“Dude, we have the record!”
This is going to be a strange trip report for me. Usually the trip reports I write have mention of at least one coaster. After all, this is a coaster site. For those that know any bit of history involving coasters may remember that roller coasters came from Russia and their historic ice slides. Some folks think the ideas for coasters started with the ancient side-friction coasters or gentle scenic railways. Anyway you look at it; the roots of coasters can be traced back to Russia.
Where am I going with this?
First off, the off season in Ohio has positively sucked for me so far. I usually have a couple of trips completed to California, Vegas, or Florida by this time each year. This isn’t the case for 2005. I haven’t ridden a coaster since November.
“GASP! NOOOOO!! OH! THE HORROR OF IT ALL!!!!”
Normally I wouldn’t even blink an eye if I hadn’t ridden anything in a few months but I am really looking forward to this upcoming season for more reasons than just to ride a coaster. The winter in Ohio has been very mixed. One day we will have temps in the 60’s, while later that day it will be 20 and snowing hard.
A month or so ago I was chatting with friend Kristen DeJonge. She suggested we got a group together and do something in April, but that seemed so long away. She then had a better idea which involved coasting of some sort. Soon, plans were made to meet up on the 20th and to have some winter fun while doing something very similar to what the Russian’s were doing back in the day.
At first I thought she meant we were to just go sledding down a hill. Actually, that’s not far from what happens when you tobogganing, but up in the Cleveland area, it’s done a bit different than what I was thinking. I also had visions of the group of us going down a gradual alpine slide of sorts. I was up for anything, especially something that resembled a coaster in the smallest way.
The week before the trip up to Cleveland, things weren’t set in stone. I still wasn’t totally sure I would be able to go. There were others I know that would have loved to go but work prevailed. Brad Sherman (Arrowguy) decided to ride up to Cleveland from Columbus with me. Brad had done tobogganing before so he knew what to expect. I still had no true idea, but that was about to change soon.
Brad and I left Columbus at 10:00AM and made our way up I-71 before exiting off (301?) and taking some country roads until we arrived at Kristen’s pad right before noon. I was very impressed with how far she lives out in the sticks. It seemed like a much laid back place to live. Brad and I were greeted by Kristen, her boyfriend Jeff Paratrooper…or Pistachio….or whatever, Tim (vacoasterfreak), and Kristen’s folks. We sat around and had a good time chatting before Rob (HeyIsn’tThatRob?) Willi, and girlfriend Cindy showed up. Within a couple of minutes, and quick glance at a funny television program with a mug tie in (don’t ask), we made our way outside so we could see Kristen’s horse. Living in a city, I don’t get to see many horses, much less pet one, unless I am at the Ohio State Fair or something.
The weather was pretty gloomy looking but the supposed snow storm that was to hit the area looked like it was going to hold off. Brad and I hopped into my car and followed the rest of the gang to our destination. On the way I received a rather disturbing phone call from a female impersonator (once again. don’t ask). This made part of the drive go by fairly quickly.
On the way, it started snowing pretty heavily. We actually wanted some snow as I was told it could help us move faster once we were tobogganing. After some brief searching, we found the place where the fun was about to begin. I also got a call from friend Jonathan Hymes who was waiting for us with fiancée Janice. It looked like we were going to have a great group of people this day. As we pulled up to find a parking place, we could tell there were many other groups of people with a similar agenda. This was also my first glance at what we were about to do. This was no mild alpine slide. This was two 1,000 foot lanes, with an angle of decent that looked to be between 40 and 45 degrees. This was about as close to riding an outdoor coaster in the off season as we were going to get.
====The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation===
As we walked up to The Chalet, it started to really snow hard. We purchased an $8 all-you-can-ride ticket and soon went into a shed to pick up our toboggans. Each toboggan is designed to hold up to 4 people. The only catch to the whole thing is riders have to carry their large sleds up to the top of the hill. There are hand grips on the side to help with the long journey to the top but luckily there was a pretty healthy line so we were able to set the sleds down for a few moments.
Judging by the look of the drop and the length of the run-out, it looked like we could pick up some serious speed on this thing. Jonathan, Janice, and I would be going first. Once it was our turn, we lifted up the sled onto the track and hopped on. We were given a few instructions and how to sit and where to put our hands. Because of the strange riding position, everyone leans back while holding onto some ropes with palms out. It didn’t feel safe but it was the safest way to ride.
Once we were let go, we went over the top of the drop and continued to zoom down while picking up some nice speed. The sensation while going down the drop reminded me of a large log flume drop. I don’t know the stats of the drop but I it looked like the drop could have easily been around 70 feet or so. The toboggan sits in a concrete trough of sorts and is refrigerated so we had no problem making it all the way to the end of the course…..and then some. Even with some nicely placed skid trims, we made it about 50 feet or so past the end of the course. The group behind us went even further.
This was indeed a nice rush. Once everyone was finished, we decided to hike up the stairs and give it another try. This time we mixed everyone around. Tim, Jonathan, Jeff, and I would all be on one sled. I was to sit up front this time. We tried to have the heaviest sled out of the group. Our efforts paid off as we flew down that drop much faster than our first rides and continued to speed all the way to the end. Once again, we flew past the end and stopped even further away. Since the snow hadn’t let up, I couldn’t see where we were going as it felt like I was riding a coaster in a downpour.
After everyone made it down to the bottom, we decided to leave the park and head over to a nearby mall and grab a quick bite to eat. The snow continued to come down in heavy flakes. Once inside the mall, we went to a food court and had lunch. Kristen mentioned there was an arcade with two DDR machines. We headed to the arcade next.
Jeff and I played a game of DDR as Kristen and Jonathan laughed. The pad we were playing on looked like it was ready to fall apart. It was bending and making loud sounds even though we weren’t exactly hitting it hard. One game was enough for me so I watched as Kristen and Jeff played. Brad walked over and told me to check out who was playing the other DDR machine on the other side of the room.
I walked over and was surprised to see a very small kid playing DDR in standard mode and hitting every arrow correctly. He was only a couple inches taller than the grab bars that stand in the back of the pads. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. He was a great player and obviously knew the game very well. His mother was standing next to us and told us he has been playing since he was the age of 4. He didn’t know how to read anything when he started playing, but he sure knew how to play the game. He is only 7 now. We continued to watch as Kristen and Jeff finished up their game. Rob and Cindy wanted to play a game as well but we knew if we were to wait any longer, we wouldn’t be able to get in another ride at The Chalet before the 6:00pm closing.
Rob and Cindy decided to stay while the rest of us headed back over to the park. The snowfall was rapidly changing over to a rain and ice mixture. By the time we reached the park and grabbed a couple of sleds, the conditions were perfect for this type of activity. The line had gotten much shorter so that meant we had to walk further before taking a break. This wasn’t a problem though as we knew our rides were going to be great.
Jonathan, Janice, Brad, and I rode together this time. As with the other two rides we took, the position we rode in didn’t feel correct for some reason, but it was the safest way to go. Once we were let go from the top of the drop, we slid down faster than we did before. The falling rain and ice made provided us with very little friction so we continued to fly down the run-out with no signs of slowing down. Once again, we flew past the end, and kept going, and going. You could see the marks of other people that have gotten pretty far, but we flew past those marks. By the time we came to a stop, we had gone a full 100 feet or so past the official end. We had just broken the distance record for the day. There is no doubt it was because of the awesome icy conditions. Had we gone just a few feet more, we would have gone down into a large ditch.
Tim, Kristen, and Jeff headed down their lane with great speed as well. They also flew past the end of the lane but something happened. Their sled started to turn slightly and they headed straight for some big trees. Everyone stuck out their legs to stop but the sled kept on going. By the time they stopped, they were just a few inches away from slamming into a tree. It was quite humorous to see them all freak out a bit as they didn’t know what was happening.
Just as we were heading back to take in another ride, we saw a group of people flying past us. They continued to slide past the marks that we had just made and went flying down into the ditch. It was at that moment that the lanes were closed for the day. We could have easily gotten another ride but if the conditions were a little too unsafe, then I don’t blame the park for closing the chutes. We were more than happy with our last ride.
Brad and I were just about ready to leave to go back to Columbus before Jeff came up with an idea to hang out at his place for a few before we headed back to Columbus. Brad, nor I, had to be back in Columbus anytime soon but we told Jeff we would have to pass on his offer. That didn’t set well with Mr. Skydive so he bribed us. It worked as Brad and I were soon heading south on I-71 heading to Jeff’s.
The road conditions had gotten worse since we were last out on the road. Everyone was driving on the Interstate around 45mph, and for good reason. We ended up seeing the remains of a pretty nasty accident where it appeared a car lost control and rolled over a time or two.
Before we knew it, we were at Jeff’s apartment complex. As we walked into the apartment, Kristen was very quick at pointing out Jeff’s amazing transparent furniture. Jeff must have not wanted us to sit on the new furniture as we ended up all crashing down on the floor. Supposedly he has some new furniture coming in April.
Jeff, Kristen, Tim, Brad, and I just sat around and talked for quite a bit. Jeff showed us his parachute and explained in great detail how it worked. He deployed it for us and then showed us his style of packing the canopy back up. Cindy and Rob showed up a few minutes later and we spent some strange time in Jeff’s office looking at armpit hair and eating Skittles while getting a kick out of Brad being super excited about some large Lego he found.
We must have stayed for an hour or two before Brad and I agreed we better be getting back to the capital city. Jeff gave us a couple of nice parting gifts as well as taking a group picture before we said goodbye to everyone and headed out.
For being such a totally random trip, it ended up being great fun. While we couldn’t ride any coasters this day, we did the next best thing. You can bet I will return to the area next year to have another fun day. For those of you that are not familiar with the place, click on the link below to find out more information. There isn’t a ton of info or pictures about the chutes themselves but you honestly don’t need to know much about them. Just grab a group of friends and head on over (weather permitting) as I am sure you will have a fantastic time as the rest of us did.
That’s all for now.
Thanks for reading,
Every thing Sean said about the tobogganing was true -- who cares if it's not a coaster, just grab some good friends and have fun! (Just try to avoid slamming into the trees.)
'Coming in September... April Showers!'
Another cool chute is in Bear Creek Canton Ohio. While not as steep as Strongsville's it does get A LOT more speed! And they have very old busses to take you back to the top. Glad everyone had fun.
Oh and for everyone else who wants to go...make sure you have a good pair of gloves. You have to have them, and if you have cheap ones, the track will rip the skin of you knuckles off...seriously. Deffinetly recommend this to anyone who is going through coaster withdrawl!
As for the tobogganning trip...I was scared, I cried and screamed like a little girl. Actually I had fun, thanks for making the trek up north Sean and Brad!
I did somthing similar to that about 10 years ago or longer outside of Willamsport, PA at a place called Eagles Mere. The only problem with that place is they had to build the track each year. They cut blocks of ice out of a lake and stacked them up a hill. They would only do it if it was below freezing for several weeks so it all would depend on the weather. I know we hauled ass down that track when we were there.
Here's a LINK to their site with video!
"Unfortunately the weather and Ice conditions were not well enough to be able to Build the Eagles Mere Ice Toboggan Slide."
For some reason that quote from the website made me laugh. The POV video on that site provides a rather strange illusion. At least for me it did. It kind of looks like the sled is slowly launched instead of coasting down a hill because you can't see the bottom of the drop. Just remember to turn your speakers down. If Kristen, Jeff, and Tim were to ride that, they would end up in that small lake.
Oh yes. I remember you guys telling us that someone ran into the statue celebrating the life of Arrowguy!
Oh, and Jeff. I know for a fact Kristen has running water out there as she gave us an amazing demonstration of how strong the suction in her toilet is.
How many golf balls will it suck?
The other Jeff,
You know what they say about April showers and what they bring. Just be careful.
It was great hanging out with you. Hopefully you got back to the airport.
Thanks for the info. Perhaps a trip to that place is in store for next year?
You are correct. We can have just as much fun in our off season. Who needs the sun and those stinkin' palm trees anyway?
(quoted from SAW) "This is the most fun I have had without lubricent."
What an awesome day.....thanks guys! Was great to break away from winter (and my projects) for a change. I highly recommend this place to anyone needing an off-season coaster fix (and a bit of history). :D
We're going to have lubricant next time!!!
Fun TR, I *love* that part about winter - tobagganing! Good to hear everyone up in the cold, icy, miserable Ohio is doing well.
Joe "yes, I copy/pasted your TR to a word processor to see how many words it had....I'm a dork!" C.
Sounds like you guys had a BLAST! Great TR, Sean!
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