austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

If you don't run it's suicide

We got to the carousel to make that our first ride of the day. I think it's been our first ride every Kennywood trip just now. It's nice and near the entrance but not immediately at it, after all. And the carousel was in good running order; I estimated it to be running at five rotations per minute, which is better than the four per minute that most carousels run at, and almost as good as the six-per-minute that the Merry-Go-Round museum and Crossroads Village use. (If you think merry-go-rounds are dull it's because they run too slow. At a proper speed of around six per minute they're solid rides.)

And then what to do? Lunch was a good-looking option, although the place we'd really have wanted to eat --- the old carousel building --- was unavailable. That spot's being renovated into a Johnny Rocket's, which has brought a lot of wailing from Kennywood fans about the intrusion of chain restaurants into the park and the destruction of local character. For us, the important thing is this is the spot where we found vegetarian burgers last year, so we lost the lunch option. The renovations make the building sparkling white, with red trim and such, almost a little too new looking to quite fit in the park's character, but they're not done yet and, who knows, the local character might return: the same spot had been a TCBY in the 1990s.

But what we really thought of was that it's still early, there's still relatively few people in the park: we should get to the Lost Kennywood area and to the Exterminator ride there. The Exterminator is a great ride, a spinning wild mouse, but because it is a wild mouse and it's a well-decorated one, it attracts the longest lines in the park. This might be our best chance for the day to get there. And so it was; there was a short line, of maybe a couple dozen people, and we had to wait maybe a quarter-hour for the ride --- and saw people coming in, in bunches and further bunches, as we waited --- but we timed it just supremely right. It's ridiculous to think we'll have a repeat of last year's Summer of Walk-Ons, but, this is certainly the right spirit.

On the queue for the Phantom's Revenge --- the ride is in the midst of the Lost Kennywood area, but the entrance way off outside it on a long string of narrow passages, just like you get when you build a ride in Roller Coaster Tycoon and realize you forgot there has to be a queue too --- we saw something moving in the grass far below, and overheard another group arguing about whether it was a squirrel or a groundhog. It was a groundhog, and bunny_hugger explained that groundhogs are zoologically a kind of squirrel so that both identifications were kind of right. This got a satisfied ``a-ha!'' from one of the squirrel faction. It's always grand seeing wildlife inside parks. The groundhog was puttering around and standing up and nibbling on tall grasses just adorably.

This did get us to a slightly better lunchtime and we went for one of Kennywood's iconic park foods, the plate of fries. We got cheese fries, and thanks to the good choice of hour didn't have to wait in the ridiculously huge lines that the fries often demand. bunny_hugger noticed some interesting-looking flowers and in trying to get a better look at them was hissed at by an angered duck. The duck had a nest in the ground there, with just the one egg that we could see, and just how she'd lead the hatchling(s?) to water given the obstacles toward the reflecting pool/Shoot The Chutes ride in Lost Kennywood, or the considerably distance to the main lagoon in the center of the park, is a good question. We tried to get photographs without drawing too much attention to a really quite exposed duck nest but surely the nest keeps getting rediscovered dozens of times every day.

We also went to ride Thunderbolt, which apparently is becoming a bit of a mania for me ever since our first visit was interrupted by rain while we waited for that roller coaster. Back in the day the ride's trains had headlamps that lit up, but they haven't done that in a long, long time. A group of engineering students presented Kennywood a plan that would allow the lights to work again, and while I imagined park management would say, ``that's very ingenious, thank you,'' and then never speak of it again, in fact, the project seems to be taken quite seriously. One of the three trains has had the caps taken off the headlamp areas, and might --- might --- be shining into the darkness soon. Maybe.

We walked back to the Jackrabbit, the oldest roller coaster in the park, along the way catching a few bits of the pirate-themed stunt show. Jackrabbit had a pretty good-sized line --- I think the longest one we waited on all day --- but I held out hope that it'd dwindle towards the evening, and in any case, it's a great ride. It (and Thunderbolt) are built into the sides of the rolling Pennsylvania hills, so that they have their first drops before their first lift hills, which is just Not The Way roller coasters are supposed to work. The fun of the ride was a bit spoiled for me by noticing a woman ahead of us had her cell phone out, taking a movie I imagine of the ride. I understand wanting to get ride videos of these but all I could imagine was a Samsung flying out of her hand and into bunny_hugger's forehead. When we returned to the station the camera-wielding rider was not taken away and imprisoned, as far as I am aware.

We did ride the Kangaroo, the last survivor of its breed of ``flying coasters'' --- a rotary track with a steep hill, sending the rider up and dropping down --- which was fantastic, and which reinforced our belief that every park ought to get a Kang-A-Bounce (a modern flat ride that has much of the same motion and sure looks like a revival attempt). The line gave me enough time to watch a few cycles and wonder if the ride goes through the same number of rotations each time. I suspect it does because the number of the car which, at the end of the ride, has just gone over the big hill increased by three (modulo eight) every turn as we watched. And yes, I noticed.

On exiting the Kangaroo I noticed that a statue of George Washington there --- Kennywood is pretty near where he set off the first of two world wars --- is posed so it looks like he's leading a charge against the Johnny Rocket's. This is not an observation unique to me.

Trivia: The word ``telephone'' came into existence before Alexander Graham Bell was born. Source: How The World Was One: Beyond The Global Village, Arthur C Clarke.

Currently Reading: A Stranger In Olondria, Sofia Samatar.

Tags: amusement parks, kennywood, west pennsylvania parks tour

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