small, but on the third floor, with a window looking out toward the park. We could easily see the Magnus XL 200, at one time the tallest roller coaster in the world, out the window, as well as the taller attractions such as the Wicked Twister roller coaster and the new Windseeker elevated swing. We could also see, in the bathroom, a yellow flower-pattern wallpaper much like what we had in my family's home in the late 70s. As we freshened up and stretched out, we could hear the National Anthem and the park opening up.
Since we were staying at one of Cedar Point's hotels, we were able to get Early Admission tickets, and an extra hour before the masses of The Public were generally let in. This was pretty neat an idea to me, on top of the whole getting to enter from one of the non-main entrances, and we weren't going to let that chance go to waste.
The park was decorated, for the Halloweekend specials, with spooky/Halloween-type decorations all over. There would also be haunted houses and haunted areas to walk through, but later in the day. For now and in the daylight it looked a lot like an amusement park with an abnormal number of skeletons in the park areas. And with a light crowd despite it being a beautiful and surprisingly warm day.
We used this free hour to leap on Maverick, which on an ordinary summer day like the one we had last time we went to Cedar Point can attract a line nearly four weeks long. With the early-admission, it was pretty near a walk-on, almost longer walking through the queue railings than waiting in queue. This is a fantastic and exciting ride.
We also took the chance to answer one of those nagging recurring questions we have: bunny_hugger wasn't sure whether I'd ridden Millennium Force, which was another world's record-holder for height and speed when it opened, and I was never sure. This time, we definitely rode it, and I can say with confidence that I didn't ride it last time. I'd have remembered the unusual entry-exit system certainly; you get off the ride at a platform just a bit back of the loading platform. It's a tall and fun one, with ``overbanked turns'' that fall short of actually flipping a person over, but which rides very nicely. We spotted on the ground a dropped bag, but couldn't figure out how it had got there: it seemed too far away to be dropped from the ride queue, but if it was taken on the roller coaster against all sense I couldn't figure where or how it would be dropped to get there either. We have to conclude there's no way the bag was there.
Those were the only rides we really got in during the early admission period, but that's all right, as they'd be almost certainly impossible to ride the rest of the weekend. We went to the Midway Market, up near the entrance, as that offers buffet meals and a view of the carousel up front. They had only a partial buffet, given the small crowds and short hours, but that amounted to a lot of pizza including a macaroni-and-cheese kind which we could probably have eaten too much of.
As the sun set, and the park took on that wonderful air which a light crowd and the illumination of the rides takes on, we wandered about and just soaked in the joys of being so very happy that we were there, right then.
Various points within the park were converted into either haunted houses or walk-through areas. Some of these were ordinary outdoor locations; some were apparently lesser-used walking paths made attractions for the month. I don't know the Cedar Point geography well enough to say. But one that attracted us and which we went to on Friday was ``Blood On The Bayou'', which strove for the gimmicks of the Louisiana swamps. What really attracted us was up front a guy dressed as a blood-soaked hillbilly standing on a broken paddlewheel set piece taunting the people in line, their appearance and behavior and all that. We couldn't resist. He didn't mock us.
The basic ideas were simple enough: lots of dark, lots of artificial fog, lots of bright lights shining in your eyes when they want to have someone leap out and yell ``boo!'' Add in a couple people wandering around with chainsaws or the like and shaking noise-makers at you and you've got a perfectly good haunted location experience. Actually, what really fascinated me was the artificial fog, which was some chemical production of a distinct smell I couldn't pin down. They laid it on very heavily, enough that I couldn't avoid gulping it down and coughing it out afterwards. I realized this might be my only chance to blow a smoke ring; while I've heard the theory of such a construct, I couldn't actually do it. I had to settle for feigning the breathing of smoke. I'm sure there's no reason to worry about gulping down big mouths full of odoriferous artificial fog chemicals.
When we were sated with the park, we walked out the hotel-guests-gate and promptly got lost, managing to very badly miss the Breakers or even the miniature golf course beside it. I agreed with bunny_hugger's assessment that we were lost, but kept walking, because I supposed that if we kept going in the wrong way long enough we would eventually get somewhere that would let us go the right way. It wasn't until she accused me of not believing her in the assessment of our lostness that I stopped and turned around and followed her back to the hotel.
At the hotel, too, before bed we had a technological challenge. bunny_hugger had gotten a Mi-fi device --- the same model as my father had, and that provided such intermittent service during his visit west --- and despite following the instructions it didn't quite fi. On my computer the setup went farther before spinning out and doing nothing, but the whole thing wasn't looking too promising. Finally we gave up on the idea of waiting for the setup wizard to complete its routine, and bought ten days of wireless and then it worked. So we were able to close the night by checking e-mail, posting to my Livejournal, and such other necessary tasks as reading the comics for the day.
And we could sleep in anticipation of a big Saturday. It would be bigger than we figured.
Trivia: The foamy head of beer is held together by proteins; the largest proteins, with molecular mass above five thousand, create a stable head. Source: Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring The Science Of Flavor, Hervé This.
Currently Reading: The Edge Of Forever, Chad Oliver.