With, and I do not here exaggerate, a crowd of dozens in Michigan's Adventure some of the normal routines of park-going were changed. For example, you know that thing where you wait on lines before getting on rides? Totally gone. All right, not perfectly: there were some modest sub-queues for people who wanted to get into the first seats or the last seats on a roller coaster; but if you weren't looking for a special seat like that it was pretty much walk-on every single ride. Cedar Point amusement parks have recently introduced the loathsome practice of line-jumping ``Fast Lane'' or something, where for extra money you don't have to wait in line like everyone else. This costs $35 to $50 per person, which starts at more than the one-day admission price and get up to nearly two-thirds what a season pass costs, so we remarked several times about how ripped off anyone who bought that must have felt. There were people who bought the privileged-parking spots, which was really hilarious given the vast emptiness of the parking lot, so maybe someone who got there at opening and didn't realize you could wander for forty minutes without seeing another patron might've bought them, and been talked about by all the employees in the break rooms.
The low attendance and the imminent end of the season also combined for some amusing casual looseness in the crowds and in the ride operators. In particular the staff of Thunderhawk, one of those suspended looping coasters with the shoulder harnesses and the floorless bottoms that so look like modern-era roller coasters, was getting particularly goofy. One train they insisted they wouldn't let out until everybody on it mooed. Another time one of the ride operators jumped into the front seat while the rider was putting his camera in the storage bin. When bunny_hugger and I rode --- front row --- my clapping in response to the question ``is everybody ready?'' got the lead operator commenting that he's never gotten applause on that question before. I can't say I believe that. bunny_hugger explained that I just do a lot of clapping around rides, which is true. On the return the attendant poised at the rear of the platform gave high-fives to the folks on my side as we rolled in; I don't know if that was a last-day giddiness sort of thing or just, hey, it's fun to touch people back from a ride.
Since we had the best of amusement park combinations --- every ride open (at least among the rides we wanted to go on) and no lines to wait for --- we got not just to all the rides (Shivering Timbers, a wooden roller coaster without exaggeration more than a mile long and is, according to Wikipedia, the 6th longest wooden roller coaster in the world, features some ``trick track'', where the track tilts side to side without changing direction, which is one of my favorite elements and shockingly rare outside cartoons), but also to some that we might have otherwise overlooked. For example there was the Flying Trapeze, an elevated-swing-type ride which also pitches the seats forward and back to make a swing ride really quite intense. It's one of the oldest rides at the park, dating back to when Michigan's Adventure was Deer Park Funland. We learned later there are rumors the ride might be taken out soon to make room. So we're glad we got a farewell ride on that.
Trivia: The Viking landers were designed to support direct-to-Earth data transmission rates of 100, 500, and 250 bits per second at a transmitter output of 20 watts. Source: On Mars: Exploration Of The Red Planet 1958 - 1978, Edward Clinton Ezell, Linda Neuman Ezell. NASA SP-4212.
Currently Reading: On The Laps Of Gods: The Red Summer Of 1919 And The Struggle For Justice That Remade a Nation, Robert Whitaker.