austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Nothing seems to fit

Happy anniversary, my dear bunny_hugger. Thank you for so many wonderful days and happy experiences and the promise of so many more to come.

The biggest part of Idlewild we hadn't really seen before, other than the water park, was Hootin' Holler. This is not a Barney Google themed area but rather a ``historic village'' originally constructed for the Bicentennial and relocated to the middle of the park and rethemed to an Old Western town. There were a couple rides there we just couldn't go on --- the Howler, for example, is a Tornado-style ride that's just too vertiginous for bunny_hugger to ride and can be marginal for me.

But there was Paul Bunyan's Loggin' Toboggan, a log flume. And the day had warmed up, and the sun finally broken through, and ... Last year, after getting horrifically soaked several parks in a row bunny_hugger declared she would never, ever ride a log flume or similar ride again. She suggested we ride the log flume. This left me a moral quandary: respect her clear statement of last year or respect her choice on the scene now?

The Loggin' Toboggan has in the entry station seven hardhats, with the baffling sign: ``Mill operated by The 7 Axemen: Elmer, Elmer, Elmer, Elmer, Elmer, Elmer, & Elmer.'' This means something.

The ride operators were talking about the weather: it had been rainy in the morning, and then it finally started to let up, and then it started sprinkling again, and then it let up again to where it was now quite nice. And the Òoggin' Toboggan is a pleasant ride, through the tall trees and deep forest before bringing you up the hill and dropping dramatically. It also didn't soak us badly, either. We just got the little sprinkling of moisture on us and our clothes that makes a hot day feel better. After the ride we were sitting for something or other and I noticed the flux of people coming out the entry queue, the universal sign of the ride suddenly closing. We didn't think anything particular of this at the time.

One of the other Hootin' Holler attractions is Confusion Hill, basically, a mystery house walkthrough that seems a little unusual for an amusement park. bunny_hugger and I were the only ones in our group, which spoiled some bits where the guide's spiel clearly called for a good-sized audience. It also meant we got through the whole attraction quickly, though, as she showed off features like water rolling uphill or jars rolling upwards or a chair sitting stably on the wall. It's a very disorienting place to walk through since even though you know full well that the floor is just at extreme angles it's hard to not think of the floor as level and you notice you and the guide and everyone else standing at thirty degree angles. It's all quite good fun and the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts association named it one of their top-ten favorite walkthroughs.

Somewhere in Hootin' Holler when bunny_hugger was first there a decade ago had been a mystery swing, where you sit on a stationary bench and the walls and floor and ceiling of the room rotate around you. We've been on them now at Dutch Wonderland, Blackpool, and Great Adventure. Sad to say Hootin' Holler has lost its.

There's also a little narrow-gauge railroad that runs between Hootin' Holler and the Raccoon Lagoon (where mostly kids rides are kept). We took that ride, sitting in the second row of seats so as to get a little shade (we took longer than we should have to realize we could sit on shaded benches waiting for the train to approach), and ending up between one very loud kid and the rest of his group. Still, it's a nice little ride, and we got a few glimpses of the back of the Mister Roger's/Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood ride, between going out to Raccoon Lagoon (where, from a distance, we saw the Thomas The Tank Engine performance going on) and taking it around back. On the loop back we passed within a few feet of my car in the parking lot, which was inexplicably thrilling to me.

Since it was warm and close to our usual coffee break time we looked for something to drink. Coffee didn't seem available, but we got some soda and sat in front of the carousel, listening to the two organs playing in succession and trying to date exactly when their music scrolls date from. My guess was 1980 at the latest. They'd been playing ``Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head'' earlier, and I warned the instruments not to tempt fate like that. We also got to wondering what songs would be included on a modern band roll. The best I could think of was Walk The Moon's ``Anna Sun'', which has the kind of driving beat and melody that I think make it recognizable or fun for band organs. We spent maybe a whole lovely half-hour sitting in the gathering overcast, in the middle of a park, watching the carousel and finishing our drinks and just enjoying being present. The band organs both stopped playing for a while and there was some quiet.

Then a park employee came over and asked if we'd heard the announcement.

Trivia: When Ransom Olds returned the Olds Motor Works to Lansing (from Detroit) in 1902 he set up the factory on a 52-acre site which had been the fairgrounds for the Central Michigan Fair Association and then the Michigan State Fair, before the State Fair moved and the Central Michigan Fair Association declared bankruptcy. Source: R E Olds: Auto Industry Pioneer, George S May.

Currently Reading: Madame Blavatsky: The Woman Behind The Myth, Marion Meade.

Tags: amusement parks, idlewild, west pennsylvania parks tour

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