Today was the final day of the Summer Con event. So far we had an incredible time. There wasn’t one major negative instance on the trip so far. Would our luck continue and let us have an almost perfect trip?
Barry Short and I left our hotel across from an MGM studio and made the quick 10 minute drive to the Playland Park where the Pacific National Exhibition was taking place. Basically the PNE is a fair with lots of rides.
We arrived a bit too early so we went to a McDonald’s to grab some breakfast. Luckily they took credit cards and American money as I didn’t have any Canadian cash on me. As we were getting out of our car, none other than friend Steve Gzesh pulled up next to us, and didn’t even realize it. The look on his face was great when he realized we were standing right next to him.
As we were eating our breakfast we talked about various things including some humorous stories involving ACE members. Speaking of, we both noticed that we didn’t see or hear a single member act up or be rude the entire trip. Usually with any event I go to, no matter what club it is, there is usually at least one person that does something undesirable. Given that I didn’t talk to everyone at the event, but I can vouch that I hadn’t seen anyone act up.
After breakfast we drove back down to the PNE and met with everyone else before we were let in. We were to have ERT on a coaster that was just in the news for derailing on the lift. We didn’t see any activity or test runs before we entered so we doubted we would get a chance to ride it.
At 10:00am, a few people from the park welcomed us and let us in. There was some media that showed up and documented the start of our ERT on…
After hearing so much praise about this ride for years and years, I couldn’t believe I was finally at this park and walking up to the legendary ride. It looked old and rickety and didn’t look like it had a “ton of hills” as it was described to me. Instead of waiting for a front seat, Barry and I walked to the very last row so we could get the first train out.
For the second time on the trip we got to ride in ultra-comfortable Prior & Church trains. These seemed to be snugger and the lap bar seemed to stop at a higher level. As we departed the station and made a right hand curve to the lift, we passed many enthusiasts waiting in line as well as TV crews lined up to tape the start of ERT.
While we were heading up the lift we got a great view of the mountains that surround Vancouver. This was easily one of the most impressive views from a lift I have ever seen. Maybe even THE most impressive. Greg Legowski warned me the day before that the surrounding mountains and setting could very well make me cry due to its beauty. Just to let you know Greg, I didn’t cry but my jaw hit the bottom of the car we were riding in as the view we got on top of that lift was majestic to say the least.
Because of the heavenly view I didn’t even notice that most of the layout was down and to the right. You can’t really see a lot of the ride while walking up to it. The center of the ride hides the layout very well. I looked off to the left and could see a glimpse of beautiful downtown Vancouver, but only for a second because we were ripped over the top of the lift and down the first drop. What a surprise!
Now, this is where I have to stop and mention that I couldn’t even describe the rest of the layout as I was having fun riding. There were some strange sections of track on this ride that kind of freaked me out when we approached them, but the train didn’t seem to have any trouble going through them. I do remember being almost stopped as we went through the mid-course block brake, but the rest of the ride was quite fun and made up for the small moment of interruption.
As we hit the final brakes everyone applauded. As much as I liked my ride, I didn’t find it to be “all that” when it came to extreme airtime and laterals. I usually don’t read too much into hype as most of the time I ride something for the first time, I go in with an open mind. This was different. So many people have hyped this ride up to me and made it sound like it was a total out of control coaster, when it honestly wasn’t. The same thing happened when I rode the Coney Island Cyclone for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my ride a lot. That’s all that matters right? A fun ride?
As we were exiting, a few other enthusiasts asked how it was running. I really didn’t have anything to base it on so I said it was fun. As I watched some other people get off the ride, I heard comments how it was running really slow and to wait for a while for the real Coaster to show up. I did exactly just that. I moved on and planned on riding it later. The crew was running two trains on the ride, and then moved to one during ERT, then back to two. Barry and I didn’t feel like waiting it out so we walked over to the next coaster for ERT.
This mouse coaster didn’t look like the mice I was used to. The closest thing it looked like was one of the wooden mice I rode in England, but this version was steel. The park enforces a strong anti-single rider policy so Barry and I knew cramming in one of the small cars was going to be tough.
We saw a few other enthusiasts take a ride before we did. As they exited the ride each person told us to hold on and watch our knees. Supposedly the airtime is so severe that your knees hit the top of the inside of the cars. With the warning now in our minds, we headed up the lift and began one insane ride.
For a mouse, this coaster is fairly long. It has all the features you would expect from a mouse. It has tight hairpin turns and steep drops. One thing this ride also has is one mean attitude. I don’t think I have ever ridden a mouse this angry before. Not only did we take all the turns at full speed, but the cars rocked a bit from side to side as we made every turn.
The drops and rises provided ejector airtime that ended up scaring me on more than one occasion. The last part of the ride contained tight corners (not turns) that threw us into the side of the car very violently. What surprised me the most was the final turn of the ride. This takes place after the long approaching brake run, which by the way, doesn’t do much of anything. This means the cars hit a curve turning directly back into the station at nearly full speed before stopping on a dime a mere 2 feet or so away from a car in the station. I have never seen a car pull into the station like that before. It is very comical and watching it is almost as fun as riding it.
To say this was a wild mouse is an understatement. Greg made the comment that this is the wildest mouse he has ridden so far. I would have to say the same thing. To describe to you how insane the airtime is you would have had to look at Barry’s skinned up knee. We decided to ride a couple more times but I sat in the front for those rides. I didn’t skin up my knee but my legs did fly up and hit the top more than once. I honestly feel there is no way this coaster could operate like this in the states. It was great and I suggest everyone that loves wild mice to get up to PNE and give this a ride.
After our rides we took a quick ride on the S&S Hellevator. This looked to be about the size of the one we saw at the Puyallup Fair, but we didn’t have to pay extra to ride this one. I could tell by the brakes up at the top that this one had the choice of being a combo tower, but the park was only running it in shot mode. It wasn’t the most powerful version of this I have ridden, but we sat on the side facing the mountains. When we shot up we got a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains as well as another quick glimpse of downtown.
The park was getting ready to open its gates at this time. It was also time for the group photo to be taken in front of Coaster. Steve, Barry, and I ran back and tried to get in the picture before it was taken but we think we missed it by a hair. Barry and I left the group to go and ride the other two coasters in the park before the lines got too long.
----Kettle Creek Mine----(#598)
As small as this Miler coaster was, it was a surprise to me as I didn’t even know it existed here. From the sounds of it, hardly anyone else knew this either. We knew it would have a longer line when the park opened so we got in line and waited about 10 minutes before it opened. The ride had a layout that is pretty similar to other Miler coasters of its size but this one ended with a helix that went around some small bushes and rocks. I believe one ride consisted of two laps. By the time we got of the ride the line grew to 20 minutes.
We walked back into the back of the park and met back up with Steve. This is probably the 7 or 8th version of this ride I have ridden, and to think I thought this layout was original when I first rode one at Flamingo Land. The first part of the ride is more like a standard looper with its two corkscrews, but the second half seems more like mine ride with a double helix and small bunny hills. For an older Vekoma coaster, this one wasn’t all that rough. It did make us pretty dizzy though and I could tell Barry was more than ready to exit the ride.
Once we were done riding we headed back towards Coaster. Steve and Jerry Willard wanted to ride the Miler so they waited in the long line while Barry and I headed over to Coaster.
It’s amazing what an hour or so can do to warm up a coaster as the difference was like night and day. We also took a front seat ride and couldn’t believe the ride we got. We were thrown around and tossed out of our seats like we were riding a mechanical bull. It was fantastic. Once we met back up with Steve and Jerry, we took a few more rides. The back seat was just, well, wrong. The airtime on this ride is very strange. It lifts you out of your seat for just a second. Just when you think you are getting ready to touch the seat again, it shoots you up with a lot of force. There are also a couple of sections of track that have mad laterals. I couldn’t help but laugh the entire ride, each ride. Now I could see why so many people were raving about this coaster as it truly is one insane ride. Be warned though. The airtime is not male friendly. I am sure there is more than one person who can agree with me on that.
After we got in more rides, Steve and I went over and took a quick ride on a Frisbee. This one was themed to a beach party for some strange reason. The name of the ride was (I think) Crazy Beach Party. The program they were running was very odd. It would rotate once, then once the other way, then once the other way, and so on. Not until the end of the ride did we spin the same direction twice in a row, and that was during the sped up portion of the ride.
As we were riding I told Steve that I couldn’t understand why this ride was themed to a beach party. He looked up at the ride, then back at me and said, “No no no! It’s not a beach party. It’s a CRAZY beach party!”
It all made sense then. However, the strange airbrush theming did not. There were all kinds of weird images including one of Arnold Schwarzenegger holding a cup of something. Strange, strange, strange.
By this time the temperature had dropped slightly. We went back to our car and got our jackets before heading back in. As we were walking back in Barry came up with an idea. We had heard that the one coaster we were missing on the trip was now running. He asked about the idea of skipping out on night ERT on Coaster and heading back to Puyallup to try and ride it. The thought of getting more insane rides on Coaster sounded great, but since we were driving back to the Seattle area after the ERT ended we would have gotten into Seattle too late to try and attempt to go to Puyallup.
I told Barry I would have no problem leaving early. It was then set. We would be skipping our night ERT in favor of attempting to ride something that really looked like fun, and from what I hear, damn rare.
We went back inside and made our way to the picnic. The park went all out for us and had all kinds of food. I had no trouble finding something to eat. It was all very good food and I am glad we stayed at least for the picnic.
Once we were done we continued to walk around the park so Barry could get some footage. I tried to talk to Steve into riding the Skyscraper they had set up but he declined. I asked a few other people before I found someone to ride with. The park was giving us a great discount on the ride and I couldn’t pass it up. Dave Altman would be my riding partner. We purchased our tickets and soon sat down in the seats.
The first thing I noticed about this version was it has shoulder restraints. The other versions I had ridden used to only have a 5-point racing harness but the operators told us the new versions all have solid restraints. This was not a Zamperla version either. This was one of the very large Katanga-like rides.
Our ride was fast and made me feel like I was riding Katanga. The only difference was they loaded the other side when we were sitting up at the top. Both Dave and I were mesmerized by the view we got from up there. We were facing downtown and could see the entire city as well as everything else that surrounds it. I need to come back to this city sometime and check it out as I honestly didn’t have enough time to do so on this trip. Just one of the negative things of being a coaster addict. =:^(
Once our ride was complete we said goodbye to everyone and headed out. I was a bit excited for more than once reason. You see, as I left the park that was the last “duty” I had to do as the Public Relations Director of ACE. I was now officially done, although we joked around and said it wasn’t officially over until my plane left the ground.
Barry and I hopped into our car and headed back to Seattle. On the way we passed by a small down that Barry recognized. A small sign when entering the city read that it is the location where the exterior shots of the show Smallville are filmed. I have never seen the show but Barry is a fan of it and was more than excited. If we had more time we would have stopped but we had a mission. We wanted to get to the Puyallup Fair before closing.
The drive didn’t seem to take too long and before we knew it we were pulling into a parking lot and heading back into the fair. We purchased our tickets and walked up the ride we thought we would never get to ride.
Since the weather was pretty cool, no one was riding. We walked right up to the ride and sat down in the cars. At first glance they look like boats but this was no flume. This was a very unique Miler coaster. Even though there are two splashdowns, there car never leaves the track and isn’t pushed by the water in any way.
We headed up the lift and down a wickedly banked drop. We thought this was going to be a rough drop because of the way it looked but were surprised at how smooth it was. We rose back up and into a section of drive tires which lifted us up a little bit so we could soar down the first of two splashdown drops. These drops are very steep and once again caught us off guard. We didn’t get very wet but the ride was only half way over. The rest of the ride copies the first. We thought for sure we would get soaked on the second splashdown but we only got misted.
Somehow we managed to hit every coaster we wanted to on this trip. Normally there are usually a couple of rides that are closed but this wasn’t the case. We both felt that missing out on ERT was more than worth it. We could go get dinner and get to sleep earlier than expected.
We headed back to our hotel for the evening which ended up being the exact same hotel we stayed in the first night we arrived. There were some shady characters in the lobby when we checked in this time. There was a woman that was begging the clerk to sleep in the lobby or something until her “boss” would show up and give her money for a room. Barry and I were just glad to get in our room and relax until dinner. We drove back down to the same Denny’s we at the first night, and passing the hotel vagrants on the way.
I forgot how close we were to the airport. As we were eating I looked out and saw a jet getting ready to take off about a ¼ mile away. For some reason I didn’t see this the first night and thought we were much further away.
Once we were back at the hotel we watched some TV before getting some much needed rest. The next morning we woke up earlier than expected. We planned on getting some breakfast in the lobby. By the time we made it down, there wasn’t much of anything left. We headed back to the room and I suggested to Barry that we go ahead and go to the airport even though we would be arriving way too early. The very second Barry ended his comment of “Let’s just stay here for another half hour or so and watch TV.” the fire alarm went off. It couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. We both looked at each other and agreed that it was not time to leave.
As we walked through the lobby, we saw what made the alarm go off. An old man burnt his toast. By the time we got down to the lobby he was trying to blow the smoke away from the detectors, caused by a now “black square”.
We turned in our rental car (which I never did learn entirely) and headed into the airport. Barry was to leave on another flight that left earlier so I he headed over to my gate to say goodbye to everyone.
Remember those that were on my flight to Seattle? It just so happened they were all on the same flight back to Chicago, minus Barry. Once Barry left, we heard an announcement that our flight was delayed a half hour. This was no biggie for me as I had a three hour layover in Chicago.
It was cool doing another trip with Barry. We both shared the cost of everything and had a great time. Both of couldn’t believe how smooth the trip went. We thought for sure there would be something that would block us from one thing or another but it all worked out perfectly.
Once my plane arrived, we all got seats in the back of the plane as we did at the start of the trip, although since this was a completely full flight, there wasn’t an empty seat between Mike Thompson and me.
Mike and I joked around about my final moments of being the PR Director. We both had visions of me doing cartwheels or something once the place was taking off. It was pretty funny.
The plane left the gate as normal and down towards the end of the runway. Just as the engines were picking up power to take us away, they turned off. Soon, the captain’s voice was heard over the PA.
“Um, ladies and gentle men. It seems we have a bad heated probe and we need to get it looked at. I will give you an update in a matter of minutes.”
A few minutes later the captain told us the probe couldn’t be fixed and we were going back to the gate to deplane and get onto another aircraft. Mike made the joke that if I were still involved with the club this would never have happened.
Here is where things got kind of crappy. Everyone left the plane in a calm manner. As we exited, we were given a boarding pass with a number on it. Remember, since we sat in the back, we were among the last to deplane. My number read 135. Mike’s was 136. This meant we would now be among the last to enter the new plane.
So much for all of us sitting together.
Just as we expected, we all had to sit far from each other. I ended up sitting next to a rather rude old man that felt it was right for him to use both the left and right arm rests as well as put his right leg under my seat. When I asked him kindly if he could please move his leg onto his side of the seat, he gave me some story about how he was old and needed his space. I just decided to drown everything out and listen to music for most of the looooooong flight, or so it seemed.
Before we arrived in Chicago, Mike walked back to me and congratulated me on my new “freedom”. It was pretty funny because people that were sitting around me couldn’t understand what he meant. Some probably thought I had just gotten out of prison or something.
Since we had a nasty delay leaving Seattle, Mike was sure he missed his connecting flight. Once we arrived in Chicago, Mike was happy to see that Southwest had decided to hold his flight until he got there. Something like 45 minutes! How’s that for service?
I said goodbye to Marty Moltz and Ann, as well as Bruce Cassi. They were all home now and I still had one more flight. I didn’t have long to wait before they started boarding my flight. I slept just a few minutes during the hour flight. Once I was back in Columbus I picked up my car and headed home.
….and so ends another trip.
Thanks for reading,
Again, next time please stop in, or drop me a line. I'd love to meet you.
Sure thing! I have no idea when I will make it up to that area of the country again as next year is going to be pretty mixed for me.
The funny thing about Kersplash was I didn't even know it was my 600th until I can back and started writing the trip reports for the South trip. I thought for sure Mummy was going to claim that number.
When I first started counting I used to "aim" for milestone rides. In other words, I wanted to have a nice coaster to be a milestone. It never worked out and I gave it up as soon as I reached #100. I have been lucky with getting some good rides though, minus a couple.
#100 - Hercules
#150 - Lola (Twisted Sist.......woops. Twins)
#200 - Raging Bull
#250 - Rock -N- Roller Coaster
#300 - Boulder Dash
#350 - Vapor Trail
#400 - Superman: Krypton Coaster
#450 - Runaway Coaster
#500 - Titan
#550 - Jack Rabbit (Celebration City)
#600 - Kersplash
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