A few weeks prior to this, Peabody had a wedding scheduled in New Orleans. Well, fast forward a few weeks, and things weren't looking particularly well in the Big Easy, whatwith Katriana, et al. So, I cancelled my flight south, and traded it for another stealth trip to Pennsylvania, and PPP. I was
super excited about this turn of events, as I'd be able to see some of my favorite people, and ride Phoenix and Twister again. I told Gregleg, and he said he could pick me up from the airport. His plan was to hit Kennywood Friday night, drive up to PPP for Saturday night, and hit Lakemont on Sunday, before dropping me off at the airport for the flight home. He said he wouldn't tell anyone.
Last weekend, I attended the Coasterbuzz Fall Affair at Holiday World (see my other TR for that nonsense), and had a blast. At that time, I had disclosed my intentions to go to Pennslyvania to a few folks. I knew they'd never tell anyone.
The point of this preface? I wanted to surprise someone. Anyone. I know I'm not that important, for God's sake, but I thought it would be fun to freak someone out. I figured for sure that Moosh would enjoy that. I knew Dawn would like that. I knew Danny would like that. I knew Tina would laugh out loud. It was all good.
....and so the story goes:
I had a terribly late night flight scheduled for my trip to Pennsylvania. I knew I had to be there early enough the following day to make it to Kennywood, a park I'd never been to. I was super stoked when my wife dropped me off at the airport. A little early, granted...but, I could always go to the bar.
I'm actually not much of a drinker, contrary to my assumed nature from others who peruse this site. I had some foofy drink that the white trash bartender made (a double, mind you), and waited out my flight. I thought for sure I'd get all buzzed, then sleep through the night. Wrong.
First problem: The flight got delayed.
Second problem: My buzz faded, fast.
Third problem: This lame ass drunk chick sitting across from me wouldn't shut the **** up.
The flight out was fairly uneventful, despite the noisy lady sitting next to me. I tried to sleep, since my headphones were only picking up one channel, and I wasn't interested in watching an edited version of Bewitched (Nicole Kidman's version) with my right ear only. I had purchased a head/neck wrap for the flight. You know those things? They look like inflated horseshoes?
They don't work.
All I did was suffer through the night, and I spent $30 for proof that it doesn't matter if they are made of plastic or buckwheat.
Finally, I did catch about 30 minutes of ZZZs when I heard the pilot announce our descent into Atlanta. Yes, I flew through Atlanta into Pittsburgh, because nobody seems to make direct flights into Pittsburgh anymore, unless you are interested in paying astronomical fares. The landing was gentle. The wait was painful for the next leg (almost 3 hours), as my eyes just ached, and ached. Soon, though, we were on our way to the land of steam, and steel, Pittsburgh.
Upon landing, I made an attempted call to Lori Uhing (loriu), as she was on the "inside" regarding my trip. She was going to be picking me up, as Greg couldn't due to work issues. As I wandered through the airport, I heard noises through the haze of my sleepiness. I kept hearing "hey."
As I turned my sleepy head around, there standing before me, with a sign in his hand, is Mike Case (boblogone). What a nice sight. :) He's a good friend, and had apparently doubted my "not coming," story for some time, as he and Beth (bethtoons) had planned this for some time. Apparently Lori couldn't be troubled to meet me at the airport, and sent Mike and Beth in her stead.
Nice. What a pal.
Beth came and picked us up, and off we sped to Lori's house in the northwest burbs of Pittsburgh. I was so completely turned around that I thought we were heading east. Regardless, it was nice to finally get to their wonderfully clean, nice home. Upon entering, I noticed a game room to the immediate right. Take note, all would be pilfering/theiving bastards. Lori and Steve have COOL stuff in their game room. :)
After Lori showed us around the home, she allowed me the wonderful opportunity to take a very needed shower. YAY! Afterwards, she plugged in a tape of a madman coaster enthusiast who chronicled his years' trips into one big, wacky video bible. Very interesting, but I was so tired, I begged to hit the hay, and Lori let me use her bonus room as a bedroom for about 90 minutes. Apparently, that was enough to get me through the rest of the day, as I wouldn't be sleeping any more until that evening at Greg's. Nice.
Over the afternoon, all kinds of people showed up to Lori's including the aforementioned Beth, and Mike, along with Frank (sparky697), Craig (IggyACE), and his wife Karen. Their children, Gage, and Caitlyn. A woman, named Lisa, who I'd never met before, but posts occasionally as addicted2TTD. She was really cool, and seems to be Craig's "other" wife. ;) Steve, Lori's husband, eventually made it home, and Greg finally showed up.
We had also found out, earlier that afternoon, that Kennywood would be closed Friday evening, as the rain storms that had moved in were far too heavy, and the wet stuff was going to crush the crowds. Instead of dealing with the complaining customers, Kennywood bailed. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed. Well, Greg, trooper that he is, says that he'll happily change his plans for PPP, as he knows I'd been there in the past, but had never been to Kennywood. He figured if it got too rainy, and KW would close for Saturday as well, we'd just drive north, and hit PPP.
I took him up on his offer. I wasn't disappointed anymore.
After we drank the evening away at the Uhings (including some NASTY black cherry Smirnoff vodka shooters), Greg and I decided to head to
Pittsburgh, and get some sleep. We gave our hugs, and kisses to those that we assumed we wouldn't see again, and headed out. Greg insisted I was going to be impressed with the view of Pittsburgh, when I finally saw it from the car. I hadn't ever seen the city, with the exception of flying over it years back. As we neared the tunnels, Greg started telling me the history of his town. Man, is this guy in love with his hometown or what? ;) We entered the tunnel. We exited the tunnel.
Damn. Pittsburgh sure is pretty at night.
I had no idea. I figured it would be all smokestack this, and steel mill that, but nope. Just cool buildings, and interesting bridges. Very Portland, Oregon, almost.
We stopped at a diner, and had some late breakfast. We ordered and 2 minutes later (2 minutes, I swear) our food came. How in the? Turns out the waitress had ordered something for herself, then couldn't eat it, and we had ordered the exact same thing, so they just turned the plates over to us. At first I was worried about contamination with spit, floor dust, and vomit, but then figured we didn't do anything (yet) to piss them off, so the food must be ok. It was, and we ate it, and left.
Greg drove me around a bit, then up to his house. He lives in a nice quiet neighborhood, with 2 cute cats, and a lot of new technology. I thought I was a hardware nut. Greg wins.
I took a late shower, moreso to sleep with, and hit the couch for some sleep.
We awoke around 10am, and the sky was lightly misting. We figured we had a good chance at hitting Kennywood in the evening. First things first, though. Greg decided to show me around town, and hit up some of the sights. It's an amazing town, Pittsburgh. I won't bore you all with the particulars, but there is a LOT to see, and eat, amongst other things. It's a great place, and the cost of living there has me thinking twice. Seriously.
For lunch, we met up with Greg's brother, sister, and father. What a nice family he comes from. You can totally see the family resemblance (hopefully, that's a good thing!), and they are all so darn nice. I even have to use the word darn to describe them. They understand friendship, and family come first. It's pretty sweet, and very old fashioned. You don't see this much anymore. We had cheesesteaks at some famous local eatery. Great stuff, but WAY too much. I think my eyes gained weight that day.
We also spent a few moments driving around, to check out other bits of local scenery, including converted churches (into bars, no less), and old factories (either bars, restaurants, or just cool architecture). It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.
We eventually made it out to dinner at another local diner, and had great italian food, capped off with the best dessert I've had in some time. The odd thing was we were talking about a few coaster friends of ours from awhile back, when out of the blue, this guy walks up, and says to me "hey, what's up? Didn't see you hiding over here." I couldn't place this guy's name, but we chatted for about 30 seconds, when he stops, and says... "uh... I think I've mistaken you for someone else."
Why does this happen to me? Is it my typical look? Am I that obvious that I need new friends? Did this guy think he could steal me away from Greg? ;)
We took off to Kennywood pretty quickly after that, and drove through the more colorful parts of town. Then, as quickly as we had left the diner, we were there. I could see Phantom's Revenge in the distance, and it turned me on.
Into the parking lot.
Into the bathroom for one last squirt.
Into the line.
Into the park.
Into Phantom Revenge's line.
This was a Kennywood Fright type night, and although there were few people in yet, it was going to change. The weather the previous evening had virtually assured an overload of park guests there Saturday night. They didn't disappoint.
One thing that was very obvious to me was that Kennywood takes HUGE pride in their fright nights. Everything that was open (even those rides that weren't) were themed incredibly well, or at least had ALL of their lights changed for the event. Everything was orange, or green, or a black light, or a strobe. Even in the bathroom, for God's sake. It was an epileptic's nightmare.
I'll try to relate the experience at the park, but I might miss some details that Greg can fill in, and/or I can't guarantee the order.
Anyways... back to Phantom.
Greg and I waded through the non-existent line (we were first, actually) and grabbed our first ride in the backseat. I've heard a lot about Phantom, but nothing prepared me for the fun. What a GREAT ride. It was my instant #1 steel. I've never ridden SROS at SFNE, but I'd imagine that it's probably a lot like Phantom, but more? Regardless, I'm here to say that Phantom rocks, and deserves its accolades.
We headed off to Thunderbolt, after smelling the cheese/bacon fries in the distance. Thunderbolt's line wasn't moving very quick, with single train operations, and apparently the train was having issues with the braking system. It uses an older braking system that doesn't work well with water. In other words, the train was overshooting the brake run, and not working correctly. To alleviate this, they were running the train at half capacity, which evolved into a slothlike line. Just as we reached the station, they
decided to fill the trains to capacity, so our wait was for naught. Regardless, we waited a tad bit longer for 1-3, and off we dropped. Again, without details, I'll say that Thunderbolt was quite underwhelming to me. There was a lot of shuffling, and the trains didn't move as quickly as I'd hoped. The laterals were there, but I was kind of bored with the layout. Sorry.
Next, we headed back to the back end of the park to catch up with the legendary Jack Rabbit. It deserves its legend. The wait was short, and they were running two trains very efficiently. As luck would have it (God was indeed on my side this trip), we got the last car, last bench. If I'm going to die, I might as well do it on Jack Rabbit. The only thing I can say about the double down was best described by Greg. As we were standing in line, he said to turn away, and just listen. As the train descended, you could hear the train rolling, then complete silence. That moment, it was fully in the air. An amazing example of what this thing does. As we dropped into the double down, I refused to grab the bar. I kept the hands up, and figured it was very overrated. When we hit the second drop of the double down, I remember thinking that I'M GOING TO FALL OUT OF THIS COASTER. My brain was so blown away by the experience that I couldn't register what was happening until it was too late. So this is what it feels like to be ejected? Will I die instantly? Will I be drug along the track? Will I kick Greg's head on the way out? Will somebody laugh at my underwear at the morgue? Then, as suddenly as it started, the darn thing dropped me square in the middle of my seat.
I have one word to describe this moment:
I used it a few more times that evening. In fact, I think I used it 3 times, because that's how many rides I got on Jack Rabbit. It may be a one trick pony, but it's a HELL of a trick. Instant wood. ;)
We got off Jack Rabbit, and I noticed that Pittfall was running in the distance. I don't know if they routinely run it during PFN, but it was going this night! Sweet! I LOVE these drop rides, and Pittfall is one of the tallest in the world, at 251ft.
First, though, we headed off to ride Exterminator. I had never been on a spinning mouse before, so I was pretty stoked. After the annoyingly long, way too hot, queue, we sat our tails down, and took a "spin" in the dark. Good stuff there. Not too much spinning to send silly me into convulsions, and enough to satisfy the weirdness for me. Honestly, it wasn't anywhere near as intense as I expected, but it was fun. I wish it was a bit longer, and I'd love to see the "theming" for this thing. Oh well. Maybe next trip?
Off to Pittfall, and the drop. All the way to the top, and I still get the willies.... excellent stuff there, especially the fact that it doesn't seem like it's going to stop. Brilliant. Just brilliant. :):):):)
After that, we rode a few more coasters, then decided to head back, and eat those "earlier missed" fries with the bacon and cheese. They were pretty yummy, given the time of day we were eating them. We decided at that time to hit a few haunted houses.
The first one is in the Noah's Ark. The walkthrough was really, really lame, BUT there were a few guys in costume that roamed the lines, and I have to say, they were funny as hell. That, and the fact that one of them spoke with an Irish accent. Somehow, I guess the actor decided that an Irish accent is scary. I commented on this, and he immediately asked me if I'd like to share some Guinness. The joke continued every time I saw him in line.... "hey, let's get 2 pints, eh mate?" At the end of the walkthrough, he caught up to me (by this time it was 4 pints), and I commented to Greg that I wish I lived here. Honestly, I think I would have taken this guy up on a pint or two. He just seemed genuine.
The second walkthrough was loaded to the gills with the "walking dead." It was the best walkthrough I've ever been a part of. Not so much scary (there were moments, though) as it was just so cool, with all the people, painted up, and bumping into you, or following behind you for a LONG time. There was this one girl, all done up proper, and just totally into the character. She wouldn't flinch, or anything, and she followed us for a long time. I had commented to Greg that she was really good, and turned a corner to catch something in the corner of my own eye. I turned around to fully realize it, and it was her. Still there, just slowly following us.
Amazing. Just fricking cool. Really. I LOVED it. :)
We caught a few more rides on PR before the night ended itself. We had to get back, and sleep before our date with Lakemont the following morning, so we headed out. We caught a sandwich at Arby's and made our way to the house. Cats awaited us with gentle meows, and we jumped into our respective beds to crash.
The next morning we awoke much earlier, and headed east towards Altoona. The drive wasn't that remarkable, with the exception of the beautiful Pennsylvania scenery. I guess that part IS remarkable. I'm remarking, see? The colors are going nuts right now. The drive there, though, as far as roads go, was pretty boring with construction in a couple of spots, along with the requisite roadkills every so often.
We finally pulled into Altoona, and Lakemont's parking lot. The place is right off the interstate. Seemed odd to me, but I guess they weren't thinking of that in 1902, eh?
We stumbled inside, just in time to meet up with a few ACE guys (yippee!), and gals. All nice people, mind you. I just don't know any of them, as I'm not an ACE guy. Greg and I walked the park (what there is of it), and hoped to catch up with a few people that I had expected to meet up with, mainly Tina (coasterqueen), and her friend April. I was hoping to see Moosh as well, but that didn't happen.
We made our way to the oldest rollercoaster in the world, Leap The Dips. It's really quite odd, this ride. Basically, the car is a two bench love seat with wheels on the undercarriage, and boards on the side of the "track" to keep you from dying.
It has moments of air, but what makes it cool is that history. It's just so different, and yet quite ingenious in its design. All in all, a great ride. It gave me ideas to build my own. Who knows?
We headed over to Skyliner. This old John Allen classic needs a little love, but holy cow, does this thing have a few killer airtime moments. Sheeeeesh. The drop in the back? Yummy... and big! The 3rd drop in the back? Slam!
Talk about a spine compressor!
It ends with a few nice lateral turns, and a fun run back to the station. The ride was running a little hot this day, and would sometimes inadvertantly run the station, so we'd get another lap. Later in the day, it was happening on purpose, but earlier, the brakes weren't stopping at full. Nice stuff there.
Suddenly, Craig (IggyACE), and Karen, along with their children, Gage, and Caitlyn, showed up, and made us smile once more. It's always nice to see them, and they genuinely seem to enjoy their coaster trips. Karen must really love Craig, because the dude does NOT stop. ;) We watched them take a lap, then joined them on Skyliner.
Next, we headed to the Toboggan. We all know Toboggans. I don't like Toboggans. I don't know anyone who really LOVES them, but most of us put up with them for the credit. Not today for me. My lower back was killing me from the night before, so I passed on the ride, and Greg rode alone. I took a picture of Craig, and Gage riding together. I heard the always present OUCH at the bottom the first hill, as they passed. Too funny!
Somehow, Craig ended up talking me into riding, and as we're heading towards our date with the "slam," Craig's saying "wait for it... wait for it...." I laughed so hard, I didn't notice the crunch at the bottom until I yelped out.... Well, it did hurt, but it wasn't that bad, either. Glad I did it now, but wasn't so sure at the time. :)
There was one moment of pain, though. I decided to play with the kids in the little sand pit/play area that Lakemont has. I figured it would be fun to mess around with them on the little spring horses that kiddie areas have. You know the ones? The little horseheads on a big spring that rock back and forth? Yeah... those. Well, I'm just a little too heavy/big, and somehow, in slow motion, the horsey just tipped back, then off to the side, resulting in me being thrown from the thing. This was quickly followed by 10 horse hits to the groin in rapid succession as the spring recoiled.
I looked over to see Karen, and Craig in absolute tears. Of joy, for God's sake! They were laughing AT me. Not with me. AT me! Bastards!!! It was funny, but as I type this, I'm still sore. Moreso in the area between the nards, and the knees, then the nards themselves. Last week, it was Tomoko and her nard handling. This week, it's Rob and his nard swelling.
The rest of the time there was spent moving back and forth between both coasters. There wasn't much else to do there, as it was an ACE event, and lunch wasn't served until 2, when we had to leave to get me back to the airport on time to get back to Seattle.
We hoped to see Tina, but we weren't in luck today, so we hugged Craig, Karen, and the kids, then took off. We checked out the parking lot for Tina, but no luck. As we drove off, I saw her, unpacking her trunk. I asked Greg to pull over, and I ran over to see her quickly. As I ran over, I shouted to her. She acknowledged me, but didn't seem to know who was yelling for her. As I got close, her face changed to absolute shock, and a huge smile rolled across her face. She hugged me tightly, and laughed a hearty, almost sad, but joyous laugh. It was the best moment of the day, honestly. It was just so nice to have someone just love to SEE me. Thanks Tina. You rock, girl.
Greg and I got out of Altoona, after a brief stop at Wendy's, mind you. Somehow, we made it back to the airport in record time, and Greg deposited me at the gate.
I don't really have much to say, outside of the fact that I had a most excellent time, and that my friends are for real. All of them. Us enthusiasts tend to be geeks, hard core, etc. I love coasters, but without my most excellent friends, and loved ones, I could care less.
Why have all the toys, and nobody to share them with? You know?
Thanks to Greg for taking me everywhere, and sacrificing PPP for me. We'll get back there dude!
Thanks to Lori, and Steve for putting up with us on Friday night. Love you guys.
Thanks to Tina for proving you care.
Thanks to Craig and Karen for keeping me happy amidst my exhaustion.
Thanks to Frank for always smiling and laughing. That dude CAN break dance like it's nobody's business.
(He just couldn't grow a mustache in 1985. ;))
An excellent trip, if I do say so myself.
One final thought: Thanks to Peabody for picking New Orleans as a hometown, so I wouldn't have to come to his wedding, and actually ENJOY my weekend. ;) *** Edited 10/15/2005 6:07:05 AM UTC by nasai***
That was the BIGGEST surprise of my life, and I am glad I wasn't "in the know" as some others were. I didn't realize it was you until you were about 50 feet away from me.
I remember someone calling my name and me looking around like "WTF?" As soon as I saw you I was beside myself. It was SO good to hug you and catch up even though it was a minute or two. Katie really loved meeting you as well. :-) I don't think April believed me when I said you *appeared* out of nowhere just to greet me. ;-)
Damn, where was my camera? :-P I felt like I was being "surprised" by my favorite celebrity. It was the coolest thing.....EVER!
Glad you loved Phantom. It's one of my b******, especially after Sunday night. :-)
Anywho, I got a huge-ass grin on my face this morning as I awoke to find out that you finally got to Kennywood. I'm so happy for you! :)
Yes, now you really can die (not, heaven forbid, that I'd want you to...)
"Nards" in two concescutive reports? I think it may be time to "neuter" the "nards" and retire 'em. :)
-Tambo (who took 80 home from PPP and missed a chance to hit Lakemont, Doh!)
Can't believe you went all that way just to go to Kennywood and Lakemont, though. You're so chill I can't take it.
I won't name names but I had more than a 1/2-dozen people tell me I had to be at Ridefest Sunday because you were going to be there -- but I have to act surprised and not tell anyone else.
Sorry I missed you but Ridefest is not an event I'm ever interested in. You'll always find me at the PPP Hangover day.
Sorry I missed you, Moosh!
Brian, thanks! I am chill, you know? I had a 'free' ticket, so I'm not that cool, though. Well, almost free.
Thanks Tambo. I love them nards. ;)
Tina, it felt SO good to see you, and surprise someone. Especially you. :):):) I was so happy. I still am!
Seriously, it's nice for the rest of us--we can just sit back and let you do all the work. I mean why try and top it?
Rob it was great seeing you again. 2 years is too long my friend. You are welcome in our home anytime. I'll probably regret saying that, I know I do with Craig ;)
Dawn, I missed you, but it's true. At least we had CAC.
Rob it was great seeing you again. 2 years is too long my friend. You are welcome in our home anytime. I'll probably regret saying that, I know I do with Craig
Rob hurry up and print Lori's response out and photocopy it. This way you can use it against her any time you want. I love you too Lori! :)
You can tell you really put some time and effort into your TR's.... well done. As Karen was reading she goes.."I can see Rob making that smart ass response.."
Craig---"Wait for it..... wait for it....."
I've tried to write them with some sort of living breath, so when you read them, you can't help but get the gist of them. I love writing in general, and although I tend to write in "circles," I love that style, because it keeps people interested, and they can read what "happens." You know?
Thanks for commenting, Craig. It makes me happy on an otherwise annoying as hell day. :)
I actually lucked out this summer when SWA started their runs to Pittsburgh. We took a last minute weekend trip from Chicago for $29 O/W. How can you not spend a weekend going to Kennywood, and spending hours being lost getting back from Idlewild?
What a heck of a trip....so glad you got to finally do Kennywood. I'm just sorry you didn't get to come to my wedding and visit the "awesome" SFNO ;)
If something good is to come out of Katrina and Rita, it's that Nasai got to finally do Kennywood. And then get his nuts crushed a day later ;)
Thanks for the nice words, Paul.
Jeff, it was bad timing regarding your wedding, and you know I'd have loved to have come and visit you, but since the hurricane came, and we weren't going to Houston or Dallas either, I figured this was a good trade. ;)
No hard feelings? LOL!!!!!!! :):):)
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