TR: PPP Weekend and side trips!

Associated parks:

Hey all

At the ungodly hour of 2:30 AM on Thursday October 1st I drug Carrie +
Bond out of their beds into the car for the first leg of our annual
PPP pilgrimage. Our destination was Butternut Knoll Bed + Breakfast,
better known as Aunt Rose's (aka: Kathy Lyons) house!

We survived the seven hour drive and arrived at Aunt Rose's just
before lunch. Carrie + Bond needed out of the car so they played and
visited while I just tried to rest.

Aunt Rose wanted to show us Waldameer Park so all of us along with
Brent who had just gotten home from school jumped into Aunt Rose's
van. Waldameer looks like a fun little park and we got to see where
the Ravine Flyer 2 is supposed to go. It doesn't look like that long
of a coaster but it should be a blast to ride.

From Waldamere we headed down to Lake Erie and the Presque Isle State
Park. Aunt Rose took us around to the lighthouse as I had never seen
one in person and Brent & I went out to explore and take a few
pictures. If you want to see the lighthouse and Lake Erie I have a
few pictures on my Blog here:

That evening my body shut down after supper but I awoke in the morning
to find Sam Ulrich there as he and Peggy flew in late. Carrie and
Bond were sleeping in and coming later with Aunt Rose so Sam, Brent
and I took off for Knoebels.

The drive was uneventful except for me introducing the boys to the
wonders of Sam Kinison's comedy and we pulled into Camp RRC around
eleven. It didn't take long to set up camp before Sam and I headed
into the park.,

i've always enjoyed strolling through the empty park, it's relaxing.
Sam and I headed back towards Knoebels smaller carousel as Sam had
never been back there. The neat thing about Knoebels is that it seems
that even if you think you've seen it all there's still something new
hidden in the woods!

Returning to Camp RRC Brent and Bill Long were needing to go exploring
so we all hopped into the car and headed for Centralia which has been
on fire since the 1960's! I first heard of Centralia on the show
"Real People" when I was a kid. You see back in 1962 a trash fire at
the city dump ignited the vein of coal that runs under the once
thriving town.

Forty years later the fire is still going and all that's left of
Centralia is a couple of houses and vacant lots and streets. We
pulled up next to the town cemetery and the trash pit where it all
began. The whole place reminded me of Yellowstone or the town in that
crappy Chevy Chase-Demmi Moore movie "Nothing But Trouble". Of course
instead of steam bubbling out of the grounds it's smoke and toxic
fumes in Centralia.

After checking out the town it was time to see the "Highway to Hell"!
The highway has been re-routed and a couple mile stretch has been
abandoned due to the roadbed buckling and cracking open due to the
fire beneath it. If I thought the town was messed up this put that to
shame! The cracks in the road were smoking and full of charred wood
and the roadbed was hot to the touch.

From there we headed back to the car in a roundabout direction by
heading off road back up hill. There we discovered a huge trench that
it looked like it had been dug to stop the fire but failed. There
were numerous smoking vents to the fire below and there was coal all
around so we grabbed some souvenirs.

Back at the camp the kitchen was taking shape as Todd, Walt, Jane and
Alan were back and the Birch Beer keg was flowing. Throughout the
afternoon more and more campers arrived and Camp RRC became more
decorated and covered with thousands of Christmas lights.

Dinner at Camp RRC was truly the social and culinary event of the
season. Walt made his legendary "Incredible Chicken" and Todd beat
and seasoned his meat into great burgers. For dessert there was
Carrie's pineapple and strawberry dumpcakes and the Ulrich's made some

The main thing at Camp RRC Friday night is just hanging out with some
great friends. Old and new friends were abound and there were more
than a few laughs (I still chuckle over Gloctapus) and a great time
was had by all.

Unfortunately many did not make it to dinner or the camp due to being
stuck in traffic due to a huge wreck on one of the interstates. We
all stayed up way too late enjoying hanging out with old and new
friends before passing out.

As usual I was the first person up on Saturday morning and I made sure
to head up and start the day out right with an extremely long steaming
hot shower. If you were late getting one, sorry I used up all of the
hot water.

Back in camp Robert and I took care of some of the kitchen mess and
got the fire burning. Breakfast was next in line so I whipped up some
pancake mix and started cooking.

Halfway through breakfast the Knoebels 5k race came by and we headed
up to cheer "Go Lavender". Apparently someone sent out a memo because
no one was wearing purple at all.

Eventually it was time to head to the park. Carrie headed to the swap
meet to man the S&D Greetings table (buy your cards and 2004 wood
coaster calendars today at - sorry
for the shameless plug) while Bond and I headed for the flyers!

Sabrina and Kathy traded off Bond with me so I could get my flyer fix.
As usual Knoebels Flyers are terrifying and extremely thrilling and
even though I get off of them shaken up I still want more!

Saturday afternoon was cold and wet so It seemed that Knoebels was as
dead as it normally is on Sunday. After a while Bond and I headed
back to our tent to dry off , warm up and maybe take a nap.

Bond of course didn't nap because as soon as we got into the tent it
became playtime. So after an hour of that it was time to head to
Flyer Fest for a go at the prize. I didn't get the nod but I had a
blast trying which is what it really is all about.

After Flyer Fest it was time to get Carrie and begin my transformation
into one of the Top Thrill Drag Queens. Joining me in the quest to
horrify and psychologically scar as many enthusiasts as possible was
Robert Ulrich, Ted Ansley, Jim Westland and Jim's friend Lynn. Our
crack pit crew consisted of Kathy Lyons, Andi Westland, Peggy Ulrich,
and another of Jim and Andi's friends whose name I have forgot.

Carrie took off after I was all made up and I was left to watch Bond.
Unfortunately Bond was overtired and truly horrified of me in my gown
and whig. He kept running away screaming and my quote that cracked up
those at Camp RRC was "Bond quit running away, I can't catch you in
this dress"!

After getting frightfully beautiful it was time to hit the park.
After receiving cat calls through the campground we ran into the
typical American family and proceeded to horrify them. They saw us
and immediately freaked out and made a 90 degree change in course and
just stared at the fence near the Pioneer train until we were safely
past. Other shocked and horrified looks followed as we walked through
the craft fair area on the way to get some pizza. It was great!

Shocked and horrified looks followed us through the park, haha our
plan was working just as we intended! After some pizza we were off to
the Haunted Mansion where my pit crew member Kathy protected this
little lady through the scary ride! Interestingly enough after going
through the haunted mansion several photographers including one from
the local paper started asking us to pose for pictures, cool!

After a quick tour of Knoebels haunted mansion it was off to register
for the costume parade of course we all had to have a bathroom break
before then so it was off to the rest rooms, the problem was which way
to go, the mens or the womens bathroom? We eventually settled on the
mens and I wish we had a camcorder because all of us in there was a
heck of a hilarious situation.

The new for 2003 costume parade was a blast and for the Top Thrill
Drag Queens it was time to strut our stuff! We hit on all of the good
looking men that lined the parade route for us and Robert made sure to
butter up the judges with our phone numbers for later! ;-) We shocked
and horrified people while giving others plenty to laugh about so it
was all good!

From there it was time to finally hop on the Phoenix for a moonlit
flight! There was a bunch of fog hanging in the air and combining
that with the moon made for a truly memorable series of rides. The
Phoenix kept giving more and more all the way to the end and it left
us all cheering for more. The only problem with riding in a
sleve-less gown was that it was like 40 degrees out and I had nothing
to keep me warm. Wow what wind chill!

After several rides and some hot chocolate and pumpkin pie (yumm) it
was off for some night time flyer rides! Snapping in a dress is also
interesting especially since I normally shift my weight back and
forth! Thankfully Robert loaned me his kerchief so my hair didn't
blow away!

We all finally gathered at Phoenix Junction to see how the costume
contest went and after hearing that the Flyers won third place we all
knew that we had no chance in winning. Number two were the Coaster
Clowns and when Tom Rebbie announced that we were in fact the winners
it blew all of us away and made our weekend! "You like us, you really
like us" I ripped off from Sally Field and accepted our Knoebels crew
shirts and free all day passes for 2004!

After posing for a few more fans pictures we were off to Knoebels
bonfire to end the event. We hung out for a few before Kathy, Robert
and I headed back to Camp RRC. We entered the camp singing Queens "We
are the Champions" and after getting back into real clothes we settled
back into the ring of friends hanging out around the fire for more
laughs and great times!

Sunday morning was another trip to the shower to wake up and some
leftovers for breakfast. I ended up eating a bunch of Robert's
birthday cake for breakfast, there's nothing like icing in the
morning! Slowly the camp that had been our home since Friday started
breaking down. I packed all of our stuff pretty quickly before
helping others.

After a trip to scout a possible different site for Camp RRC I took
the car out to the parking lot as I hate to come back to the deserted
camp. When I returned it was time to once again venture into Knoebels
for one last visit this year.

Everyone was anxious to use our Sky Ride tickets and all I can say is
WOW what a great ride and view. It's well worth the regular admission
price of $3! Plus it's a great way to relax and get a load off of
your feet for a while.

The herd that included Todd, Walt, the Ulrich's, the Lyons, Wraith,
AsylumGal and Carrie Bond and I headed off to have some fun on the
Scooters, Pioneer Train, Grand Carousel before grabbing some lunch
over in the craft fair. I chose a philly cheese steak and Peggy
Ulrich came back with a cheesecake on a stick. Remember stay far away
from any cake on a stick, Peggy only had one bite of the cheesecake
before tossing it! Some of us wanted flyers while others needed to
pay the Twister a visit. I opted for the Twister which was a fun ride
as usual before heading over to say bye to the Flyers.

From the flyers it was off to the Phoenix to end the day. I hate
saying goodbye on Sunday because I wish my PPP weekend with my best
friends in the world and the people that have become my family would
never come to an end. It's tough to go one way while others go
another and our paths are not due to cross until next year.

Carrie, Bond and I headed out into the parking lot, loaded up Bond's
wagon and headed out back to stop at Kathys before finishing our drive
home the next day.

We all had a truly wonderful PPP weekend with everyone and am already
counting down until next year! I'd like to thank everyone for the
great weekend and especially for Todd Long as well as Sabrina and
Jeremy for getting us there and oh yeah the Lyons for putting us up
and showing us around Erie, PA.

Have Fun and see you all next year!

If you're intrested you can see our pictures of the PPP weekend here:

Paul Drabek
Read My Blog "It's All Downhill From Here":

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