We haven't seen Conneaut Lake Park in one of its important phases, that of when it puts on its Halloween livery and presents itself as if ghost-haunted. Given the state of things it's very easy to imagine the park as haunted, and it's hard to imagine what could be done to make scarier, say, that abandoned jungle path, or the tunnel which the Blue Streak roller coaster goes through that's got all these rotted boards with holes in them and garbage bags collecting stale rainwater that sometimes spills out. But there's some traces of it. Besides the Hostile Hostel front --- the attraction put in by that Mission Amusement show for the Travel Channel --- there's ``Missing'' signs that have to represent some Halloween stuff left up because Conneaut Lake Park.
But the ``Missing'' signs are done with a very nice touch, showing faces and such mentions as ``last seen on July 25th 2013 refusing to smile at the person taking his photo'' (this to a person who's just glaring at the camera) or ``last seen on July 22nd 2013 with a paintbrush, a paint bucket and a dream''. This is so nice and normal and park-healthy that it's reassuring to see and only maybe later you notice that the ``Missing: George Christon'' poster (``last seen on August 1st, 2013 drawing pictures of roller coasters using sidewalk chalk'') ends with the line ``If you have any information or have seen Rita [sic] please contact the police immediately!'' If you don't feel warm and fuzzy about that this isn't a place you should ever be.
And we had by now spent nearly the whole day at the park, between rides and exploration and sitting in the carousel building waiting out the rains. We did spot a couple of American Coaster Enthusiasts in the park --- they're easy to spot, generally, because they're generally middle-aged guy nerds wearing cargo shorts and T-shirts that either have the ACE logo or show off obscure or distant parks, so imagine a guy holding forth on how it's Joss Whedon's critics who have a problem with female characters whilst wearing a Polar Coaster T-shirt from Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire, and you know who to look for --- and enjoyed a weirdly long ride of the chair swings. The ride had gone about a normal cycle, but then stopped because a kid needed to get off because of some reason or other. The ride operator told everyone else they could stay on if they wanted, and then we went through a whole ride cycle again; it was enough swings, really, to risk being too much swings, but you can't argue with the general niceness of having so much ride time.
Still the evening was coming, and the wonderful glow that a park gets around sunset, and there was a bit of rain and then it let up enough that we decided to just try riding the Blue Streak and the Carousel for as long as we could. Blue Streak is a wonderful roller coaster, and as often happens, it's even better at night when it's harder to see just what's ahead of you. I remember we'd thought last time that the back was a better ride than the front --- not that either was bad, but that the return leg is less exciting in the front seats --- but this time around, and especially at night, we didn't have that sense. Maybe we just didn't get it last time, perhaps because the whole Conneaut Lake Park experience was overwhelming us. Maybe they've been getting the Blue Streak in better shape yet. Maybe we just had a better roller coaster day.
So that's what we did for the rest of the night, until the park had to close and release its handful of guests and larger handful of employees. We took a long slow walk back out, taking in what might be our last visit there --- though, if we did use our Idlewild rain check for their Halloween event, and took in Kennywood's, wouldn't Conneaut Lake Park just be perfect to see then? --- and regretting that the miniature golf course had been too rain-soaked to play, and went out to the parking lot where mine was the only car still present.
We drove north, to our Erie-area hotel, and wondered about what the journalist was doing there.
Trivia: Beginning in 1281 the government of Venice began paying subsidies on salt landed in the city from other areas; merchants could then use these funds to dominate the spice trade and lead the grain trade in the Mediterranean. Source: Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky.
Currently Reading: Bob-Lo: An Island In Troubled Waters, Annessa Carlisle.