For you to fully be able to appreciate just how it happened, I guess I need to start from the beginning. Those of you who know me know that I work weekend shift, but even those of you who know me really well, sometimes don't understand exactly how it works. Basically with my job, I work three days a week. Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. On those three nights I work 32 hours, but get paid for 40 hours. I go in at midnight on Thursday, and work until noon on Sunday. Then I'm off work for four days straight. Needless to say, I love my job, but it is tough if you're going to try to attend a coaster event because most of those take place on a weekend. Fortunately for me, I had worked out with another guy to switch shifts with him. Therefore, I would work third shift for him during the week and he would work my weekend shift for me. This allowed me to have my weekend off, along with the four days during the week that I would have off anyway while also saving myself from using ANY vacation days. Great, right? Here's the downside. I would work 8 days in a row, and immediately begin my vacation, which started with a four hour plane trip. That's not even the worst part of it. Don't forget this is third shift, so I got off at 8 in the morning, drove home and finished packing, and then immediately jumped in my car for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Atlanta, Georgia. The difference between flying out of Atlanta versus my home was about $400 so this is really a no-brainer.
My flight wasn't flying out until 4:20 p.m. and by the time I got into Atlanta it was just 1:30 p.m. I hadn't taken the time to eat so now would be a good time for that. It had been awhile since I had seen my good friend Joe Campanello, so I called him to see if he might be available for lunch. I was in luck, as he was just finishing up his work. He wanted to run home and shower, so we figured we come up with a point in the middle where we could meet. He gave me directions, and I started the trek. The only problem with that was that the directions led me up 400 North. For those that have driven through Atlanta during lunchtime, this should be self-explanatory as to why this was a bad idea. Long story short, by the time we both arrived at the Applebee's where we had chosen to eat, I had about an hour and 20 minutes to eat with my friend, drive to the airport, park my car, get on the tram, and get on my plane. All I really had time to do was give Joe a hard time about not going on the trip and that was about it. He told me I sucked, I retorted back with other pleasantries and expletives. Nice side trip. :-) You talk about close! I barely made it to the plane before it took off, but noticed while boarding that they were offering $400 vouchers for someone to be bumped and rescheduled on a flight 4 hours later. Now normally, this is something I jump all over, but under the circumstances, I was ready to get out there so I would at least get to have some ERT before the night was through. What this really does, is explain just what kind of a coaster freak/moron I am. As it turned out, I could have had plenty of rides the next night of ERT, but I didn't know that at the time. As you'll see in the next report, this ended up being the best idea though. **Foreshadowing alert and spooky music!!**
By the time the plane took off, I had now been awake for over 16 straight hours. I had not gotten sleepy on the drive to Atlanta, because I was still geeked up about the trip. So now I'm on a plane for four hours with no connections, this is the perfect time to get some shut-eye, right? Wrong. For some reason someone who used to sleep on the school bus going to school, can't sleep on an airplane. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the seats only tilt back about 5°. Either way, it wasn't happening, so I whipped out my portable CD player and decided to finally watch the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" I had been putting off for so long. Good flick! After that, I finished up the flight chatting with my new single-serving friend, who might be the prettiest SOB of a guy I've seen in a long time. I'm not even gay, but this guy was pretty. All I could think about was how happy Joe would've been :-).
After relatively bumpy flight, we landed at LAX just before six o'clock, local time. Then, after being raked over the coals by Thrifty Rent-a-Car (warning: if you plan on using a debit/check card at Thrifty, be prepared for them to ring up $500 deposit on the car to cover the rental which NO ONE notifies you beforehand. When you return the car, they reimburse you the remainder. However, they allow themselves three to 21 days to do so. Ludicrous!) I was on my way in a sporty little Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible, which got pretty good gas mileage considering the Texaco station outside of LAX wanted 2.59/a gallon!!. Yipes! By the time I had made my way to Buena, it was right about 8 clock. I had not been at Knotts Berry Farm since 1980, so I was extremely excited about a return trip seeing that the only coaster credit I had from before was Wacky Soap Box Racers. I checked in at the Radisson Hotel, dumped my bags, and ran out the door to see what little left was going on at Knotts Berry Farm. I knew that they had had Xcelerator ERT earlier in the day, but I had missed that. I figured all that I would be able to be a part of was part of the dinner banquet, and then of course nighttime ERT on Ghostrider from 10 p.m. until midnight. The girl at the front desk gave me my wristband and I was on my way. Here, is where the mayhem ensued...
I began the trek to the front gate in not very comfortable shoes, mind you, taking pictures as I went. The lighting was still halfway decent, so I got some pretty good night shots of Ghostrider. The park was closing to the general public, so there was a mass of people on their way out. I got more than a couple strange looks from people passing by wondering where the heck I was going. I stopped a traffic guy for a quick set of directions where I was supposed to be. He informed me that I would not be able to enter the front gate, but rather that I would need to enter through a side security gate almost exactly where I had just come from at the Radisson Hotel. So I walked all the way back around, only slightly miffed. When I finally reached the security gate the gentleman had told me to go to, I was again stopped. This time ANOTHER officer told me that I was at the wrong place. Again. I informed him that traffic guy had sent me to him, so he hopped on the horn to somebody. Now keep in mind, by this time it was 8:30 p.m., considering the change from Eastern standard Time to Pacific standard Time, I've now been up 25 hours in a row with one meal and no coasters yet. When Barney Fife finally got off the phone, he told me that I would need to enter from another gate even further away. By the time I finally got into the park, I had almost walked the entire way around the outside of Knotts Berry Farm, still in uncomfortable shoes. But success! I'm in! I asked the lady where I was supposed to be, assuming that she would know. Funny thing about assuming. She pointed me around the corner and said that's where your supposed to be, which ended up being some sort of dance competition for girls aged 8 to 12. Now granted, I haven't been to that many coaster events but I do this wasn't anything like an ACE convention. I walked back outside and informed the nice girl that was pretty sure I was in the wrong place. I showed her my arm bracelet that I was given that the Radisson, and she lit up and said "Oh! Your supposed to be over there! Xcelerator is still running!". Now I had remembered from the itinerary that the Xcelerator ERT was from six until eight, but I held out hope that they may still have been letting us ride if we didn't care to attend the banquet. So I started walking again, by this time working some pretty serious blisters on my feet. As Xcelerator peeked into the sky, I realize yet again that I was in the wrong place. This time though, it was a junior high Sadie Hawkins dance thing going on. So picture it, tons and tons of junior high kids on dates,.and apparently the theme was for all of them to dress identical to their dates. Then throw in me, a slightly dressed up 6-2 29-year-old by himself in uncomfortable shoes. I said screw it! I've been up too long and traveled TOO far for me not to try and ride this thing. If they throw me out, I'll go looking for where I'm supposed to be again. 30 minutes later, and I've accrued seven laps on...
XCELERATOR +4 (Coaster Credit : 152)
Four in a row in the middle without even getting off! Then I walked around and waited for a front row seat, then hopped out of the front of the train, for two back-to-back back row seats. Excellent! I had my own little ERT anyway! :-) The best part is no one ever said anything about me riding by myself. Not once. It was just me and the kiddies! I didn't care, and I certainly wasn't going to say anything and have my riding priveledges revoked as I was certainly NOT supposed to be there! Oh well for them, it's not like it was crowded anyway, so don't plan on detecting any remorse from me. Just in case anyone is wondering, I like Xcelerator just a little bit more than Top Thrill Dragster. Don't give me that! My reasoning is simple. The launch is not as intense on Xcelerator, however the added bonus of being thrown out of my seat cresting the top hat beats wondering whether I'm going to clear it at all. Weird thing about Xcelerator, is that even though it was only in a one train operation, there never seemed to be too much of a line all weekend. Never once more than 15 minutes!! These Californians are weird, as Dragster still crams them in.
After seven in a row on Xcelerator, I was pleasantly satisfied if not a little wobbly in the knees, so once again, I set off to find my crew. I went back to the same girl who had told me the last time where to go that I still had not found my group. So I literally grabbed one of the girls and made her walk me to where I was supposed to be. I finally found the group right before the raffle started. They met up with Gator and Ed. After catching them up-to-date on what happened, they led me to the trough a.k.a. the feeding table where I scooped up a leg of chicken and some new potatoes. They laughed at my plight while I ate and rested my poor aching dogs. I spotted Moosh, and he made his way over to see me. As I finished my plate, they were ending the raffle and getting ready to start ERT on Ghostrider. As part of the fun and theming, they had some outlaw character run through the crowd firing a gun. After my day, I wasn't thrilled as he scared the peeturkey out of me firing his first shot VERRRY near me as we were loitering near the back of the group, so I was pissed :-)
We entered the phemonemal que as Oohs and Ahhs and cheers came up from the crowd is the first train dove out of the station. I was very excited about this as I knew this would probably be the only good wooden coaster I would ride on the trip.
Ghostrider +3 (Coaster Credit : 153)
What took place over the next two hours, was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 laps on a wonderfully laid out CCI masterpiece. The first drop is great, the laterals are wonderful, but this ride really doesn't start until midway through the ride where it has a very "5th drop Ravenesque" drop which begins a furious finale. I only counted two places which had any sort of relative roughness at all, but it certainly wasn't gonna stop me and the several others that stuck it out. However, this ERT session became very light as hour 2 started. What must have been over 150 people dwindled to barely 2 trains worth. Sadly, Knott's required us to walk around after every lap, or we could have very well logged over 50 laps. According to the mOOSH, Copper train had apparently just come out of rehab, but I loved Copper and Silver alike. I got to hang with several wonderful people this night.. Ed, Gator, Moosh, Lori and Steve, Jodi and a few others. Thanks to you guys! After they ran us at the station a little after midnight, we headed back to the bar at the Radisson. There we must have talked for another hour and a half even more about coasters. Just good fellowship with good friends. When we left the bar it was nearly two o'clock in the morning, and just about 27 hours in a row that I had been awake. And every bit was worth it! For short hours later the alarm clock would go off, and time for breakfast and another jam packed day!
Thanks for reading!
The Homey *** Edited 3/15/2004 8:16:00 PM UTC by Homey G.***
The DROP that Brian refers to is the beginning of the "all hell breaks loose" second-half, which is as wild an intense as ANY coaster...those two FAST, high-banked turns to the left coming off that drop are pure INSANITY...kudos to Knott's for taking SUCH good care of a masterfully-designed woodie...and equally so of the enthusiasts who love it!
Great TR Brain, already looking forward to Part II. :)
P.S. I give the Ghost +4 and Xcel +3, but I forgive Brian, he was TIRED...;)
P.P.S. Were Eric and Clark Griswold twins separated at birth? ;)
-Dawn, slept 12 hours in 4 days and is unimpressed with your 27-hour no sleep stretch
Brian, who promises to do better next time Mooshter. *** Edited 3/15/2004 9:11:14 PM UTC by Homey G.***
I wish I didn't live so close to Knott's and or wasn't so cheap as to be unable to justify Solace Friday.
Hurry up with part deux. *** Edited 3/16/2004 12:03:14 AM UTC by boblogone***
WARNING, I seem to be suffering sci-fi geekdom. See above comment.
Homey, I didn't really become aware of you much until Sunday, I think 'gator's Saturday intro kind-a went in one ear and out the other. Peanut Gallery keep your comments to yourselves, please.
*** Edited 3/16/2004 2:53:06 AM UTC by Antuan***
I agree with you (and Dawn, although I said it first) that I prefer Xcel over TTD as well. It's just got that little extra something. Maybe it's the "fall out of your seat" air in the middle? I don't know....
A Griswold 3 for Ghostie? Are you sure you aren't still jetlagged? Granted, I wasn't there, and to each his own, but Brian!!?!!?!! How could you? Ghostie is the 3rd best coaster on the West Coast! ;)
Stop reading other's TR's and finish yours. :)
Xcelerator, well baby, thats the best air I had in California in a long time, I have not done TTD yet, not all that excited to do even now. Hopefully, I will get to Coastermania in September and try it, but after the the launch, it all goes downhill. Fun but not as much as Ghostrider. I am worrying that I am becomming a wood snob.
Nice TR, I am looking forward to part Dux. I want you to explain those scratches from San Diego so I can tell the truth :P
Ed *** Edited 3/16/2004 4:43:58 AM UTC by chillforce5X***
I thought you were one already? Oh...you meant COASTERS! ;)
Is that liniment I smell? Or just some geezer jumping the fence?
Wait...maybe he flashed his AARP card and just hobbled thru the access fence marked with bright blue signage.
How are you Ed? Are you just doing the 'Playa-style cameo? Or are you hanging out for a while?
-The man, the myth, the legend himself
Were you wearing some Prada loafers or some deal? :)
'Tuan, not Prada....it was this COOL pair of Bruno Magli's......Brian told me he found them in Brentwood somewhere...;)
Since I was asked nicely, I won't comment on boblo's holes in his head...:)
Robbio, HAVE to ask what the two better coasters are....PNE's wickedness resides "on the coast", so I'd be happy to count that (personally, I'd call it a draw between those two, but that's a judgement call)...but Silverwood is FAR from the coast....so what IS that other coaster?
bill, wondering who let the geriatric crowd in....isn't that what the velvet rope is FOR....;)
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