austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I go to Blackpool for my holidays

We did sleep in, about as late as consistent with check-out time, and the leftover cheese made for a surprisingly slimy breakfast. The ice we'd packed it with caused condensation to form on the cheese cubes, you see, and there wasn't anything we could really do to wipe that off, and while we had some crackers that would soak up some of the wet it was really not our most elegant meal. Anyway, we had to drive back to New Jersey, to reach our last hotel for the trip (and the one I'd use to stay for a week of in-the-office work after that), but first ... well, actually, first we had the mystery that my satellite navigator had absolutely no trouble getting signal through the Lehigh Valley Tunnel, with like a hundred feet of mountain above us, even though it routinely loses its signal in parking decks. The heck, Garmin Corporation, anyway?

Anyway. Any sensible path back to New Jersey took us to within inches of Dorney Park, one of the Cedar Fair amusement parks and so one we had season passes for. Since it'd cost us nothing but time to go there, and since we hadn't been there in several years --- and since it had the former Frontier Carousel that was dear to bunny_hugger's youth when that was at Cedar Point --- why not stop in? If that would actually be possible, since a bit of the road we needed to get from the Turnpike to the park was closed off for some reason and we were guided into a twisty maze of Allentown's back roads.

So, you know that Saturday that everybody in the Mid-Atlantic States was seized by a wild desire to visit Dorney Park? Yeah, that was the day we went too. The traffic going in looked like a perfectly reasonable early-afternoon Saturday stream, but then, the parking ... the paid parking lot was, as far as we could tell, completely full. They were directing people over to the side, the free parking lots, which were farther from the entrance and, for that matter, were just grassy fields. And not just one overflow-parking field. Not just two overflow-parking fields. They had field after field full of cars. Traffic cops guided us to what seemed to be the last little bit of grass available, a patch good for a half-dozen rows of cars, near the fence marking the Lehigh County Agricultural Center, and we, like many people, just got out of the cars to watch this fill up too. Surely, at some point, they must declare the park Just Plain Full?

They might, although there was a bit more open grass that they opened up, and started guiding cars onto, and while it certainly looked like they would fill that too we didn't want to wait the extra twenty minutes or so that might take. We had been to Cedar Point during Columbus Day Weekend 2011, when the park got a rumored seventy thousand visitors and was packed to the point there were 45-minute waits for closed rides (only a modest exaggeration; there were lines formed for closed rides, presumably in the hopes that they would open). This promised to be a fascinating spectacle in the same vein. We might not ride much --- we figured if we got on the carousel that would be triumph enough --- but we could be there for this.

Or would we? Because we had the same problem at the gate as we had the second time we went to Kings Island, in which the gate attendant scanned our passes and then frowned at the computer screen and didn't know what to make of the error message. A higher-level gate attendant came over and looked at it and thought she understood it. Remember we had that problem going back into Kings Island, where our season pass was for some reason represented in their database as a single ticket, and we'd used it to go in before, and now it didn't know what to make of us? The same thing happened here. The higher-order attendant took our passes to run off to the main office, leaving us standing there awkwardly, afraid to move lest we never see any park official, or our passes, again, but also kind of in the way of the gate on the busiest day Dorney Park had ever known in all of time. This was a great way to make an anxiety-producing operation out of existing.

Mercifully, the higher-level attendant came back, and had worked out whatever was necessary to let us in, and we could join the promised chaos. Past the gates that looked like perfect replicas of Cedar Point's old, pre-GateKeeper gates, was their carousel.

Trivia: Around 100 AD, Rome's aqueducts were able to deliver about 220 million gallons of water daily, something around 110 to 120 gallons per capita per day. Source: Engineering In History, Richard Stelton Kirby, Sidney Withington, Arthur Burr Darling, Frederick Gridley Kilgour.

Currently Reading: Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of Apollo Lunar Exploration Missions, William David Compton. NASA SP-4214.

Tags: amusement parks, casino pier farewell tour, dorney park
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