From Olympia, Washington, I chose to take the beater car (because despite how crappy the paint is, it gets over twice the mpg as my other toy in the driveway and it seats an additional person), to Coer d’Alene, Idaho. My kids, who are well on their way to being official coaster junkies, had started the new school season earlier this month. I wanted to get as early of a start as possible on Friday. The best way to save time was to pick them up at school as soon as classes were out. I waited in the high school parking lot for the last bell of the day, a signal that their weekend had started. After a few minutes, everyone was in the car and we left the parking lot before the school busses did.
A side note, as I type this I recall that MY parents never picked ME up at school to take ME to a coaster event. I hope my kids appreciate how cool their dad is!
We have a family friend, a gal named Brandi, which I decided to purchase a ticket for. Brandi’s only other theme park and coaster experiences had been at Enchanted Village. There was no doubt that her upcoming time spent at Silverwood, a really terrific park, was soon to give her an experience that she would remember for a lifetime. Still, we had yet to get us, and her, to the park. Brandi attends a different local high school, close to a Safeway with a gas station. We arranged to have her walk over to Safeway’s (a local grocery store) additional gas station, and wait for us to arrive.
We pulled up to a pump, Brandi saw us, came over and she threw her gear into the crappy beater car as it guzzled petrol. With a full tank of today’s expensive gasoline, a beater car, stuffed full of people crap, the journey began. From the Olympia area, it is a little over 350 miles to Coer d’Alene. The weather was good and the traffic was fairly light for a weekend. It took just about 7 hours to make it to the Coer d’Alene where we were early enough to find a hotel despite not having made reservations (I admit, I was lazy! (besides it is sort of a tradition that I “NOT” book a hotel, and have to scramble at the last moment to find a place to crash other than the seats we were already in!) ).
We ended up staying at the AmerTel Inn. This hotel has many nice extras that budget hotels don’t have. They also have a respectable breakfast setup. It is self-serve, this being a bonus because it doesn’t take much time out of the morning just to grab some grub. If this isn’t enough, there is a Shari’s restaurant conveniently located in the same parking lot. An advertisement in the hotel indicated that room service from Shari’s was available. For us, the hotel’s simple breakfast was enough to fuel us for the first part of the day.
The drive from the hotel to the park is about 20 miles, taking about 30 minutes. This fall, the traffic was light and traffic wasn’t a problem. In the summer, this short drive can easily take twice as long. There are some sights along the way that I will never forget. For example, on the right side there is a junk yard with cars strung along the top of the outside wall. This year there was VW bug with a bit “53” on the door, and my kids mentioned that was “Herbies’” number. Further north, the land on both sides of Hwy95 is mostly untouched by those that make strip malls, and gives some sense of how the land used to look. With the many trees, and curve of the Hwy, Timber Terror, displaying the large letters spelling “Silverwood”, appears suddenly on the left. If the trees were not in the way, this coaster could probably be seen for miles.
Parking cost $3 for the day (and CAC ERT!). There is a pedestrian tunnel under Hwy 95 that park goers use to get from the parking lot to the park. The entrance to the tunnel is not next to the first few rows, but instead, a few rows back. Parking the car in a space near this tunnel makes for a shorter walk.
The CAC table was setup to the left of the parks Guest Services building. Matthew (Moosh) and Dave (??Nitro Dave?? (I’m braindead)) were behind the table as we walked up. Dave saw me and immediately guessed who I was (though I can’t imagine it was terribly difficult to figure out since I did have four teenagers following close behind me).
The start to this great event was a nice additional bonus; CAC members got a “walk-back” to coaster alley. We were able to get a few rides on both woodies before the GP made it back to that area of the park. While the early rides were not great, I was excited when talking about the coasters. I had hopes for great rides later on. Last year, the early rides were quite a bit more sluggish.
My mind is a little numb from all the rides I eventually racked up.
I the first ride on Timber Terror. TT was sluggish, but still a ton of fun on the first outbound section. After exiting, and running back to ride TT twice, I went over to Tremors and got a ride that was about the train’s 9th lap. I ran around the station, back to the entrance and got a ride that was about the 12th lap. I was enthusiastic because both coasters were getting noticeably faster with each lap. The temperature was still cool, and the sun wasn’t up yet. My excitement might have seemed a little weird, but I was mentally comparing how good the morning rides were in comparison to other years. I told Moosh that Tremors was getting better with every lap. I’m certain he wasn’t impressed, despite my excitement.
In truth, the early rides on Tremors were not impressive at all. The first half the ride was pretty good, and the tunnels are great fun. But, after the midcourse helix to the right, all speed was scrubbed off and it just limped back through the last two tunnels and back to the station. The final brake run wasn’t even needed as the train was going slow enough to be safe to continue to roll into the station. I think this is the ride Moosh first experienced on Tremors.
After these first dozen laps, the general public started to show up and I figured we would give them, and the rising sun, the time they needed to warm up the wooden coasters for our ERT later.
We moved from coaster alley to the log flume. This is a just a neat, but short flume. I grew up with Knott’s flume in my backyard, and I am biased. Next up were the bumper boats. I hate the current boats. The old boats were gas powered, and lacked the electric squirter. While riding, I bumped into a small kid, who decided not to disengage the squirter after I bumped him. I even tried to leave him alone one more time. However, I guess he didn’t like something about me. He was soaking me with the squirter. I called in the troops, my son and step son, and the kid ended up leaving the boats totally saturated while I was only mostly totally soggy. Yea, there is a difference….!!!
We then hit the flat rides on that edge of the park. After the flats, I had a single ride on Corckscrew this year. OUCH!!! OUCH!!! and YEOUCH!!! I normally enjoy the one or two bumps, and pride myself on all the great laps I have had on this coaster. Well, this year, my ride wasn’t so good. I hope the park can bring this coaster back to the way I remember riding it in the past.
I made the MAJOR mistake of taking a lap on the raft ride, Thunder Canyon. I ended up DRENCHED, more so then any other lap I have taken down the canyon. After this additional soaking, I did whatever I could to dry out. In my initial desperation, I actually took of my left sock and attempted to dry it with the hand drier in the bathroom. Having only a half damp foot, helped my attitude. I figured eating lunch in the sun would be just the ticket to make me completely dry again. A lunch of chili cheese fries, in the sun, STILL left me soggy, cold, and miserable (the food was tasty though).
Despite doing my best to stay in the sunshine, I was starting to become numb from the cold due to being totally saturated. My skin was starting to shrivel and my feet were looking something like old dried prunes. Well, I did what any desperate coaster junkie would do… After a quick hand stamp, and a run through the tunnel to the parking lot, I had the heat in the car cranked up full blast. Despite sitting in the driver’s seat with an overcoat on my lap, it only took a few moments to take off my pants, socks, and underwear! The lighter articles of clothing were dried in only a few minutes by draping them in front of the dash vents. The denim jeans, especially in the rear pocket areas, took a bit longer to dry. It took less time to get my clothes back on then it did to take them off. Hopping out of the super heated car, and into the natural sunshine of feeling WARM, made it worth the short time out of the park.
When I came back into the park, I found Moosh and Nasai at the bar! Nasai ordered the same “foo-foo” drink that I had planned to order, so he won a few points in my book. After the drinks, I trailed behind him like a lost puppy where we ended up at the unofficial CAC bumper car event. This was a bunch of fun!
I was a lost puppy until just up to the dinner portion of the event. I just had to get one last ride with the GP on Tremors. WOW!!! … The ride was great, MUCH better then the morning, and it was difficult to decide whether to leave to eat, or just wait in line, staring at Tremors train, frothing at the mouth, waiting for the official start of CAC!
Food is always a good thing, so I opted not to froth at the mouth. However, I’m responsible for the frothing puddle of punch at the end of the buffet line. I guess I’m just not as co-ordinated as everyone else. When I pushed the beverage lever, I pushed to far, and it LOCKED full open. So, when I let go of the lever, when the cup was full, the punch kept flowing. Well, the cup was full, the lever was stuck, the spout was pouring full steam ahead; and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this situation is headed.
After the grub, the closest coaster to the BBQ tables was Tremors. The train was filled, a great lap was had, and unexpectly, EVERYONE on the train had to get off, and run around the station if they wanted to ride again. The ride-op promised he would wait for everyone. Well, I didn’t THAT fast, neither did most of the others that had the fist lap of CAC05.
I was like “WTF”? I asked everyone currently waiting in the station to let the next train go through, and told the ride-op to call his supervisor. Those of us in line yelled and hollered, sending first double ride of CAC05 back up the Tremors lift hill in CAC03 enthusiasm.
After the “running around the station” situation was resolved (I was told this was a secret ACE health plan in effect), CAC05 had begun with the trains running really well. There is little doubt in my mind that allowing the trains to run through the station keeps the wheels warmed up. The 2nd and 3rd rides in a row were almost always faster then the earlier rides. Of course this wasn’t always the case, as train loading makes a huge difference in how they run also.
One of the best rides on Tremors I had was somewhere in the middle, with the rest of the middle empty, but both the front and rear cars full. This wasn’t perhaps the fastest or most forceful, although it was faster then some runs, the reason this was a ride I remember is because it was noticeably SMOOTH!
Timber Terror at CAC is just full of air time. A few times I yelled out loud, “I’m Superman”, and “I feel I can fly!”
Tremors just flat out MOVED. I got the last ride in the back of Tremors, and WOWSERS!
Timber Terror is a great ride up front, lots LOTS lots of airtime and floating. Tremors is shear speed and forces, and your ride may vary significantly depending on the variables.
Still, one might wonder what makes CAC so special. Without a doubt, the coasters are great, but those PEOPOLE who attend make a huge difference in the quality of the event also.
Thanks to Mathew and Dave for making this happen!
Great fun to read. Any time 'underwear' & 'foo-foo' drink are mentioned in a TR, it gets my seal of approval.
So what was the foo-foo drink you guys had? I have a feeling Rob wouldn't last with me and a Long Island ;).
I LOL at the "secret ACE Health Plan."
We had to do that at Hershey a few years back on LIGHTNING RACER; keep disembarking the station and going all the way around to ride. . .when there wasn't but a handful of people waiting to ride.
It does become, oddly, a kind of workout to keep moving like that. . .
Glad you had a great time and excellent TR.
Dave @ CAC = Flare.
NitroDave @ CBuzz = intelligent/mouthy at times enthusiast (;))
....and that description of NitroDave couldn't apply to Flare? ;) :)
"I hope my kids appreciate how cool their dad is!"
I try to remind kids at events that THEIR parents are WAY cooler than most... ;)
"...both coasters were getting noticeably faster with each lap."
:) ....and that trend just continued... :)
"...allowing the trains to run through the station keeps the wheels warmed up."
Yes, it definitely helps...a LOT...hot grease is just more *slippery*...or so I'm told... :)
Nice TR Sprig, glad we got to meet, if only briefly, at the unofficial bar gathering. I say unofficial since it wasn't listed on the events itinerary, LOL...
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