When I arrived, I met up with an acquaintance from "back in the day" and his girlfriend (pre-enthusiasts)and headed into town with the rough plan of heading to Lakeside and then grabbing a bite to eat.
But after traveling all morning with a layover and terminal change in Phoenix (avoid at all cost), and a circus at the car rental agency, all I wanted was a stiff drink, a nice dinner, and a soft bed.
Well, we had such a good time that evening that the soft bed had to wait and my acquaintances became more like friends, which was very my original plans of going it alone.
Fortunately, the ceremony was just a few blocks from Lakeside and happened to be on the way to the reception. Jaime and Lisa were kind enough to indulge me on a quick 2 hour diversion.
Driving north on Sheridan, I immediately spotted the tower. Jaime and Lisa quickly realized what a huge little kid I was as my eyes grew large and started repeating, "Look! Look! There it is! There it is!"
When we pulled into the dirt lot, I could hardly contain myself. Unfortunately, we were dressed for a wedding and Lisa couldn't sprint in her heels. It took every ounce of self control I could muster to keep from bee lining to the Cyclone.
On the way in we stopped to admire the gorgeous stainless steel rolling stock of the Miler kiddie coaster. I went into geek mode and gave them a background on the park and the coaster in front of us.
But I couldn't stick around long and we made our way to the Merry-go-Round to get tickets and jump in line for this impressive looking oldie.
Lis decided to sit out for the first round as we got in line. I pointed out all the cool art deco pieces and explained how excited I was to see the operators using giant levers to control the ride instead of buttons. I also told Jaime how excited I was to be riding classic and rare rolling stock.
We flopped into those comfy couch seats, fastened the industrial rigging that passed for a seat belt, and before we knew it, were off into the tunnel, making plenty of noise for a 36 year old.
As we took to the lift, I nudged Jaime, and in my best Robert Duval impression I asked, "Do you smell that!? Do you smell that!? That's roller coaster grease man, I LOVE the smell of roller coaster grease!" And just has he was starting to savor the smell, we swooped down Cyclones first and second wild drops, slamming to the right each time.
Although there wasn't a lot of airtime, the feel of the wheels rolling and the wooden structure responding to the weight had me feeling like a kid again. We dipped our way back into the station and I'm pretty sure Jaime was just a bit more of an enthusiast than he was before.
I think our grins made Lisa a bit jealous, but she still wasn't quite ready to take on a ride yet and so after grabbing a snow cone, we jumped on the Wild Chipmunk.
The Hi-Miler is one of my favorites at the fair each year and I was looking forward to hopping in one of the streamlined bullets. I was surprised that there were no seatbelts, but then again, you sit pretty low in the car.
I felt like I was in a soapbox racer as I crested the hill and started through the first set of unbanked turns. I quickly realized that this wasn't one of those newfangled mouse rides that all the parks have installed lately. You really DO feel like you are going to be cast into oblivion on each of those sharp turns. And me being a large guy (240), the ride just seemed to get wilder as I descended. A couple nice pops of air and an intense helix and I was in a state of permagrin.
Wow, I think I actually liked Chipmunk better. Imagine that? Me liking a steel coaster better than a woodie? Then again, I'll take any steel over the Grizzly at CFGA (or is it KGA?) any day.
Phwew! So we all jumped in line for a jaunt on the choo-choo. It is a nice long trip around the lake. Unfortunately, we got on too soon and missed the steam train. But, the trip was really nice and it afforded a great view of the park and the approaching thunderstorms.
After the train, Lisa decided she was ready for some Cyclone. It had picked up speed in the scant half hour since we rode it originally and Jaime (the new enthusiast) pointed out that it seemed faster. I think I mentioned something about viscosity, but it didn't matter more than the smiles on our faces.
After that, we decided to make our way back. I stopped for some pictures in front of the tower when we were approached by a small lady who wanted to know why we were taking pictures dressed the way we were.
I was kind of nervous because I suddenly thought that perhaps there was a rule against taking pictures on the property (which would have been crazy). But it turns out that she was just curious as to why people who weren't dressed in Broncos gear were holding an impromptu fashion show in the park.
After explaining that we were going from a wedding to a reception and that I was a coaster geek, she became very friendly and chatted with us for a bit. I told her I was from San Diego and she commented on what a great job STCC did the Giant Dipper. I said that I really like it, but I like the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz. She said that Santa Cruz was turning 100 this year (we all know that right?) and that "we" were turning 100 next year.
So with the "we" I presumed she was either a GM or an owner. I should have asked. I did ask what "REDIT" on the tower meant and she said it is the Latin word for "Come again".
After our pleasantries, we wandered towards the exit. I noticed they have an ancient defunct ride called the Star and a structure for an old swing ride. I think the structures look really neat, but I'd really like to see them in action. I wonder if there are plans to restore them?
And just before we escaped (or should I say Jaime and Lisa escaped), I saw the Whip. Nice! Got a quick ride on that although I got the car with square wheels. I also spied the flyers, but we had to go...damn!
I didn't see a gift shop, but perhaps next time. The park had a decent crowd which was nice for the park. And we had a wonderful time in a short two hours. I can't wait to go back.
PS...I had a great view of Elitch Gardens from my Hotel downtown. I'm sure I'll have more time the next time I'm in Denver, but Lakeside has been on my mind for about 25 years now.
Thanks for putting up with the huge post!
The park could use a touch of paint. But then again, you really feel like you are in a place that has been around for a while. Very charming.
I've never been to this park but it is on my short list of must see places.
I've heard rumors that Lakeside has the cars for the Star Ride in storage and would like to restore it.
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