I awoke Thursday morning at 4am, far too early for any person in modern civilization, let alone for little ol’ me. I had a 45 minute drive in front of me, just to get to the airport, and my wife (bless her heart) had to join in, as she had to go to work at 8am, and it was too much driving back, and forth to make it worth her while. In the car we piled, and made it to the airport quickly. A kiss, and I was off to the windy city.
I boarded the plane, and sat in my preferred window seat, but sat next to a couple who were flying to Denver from Alaska. Apparently, the husband had slept terribly the night before, and couldn’t move his neck at all, so he sat in the middle seat in this sort of weird “feed me oreo’s, Mr. Hawkins” way. Basically, he was all up in my space, and it sucked. He didn’t mean to be annoying, but he was. His wife kept bending forward every so often to hold onto the magazine pouch in front of her, and she’d just kind of close her eyes. I figured she was trying, like I was, to find some sort of comfortable position to sleep in, since it was only 6am. As we descended into Denver (leg 1), the wife suddenly lurched forward, and grabbed the pouch again. Hard. Death grip time. It occurred to me that she was scared crapless, and she had been doing this every time there was turbulence. Now I got it. As she mouthed the Lord’s Prayer (I don’t kid you), we touched down. We actually hit pretty hard, and she let out this sudden yelp that sounded like a freshly shot/hit by a car/just neutered dog. The entire planeload of passengers looked at her, and her husband just softly held her hand to comfort her. I don’t think she let out a breath until we stopped at the terminal.
Disembarkment. Yay for me, and the nice newish (it still is) Denver International Airport. I took out my trip ticket, and saw that the flight numbers didn’t correspond with anything that flew with Alaska air, so I inquired, and found that it had been arranged in partnership with American. Whew.
The next flight leg (leg 2 –final) was obviously to Chicago. I sat in the middle (!) seat. Oh, how I loathe the middle seats. I sat next to a Catholic priest who spoke nothing to me, nor uttered a single sound, nor made a single smile the entire trip. I didn’t mind having to ask him to move while I used the restroom. Normally, I feel guilty. Not this time. He had zero personality. It’s not like people HAVE to talk, but sheesh… they don’t have to be the opposite, which is mute. It’s like that scene in Fargo.
Arrival in to O’hare, and the next thing I know, my ride was there. It came in the form of a very shiny Audi, in Ming Blue. Yes! It was my car (soon to be), and we needed to get to the bank to get his cashier’s check, and I needed to finish up quickly to get to SFGam.Money exchanged hands, and the Audi was mine. Man, this car is so sweet. I swear to you now… buy an Audi. Yes, they’re expensive, and yes, they have issues like all German cars, but unless you just can’t stomach a German car because your family was interred, buy one now. They are amazing.
Up to SFGam to have some fun:
Frank (sparky697) and Scott (chitown), were planning to meet up with me, so this evening was going to be fun. Frank met me at the gate, and we immediately headed to Raging Bull, as the line moves quickly, and we knew it’d be about 45 minutes until Scott arrived. We made it through the queue, and sat in our favorite row, the back. What’s there to say about Raging Bull (+4) that hasn’t been said? The layout is superb, and has some genuinely interesting elements, but it suffers from overtrimming. That’s too bad, as it could be a perfect coaster. Still, it offered a great ride, and didn’t disappoint. Scott showed on time (we actually made him wait ;)), and we headed off to whatever we could hit without much of a line. I don’t remember the exact order, so I’ll guess:
American Eagle (+3) – For the first time in my life, I really liked AE. It had that extra whomp that made it sing. It still hits bottom pretty heavily on the first drop (especially when you are going backwards), but it maintained a LOT of speed throughout, and had a few monstrous moments that had Scott grabbing at the bar. ;) It also took the helix much faster this time. I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t brake as heavily as it did in 2003, or 2000. Great ride, and funny times.
V2 (+3) – Another great ride. I love impulses, and this one never disappoints. I really think it’s going to fly off the top of the back spike every time. It just has such intense speed. Yummy.
Batman (+3) – It might be the same old, same old, but the “man” doesn’t suffer from anything negative about the experience. The only thing I would change is to throw a flat spin in at the very end. The very end. It would be sweet. Granted, it is sweet, but that would make it a bit sweeter. Great stuff, though.
Iron Wolf (+5) – I know you are saying…. What? Are you insane? Who would give IW a 5? Well, I would…. and here’s why. It’s ****ed up, it kicks ass, and it’s wrong. So there. What were they thinking with those corkscrews? ;)
Viper (+1) – I’m not sure what the hell happened in the past 2 years, but something is really wrong with Viper. No air, or very little on the back side bunnies, and it’s rough as hell in some spots. What can I say? I know it was near perfect, if not perfect, in 2003. Something sure has changed. I don’t know what, but please, oh please Six Flags….fix this machine.
We had the opportunity to stand in line for Déjà vu, as it was open. We also had the opportunity to stand in line for Ragin’ Cajun. We did spend 15 minutes in line for RC, only to decide that we had a life, and there was better things to do. The sad part is that I didn’t add either ride to my track record, but I’ve never been that big of a whore. Well…. that’s not true, but it just wasn’t the day to hit ‘em.
Sorry Rob’s track record.
We left the park pretty quickly after Viper, as we had food to eat, and Scott, and Frank needed to get home. They actually had to work the next day! ;) We hit Outback, and I wasted an entire 12oz prime rib, as I ordered too many appetizers. (My eyes are way too big for my stomach, sometimes…..) I took the prime rib in a to-go bag, only to dump it at the hotel later that evening. What a waste of $20. Still, I was full. Of what, I don’t know. ;)
I made it North on I-94, headed just west of Milwaukee, and slept in a Motel 6. I swear that tattooed chick that worked the counter was hitting on me. I had to wake up at 6am (!) the next morning, because Coastaplaya insisted that I ring him to verify I was coming, and that if he too would be joining me at Mt. Olympus, amongst other places, on the drive back towards Seattle. He was coming, so I went back to sleep until 9am.
I got in the car, and realized much too quickly that there was no way I was going to get to our meeting spot by 11am. I just drove, and hoped for the best. I arrived in the Dells around 11:10, a little late, but there, and immediately noticed Avalanche. I thought it was Mt. Olympus at first, as I’d never been to the Dells. Avalanche looks HUGE from the road. Count me impressed just looking at it. I drove right through town, and figured pretty quickly that I had no idea where the hell I was going, so stopped to ask directions from a local. I headed back towards the highway, then turned left, up the hill, towards my date with destiny.
There it was. That demon I’d heard so much about. Hades. In all its hybrid glory.
I parked, then looked around for Playa. Where the heck was he? … and I thought I was late? I went to go buy a ticket, and see if I’d find him inside, when I turned to see him walking towards me. I was glad to see him. He’s really doing well, and a great cat to hang with, so this day was turning out well, even if I didn’t take up the apparent proposition from the tattooed chick the previous evening.
We decided to work our way up, so to speak on the coasters. Playa had been here before, but hadn’t been on Avalanche or Hades yet. He’d have his chance. We made the rounds, and hit ‘em all:
Pegasus (+1) – You know…. it’s a pretty great ride for a little thing. I don’t care what I’ve heard before, but I though it was pretty sweet. Good forces throughout, and nice pacing. The only negatives are its size, and too small layout/tightness of curves ratio. That makes for some potentially uncomfortable turns. Oh well. Still, not bad, and really pretty good.
Cyclops (+3) – Yeah… I’ve heard about “the drop.” Big deal… I’ve been on a lot of coasters, and there’s always fanboys, and there’s always the naysayers. Well, Cyclops is the real deal. The funny thing is, I was so nervous/excited for the drop that I wasn’t prepared for the first drop. Holy crap, that was wild, and a huge surprise. I was also shocked to see how short this coaster is. I mean short. Willy Wonka short. That drop though? You know? The drop? It’s really powerful. I admit I was pretty overwhelmed by it, and held on my first time through the circuit. We rode immediately again, and this time, I proved my mettle by holding my hands up the entire time. Like it was that hard….. ;) One more thing. The 18 year old rule in the back seat? They didn’t enforce it the day we were there, because 2 kids, maybe 12/13 years old were in it.
I guess it’s that crazy “we don’t have insurance/Mt. Olympus thing. Hrm.
Zeus (0) – I guess they can’t win ‘em all. I bet back in the day, Zeus was great, but this day, it was pretty lame. It tracked terribly, and was really jack hammering on the drops, especially on the out run. Still, that double down is really sweet, and has some pretty strong forces. Just retrack this baby, and you’d have a winner. Or as Playa says, get new trains!!!!
Hades (+5) – I never give a 5 rating, but this one is different. Hades is the most original coaster I’ve been on. It has RCT type elements, and it’s long, loud, absurd, violent, scary, overwhelming, incredibly powerful, and a damn lot of fun. I’ve never seen a wooden coaster have, and keep, so much speed. We waited in the queue about 30 minutes for our first ride. We waited for the back seat, and we got it. The drop out of the station is nice, with a little floater air, then the thing just goes into overdrive. Honestly, the only dead spot is lift. ;) We’ve all heard all about the ride, so I’ll spare the details. Suffice it to say, coming out of the tunnel on the out run, it’s hauling. I seriously couldn’t stop laughing as we climbed the turnaround hill. It’s just so over the top. As you drop back towards the tunnel, the hill dropping in is just golden. Nice air, then sudden darkness again. The weird bunny/lateral hill just prior to exit isn’t intense in any way, but is very strange. It’s virtually forceless because it lasts a long time, but it offers a very wild feeling. It’s really like the GG guys told each other about their coaster dreams/fantasies, and said “hey, why not?” Weirdos. The final run to the station is super fast, and relentless. I remember stopping, smiling, and saying that I had no idea what just happened, and I’m not sure if I thought it was all that. We needed to test it out again, so we rode again, this time in the front, and I can say that I enjoyed the front seat significantly more. Better air (more floater than ejector), and a visually more appealing ride. My only complaint in the layout is that I would have preferred (as Playa said) a double or even triple helix. Still, beggars can’t be choosers, and after a weekend of driving, and thinking, Hades rocks. It’s absolutely a top 5 ride. It just knocked Raven out of #4 for me.
We passed on the water coaster….like that was gonna happen.
The best part of the day was coming though. Playa and I decided to hit the newish waterslides that the park built. Firstly, we hit the speed slides. Fun, but I never beat Playa to the bottom. Fat ass. We hit the pink slide (the AIRtime slough) first, then walked to the top to hit the big twisty yellow slide (the LATERAL slough). We met 2 guys on the walk up, so we asked them if we could hit the raft with them. I didn’t think they’d allow 4 adults in one raft, but this being Mt. Olympus, there are no rules, as there is no insurance. ;) The ride op sat us down, and pushed us off quickly, saying with a nudge, that we’d really like this, whatwith the 800lb limit that we were obviously pushing WAY too much. As we picked up speed, it was apparent that we were in for a dangerous ride. Packed with far too much weight, we were taking each turn to the very upper lip of the overhangs, quite literally falling into the middle of the raft, then barely recovering, only to have it happen time and time again, getting worse as we navigated this tube of death. Just when the raft could take no more, (with one of our friends fell into the middle of the raft, and hitting his head on the floor) we drifted into the pool at the bottom. In our terror, and excitement, we had laughed all the way to the bottom. What a terrifying trip it was, but we HAD to do it again. This time, we were a little better prepared, and didn’t fall into the middle of the raft, although we still barely stayed in the tube. What an amazing experience. It was the most fun I had the entire 2 days of park hopping. Count me in as a guy who really likes waterparks now.
Blame it on Playa.
Yes, he has another convert.
We wanted to hit the Robocoaster, but it was shut down, and being serviced. We walked to the cars, and made the short drive to Timber Falls, and Avalanche. 2 all day passes (we were there about an hour), and we were in line for Avalanche, if you could call it a line.
Avalanche (+5) – This might be better than Hades. Might. I admit the jury’s still out, but holy craparoni. Avalanche is simply amazing, and a testament to radical design, and ingenious use of land space. Even though it’s a constant hard turn to the left, it never bores, as there are so many forces to be had. Air everywhere. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration when I say that it spends more time on the upstops than the wheels. You can hear them constantly singing in that high pitch jingle. Wild. I don’t think I’ve ever had 2 air pops on a corner before, but you get that TWICE on Avalanche. It’s just nuts. This restored my faith in S&S after Timberhawk. Now I know it was intended design. *whew* We rode Avalanche 8 times, and tried every car. Again, I think it’s a front seat ride, as it’s almost too intense in the back. Up front, it’s just hugely fun. I don’t think I could power ride this anytime, but there’s no way in hell I could in the back. It’s a front seat ride, my friends. Get there, and ride it.
We walked to the parking lot, exchanged hugs, and I left for the 2100 mile drive home.
I won’t go into huge details, but I did drive it in 2 days, ate at the Outback steakhouse 2 more times (!), and saw 5 things I’d never seen.
Friday, I saw a car on fire, and took a whole bunch of pics. Wild, wacky stuff, and quite scary. Nobody died, though. Saturday, I spent 17 hours in the car (it was torturous), but in that day, I saw a lot of miles, and 4 amazing things:
1) The Badlands – Wow, this is a pretty place, and not to be missed. Go there.
2) Mt. Rushmore – They need a coaster at Keystone. Why the hell not? It’s tacky enough for 2. ;)
4) Little Big Horn – Truly the most sad, depressing thing I’ve seen in a long time. Perhaps it was the fact that it was at the end of my long day behind the wheel, or I was so emotionally spent, but it affected me a LOT. As you approach the hill where everyone died, you can still sense the loss. It’s very powerful, and very sad when you see the gravestones marking the spots where every soldier and native American lost their lives. What a testimony. Go there, if you can. It’s worth every moment you can make there. Absolutely heartbreaking.
I got home Sunday night at 6:30. I’m alive, and my car kicks ass. ;)
Thanks for reading my TR, my friends. I wish you could have come.
*edited for content, and general foulness, and ADDING pics!* *** *** Edited 7/15/2005 5:33:15 AM UTC by nasai***
Great trip report!
I will do the deed...um... I mean the Dells ;)
Next week! :)
I also hit the Dells for the first time this year and would at least rank the coasters in the same order you did, although Avalanche is the clear winner in my book. I'm curious to find out how you rank them against that gem up in Vancouver.
I missed Little BigHorn when I drove across that part of the country. Did you explore any of the Black Hills other than Rushmore? The black hills were far more beautiful than I had assumed and I really enjoyed the area more then I expected.
Well it's time for bed since I've got a 9:45am plane to catch. Unfortunately no coasters on my trip :( Although a week with the in-laws will provide plenty of ups and downs. ;)
Yes, that was a waste of red meat.....steak that is. ;-)
Awwww man, Frank was there? Were that I was still in Chicago. Glad y'all had fun.
But there was a certain restraint-checking moment where I practically shoved Rob over the airgate onto the tracks. I'm only human, dammit!
*** Edited 7/12/2005 8:18:10 PM UTC by CoastaPlaya***
Now I know better... ;)
Wish I could have joined you, even if I would have had to watch nasai and 'playa gawking at women.
Hey Rob, no mention of the French Onion soup? ;)
Had a good time at SFGAm. Wish I could of joined you at the Dells.
1) Batman has a new paintjob, and its sweet!
2) Scott doesn't like standing in line for Ragin' Cajun.
3) Frank is funnier than I remember. What a great laugh.
4) I tried way too hard to make them both laugh. Fortunately, they are kind guys, and didn't give me too much crap for it.
5) I talk really loud when I'm excited.
6) The french onion soup at the Outback tastes wonderful, but smells like ass.
Like we don't gawk at the men. ;-)
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