“What happens when they open a park and no one shows up?”
Today was to be a big day. Not only was I was going to attempt to do something I tried to do the last time I was in Las Vegas, but Barry Short and I had to drive to L.A. to meet up with some friends and possibly hit a park or two.
--Flashback to August of 2003—
I went to Vegas with a small group of friends and family. It was there that we spent a week and had a great time, although a group of us wanted to try something different. Sean Winder, Danielle Miller, Greg Snyder and I decided to go skydiving for the first time. We decided to try out the skydiving program at the Boulder City Airport. We had checked out their site and found that it would be a cool thing to do.
One morning we got up early and made the half hour drive from the Vegas strip to the Boulder City Airport. We paid our fees, filled out the 4 pages of paperwork, and took a training class on the basics of skydiving. Each one of us was pretty nervous as the only one who had skydived before was Sean Winder and that was 10 years ago. Even he was nervous.
The airport was only running one small Cessna plane for skydiving at the time. They do have a larger plane but it was being worked on. Danielle and Greg decided to jump first. I guess it was for the better as they were both more nervous that Sean and I. The skydiving staff told us this day was the perfect day to jump as the skies were clear and the wind was almost zero. Sean and I watched as Danielle and Greg boarded the plane and took off to the sky.
We waited and expected to see a couple of parachutes in a few minutes but we didn’t see anything. As we were looking up at the sky waiting for them, an announcement was made on a P.A. saying,
“Caution! Caution! Temporary wind gust!”
Sean and I looked at each other in disbelief as there clearly wasn’t any wind around where we were standing.
So we thought.
A surprise sudden burst of wind engulfed the facility, knocking over a ladder and blowing all kinds of debris in every direction. As luck would have it, 15,000 feet up, Danielle and Greg were given the news that it was not safe to jump due to high winds. Soon, we watched as their plane landed. They looked relieved that they didn’t have to jump this time. We decided to wait it out for as long as it took. Luckily, they had a sofa or two so we could relax a bit while we waited, but that actually made us even more nervous. You know the saying. “The waiting is the hardest part.”
The ultra-nice skydiving staff was more than cool about the whole thing. We got to chat with a few of them for more than a few hours but they ended up refunding our money as the winds weren’t going to die down. We all were kind of disappointed that we didn’t get to jump. I even had the group pose in front of a wind sock to show how windy it really was. (Warning to the ultra sensitive. This picture may offend some)
Can you tell we were disappointed? We never did get to try to jump again as that was our last full day in the area.We did go to Hoover Dam instead which was kind of neat. I had no idea it was that large.
--Fast forward to February 6th 2004---
This morning was going to be my second attempt at skydiving. Everything seemed to be right. The sky was clear and the forecast predicted a pretty steady day. Barry and I checked out of the Stratosphere and made our way to Boulder City. I tried to call Sean Winder as he was supposed to meet up with us that morning. I left him a message the night before but he never called me back. Sean is usually great about returning calls but I didn’t hear back from him. I just figured he would meet us at the skydiving facility. Even though my cold was ending, I still didn’t feel all that well and to top it off, my voice was going out. By the time we reached the airport, my voice was almost totally gone. I hadn’t been screaming the night before or anything like that.
Once we arrived, we went in and I asked if Sean had called to make a reservation. The woman behind the counter told me he hadn’t. Instead of going ahead and jumping, I decided to make a reservation for Monday morning as that would give me some time to feel better as well as the chance for Sean to join me as I know he really wanted to jump.
Barry and I decided to make our way to California but instead of going back to Las Vegas and getting back on I-15, we drove South on route 95 to Searchlight, then turned off onto 164. You want to go into the desert? Try hopping on 164 as this has to be the most straight and secluded road I have driven. It was incredible. We did get passed by at least 4 Jeeps as we headed west to I-15, but other than that, there really wasn’t anyone else on the road besides one or two cars heading the other direction.
Once we drove onto I-15, we made the normally 3 hour drive towards L.A. Once we were near Barstow, we were stopped by a nasty traffic jam. We could tell there was an accident about a mile up the road, but it was on the other side of the Interstate. We were stopped for a good half hour before traffic slowly started to move, then stop. To help with traffic on the other side, a couple sections of the concrete division wall were removed so traffic could turn around.
As we slowly passed the accident scene we could see some nasty details. It was a lot more serious than we had thought. It involved two semi trucks and a small blue car. We found out later that 3 people lost their lives in the accident. What creeped me out even more was that I still hadn’t gotten a call from Sean Winder and I know he was heading towards Vegas on I-15, and drives a small blue car. This bothered me but luckily I did get a call from him later in the week. He indeed made it to Vegas but his phone battery cracked somehow so he couldn’t call anyone. Phew!
The drive to L.A. is one of my favorite drives. Today was no exception. By the time we reached the L.A. area, it was rush hour but everyone was heading out of town instead of driving the direction we were. Barry hadn’t been to Castle Park in Riverside so we made a quick stop.
At first, we thought the park wasn’t open as there were only a few cars in the parking lot. When we walked into the park we could clearly see that rides were running, but we didn’t see anyone riding them. Every once in a while we would see a couple of people in the park but for the most part, it was empty.
We decided to ride Dragon's Tower first. This is their S&S Double Shot that was under construction the last time I was at this park. We had to find a ride operator to run it as no one was around. The ride itself was great and the first S&S tower to drop my stomach on the descent. After one ride we went to find one of the park’s roller coasters.
Since it was dark by this time, we didn’t see the park’s Vekoma Roller Skater at first, but once we found it we took a quick ride which consisted of two laps. Barry also attempted to get on the smaller coaster in the park but it was DDM.
We then took a few minutes to find the Sally dark ride that is hidden in the back of an arcade. The scenes in the ride were very similar to those found on other Sally rides like PKI’s Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle. I was surprised with the spiral lift at the start of the ride.
Since we were in the arcade, we checked out some of the old school video games. I noticed a couple of them were bootleg versions. There was a DDR machine there but I wasn’t sure if I should play a game considering I was sick, but what the heck, I decided to give it a try. No, that wasn’t the smartest thing to do but for some reason, it made my voice come back and gave me some much needed energy.
After one last ride on Dragon's Tower, we left Castle Park and headed towards Knott’s. We called up Jeff Johnson who was at Disneyland with Chris Murray and Josh Baker. They told us to go to Knott’s and give them a call. The traffic was very light so we made it to Knott’s in a half hour from Castle. We called Jeff back who was surprised to hear we had made it there that quick. They were still at Disney but soon left. We met up with them and chatted in a parking lot for a good half hour or so before heading back to Jeff’s condo and watching a funny DVD.
Jeff also checked out a couple of boards to see what was being posted. We got a huge laugh at some of the stuff that he showed us including a couple of funny @$$ (pun attended) pics. I guess you had to be there to understand but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath.
Soon, we retired for the night. I took some cold medicine and within minutes I was knocked out. Tomorrow was going to be a fairly casual day just doing whatever we wanted to do. No pressure to do anything other than have fun.
Zoom…., and a return visit to one of the scariest coasters I have ridden.
Thanks for reading,
-Sean *** Edited 2/16/2004 4:31:33 PM UTC by Sean Flaharty***
Joe "callin it" C.
PS great TR as usual, Sean. Thanks for calling me too! ;-P
Well its unanimous.....everybody loves your trip reports, including me! Hopefully next time Ill have enough money to join you crazy kids. Maybe I will see you at Dollywood and SFOG in March!
The suspense is killing me. (Just like waiting for the finale of My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance) Did you get to finally get to Sky Dive with Sean or not, you wimp.....
The best banner made at the Boston protests......."My pedophile priest is against gay marriage"
Thanks. I am glad you are enjoying them.
You called it! I just posted that part a few minutes ago. As for calling you, sorry. I didn't know I was supposed to. =:^)
Hmmm. I would love to skydive through clouds if given the chance. That would be incredible.
Dude! Nice to see you posting. I just found out I won't be at Dollywood or SFOG in March like I wanted to. I have a meeting to attend (blah)
I guess you will just have to wait for part 5 to see if I ended up jumping or not Matt. Ha ha ha!
-Sean (ain't no wimp)
Matt, that rules that you're coming down next month! We're meeting up, homey. :)
Would it make you feel better than I lost my voice for a couple of days? To be honest, the only folks I did call were those I was supposed to meet up. Everyone else, I forgot about. =:^)
As far as Thunderhead goes, I didn't weasle out of it. I have another one of my action packed meetings to attend in Cleveland that weekend. Even if the Dollywood thing were for some reason to be moved to another weekend (hint), I just went onto my Thurs-Sat work days and I have to conserve my vacation days as it looks like I am going to be doing more trips than I originally thought.
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