Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wild Thing

On Saturday morning, I got the itch to go to Valleyfair (I hadn't been there in 3 years). My friend, Shanon, couldn't get off work, so I recruited my life partner to accompany me. Instead of having to pay $35 to get in, I thought it would make more financial sense to go to what's called Starlight admission (if you arrive after 5pm, it's only $19). We listened to some Cascada on our way up there. I had checked weather.com earlier. It said that it would be mostly sunny for the rest of the day with the high being around 82. We paid our 10 bucks to get into the lot and headed for the lobby, I mean, the admission gate. I noticed quite a lot of other people being admitted at this time (guess I'm not the only chap in MN looking to save a few pennies).

Once inside, I was rarin' to go. I have an interesting strategy when it comes to going on amusement park rides. I like to focus on the coasters, but don't go on whatever's closest or the scariest one first. I go on the least imposing ones first and gradually work my way up to the Big Kahunas. So, as usual, the first one to ride was gonna be the Corkscrew. Though it goes upside down, it's only for a few seconds (the entire ride is about 30 seconds). Since I hadn't been on a ride in 3 years, even the Corkscrew seemed intense. Oh shit. Would I still be able to handle the big rides?

Number 2 on my list was going to the bathroom. No, it was the old-school wooden coaster High Roller.

Built in 1976, it was the first coaster that Valleyfair built. As I queued up, some kids who had just ridden it got back in line to go again. For some reason, they really liked this 30-year old beast. One of them said he wished he could time travel back to '76 when it was brand new and state-of-the-art. I wanted to say, "Kid, the 70's weren't all that, you know. You like rap music? It didn't exist back then. Video games? Same thing". Don't get me wrong, though. It is a groovy ride.

One thing I started to notice is that Valleyfair was playing all 80's music. When we entered the park, it was "Love Shack". As the day progressed, many other relics of those long-ago days were played. It made me feel like I was 13 again (though I was too scared to go on coasters back then).

Next it was on to Valleyfair's newest ride, the Western-themed roller coaster Renegade. Whenever I hear the name of this ride, I think of a Tim McGraw song from the mid-9o's that is also called "Renegade". There was a bit of a line, but I was itchin' to go on something I hadn't been on before. It was a pretty damn fast-moving coaster. For some reason, the Old West theme of the ride wasn't going through my head when I was on it. I guess I was thinking more about surviving. As we exited, a guy behind us was asking his daughter if she liked it. She said "Yes" very excitedly. He then told her that one of the turns had jerked his neck pretty bad. Poor guy. He was probably in pain for the rest of the evening.

It should be noted that I was doing a small-scale experiment that afternoon. I was attempting to go on all the rides in a meditative state of mind. I took deep breaths before the rides started in order to relax myself, to see if I could keep my heart rate from racing while they were in motion. I had the best success when going on Power Tower.

I could either go up fast and descend slowly or go up slow and then be dropped with no warning. I elected for the former. I was buckled in and slowed my breathing as I knew we would be going up mighty fast in the next few seconds. All of a sudden, we rose 25 stories in the air. I watched as the people below got smaller and smaller. I confess to a bit of fear. I guess it's only natural when looking down from high above. A person is meant to be on the ground. That's why God gave us feet.

The last ride we went on before getting a bite to eat was the Wild Thing, a super fast roller coaster that goes just about as high as the Power Tower. I've always said that Valleyfair should build a ride that combined the best elements of the Wild Thing with those of the Corkscrew. It could be called the Wild Screw. :P

While waiting in line, one of the cars had stalled while going up the first giant hill (it froze about a third of the way up). I had to smile a bit as others in the queue looked up and saw what had happened. Nobody left, however. The ride was started again a few minutes later and Prince's masterpiece "Let's Go Crazy" played as go-time approached. An African-American lady in front of me said a prayer to the Lord that the car would work properly. I was like, "If you want to be really safe, don't go on it". Though I'd been on it before, the Wild Thing provoked the strongest reaction in me. The first drop is quite precipitous and as I looked down, I audibly said "Shit". Near the end of the ride, a number of cameras take pictures of all the riders. I knew this was coming, so gave a thumbs-up as my pic was taken.

One thing I haven't mentioned is that I was wearing a Borat T-shirt. It says "High-Five!" on it (I have another one that looks like this:

but elected not to wear it). I loved looking at people's faces in the queue as they saw it. One teenage girl literally scrunched up her face. Mission accomplished!

Well, by this time, I was quite spent, so me and the Mrs. went to a sports bar that served mostly pizza. The air conditioning felt good after being out in the sun. We ordered a deluxe pie and then found a seat upstairs. The Vikings preseason game was being projected on a giant wall screen, but when I saw Obama's face on one of the smaller telly's, I knew that's where we would be sitting. Both Obama and McCain were in California to speak separately with Rick Warren about "faith" issues. They talked about much more than faith, however (education, the poor, and going to war were also discussed).

I sat down and faced the TV while my partner faced the opposite direction. There was no volume, but thankfully, closed captioning was enabled. My girl didn't realize I was watching the closed-captioning, so kept asking me questions which I would answer somewhat half-heartedly since I was so into the discussion on TV. I'm not supposed to eat much saturated fat, but figured having a few pieces of pizza every couple weeks shouldn't kill me. I probably should've prayed before the meal that I would get no ill effects from it, but like before, the better way to proceed woulda been not to eat the stuff at all. McCain came out to speak as we finished our meal. I watched a few minutes, but quickly grew tired of it.

I was thinking about hitting a few more rides, but either the lines were too long or the ride appeared too intense for me (I don't like the ones that flip you over and over and sideways and all that jazz). After browsing the souvenir shops, we headed home. On the ride back, while listening to some Steely Dan, I noticed that my neck was aching a bit. Why would my neck be hurting?

Uh, hello, genius, 3 guesses?

It was the pizza.



Rocketstar said...

My favorite is still the Enterprise.

Thomas said...

The Enterprise is a classic (it's been there ever since I was a kid in the late 70's). Never been on it, but perhaps I'll give it a try the next time I go out there.

disestablishingpuritanism said...

I love the rides that simply go up and down. The more you go upside-down, sideways, and other seemingly gravity-defying moves, I'm about to hurl. Love the Borat T. I gotta' get me one of those.

Thomas said...

Dis, I'm with you on sticking mostly to the vertical rides. My neck strain was in no way caused by the Power Tower.

You should most assuredly get the Borat T. Is nice!!

Phats said...

Those look like fun rides!! You ever make it to Indiana we can head over to Kings Island. You have to ride the Beast :)

I love the free falling rides those are awesome

Thomas said...

Yeah, going to a different amusement park would be a great treat. Thanks for the invite!