“Oh look! Another grain elevator!”
Friday, April 30th. (Joyland Park)
When the ACE Spring Conference was announced a while back, I was excited to start planning my trip out west. I have mentioned in previous trip reports that I am drawn to the west. Anytime I get the chance to head out that way, I usually spend sometime just looking at the beautiful scenery. Ohio has nothing like the vast landscapes found in Nevada, Arizona, California New Mexico, and some parts of Texas.
Soon after I made the choice to attend the Spring Con event, I got an e-mail from Kevin Manwarren, another enthusiast who I have known since 2002. Kevin wanted to know if I was interested in doing the trip with him. I was originally going to do the trip solo, but the idea of doing a trip with one of my friends who I don’t get to see very often sounded like fun.
I started checking out airfare. Last year when I flew into Albuquerque, I flew Southwest. I usually can find great deals through that airline that matches my schedule. This time however, I found a great price, but not a flight that would put me in to Albuquerque around the time I needed. Kevin suggested I fly into Albuquerque around 11:00am so we would have plenty of time to drive to Lubbock, Texas. Yes, I could have flown into Lubbock via Southwest (and racked up some Rapid Rewards credits), but the price was too high. Plus, the Spring Con ended in Albuquerque and that sounded like a good place to fly home. I ended up flying with Continental
Friday, April 30th got here faster than I expected it to. I arrived at Port Columbus International Airport at 5:15AM so I could catch my 6:30AM flight. I am so used to flying Southwest and heading directly towards their side of the airport once I am inside that I automatically started walking the opposite way I was supposed to. Once I headed the correct way, it felt like I was in a new airport as the gates area where Continental is located looks so different than what I am used to.
I had two flights this day. My first flight was a two hour flight to Houston, where I would be hopping onto another flight to Albuquerque. The flight to Houston went by rather quickly as I tried to sleep for at least an hour. I woke up just as we were getting ready to land.
I only had about an hour to spend in the Houston airport before boarding my next flight. This flight was shorter than the first, so I didn’t sleep much. I decided to listen to some music. I uploaded some of my new CDs onto my MP3 player and started randomly playing songs. As I was listening to the new disc from Fear Factory, I could tell the woman sitting next to me was nervous about something. At first, I thought she may be hearing a bit of the music from my headphones as the song I was listening to (Cyberwaste) is a bit noisy but I didn’t think the music was loud enough that others could hear.
As soon as the song was over it was almost time to land. I put away my headphones and player and just stared out the window. We were starting to make our descent down into the Albuquerque area. As we were flying over a few mountains, our ride became a bit bouncy. This is typical when flying over mountains. Every time I have flown into Las Vegas, I feel the same thing. It’s something I am used to and it doesn’t bother me, but I know others don’t feel the same. One of the first flights I ever had was really, really rough. The flight was so rough that even the flight attendants were showing big signs of being nervous.
The turbulence that was felt on this flight to New Mexico wasn’t all that bad, but I found out that the woman sitting next to me was nervous about the bouncing going on. At one point, there was a very large bounce that gave everyone a bit of air. I am talking, butt-off-the-seat air. It caught me off guard. I kind of laughed before I heard the woman next to me starting to sing some sort of hymn. I felt bad because she obviously was not enjoying this flight. The woman sitting on the other side of her, and I, talked with her a bit to calm her down. After we landed, she sighed and thanked us for talking with her. I really did feel bad as flying can be a really cool thing if you can become relaxed.
Once I was in the Albuquerque airport, I met up with Kevin and we headed outside to load my luggage into his Chevy Blazer. Kevin was very excited about the trip. He had driven down from Denver the night before. I did the drive from Denver to Albuquerque last year. I found it to be one of the, if not the, best drives I have ever done.
Once outside, I was kind of shocked as the weather was cool. It was probably in the 50’s. Not cold, but chilly. We hopped into Kevin’s truck and began our 5 hour drive to Lubbock. As we made our way out of the Albuquerque area, we noticed some nasty looking weather up ahead. According to the digital thermometer in Kevin’s truck, the temperature was dropping very quickly. While it was in the 50’s a few moments before, the temperature was now dropping into the lower 40’s. As we approached the nasty weather, it dropped down into the 30’s and started to snow. I found this to be quite funny as when I left Columbus, it was nearly 70. I expected New Mexico to be much warmer but that was not the case, at least for this day.
About one-third of our drive to Lubbock was on a major Interstate.The remaing portion consisted of a two lane road, then to a larger highway. As we exited the Interstate, we passed a rather humorous sign about hitchhikers. Some sections of the two lane highway contained some curvy sections so passing other cars and trucks wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Luckily, Kevin is a safe driver despite what the crack in his windshield shows. Other drivers were not so safe.
For instance, a large tractor trailer decided to try and be a dare devil and pass us, as well as some other cars, on curvy sections of road. Even when there was a straight section, the truck driver didn’t seem to care if a vehicle was approaching from the other side or not. He ended up scaring a lot of people in the process, including us. Luckily, the rest of the trip was more open with less traffic, and more importantly, less idiots on the road.
A long part of our drive took place next to some train tracks. At one point, a train was right next to us for miles. We were going 80MPH and the train was going almost as fast as we were. Every once in a while, another train heading the opposite direction on the second set of tracks would fly by creating a weird illusion if you looked in between the first trains cars. The train that was heading down our way had to slow down rather quickly as it had to change sides. Maintenance workers were replacing track ties up head and cleaning the track. This was my first time seeing this process happen. I found it interesting as there were all kinds of weird looking machines taking out the old ties and replacing them among other things.
It didn’t take long to cross into Texas. It seemed as soon as we were in our second state of the day, the rest of the drive consisted of more small towns and a less open atmosphere. We made a quick stop at a McDonalds to take a break. As we were eating inside, a large McDonald’s delivery truck parked right behind us. When we walked out and saw the truck, we thought we might be in trouble as we didn’t see the driver anywhere and we were on a tight schedule. Luckily for us, Kevin was able to turn his truck around in the limited space we had so we had no problems getting out of there.
Before we know it, we had reached Lubbock. I don’t know what I was expecting but Lubbock was much smaller than I had thought. Joyland Park was on the east side of Lubbock so we could have easily taken Lubbock’s outer belt to get to the park quickly, but we decided to drive through town to see what it looked like. From the west outer belt to the east side of the outer belt took about 10 minutes. As we were getting close to where we needed to be, we were welcomed by yet another grain elevator in the stages of demolition.
We were expecting to see rides sticking up in the air but we didn’t see anything. We just kept following the directions we had. We made one wrong turn but we were back on track in about 30 seconds. We were very close to downtown Lubbock where we turned around. We had seen a lot of grain elevators, but nothing really stood out visually to tell us we were in Texas. Well, that was until we saw the classic man-in-a-Cadillac-wearing-a-large-cowboy-hat image. Yep, we were in Texas alright.
According to our directions, we were in the exact area where the park was, but we didn’t see a thing. We finally saw a billboard for the park and within a couple of minutes, we found the small park buried in a wooded area. Registration for the event took place at 5:00pm, and sure enough, it was exactly 5:00pm. We couldn’t have timed that any better.
From the outside, this park reminded me a bit of Quassy Park in Connecticut with a William’s Grove type atmosphere. I could easily see the three coasters the park has among other classic rides. Kevin and I made our way up to the registration table where we got to meet up with some friends. A lot of them we hadn’t seen in a long time. We spent about a half hour chatting with many people before the park opened for us. The park was open to the general public for only a few hours so we didn’t expect to see many other folks at the park. Once inside, we had ERT on the three coasters until the GP started to arrive.
I was to ride 6 new coasters on this trip. This small Miler oval coaster was the first coaster of the year for many people. The ride consisted of about 5 laps. While we were waiting, we talked with friends Joe Schwartz and Greg Legowski. Greg has just purchased a new video camera so our discussion went from coasters to video talk until we got on. I find it funny to watch a bunch of adults riding a small coaster like this. To be honest, it was actually pretty fun.
As we were walking up this coaster, we noticed the GP were no in the park. Some of them wanted to ride the “big coaster” and ran up to it. Kevin and I rode with two girls who were very good screamers. This Galaxi was a typical model with some nice drops and curves. On one of the curves, you could easily see downtown Lubbock. What sat this coaster apart from all the other versions like it was the way it rode. This was easily the most comfortable and peppy Galaxi I have ridden. The park takes good care of the ride and it was very apparent.
As we exited off our ride, we noticed a section of Dragster-style bleachers for people to watch. Like I said before, this is the largest coaster at the park. We only had to ride one more coaster before we decided to move onto other rides.
---Mad Mouse--- (#537)
This Herschell mouse is very similar to the versions found at Lakemont and the now-defunct Jay’s, but with a slightly modified layout. A couple of the final dips found on the other versions were taken out of this version and replaced with flat track. It seems the flat track gives you plenty of time to see the approaching curves before you hit them with great speed. Talk about laterals!
As soon as we exited this ride, we could tell the weather was rapidly changing. It didn’t look good. I talked with Scott Connor and Jason Knutson, both Texas natives, about the approaching weather. Scott told me the storms only last a few minutes this time of year. As Kevin and I started to head back to his truck to drop off some belongings, we could tell the temperature was dropping very quickly. We thought about getting in one last ride before going out to the truck. Kevin wanted to ride Big Splash which is basically a water ride that consists of riders going down a steep ramp and dropping off into a lane of water where the skip and bounce to the end. I had ridden a couple other versions of this but I passed this time due to the cool temperatures. Kevin ended up riding it and thought it was great fun. We had heard there was an even steeper version found at the second park we were going to on this trip. I will believe it when I see it as the drop on Joyland’s version was pretty steep.
We met up with Flemming Cook in the parking and chatted with him a bit. Flemming is seen everywhere. I don’t believe there is a single event I have been to in the last few years where Flemming wasn’t there. I remember running into him in a London “tube” station in 2002. There is no doubt that if I were to someday go to Guam or some country like that, I would run into him.
Since I was expecting the weather to be warm in New Mexico and Texas, I didn’t bring long pants or a jacket. I don’t get cold easily but the now chilly weather was starting to take its toll on me. Kevin is a part-time snowboard instructor in Denver and came more than prepared for this trip. He offered me one of his snowboarding jackets. Thanks dude!
Just as we were re-entering the park, the storm reached us. We saw many people running for cover. We walked from building to building making our way back to the picnic area where our dinner was to begin in just a short while. We also could see the GP leaving the park. It kind of sucked for them as they didn’t have much time in the park to begin with due to limited operating hours, and the storm that was passing through took an even larger chunk of time away from them.
The park had many great things to eat, even for vegetarians like myself. I hadn’t had hush puppies in years so I was eager to try them again. They were great, although I was surprised to find they were really spicy due to some hidden bits of pepper in their centers. I also took this time to try and check my voice mail messages as I was expecting to get a few calls in. For some reason, my phone would not work at all in this area. I couldn’t get my messages or even make a call. I wasn’t the only one that had this problem. Kevin however had full service and I was able to check my messages, or lack of. One of my friends who was in the park tried calling me at one point and got a “service not available” message so if anyone called me, they couldn’t even leave me a message. I guess I need a new phone or new service. Kevin explained to me the digital upgrades in phone technology might have prevented me in getting service as my phone and service was older.
At our picnic, we heard from a few guest speakers including Joyland’s general manager and Fred Miler. Fred owns the Miler coaster company that makes smaller rides as well as some larger ones like Scandia Screamer. His father is responsible for some of the larger older mice coasters and the Little Coaster that resides in this park. I had the chance to have dinner with Fred last year after IAAPA and he had some great stories to share. He told some of those stories at this event and answered some questions.
By the time the picnic was over, the rain had stopped but the temperature was falling fast. It was at this time that the park gave us exclusive park time. Almost ever ride in the park was open for us to enjoy. This meant no lines. Kevin and I basically did a lap around the park riding the rides we missed before including the Rock-O-Plane (with a very long cycle), the Music Express (which played nothing but coaster music) forwards and backwards, and a few other rides including another go on the Mad Mouse.
By this time, Kevin and I were tired. Both of us had a big day of traveling and were ready to crash out. As we were walking out of the park, we got to talk to the general manager of the park and thanked him for his awesome hospitality. Very few parks treat us the way Joyland did. He was more than happy that 140 of us came all the way out to his park to have a good time, and a good time is what we had.
Kevin and I made the quick 5 minute drive to the south side of Lubbock to our hotel. As we were checking in, the hotel clerk congratulated us on getting the last room of the night as they were booked solid. She even said we had a room very close to the lobby. We thought this was cool until we got to the room.
Yes, the room was the closest one to the lobby, but it was also the closest one to the pool. I am talking a few feet from the pool as in the other side of the wall close. Just by chance, a very loud teenage pool party was going on at the pool. The clerk told us it would be over by midnight, but it was only 10:00pm. We made the best of it. We ignored the screams and laughing we could hear through the wall. That was easier than I thought. What wasn’t as easy were the couple of prank calls we got from some of the kids in the hotel. We even got one at about 4:00am. What’s up with that?
Overall though, we got in about 7 hours of sleep which is basically unheard of on trips like this. I wasn’t complaining though. Those hours of sleep helped us a lot as the next day was the biggest drive day of the trip.
Larson manufacturing and Wonderland Park
Thanks for reading,
-Sean *** Edited 5/13/2004 11:36:54 PM UTC by Sean Flaharty***
:-D Keep em coming Sean. You rock.
-Great Thunderstorm pic. It really made me miss them.
Buddy is feeling very left out right now, I figured you would include at least one picture of him.
Great write up, can't wait to read the rest.
I am glad you like it. There are still two more to come.
I did try and capture Buddy but you really can't see him well. All you see is kind of a shadow of him.
-Sean (available with velcro as well) F.
Sounds like you guys had a blast. I always look forward and enjoy reading your TR's.
The hitchhiker sign is hilarious......so are they saying it's *OK* to pick up hitchhikers anywhere else besides an area near a prison? lol.
THey have similiar signs near Moundsville and Mansfield.
*** Edited 5/14/2004 4:48:38 PM UTC by Mamoosh***
Can't wait for future installments!
Great TR Sean, as usual...
P.S. Fleming works less than *I* do....and I didn't think that was even POSSIBLE...;)
I sucked it down cost-wise and did the open jaw "fly into Lubbock, out of Albuquerque" thing, which made for a regional jet hop from Dallas to Lubbock. I have to admit I kind of like those little jets, but I wouldn't want to be crammed into one for more than an hour or so.
-Greg, looking forward to seeing how Seah writes up a specific incident in Day 2. (You'll see...) *** Edited 5/16/2004 3:00:29 AM UTC by GregLeg***
Your "incident" is now posted in part two. =:^)
I was just complaining about the "dead" areas I face when travelling with my cell. :-)
You must be logged in to post