Under The Milky Way: CAC 2005
Parks visited: Riverfront (9/23/05), Silverwood (9/24/05), Six Flags
Enchanted Village (9/25/05) and the Puyallup Fair (9/25/05)
Weather: Shorts weather by day, cold weather riding gear by night
Crowds: Non-existent, except for the packed Puyallup Fair.
I wasn't supposed to be at CAC this year. But a lot of things that
weren't supposed to happen have already happened this year, and when I
saw a good airfare to Seattle, I decided to add one more to the pile.
;-) CAC 2002 had been one of my favorite events ever, and I had the
pleasure this time of NOT needing to CreHo myself all over the
northwest; since I'd already been to Vancouver and Fun Forest, and
SFEV would not be open, it was a no-brainer to insert myself into
Flare and Jimvid's plan to drive to Idaho, do Silverwood, drive back
to Seattle, Do The Puyallup, and go home. A nice relaxing weekend,
with only 10 hours of driving crammed into it...what a Bass-style plan
Jim and Dave came up with, LOL! Only Moosh and Dave knew that I was
coming, so it was time to spring a patented "Bass Surprise" on a few
of my closest friends!
The night before the event, Moosh and I went for an awesome sushi
dinner in Hollywood before I headed over to Moosh's to crash and wait
for our extremely early departure the next morning. I woke to find
Papa Moosh in da house and it was great to see him again...you can see
where Moosh gets his coolness when you meet his dad! Pops drove us to
the airport and I had a very easy breeze thru ticketing and security
to get to my Southwest flight. 4 hours (and a short jaunt to Salt Lake
City) later and I was on the ground in Seattle, waiting for Jet Blue
to deliver Dave and Jim. Upon arrival, Jim looked right at me and
walked past, but eventually recognized me after I bonked him in the
head a few times, LOL! Hey, he just spent 6 hours flying
cross-country, I'll give him a little leeway. 'Twas great to see him
and Dave again, and soon we were loaded in our Buick LeSabre (no Crown
Vic, but it did the job) and on our way to Interstate 90 and the great
big wide-opens of Washington state.
The drive through the Cascades was pretty damn brilliant. It's a nice
run of mountainous terrain and leafy goodness that eventually runs
downhill to the Columbia River Gorge. The first half is a stellar
drive that was highly anticipated and did not disappoint. The second
half of the drive sucks major ass; very reminiscent of California's
central valley run between SF and LA, and that's NOT a good thing. I
took the wheel from Flare somewhere in Bumf*ck, Washington and we were
pleased to finally see Spokane in the front windshield, as that's
where the drive begins to spruce up a bit, heralding the oncoming
visual splendor of Idaho. Unfortunately, a Washington State Trooper in
the breakdown lane, who no doubt follows the trip reports and
adventures of Team Short Bus and the Road To Nowhere crew, decided to
wave us over just so he could get mentioned in this trip report.
Bastard. It really sucks to get a speeding ticket one exit before the
end of a 5-hour drive...argh.
Driving a bit slower, we still made it to Riverfront Park in Spokane
fairly quickly. The day was waning but the weather was gorgeous, and a
warm golden glow filled the streets of Spokane with a relaxing late
summer air. We parked across the street from the world's largest Red
Wagon (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) and took a bunch of goofy photos before
exploring the park. This park is a pretty place, very relaxing, and
it's spread out in a decent fashion around the Spokane River Falls.
There is a nice old carousel there, with a great ring toss game that
Jim proceeded to own, filing the clown's mouth with rings...I think he
hit three in a row at one point, and I never even got close. The
park's sky ride, which apparently goes out over the river and back, is
being refurb'ed and was unfortunately SBNO.
The Falls themselves were running pretty low due to the season, but
you got the impression that they could be an impressive sight when the
river is running full on. There's a great network of bridges that
allow you to cross back and forth over the River and I'd love to come
back when the River is putting on a show to check it out. After a
quick wander through the indoor amusement area, we decided we were
getting ready for dinner and to chill out following our day of travel,
so we completed the last 1/2 hour of our drive and checked into my
favorite (coaster-related) hotel in the world, the Red Lion in Post
Falls, Id. This property is not really that spectacular...it's
certainly clean, and the staff is efficient and friendly. It's the
little things that make this one of my favorite places on Earth: the
view of the Spokane River, right outside your doorstep or balcony, and
the tree-covered hillsides behind it...the heavenly good food
available in Mallard's, the hotel restaurant...the cheesy bar/pool
room/karaoke den that always seems to yield a really damn good time. I
would love to spend a week here sometime...and it doesn't hurt that
you can Priceline the place for $35!
Settling into our rooms and unwinding a bit, we eventually decamped to
Mallard's for an excellent dinner. We had a lot of fun with the sassy
head waitress and our server, while I enjoyed a delish prime rib and
Flare and I split an ungodly good desert consisting of an ice cream
sundae sitting on top of a honeycomb-like wafer. DAMN, that was good.
Jim decided to call it a night while Dave and I proceeded to the bar
to shoot some pool and watch the karaoke hilarity. We were having a
blast, laughing our asses off, when who should walk in but good
friends Bill "Gator" Lentzsch and Rob "Robocoaster" Bob. Coaster fans
Frank and Kyle soon joined our party, and it turned into a totally
unexpected late night of revelry, with us closing the bar down at 2
am. Damn good times, and a real harbinger of just how good this trip
Continuing the lifestyle changes I've begun this year, I woke up at
7:30 am and hit the gym for an hour, despite a bit of a
hangover...hey, it's either going to kill me or make me stronger,
right? ;-) Soon we were on the road to Silverwood, as Dave needed to
get the booth set up and make sure Chain Dog Media was ready to host
their first event. Arriving at Silverwood to find a beautiful morning
awaiting us, we were happy to see the park had already set up a canopy
for registration. Moosh pulled up soon afterwards, and it was good to
see him, Papa Moosh, Dawn, and to meet Matt Smith for the first time.
And, who's that in the passenger seat? Another person who wasn't
supposed to be there, Nasai! Damn, it had been a long time since I had
seen him (fall of 2003, to be exact) and it was a pleasure as always!
I was also pleased to see Dan Miron from NYC again, and to meet his nice
The park had some swag to be brought up to the front gate so Jimvid,
Matt and I volunteered and we soon found ourselves hauling boxes of
cups, sports bottles, and pieces of wood down to the front for the
attendees. When we returned, the number of early arrivals had swelled
noticeably, and it was looking like a good turnout for the walk-back
to Coaster Alley. This was first chance to enter the "lovely" presence
of piece-of-work coaster "enthusiast" Joan Burleigh, who distinguished
herself from the very mellow, laid-back and cool crowd there that day
by complaining to Moosh about EVERYTHING related to the event. What a
sour old **** (apply your own euphemism here). I told Moosh he should
just pull a $50 out of his pocket the next time she complained, swipe
her Reg Pack out of her hands, and politely dismiss her from the
event...fortunately, he's a tad more graceful and diplomatic than I
am, LOL! But I did decide that I was going to hip check her into a
planter if I heard her complaining again that day. Fortunately (for
her) I wasn't in ear shot for any more of her tirades that day...
As 11 am neared the park corralled the now-large throng and led us via
side-gate into the park. It was nice to be back inside Silverwood
again. The park just has such a laid-back vibe to it, and of course
it's surrounded by the tree-shrouded mountains of Idaho in all
directions. But the big attraction is of course the two stellar
woodies that strangle Coaster Alley in a tangle of trackage and
supports. It was cool to watch a few newbies to the park try to decide
whether to gape at Tremors or Timber Terror first! Good times.
The park would prove to be empty this day, which was a nice change
from the last time I visited in 2002. The walk-back led to over an
hour of ERT-like conditions, as both rides were walk-ons and the
enthusiasts made their way back and forth between the two. After
numerous satisfying rides on both (I felt that both were running
better than they were at peak night time condition in 2002, and this
was at only noon (YIKES!)) we ventured into the park for a leisurely
stroll. Since most in my group had already been to the park 1 or 2
times, there was no pressure to get it all done. We simply wanted to
do some things that one or the other of us had missed in prior visits.
For me, the big goal was to get on the train. It's a nice, leisurely
ride, a little scenic but not as much as one would think, and broken
up by the very cheesy "Bear and Gopher Show". It was a little sad, but
goofy enough to entertain. Pity they blew their best joke (the banjo
riff from "Deliverance") in the first minute. It was all downhill from
there, LOL! At least the very talkative Conductor (Steamer) kept a
rolling riff of patter going all throughout the ride, even making
remarks about the "big crowd of coaster enthusiasts" in the middle of
the train. It's a fun ride, but Steamer needs to change his name to
"Groaner", because he offered up more than a few.
Even more fun were the jacked-up bumper cars. These high-backed cars,
similar to those offered at Dorney and Santa Cruz, provided a rough
and tumble ride, and we were able to take over two full cycles after
some careful planning in the queue. These cars tend to go faster in
reverse than forward, so I repeatedly pulled forward to a wall, put it
in reverse, and drove backwards until I hit something. We were all
getting some major air from some violent collisions. Too much fun!
The day lasted an amazingly long time, one of those priceless
amusement park sunny days that seems to last for many more hours than
there are in the day. The park impressed as always, we met some great
employees (the attendant in the pizza parlor being practically the
BEST employee I have ever seen in a theme park) but what made the day
was an ever-shifting cast of characters that made the day so much
better. As I said over and over to anyone who would listen, the day
felt tailor-made for ME in terms of being surrounded by most of my
favorite people in the world. The whole weekend (but especially this
day) was just one big smile overload.
After a day of fun, we all gathered for the group photo in Coaster
Alley, and then for the dinner in the pavilion behind Tremors. The
dinner was fantastic, a great banquet of ribs, chicken, baked beans,
and potato salad. So tasty, and tons of food. I went for seconds and
could have gone for thirds but decided that was probably a bad idea.
Throughout dinner, the event organizers kept us entertained, giving
away some cool prizes and informing the attendees that water and
snacks would be available at the tables between the two rides. What a
great way to address one of the few problems I had at my last CAC.
The time to ride finally arrived, and it was a nice taste of fall to
see enthusiasts donning their heavy jackets, hats, and gloves. It was
definitely getting chillier, but I knew the adrenaline would soon be
warming me up, and I was fine with a light jacket and glove liners.
It's good to be a big sweaty beast sometimes. ;-)
The ride time was a delicious, delirious piece of old school romp.
Double, triple and quadruple rides, the lights in the area dimmed, and
some great, great, GREAT ride ops added to the enthusiasm of the
attendees to make the quintessential fun coaster evening. You know the
coasters were delivering when the operators were taking turns riding
with us and getting as crazy as us coaster tools. For this year, I
found both coasters improved over their already stellar prior
performance in 2002. Tremors was more intense than ever. That slam
downwards in the second tunnel was making the most awesome sound this
year, like a ton of bricks dropped off a five-story building into an
empty dumpster. ROCK. The big 470-degree turn seemed to be tracking
better than ever, yielding some air in the "bridge out" section that
was just not there the last time I rode. The remainder of the ride
continues to lack a bit of the forces I wish it ended with, but the
second tunnel series is always intense and hitting the brake run just
means you're that much closer to experiencing the first drop-first
tunnel combo again. And that
lateral-air-slam-what-the-****-just-happened-to-me moment after the
first tunnels remains the single most intense, abrupt, disturbing and
disorienting moment on any coaster anywhere. Word.
Timber Terror was also running VERY well, yielding more air than
before, especially in the front and the back. I still can't put it in
my Top Ten wood (whereas Tremors remains in a ten-way tie for number
one in my standings) but it sure bubbled closer this visit. Tremors is
the serious beast, demanding that you either go hands up or hold on
for dear life. There's no playfulness there. TT is the playground
coaster, with "lateral wars" breaking out everywhere. Dawn tried to
moosh me but she just didn't have knack...Nasai however nearly broke
my ribs on the far turnaround! But let's just say that he was on the
wrong side of the train for the ending series...for three rides in a
I ended the night riding with Nasai, and we bagged a triple ride in
the front of Tremors, a triple ride in the front of TT, and then a
double ride in the back seat of Tremors. I enjoyed seeing Dave's
happiness as we climbed the lift hill for the last time and took stock
of Tremor's full train that we were riding in, and TT's full train
that was hitting the helix off in the distance. Unlike prior CAC's,
there were lots of hardcore riders this time who went the distance.
Following our final ride, the crowd gathered in Coaster Alley as the
event organizers said thanks to the attendees for being great guests
and for helping to make the event a no-bummer fest of woodie-riding
goodness. And we attendees gave Chain Dog a rousing hand for running a
STELLAR event. Can't wait to see what Matt and Dave have up their
sleeves next! We all wandered out of the park and would have stood
talking in the parking lot for hours but for the fact that it was
getting REALLY cold out there. I said goodbye to the people I wouldn't
be seeing the next day and then we made our way back to the Red Lion.
We again finished the evening in the Lounge, rehashing the event and
just generally vibing on the good will towards our hobby that the
evening's events had renewed our faith in.
Sunday morning we were up and out by 10 am and on the road back to
Seattle. The drive seemed to fly by a lot quicker, and I got to drive
through the vaguely challenging Cascades portion of the drive this
time. Soon we found ourselves through the Snoqualamie Pass and on our
way down to Federal Way. We had heard a rumor that Enchanted Village
might open this day, and I was hoping it was so. I hadn't yet taken a
trip that hasn't yielded at least one new credit, and I wasn't
expecting to get any on this one. Fortunately, though, SFEV was open,
and was EMPTY. Dave and Jim had already been to the park, so we just
needed to bag me the three credits and then move on to Puyallup.
The park is pretty, and the water park rocks, but they are charging
WAY too much for what's there, LOL! The Arrow looper was competent and
not too head-bangy, the Zamperla mousie was cute and fun, and then it
was time to climb the hill to ChickenHawk: Wooden Freeway to Nowhere.
This is a coaster that Jim and Dave were unanimous in their hatred
for. All the way to the park it was "bottom 5 woodie" this and "damn
credit ho Miller" that. I kept telling them, wouldn't it be funny if
the ride really improved this year, and no one went to visit SFEV so
it was never reported on the coaster boards? Call me the eternal
optimist, but I was hoping for a little something special: some
redemption for this poor, maligned coaster.
Well, it didn't totally redeem itself, but it wasn't all bad either.
The negatives are plentiful: the way the trains shuffle and fight the
gauge on the turns, the wimpiness of some of the drops, and especially
that WHAT THE F*CK of an Interstate 90- imitation ending. I think
there's more straight track on Chickenhawk than all the rocket
coasters combined. BUT...the ride was actually delivering some air in
the middle section. Not Georgia-Cyclone-Stand-Up-Air, but a strong pop
in the front, and a few good pulls in the back. Dave had to grudgingly
admit it had moved into his bottom 20 and out of his bottom 5. I found
it to be a competent woodie, a real middle-ranker, which might do
better if some thought (ANY THOUGHT) had gone into fixing that stupid
We then exited the park and headed down the road to Puyallup. I had
visited the Fair in 2002 and had a stellar day with Dave. This would
be Jim's first visit. I suppose we should have anticipated crowds,
given that it was a weekend AND the last day of the Fair. A further
complication was the Hilary Duff (gag) concert going on inside. None
of us were prepared for the total mob scene the street in front of the
fair was. We managed to snag a decent parking spot though, and entered
Damn, I've never seen anything as crowded as this place was, LOL! Jim
wanted to stay and take photos, but both Dave and I (who had gone on a
weekday last time and had had no problems with crowds) got really
nutted up about the mobs and decided to get the hell out of there.
Plans were made to meet with Jim later, and we connected with Gator
and Robo on the way out. We walked down the street to Puyallup Park
and spent an enjoyable part of the day sitting at a picnic table in
the sun and chatting with each other, and enjoying the nice view of
Mt. Rainier off in the distance. All 4 of us had been to the Fair in
better conditions, and we wanted no part of the crowd that was crammed
in there on this day.
After allowing a reasonable amount of time for crowds to thin, we
ventured back in. We wandered the grounds getting photos and checking
out the livestock. The crowds had simmered down enough to actually
walk the midways now, and the ride lines were shrinking a bit. So,
that must mean it's time to ride Coaster: Thrill Ride! This is a nice
slice of the past, with a hint of some good air and just a really
pleasant ride that's all about FUN. On the advice of Robo, I took a
solo ride in the back seat of Ol' Yeller. This was a good call, as the
lack of a seat divider made the laterals much more fun. This is a
great little ride.
The new giant flat ride for this year (the Huss Jump, replacing the
portable Frisbee) was next. I know most of my fellow enthusiasts were
underwhelmed by the ride, but I found it to be really fun and I
laughed hysterically through the entire cycle. I loved the high up
spinning action, and the raising and lowering of the ride vehicle was
impressive to me. We finished our Fair visit, and the trip, with a
giggle-filled run on the Wildcat, yet another wonderful Schwartzkopf.
Leaving the park, we had to get the rental gassed, find my hotel, and
get Jim and Dave on their way for the midnight redeye back to NYC.
This was accomplished quickly enough (after a stupid map screw-up by
me - why the hell are there TWO parts of Highway 167 that BOTH go
north??), and soon my two traveling companions were off to SEATAC.
Thanks for letting me hang with you guys, it was a pleasure and can't
wait to see ya again!! I met up with Gator, Jill, Robo, and a VERY
tired Moosh, Dawn and Matt (Vancouver's a ***** after CAC, isn't it)
and we had a late dinner together while rehashing the trip (well,
Moosh and company crashed early, but the rest of us had dinner, LOL)!
Robo and I woke fairly early to get me to my 10 am flight back to
L.A., and I made it home with the greatest of ease.
It was so great to see all of my coaster buds this past weekend. This
year has been very hard on me and every single one of my friends has
stepped up to be there for me at some time or another during a
turbulent period. I am so grateful that I have met so many good
people, and that y'all keep putting up with me and my wisecracks, LOL!
Thanks to everyone who made this weekend the biggest blast I've had in
a LONG time.
Also wanted to drop a thanks to Silverwood for being a great host, and
to Chain Dog Media for doing a bang-up job on their first event. These
guys understand what goes into making a good event great, and I expect
to see some more good things coming from them in the future. Do
yourselves a favor, and sign up the next time they announce one. You
won't regret it!
Oh, and photos are available for your viewing pleasure at:
(Copy the whole link, including the "@sbcglobal.net" part, to see the photos)
*** Edited 10/3/2005 10:42:04 PM UTC by BaSSiStiSt*** *** Edited 10/3/2005 10:44:05 PM UTC by BaSSiStiSt***
Thanks for the mention, Mike. Miss ya, and really enjoyed that day with you. Too bad you couldn't make it to HW for the event. I'm writing a TR as we speak, so you can catch up on that.
Regardless, thanks for the great TR, and take care. :)
Then to have Nasai show up in the exit of my first ride the next morning was incredible. The two of you really were the icing on the cake!
These cars tend to go faster in
reverse than forward, so I repeatedly pulled forward to a wall, put it
in reverse, and drove backwards until I hit something. We were all
getting some major air from some violent collisions. Too much fun
My thoughts exactly. I may have hit the opposite wall once or twice, but generally I knew I'd hit someone, at some point, going fast in reverse. Way too much fun!
Thanks for writing a TR, so my lazy a** can go back to trying to catch-up on "Firefly" before watching "Serenity". :)
*** Edited 10/4/2005 4:29:23 PM UTC by Robocoaster***
...and I was the creamy filling! ;)
You said cream.
You said cream.
I don't have a problem. I've enabled myself to enjoy the goo...
Too bad I missed the HW event. Guess you'll just have to come to Solace, eh (whilst telling everyone to the contrary)?
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