austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

My feet are still sore

The carousel, as it did last year, had Artie the Artizan band organ playing, in good order and without needing any emergency repairs. We spent a bit of time watching the horses, and trying to guess which of the ones on the inner row were originals (nearly all the carousel's animals have been sold off and replaced with Carousel Works replicas) --- we can find documentation only of one but apparently five of the inner-ring ones are antiques to the ride --- and noticing the ride still had one of the horses facing backwards with a giant plush rabbit strapped across the saddle. No idea, still. We also paid more attention to the pales on the center of the carousel. They seem to depict stuff in the Conneaut Lake area, and we realized one of the panels shows the Log Cabin. The gift shop on the midway, the one with the curious collection of Geauga Lake merchandise (Geauga Lake, in northeastern Ohio, closed nearly a decade ago), is called the Log Cabin Gift Shop. Is there a connection?

When we got to the gift shop we asked the cashier. She said she didn't know about the panel but apparently the Log Cabin used to be a restaurant. There are a series of short bar-type stools at the main window, the way that a diner or a soda counter might be organized. Perhaps the gift shop really did used to be a restaurant of enough local note to be memorialized on the carousel boards. It's yet another mystery of the park.

The carousel has the arm for a brass ring dispenser, and it's on some older lists as a carousel with a working brass ring machine. We did not see it work, but that might be a result of it being a low-attendance day. There were never more than a scant few people in the park and there were not operators running every ride. (Some were running back and forth between several rides based on where people wanted to go.) Running the brass ring dispenser would require at minimum two people on the carousel ride, and there wasn't the staff for that. Stil, on one ride we did take outer row horses and reach for the imaginary ring, which we credit as practice for when we get to Knoebels next. (If all goes well that will be in about a month.)

The Turtle ride, or Tumble Bug depending on which park you go to, was there and running again, and the rearmost car was open to passengers again. Our operator this time didn't tell anyone the object was to not hold on to the center --- which made such a thrilling ride last time --- but it did have a guy riding who noticed the Leap-the-Dips shirt I was wearing and talk about how he wanted to Altoona and enjoy Lakemont Park.

And we rode the Devil's Den, one of the park's prized dark house rides. This was repainted as part of that Travel Channel program's renovation work last year, with the main thing being the infamous gum wall, where you stick chewing gum, changed from showing off merely painted flames to also including a prominent devil's head and the encouragement ``Stick it to the Devil ... before he sticks you''. There's still a staggering array of bits of gum on the wall and the top of the ride at that part. On the inside there's a string of dark-house stunts like fake spiderwebs and fluorescent-painted monsters, which I believe have been repainted pretty much as they had been before. The ride looks in really good shape, considering, and I trusted that if the park has a future the Devil's Den ride will be part of its prouder attractions.

We stepped into Kiddieland --- there were even fewer kids around than there were regular patrons (I suppose that's logically necessary) and maybe two people working all the rides --- where we really hoped to see the Little Dipper since now we know that junior roller coaster is one of the oldest steel coasters still operating. Also we got to see a kid taken on the junior carousel. We were surprised to see the mechanism was working this time: the operator, who was talking quite nicely with the kid, who must have felt quite privileged to have the whole Kiddieland to herself, didn't have to grab a pole and walk it around. She just turned on the ride and it went. We expressed amazement about this to one another and realized that maybe wasn't tactful. We tried to be quiet.

We also had to rush out of the rain because the storms came back and threatened to drown the park. Fortunately Kiddieland is right next to the main carousel and has a direct entrance so we could wait out the storm in the bench seating that surrounds the carousel, but the rain kept going on, feinted an ending, and then came right back up again. After a slow beginning at the park the rain was promising to make things worse. The rain did start to pass, and we ventured out into the Kiddieland again to wonder at things like what was obviously some kind of stage for puppet shows or the like, and then the rain came back and we hid again.

While considering how very much this was like Roller Coaster Tycoon scenarios, where a bit of rain will turn any enclosed ride into people's favorites, we noticed that just across the road the bumper cars were working. We had passed on the bumper cars last year but heard that was a mistake because allegedly the cars run wild. We had no reason to doubt this, so we ran through a relative lull to catch them.

Unfortunately bunny_hugger and I were the only ones at the bumper cars then, which limits the fun of the things. And there was a puddle of water on part of the track which would make for an obstacle. But the cars could go pretty quickly. But the cars are quite swift. Or ... well, we'd learn on the next time around when two other people came on, and four functioning cars (possibly all there are) were on the track. Three of them move really quite fast, but on the second go-round I got one that was noticeably slower than the others. This happens. Also, the cars really do smash much more intensely than any other bumper cars I've ridden. Two cars crashing their fronts at an acute angle will have metal smash against metal, no question, and that is a livelier ride than any I've had, even in the ride's slow car. We waited out more rain in the carousel house, getting close-up photographs of all the horses, original and replacement.

Trivia: In 1968 an average of ten fully containerized cargo ships sailed the North Atlantic per week, carrying a total of 200,000 twenty-foot containers holding 1.7 million tons of freight. Source: The Box: How The Shipping Container Made The World Smaller And The World Economy Bigger, Marc Levinson.

Currently Reading: Bob-Lo: An Island In Troubled Waters, Annessa Carlisle.

Tags: amusement parks, conneaut lake park revisited, west pennsylvania parks tour

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