8/9/06 My "crappy" day at HP and a little bit of Knoebels

Associated parks:
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Friday, August 11, 2006 2:10 AM
Hersheypark has always been one of my favorite parks. I went out of my way twice last year to visit for short periods of time. So when the idea of going with three other people came up on a Wednesday, I was pretty excited, but also nervous about crowds levels since it was August. Unfortunately, by the end of our visit, I lost some respect for the park. More on that later.

The party of four was my sister Cindy who hadn't been since 1998, my riding partner and friend gowithgravity, and his friend Brian, who also hadn't visited Hershey in a while. Luckily, we hit no traffic going to Hershey, which is a miracle in itself considering that Pennsylvania is known as the road construction capital of America. I was glad that the PennDot site was accurate. Our plan was to do Hershey, and then leave to go to Knoebels, a park that neither Cindy or Brian had been to.

We made great time getting to the park, and arrived around 10:10am. Parking was $8 with a $15 preferred option available. Just when you think Hershey wouldn't pull anything Six Flags like... The smell of chocolate was very thick in the air. I believe it's the first time I've ever smelled it so far outside of the park. We could clearly see a train parked on the lift hill of Wildcat that didn't move while we all applied sunscreen. We talked about doing the Chocolate World Tour, but said we'll get to it later if we have time.

First ride up was the brand new Reese's Extreme Cup Challenge, which broke-down while we were in line. An employee came up and announced the usual "If you want to wait in line you can, but we don't know how long it's going to take" blah, blah, blah. So a whole lot of people bailed. They actually chained off both the single-rider entrance and the main entrance while repairs/resets were being done. While waiting we saw a whole lot of–empty Storm Runner test-runs and it was barely making it over the tophat. I'd say ten minutes later the Challenge was back up and running and we were much further ahead in line. I believe while waiting we finally saw some full SR trains.

I know a lot of people have complained that the RECC is too short, but I know we loved the roller-coaster-like hills and turns in certain sections. We also thought the targets were much easier to hit than the usual Sally targets, since they were larger in diameter, were illuminated differently and provided a double-hit option for added points. You do get a Reese's Cup at the end of the ride if you want, which made up for not doing the Chocolate World Tour at this point. My only concern was the fact that it's a candy bar with peanut butter. With all the food allergies kids are having (and some have died from peanut allergies) these days, I could see a big lawsuit just waiting to happen.

We moved onto the Claw, and it was clear that this was not going to be a lightly-packed day. We waited about a 1/2-hour for it maybe. Luckily, my sister and I and gowithgravity and Brian got good seats on two different sweeps. When you've got people with you who haven't been to a park in a while and there are lots of new attractions, you naturally want them to experience them, even if that means you may sacrifice time doing other things, and so it was that we decided to hit Roller Soaker, followed by Tidal Force. Canyon River Rapids was out of the equation due to long lines.

I'll make an aside hear to point out that the construction on The Boardwalk is moving at an extremely rapid pace. A large majority of the water play structure is already up and they were installing more pieces while we were there. It's extremely colorful, which looks odd with Lightning Racer in the background. Somehow for me, the two don't work together. The whole concept of Midway America was to go back in time, back to simpler color pallets and The Boardwalk looks like it's moving into the future with its bright greens, oranges, and the lone 1/2-completed dark purple slide. I'm sure it'll be great once it all goes together, but I kind of feel that they're kind of wrecking the look of a once-great area.

So after changing and dealing with getting change for the lockers, since the change machine was broken, we got in line for RS, which has never been a high-capacity ride. Today it was an all-out-war on the RS. While waiting near the end of the ramp, several people got us pretty darn good with their tanks of water. There were also several annoying kids who were turning their water guns back towards those of us waiting in line. They will pay dearly for it.

While waiting for our turn on the uncovered section of the queue we noticed a bizarre ritual–tractor-trailer drivers would drive by and blow their horns at those of us waiting in line. It's a nice gesture, but I hope nobody who lives in the houses across the street works a nightshift:) They'd never get any sleep! After waiting almost an hour, we finally got our turn, and our strategy was not to release our tanks until the last turn where the annoying kids where, and the people in the queue. Cindy and I rode backwards in car 2, and gowithgravity and Brian rode forwards in car 3. We followed through with our plans, and satisfaction was ours! You know what they say about payback. We also decided to play around in the water toys and geysers area after our ride.

We all dried out pretty quickly in the sun, and headed to Tidal Force. One thing that cracks me up is that so many people only read part of the entrance sign which says the wait is and hour-and-thirty minutes. They always miss the next part which says 'If queue if full.' So a lot of people assume that the wait is that long and continue on. We only waited twenty-minutes. I still get pretty freaked-out by shoot-the-chutes this tall. I think this is somewhat worse since it doesn't have the sheds at the top like the Arrows. You make that turnaround, drop, and everyone is thinking the same thing–Oh, crap! The wave hits and it's total annihilation.

Changing back into dry clothes, we originally decided to just carry our backpacks with us since they only contained our swimgear. It wouldn't be a huge loss if someone stole it. There was only one problem for me–I started to experience some lower back pain after getting off of RS. Whether or not it was trigger by RS, I don't know, but I was getting the feeling that I'd have to dump the bag somewhere. We went to Lightning Racer next, which actually had a pretty long line in comparison to an average day and rode Thunder, and we won. Now whether that was because the other train had a lot of kids in it was the reason, I don't know. Cindy liked it and I taught her the trick to keep the stupid MF lapbars off of your lap.

We next headed up the hill to the Wild Mouse and the line wasn't too bad, but my sister who isn't an enthusiast in the least bit (but knows when something isn't right) was complaining about the high percentage of cars that only had two people in them. I would say it was at least 80% or more. The constantly moving station can be a good thing, but due to the lack of space, if gives them no room to pair people up, and there goes your capacity into the dumper. Would could be a five-minute wait, become a fifteen minute or more wait. It did run brakeless this time, as opposed to last year. Cindy thought is was painful though. I still like it a lot. After getting off of WM, we got in the line for Wildcat, where I figured out that a) the line was too long (it was back by the photo-booth and b) there'd be no way for me to hold my bladder that long so up the hill we went to find a bathroom. I also decided that I couldn't carry my backpack anymore and dumped it off at the lockers below the Western Chute-Out.

This way, we'd have to come back to Midway America to retrieve my bag and hopefully ride Wildcat with a smaller line. Before we went to Storm Runner, we decided to get something to eat. We all decided that we'd skip Sidewinder today. We got lunch at Subway and I got us a prime viewing location for SR where it goes up into the tophat. After eating, I needed to use the bathroom again, and it was then that I realized just how poorly layed-out the park is, and in some ways poorly designed. You have an outdoor food-court with multiple vendors, but yet there isn't a single close bathroom. I had to walk all the way back past The Claw to get to a bathroom, except it's no longer a straight shot. My only other option would've been to walk all the way down the hill by Trailblazer, and I wasn't into hiking at this point.

So after a relaxing lunch, we queued-up for SR, and we wound up waiting in the full maze. Gowithgravity hates waiting in mazes he explains because there's never a change of scenery. He'd much prefer waiting in a linear line where you have some idea of your progress. I can see his point after you've passed the same fence for the fifth or more times. The line moved pretty well, but it would've probably been much faster had they not been running it the way they were. The other train had to come back into the station before the other train went out. I read one member's reasoning for that when it was 100 degrees last week, but it was only 85 degrees today.

It was still a fun ride, but if felt as though the tophat was a bit sluggish, but maybe I'm having selective memory or it was running like it was in the morning. Cindy apologized for hitting her head against my shoulder I think twice. Funny, I don't even remember that! She thought the ride was a little bit rough and she asked at the end "That was it?":) We rode in the second row, so I'm a little bit scared to think what she would've thought had we rode near the back.

We talked about doing Trailblazer on our way to Great Bear and thought "No way, it will have an unbelievable line on a day like today" since HP has no kiddie coaster. Well, surprise, surprise, as Gomer Pyle would say. The line wasn't that bad. We rode separate trains, and on the train Cindy and I rode, these teenagers kept grabbing onto branches and leaves going around some of the turns. One of them hit an older man in front of us, and he got pretty angry. I don't blame him. Next up is where I lost a lot of respect for HP.

After getting off of TB, I realized that I needed to make a 'deposit' that couldn't wait until we got off of GB, so it was convenient that there were bathrooms over by Freeman's BBQ. I get in there and both stalls are occupied. I'm waiting and waiting and a little kid from one of the many camps there comes in and he too needs to make a deposit. He wound up striking-up a conversation with me, which was relieving (pun intended?) my thoughts of what I needed to do. He's telling me that he rode his first real roller coaster today (Comet) and am I having fun? blah, blah, blah... Meanwhile, fumes are starting to come out of my ears as I'm realizing that I'm not going to get a stall anytime soon. I've got three people waiting up at Great Bear for me, and we're all losing valuable time.

Finally, I left and power-walked up the steep hill to my next bathroom location near Great Bear behind the Chineese restaurant. I walk in and there are at least 5 or 6 guys waiting for two stalls. And now I'm really pissed and I left again. I check in with my crew and told them what was going on. I stoppe in at the Minetown Restaurant thinking "It's a nice big building, they've got to have bathrooms--wrong. The guy tells me to go back to the lcoation behind the Chineese restaurant, and I'm about to explode. I find a manager guy and I told him what's going on, and he mentions the bathrooms down by SDL, and I gave him a piece of my mind to which he said there was nothing he could do. After more power-walking around the steep hills of HP, I make it down there and finally got to take care of business. I sat down and almost passed out from dehydration. I then power-walked back up towards GB and reconvened with my crew. All told, that was a good twenty-minutes or more wasted. After last year when I promised I would never run or forcefully walk around HP again because I know it'll hurt the next day and beyond, here I go again.

This my friends brings us to I-Fan editorial #1: I understand that the manager guy is only doing his job, but I thought his reply was extremely poor. An "I'll pass that comment onto upper management" response would've been much better in my opinion. HP has been wedging in some rides like GB and SR and that's great, but, if it brings a lot more people through your doors and you don't have the infrastructure to support those people, then you've got problems on your hands. By nature, I think a lot of engineers don't plan bathrooms well enough. They're like "Ah, we'll just throw in a bunch of urinals and one or two stalls. That should work." Except that it doesn't. A lot of us have ragged on SFA about the Superman/Batwing situation in Gotham City. I think HP is actually much worse in that regard. There are several areas where you've got multiple rides and food stands/restaurants that are supposed to be supported by one bathroom with limited facilities. It just doesn't make sense. And now back to the TR.

Great Bear was somewhat busy, but we were on in about twenty-minutes. We sat in the second row and I thought it absolutely rocked. There's definitely something to the older B&Ms. We went to Super Dooper Looper and it actually had a wait of about four trains. Wouldn't you know it, once we sat down and the train was locked, the lapbars came back up, and the guy makes the technical difficulties announcement. Oh well. We would've left for Knoebels right there and then, but I still had to get my backpack. We passed Comet and the line was fairly long and it was that decision of Phoenix vs. Comet and we knew what we had to do. On a normal day getting back to the locker would've been easy, but their were strollers everywhere. And not just the single kind. Oh no, most of the people had the double-wides. The midway was extremely congested. After retrieving my bag, we were off towards I-81N. There will be no Chocolate World factory tour today.

Knoebels
We made it to Knoebels in about an hour-and-a-half, and luckily there was no traffic or construction. Oh crap, it's really busy. We wound up parking out in section 10. We all knew we would be really tight on time as we didn't get into the park until 8:40pm or so. Since I was just there last year, I had a really good memory of where things were, even though it was rather dark outside–even with the full moon. So we found the Haunted Mansion easily. Gowithgravity and I sat our passengers on the left side:) Coming off the ride, I asked my sister what she thought of it, and she didn't find it scary, except for one well-known gag. It kind of shifted my perspective on the ride as well. Maybe it's from over-riding, but I just didn't think it was all that great. We headed over to Phoenix and were greeted by an ugly sight–a packed station with one-train operation. Ouch:(

And now for an I-Fan editorial #2: It's a $7 bargain night, which does not include Phoenix (nor Twister, Fandango and the Scenic chair lift thing), so why would you run one train? Wouldn't you want people to get through the queue faster so they can go back and buy more tickets to ride again? What kind of business operator throws money out the window like that (besides Six Flags). I asked the lady at the ticket booth for Phoenix where we were supposed to get the $7 bargain night tickets and she mentions the normal ticket windows, which were all closed. She said they might have closed at 8pm. I see no one being there at 9-9:30pm, but before 9?

Back to Phoenix. We rode near the front and Cindy couldn't believe how dark it was in the tunnel. Things started out pretty well for her, but I think she found it somewhat rough. She told me she braced her feet under the seat in front of us to keep from moving around so much, which is next to impossible. I don't think she knew what to do with all the airtime, which from a non-enthusiast could be seen as excessive. We talked about what we were all doing next and gowithgravity and Brian went to Twister, while I took Cindy on Fandango. Cindy and I bought $9 worth of tickets a piece. Damn it, we missed getting on the cycle by two people! In the meantime we had the extremely nerve-racking experience of having the ring swing right overtop of our heads. Cindy definitely was not digging it, and while I wasn't saying it, I agreed. I was so happy to get back on this beast of a flatride. The restraints didn't feel as hard as they did last year. Man, does Fandango rock. I asked Cindy–Fandango or the Claw? It was no competition, Fandango.

We then walked over to Twister, which was $2.20 a ride. Even though it was quite dark, I could still make out some of the Flying Turns. It looks pretty good so far. So we get to Twister and gee, wouldn't you know it, the station is packed and they're only running one train. This is beginning to suck. I spot gowithgravity and Brian a few rows ahead of us, and I'm thinking "what happened?" Finally aboard, my sister says after the piece of track after the first lift "So that's why they it call it Twister." I'm pretty sure she liked it better than Phoenix, although the word 'brutal' was still thrown around. I'll have to concur that tonight was not one of the better Twister rides I've had.

I really wanted to get Cindy on the Power Surge, and so we power-walked over to the ride, which luckily is a direct line. We made it on the last ride of the night. It was still a cool ride for me, but, it seemed a little bit slower than the Reithoffer Shows version. We walked over to Hi-Speed Thrill Coaster to see if gowithgravity and Brian were over there, and we just missed the last cycle, which was rounding the course. With no gowithgravity or Brian, we met back at our meeting location and found out that they never made it aboard. Bummer for them. So it was five rides for my team to their three. The remaining ride tickets Cindy and I bought don't expire, so they'll be put to good use another time. I don't know if she'll make it back, but I can always use them all.

Summary: I thought we had a really good time at both HP and Knoebels, but I do think we were too ambitious in our plans. We all got along great and had a lot of laughs and fun. One of my favorite jokes of the day was when Cindy said that the characters on Roller Soaker looked like they were going to the bathroom when the tanks were being refilled. I then pointed out that the one character was wearing an unbuttoned raincoat. Yes, I am sick.:) Would we visit in August again at HP? Probably not. So much got left out. While I fully support HP's right to add a waterpark, I can also envision the park being completely overwhelmed in a year or two by too many people. It did look they've added a building that could be the bathhouse, so hopefully they'll have a lot more toilets and stalls in there. There were a few line-jumpers (the push-through types) as well, something I'm not accustomed to at HP. I also found it odd that HP has no non-smoking policy.

We obviously needed more time at Knoebels, but I think we would've gotten some more accomplished had they been running more than one train on Phoenix and Twister. *** Edited 8/11/2006 6:16:59 AM UTC by Intamin Fan***

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Friday, August 11, 2006 3:49 AM
Nice TR I-Fan:

Hershey Park has probably been the one park I have wanted to get out to for several years now. The 12 hour drive always overcomes the urge though.

The bathroom situation had to have sucked. What I like about SFGAm, is that a restroom is located everywhere in the park and every one of them has about 7 or 8 stalls (except the restroom outside the gates and the kids area)

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Friday, August 11, 2006 8:11 AM
Quality TR I-Fan.

Yes I have notice the bathroom issue at HP also. I was near that food court and had the same problem and walked down to Canyon River Rapids to find a bathroom.

A lot of GP says the same thing when SR ends "That was it?" To which my reply is "Try Kingda Ka and then tell me that about Storm Runner" with a laugh.

As for Claw vs Fandango, I will go further(listing a ride of the type since I don't know all the exact makers and models) MaxAir (CP), Fandango (Knoebels), Claw (HP), Tomahawk (SFNE).

Ambitious is definitely the word I would use for HP and Knoebels in the same day. I know they are close but I love each park too much to cut my time in either.

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Friday, August 11, 2006 9:11 AM
Why would a big park like Hershey be so short on comfort facilities. Nothing gets you more p**sed off than to have to do #1 or a #2 and then have to wait for what seems forever.

I remember Sea World of Ohio in the past and that was the only thing I could see there that left something to be desired. This was especially bad when 1000 people would leave a show area at the end of a show and they all wanted to go to the john.

Toilets aren't the most expensive thing to put in and if a park can spend $20 million for a big coaster, they can spend a fraction of that to make sure that the guests are comfortable when nature calls.

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Friday, August 11, 2006 10:10 AM
Hey--I haven't heard from you in a while! I just hit Hersheypakr exactly a week before you, and the crowds were definitely lighter, though it was much hotter. All the coasters has fairly short lines except RS & Comet (earlier on).

Hershey does seem to be short on bathroom fixtures in certain areas (mainly the older areas, as 1 or 2 of the bathrooms out near Midway America are decently-sized). This mainly seems like an issue on a crowded day. On the other hand, Hersheypark seems to have the cleanest bathrooms of any amusement park in the mid-Atlantic--even better than BGE.

Overall, though, Hershey still has better operations than Six Flags. And SFA's bathroom situation isn't great, either. Some of the bathrooms that they DO have aren't extremely large.

As for Fandango vs. Claw, to me personally, Fandango gives a fun ride, but Claw looks better, is more comfortable, and doesn't seem "cheap" like Fandango. Fandango would actually make noise and move some (the support) during the ride. Also, those automatic OSTRs were UNCOMFORTABLE! I did NOT like them much at all. The ones on the Claw are even better (in terms of comfort) than the Huss ones on MaxAir and Delirium, which, in turn, are more comfortable than Fandango.

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Friday, August 11, 2006 10:20 AM
I don't think its the support that moves on Fandango as much as it is the "Light Tube" (silver casing that Sidewinder doesn't have). Did they ever fix the rattling sign this year?
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Friday, August 11, 2006 10:31 AM
Chitown, that's exactly what I loved about SFGAM. There were toilets everywhere and plenty of stalls. So now I have it confirmed that I wasn't imagining that back in June. I also think Dorney does a really good job in that aspect. Thanks for the compliments on the TR as well everyone (so far). Reading it fresh this morning, I see I have a few minor typos to fix.

The walking around wouldn't have bothered me so bad except that Hershey is really not set-up for anyone to walk around at a rapid pace due to extremely steep sections. My right ankle hurts--which felt real good on the drive to work the last two days--and my glutes have been sore too. The people I feel bad for though is the overweight, (and there were plenty of those people there) the elderly, and people with kids as there's no way to get around some of the sections.

If we do the trip again, we'll have to go when it's not "guilt season"--a time when parents and kids are all too aware that they are running out of time before school starts up again.

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Friday, August 11, 2006 11:51 AM
I know this toipic is going to get made fun of...
It seems some places have "downsized" on toilet stalls for men, especially with the newer ADA and "Potty Parity" laws. For example, when you could put two stalls in a men's room, you have to do just one for handicapped purposes. Later on, came the potty parity laws, saying that women have to have a greater than or equal to number of fixtures. Some places, rather than just spending more putting in more fixtures to accomodate the men, end up leaving the guys "short-changed" to cut costs. In other cases there's 10 urinals but only 2 stalls.

Several parks are more BM-friendly, like SFGAM, KI, KD, GL. Has anyone seen the BGE Festhaus? Others, like HP and even Holiday World, not always quite so. I hate to call out one of the parks we love, but even they have their "shortcomings." Some Cedar Point bathrooms, especially the one between Dragster and Magnum, are inadequate to men.

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Friday, August 11, 2006 1:23 PM
I never had any problem finding a restroom at Hershey and I tend to go quite often. Some of them seemed to be tucked back behind things and such but reading is fundimental :)

Knoebels tends to only run one train on each coaster durring POP days, On the weekend when people can only ride by tickets they use both.

Chuck

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Friday, August 11, 2006 6:30 PM
But that's the thing Charles, Bargain Nite isn't like a normal day where you can buy the wood coaster option. Since Phonenix and Twister are not part of the bargain they should run more than one train so they can make more money. Again, to me it's simple economics. The more people you can cycle through, the more $1.40 and $2.20 per ride tickets you're putting in your pocket.

I didn't say I had a problem finding a bathroom at HP either. I'm a vetran, so I know where they all are:) It's that they're not close together, except for the mini bathroom underneath of Western Chute-Out, which is more of a changing area, and the "real" bathroom up from it. Otherwise, the bathrooms are very spread out.

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Friday, August 11, 2006 10:53 PM
About the Peanut Butter in the Reese's, when they were giving out Take 5 last year at the Chocolate Tour Ride, if you told them you had a peanut allergy or did not like peanuts, you could still get a regular Hershey bar. You had to know to ask for it though. Maybe it's the same case with the new ride?
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Saturday, August 12, 2006 2:26 AM
IF, certainly a "different" TR. Guess "irregular" wouldn't be the right word.

I was at Knoebels two Fridays in a row, both Bargain Nites, and Phoenix was running two trains both times. Maybe on Wednesdays they don't. Most of the people who show up for Bargain nights aren't there for the coasters anyway. They head mostly to the flats and kiddie rides.

They also offer a sundown plan from 5-10 on Fridays (don't know about Wednesdays) that has the option of wood coasters or not. By the time you got there, IF, the handstamp windows would have been closed. So I don't know who the people in line for the coasters would have been, but probably not bargain niters.

BTW, how long was your wait for Phoenix with the one train operation and a full station?

Re: The Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge. Put me in the common sense camp on this one. It's pretty obvious all throughout the queue, the ride, etc., that peanut butter is involved. Reese's... "cup"... etc.

What they hand you at the end of the ride is clearly labeled as a "peanut butter" cup. Someone who might have an allergy to peanuts should simply not accept the candy. If Junior feels left out because he doesn't get candy and everyone else does, there are dozens of other non-peanutty varieties of candy sold in numerous locations throughout the park.

So I don't buy the potential lawsuit issue here. Either from the "my child or I was given a food product he's allergic to" or the "my child's self esteem was lowered because he felt excluded" issues. If a parent has any qualms about it, they should probably not let their child ride at all.

On the restroom issue, I had a different but similar problem with my niece last week in the park-- trying to find a food stand that sold a "normal-sized" hotdog. That took us from the Sidewinder food court all the way down to founder's circle and back again.

Sounds like you still had a fun time despite the problems. You drove back to MD that same night? That's a really long day!

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Saturday, August 12, 2006 10:19 PM
I'm not saying that it's not a common sense thing with the peanuts, I'm just saying that an accident could potentiallly happen if the kid wasn't supervised. Just from reading the article in People Magazine, I remember a kid got handed a p&J sandwich and the kid didn't know and I believe he died. From the mobs of camps which were there (one camp easily had 200 or more kids there as we exited), that's a lot of kids to keep an eye on.

Moving onto Knoebels, I'd say we waited around 20 minutes or so for Phoenix. We got lucky at both Phoenix and Twister with people who were trying to ride all together and would let us ahead of them. We went with the "shortest line wins" rule and the second row was actually pretty short. I'd say that the bulk of the people there that night were college-aged. After we left Knoebels, we stopped at the Sheetz down the road. We all got food and I handed the keys over to gowithgravity for the ride home, while Brian (who had come off a nightshift with no sleep) and Cindy slept most of the way.

You think that was a long day? Gowithgravity and I drove to Kennywood and back one day in 03'. Gwg figured out on our week-long midwestern trip that we were putting in an average of six hours a day of driving. The worst day was when we left Maryland for Waukegan, IL and did all the driving in one night. We left at 2pm and arrived at 2:30am Central time. Our feet never touched the ground in Ohio! As crazy as it sounds, that's how we rolled!

p.s. We got normal-size hotdogs at HP in front of the giftshop by the Wild Mouse.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006 2:25 AM
People with peanut allergies have to be overly cautious. I remember reading about a 15 year old girl who just kissed her boyfriend and was admitted to the hospital not to long later.

Turns out the boyfriend ate something with peanuts in it. They had no idea something like that would trigger a reaction.

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