austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

And it might have ended

Rides were ... crowded. It was a busy day at Knoebels. Good for them, certainly; frustrating for us hoping to stockpile enough rides to tide us over for a couple of years. (At least right now we're not figuring to get back to Knoebels next year.) But Knoebels is a beautiful park and there's plenty to do even without going on a ride, for example, poking around the carousel gift shop (they had several new ornaments, for example), and the museum they have there. There's been an interesting discovery regarding their Grand Carousel, which had formerly existed at Riverside Park in Rahway, New Jersey. Over the winter they found the original bill of sale and discovered it had actually been owned by Riverside Park in Piscataway, a completely different town. It's the town half of Rutgers/New Brunswick's campuses are in. I know the rough area. They had a replica of the bill of sale on display.

The Riverside Park of Piscataway sale is particularly interesting because, apparently, nobody's actually sure where Riverside Park was. The documentary evidence is surprisingly flimsy for a park that had a carousel worth selling as late as 1941. The best guess seems to be that it's at the current location of Johnson Park. This would be a convenient spot for a New Brunswick trolley park, just across the bridge, and today it's the spot of a pretty good park and small historic village of old buildings relocated from around Middlesex County. But just where was it? And what else was there? There's no way to tell, except by like going to a newspaper or the tax assessor's office and doing research or something.

(The Grand Carousel's sign still says Rahway, and doesn't explain the remarkable discovery that makes the carousel one much closer to my childhood, in place if not in time. Perhaps they're hoping to finish researching this so they don't suffer the indignity of another inaccurate sign.)

We wandered over to the Haunted House, a dark ride, one of the handful of rides that an all-rides wristband doesn't get you on free. (This isn't uncommon: dark rides and walk-through haunted houses and such want to avoid people going onto them too often in any stretch, because then people can learn where the stunts and props are, and then, if they're idiot teenagers or young men, can efficiently vandalize stuff.) The House was in quite good shape, though; I had the impression it was running better than it had the previous year, though I can't swear I wasn't just in a good mood for haunted houses. Even one stunt we knew was coming, because it can be heard a ways off surprising the cars ahead of you, caught us by surprise and very well at that.

We had to have another ride on the Flying Turns. The line had been over an hour long earlier. We'd hoped doing stuff would let the morning crowd subside and maybe things get a little better. They only barely did; the line dwindled to an hour, which is still long enough to sprawl out of the queue area --- most of which is inside the roller coaster's bounds --- and along the fence outside the ride. We swallowed our pride and accepted that we'd just need to wait it out. A curiosity along the way was that we spotted some dark, irregular figure high in the sky. Its shape was hard to figure out; at one point I had to say, ``Look, someone's flying New Jersey!'' It's surely a kite, presumably one of those shaped like a raptor or such and we were so far away the exact shape was hard to make out. Or someone sells New Jersey-shaped kites.

We also gave the Looper a fresh try, watching carefully the people who were able to get their cages to spin repeatedly, and trying out what as best we could recreate was our successful looping from last year. We got closer this time, in that we were able to rock the cages to spending some time upside-down, but we weren't able to get just that little extra bit farther that would let the cages roll. This was disheartening: somehow we understood this unique or nearly-unique ride better last year, before we had more experience with it, and we couldn't get the thing that it's even named for to work.

Someone presumably on the ride did spill a bag of Sixlets-type candy, which must be something that happens all the time.

As we headed out the night before we spotted a place that sold coffee, figuring we might need it for an afternoon lull. We did get to that lull although as I'm not much on coffee I had an ice cream sundae from another part of that little food area. It's got the waterworks from an old mill --- the sign, I believe, says the mill had been in the area from the mid-19th century --- and the water wheel is used to drive the slow turning of the pavilion's covered roof, in a nice, slow, gradual turn that's just beautiful. Knoebels excels in beautiful pavilions; I think I've mentioned the one that's decorated as a late 50s birthday cake, for example. It was a good chance to recover from the disappointment of the Looper and to look ahead for the rest of the day.

Knoebels doesn't just have the Grand Carousel as an antique; they also have a Stein and Goldstein carousel (the same makers who built the Central Park Carousel in Manhattan). It's much smaller, and I suppose suffers in the shadow of its famous rival, but it's still a pleasant ride going at a good five rotations per minute if I remember rightly, with its own band organ and running boards that show off lovely idealized village portraits of the surrounding area and of the wildlife (including two raccoons in one scene, and two different rabbit scenes).

Trivia: Mariner 9's initial orbit of Mars was referred to as 17/35: after 17 Martian days and 35 revolutions of the spacecraft the ground track would repeat. Its period was 11.98 hours per revolution, at an inclination of 65 degrees. Source: On Mars: Exploration of the Red Planet 1958 - 1978, Edward Clinton Ezell, Linda Neuman Ezell. NASA SP-4212.

Currently Reading: It's An Old New England Custom, Edwin Valentine Mitchell.

PS: Reading the Comics, September 8, 2014: What Is The Problem Edition, a whole bunch of mathematics-themed comics because they come in gushers like that sometimes. Fifth of these since the last roundup.

Tags: amusement parks, casino pier farewell tour, knoebels
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