Category Archives: Roller Coasters

Where the Hell did Summer go?

I haven’t blogged for a while, so I am back on that not-so-gravy-train of literary fun. Let me fill you in what has been keeping me busy this summer, or at least in June.

A few years ago, Kriner and I started a tradition of taking the last 2 weeks of June after school is out and taking a trip, usually out east. Aside from seeing family, we like to plan little adventures and side excursions, which is exactly what we did this year. Did I mention this is a car trip? Yup.

My parents took a long car trip once with kids and another family, and frankly, that infamous trip to Texas is deserving of it’s own blog, so I won’t go into it here, but suffice to say, they did it once. That was how wise and insightful my parents were. They took a long family car trip once. This makes number three for us. Kriner and I have a problem with martyrdom but admitting it is half the problem, right? That being said, Kriner is an amazing vacation planner (please see Disney blog…) so he planned our trip around….amusement parks! I don’t necessarily like amusement parks, but I like my husband and my kid, and I really like seeing them happy, so I agreed.

If you haven’t met him, Kriner is a cynic. Not a “bit of a cynic” who may point out the price of a gift, but just a straight up, the world is pretty messed up, people kind of suck, Capitalism is awful, kind of cynic. Here’s the awesome thing about cynics. When they find something they really love, they really, really love it. They’re a tough crowd in general, so when something wins them over, it’s a huge boon. I love him for that. I tend to be a bit easy with loving stuff (he says I use the word “awesome” too much) and he tends to be a bit tougher audience member for that sort of thing. We’re a great balance. Anyway, anytime I can see him in a state of joy I will go for it. Skiing brings him joy, football gives him joy, playing drums gives him joy, watching his daughter do pretty much anything brings him joy, and roller coasters bring him joy. A lot of joy. This blog will recount our trip, and the roller coasters Kriner and Em road along the way.

APPLETON, WI to Lawrence University, for my 24th reunion. That is not a typo. I was friends with a lot of folks a year older than me, which made for a pretty lonely senior year. When I was a freshmen, my room was placed in the middle of a group of Delta Gamma sophomores who loved me and took me under their wing immediately. Needless to say, I soaked up said love, and it made me do something I never (in a million years) thought I would do; I joined a sorority. Yes, I am a “DG” and no, I will not show you the secret handshake. The reunion was a lovely affair, made only more lovely because another 24ther showed up, my friend Liz. Liz and I were more acquaintances in college, but in the past few years, we have become good friends over the internet, with shared experiences, most including lazy students and breast cancer, not necessarily in that order. Here are some important things I learned at my 24th reunion at Lawrence University.

1) Former professors are as arrogant and douche-baggy as you remember.

2) Even though I was the youngest in the room, I managed to look the oldest.

3) People’s belly laughs don’t change with age, thankfully.

4) People who you thought would be incredibly happy may not be, and people who look bored may actually be at peace and pretty cool with the world.

5) I really haven’t necessarily done that well for myself considering the education I received.

 

ROLLER COASTER COUNT

-On Saturday, Kriner and Em went to Green Bay (about a 20 minute drive) and explored the “Zippin’ Pippin” which is located on the edge of Lake Michigan. It is a city-run park (a plus for my commie husband) and the coaster is a replica of Elvis Presley’s favorite coaster. Totally serious. For some reason, the city of Green Bay decided to build a replica of a dead music icon’s favorite ride. After that, they went to the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame. (Aside from the roller coasters, he worked in some sports too…)

NEXT STOP – CEDAR POINT, SANDUSKY, OHIO

There is no reason to go to Sandusky, save going to Cedar Point Amusement Park. I know that now, because we went there. Seriously, if you love roller coasters, then you already know about Cedar Point. If you’re like me, and don’t love them, then Sandusky is not for you. Cedar Point has the largest number of roller coasters of any park in the United States. There really aren’t a whole lot of other rides. Just coasters. This meant I got a lot of reading done on my kindle. Emily and Kriner rode 12 roller coasters in one day. Seriously. I don’t think the AMA supports that kind of nonsense, but they did it. The only reason they stopped, was because Kriner pulled his left chest muscle on a wooden roller coaster (they apparently are more jerky and he was trying to hold himself steady) and he didn’t want park officials thinking he was having a heart attack, as he was forced to clutch his chest when on the rides. Seriously.

NEXT STOP – WILKES-BARRE, PA

Kriner’s family lives there. His mom recently sold her home and moved into an apartment, for which, we are all happy. (She was smack in the middle of flood country. Now she gets a pool.) We were out there for her birthday, and had a lovely time. We spent a day in NYC, as Wilkes-Barre is less than 2 hours away. We saw Spiderman. Kriner and Em were the ones who braved the 1/2 price line.  Now, I must admit that Spiderman wasn’t on my list of shows I wanted to see, ever.  But, I immediately did a “look for the rainbow” check of my disappointment. “Hey, I’m in New York, going to see a Broadway show…you’re going to love it…look how happy – dare I say ‘joyful’ my husband looks! Shut up and enjoy the damn show.” You know what? I totally enjoyed it.

The script sucked, the music was..well, you know that one U2 song you know? Go ahead and get it in your head for a minute…Yeah, it sounds like that. But the technical aspects of this show were staggeringly good. It was like they picked up the gauntlet that “Wicked” threw down and ran with it around the track a few times. The set never stopped moving, they had more intelligent lights than I could count and the acrobatics were stunning. It was easy to see how a few actors had to be sacrificed for it. (If you didn’t know, it had a very rough opening, and more than 1 hospitalization…I get it now.) However, the night we saw it, no one got hurt, and Spiderman and Julie Taymore (one of my favorite directors ever) saved the day.

COASTER COUNT – We also spent a day at one of my favorite amusement parks, Knobbel’s. I actually like this park a lot. It is owned by a family, and has that kind of feel to it. There is no booze allowed, which, for those who know me, may be shocked, but it really makes it all the more fun. Tons of happy kids, tons of sunburned, laughing parents and tons of rides. One thing they have at the park is a really, really old and beautifully restored Merry-Go-Round with the “ring” feature. You know that saying “catch the brass ring?” Well, it came from old rides like this. The Merry-Go-Round has a metal arm that pushes out when the ride starts, and iron rings that pop out; you grab them as you go. In that line of iron rings, is one brass ring, and if you get the brass ring, then you get to ride again for free. I really, really love that. How great that a catch phrase came from a ride? I love the metaphor of it all. It makes me happy and actually, brings me joy.

This was the first year Emily could reach the rings. I cried. They actually sell brass rings in the gift shop, and every year, I buy too many and give them as gifts. Again, the perfect metaphor. “Here you go, here’s your brass ring. You’ve got it all.” I see them time to time on my friend’s key chains. Still makes me happy. Oh yeah, Emily and Kriner rode on 6 coasters that day.

NEXT STOP WASHINGTON D.C.

I had never been to our Nation’s Capitol and I thought it was high time we introduced our little American to it. I had been warned the city causes a pretty serious patriotic reaction, bordering on jingoistic. It’s true. We were about a seven minute walk from the White House and when I spotted it over the trees, my eyes filled immediately. The one thing about that trip was we walked a ton. We saw as much as we could and walked almost everywhere. We took the subway once, and took a cab once. Other than that, we hoofed it. We went to three of the Smithsonian Museums: Space, American and Native American. Screw the art, right? I saw space shuttles and the Hope Diamond. I saw Marvin Defoe’s birchbark canoe. (He’s a local Red Cliff resident, pretty cool!) We toured Congress and even met the First Lady. OK, not really, but we had to be re-routed twice as motorcades came and went. That was pretty cool. The food in D.C. is easy for a vegan, and we stayed in a fabulous hotel. (Note to self – when asked “would you like the free upgrade to the suite?” always answer “yes, please.”)

No roller coasters, but my heart rose and sank just the same when I saw the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King statue. We toured the Ford’s Theater, and had a fabulous lunch with our friend Timothy who is a local girl done good, as she now is a curator for the new African-American Smithsonian Museum they are building. The lawn was ripped up and the reflecting pool was empty (metaphor?) but we didn’t care. It was a great trip.

 

COASTER COUNT – 0

NEXT STOP – CINCINNATI

Turns out, one of my all-time best friends from high school, and all-around fabulous guy, Joe Rigotti lives in Cincinnati. Also, it is a logical place to stay given the drive and (gasp) turns out the Brewer’s were playing the Reds while we were there. Kriner and Em caught a few games.

I spent time in the hotel by myself, a new-found hobby. I am not the type of person who enjoys being alone; I find it exhausting. I also feel bad for doing “nothing.” If I am home alone, I tend to do laundry or dishes or find something to do. However, in a hotel room, I can’t do that, I just lay around and watch HBO. No guilt, no “to do” list, no nothing, just me and the bed and the remote. Luxury.

At one point I dig drag myself up and out to go meet with Joe for a coffee and later dinner.  He looks fabulous (again, I am amazed that these people look so much younger than I) and seems happy. He is an event coordinator, and everyone in town knows and likes him, or at least it seems that way. He may be outgrowing Cincinnati…he’s that awesome.

Cinncinati is a pretty cool town. Right on a river, it has a lot going for it. We went up the Rod Carew Tower, although we were trying to figure out why it is called that, since he wasn’t from there and wasn’t really known for playing with the Reds; it was a nice view nonetheless. It’s very tall; tall enough to make me nervous in the rickety old elevator that holds 4 at a time, but a lovely view.

Coaster Count – 0 (but that tower was really tall)

LAST STOP BEFORE HOME – MACKINAW.

This was the first time we kind of explored the city of Mackinaw, and it was a fun tourist trap for sure. There are lots of restaurants and stores, ice cream, fudge and moccasins, but they present it in a very pretty package. Unknowingly, we trespassed into a closed fort, and walked around. We were so surprised to see everything was open, and we just kind of sauntered around, peeking in buildings and checking stuff out. On our way out, I noticed the gate, and the lock, and the signs…oops. When you’re walking on the beach, well, sometimes you miss stuff.

Mackinaw is pretty cool, especially under the bridge.  I  like dipping my toe into one Great Lake and then take a few steps and dipping it into another.

COASTER COUNT – 0 but driving over the bridge should totally count.

FINALLY TALLY:

Coasters ridden – 19

Great Lakes stepped in – 4

Miles walked – 1,793,967,355,298,089,786,766,102,800.

Amazing Things Seen – too many to remember them all, but hopefully enough to make some great memories.

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Disney (Part 1)

Kriner and I have very little in common.  He is vegan; I love meat.  He is an exercise fanatic; I sit on the couch and use the remote.  I love musical theater, he would rather go to the dentist.  I’m loud; he’s quiet.  He’s a planner, I’m spontaneous.  He gives 100%; I clock in around 60.  He’s concerned with the state of the environment; I’m concerned with the state of entertainment.  Kriner hates being embarrassed, and unfortunately for him, that is where I live.

There is one thing however, we have in common which will surprise many.  We both have an undying love for Disneyworld.  I’m completely and utterly serious.  We love Disney and all things Disney.  For all its consumerism, marketing, plastic and fakery, we “buy in” big.

Disney has the ability to melt my cynicism and snark and leave me in a puddle of tears when walking down Mainstreet USA, listening to the constant orchestrated soundtrack and watching the faces of children.  (They actually release doves when the park opens.)  For Kriner, it is a place of amazing rides, education and culture.  (Disney really does sneak in a lot of cultural and environmental education under the guise of “fun.”)  We really love it.

When we go to Disneyworld, I leave everything up to my husband.  Kriner is all about the planning.   Disney has four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and MGM Studios) and he has researched them to the hilt.  He knows the short cuts, the good food, and the trouble spots. He knows where to go and what to avoid.  He knows what parks open early; he knows what parks are open late.  He knows where the parades are going to be, and most importantly he knows how to manage the lines.  We have been there 3 times, and we have never, NEVER waited more than 13 minutes in a line for a ride, and even that is a rarity.  I am completely serious.   And these aren’t dumb insignificant rides like Goofy’s Barnstormer, and the lame tram in Tomorrowland; these are big, impressive rides like Space Mountain, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain.  He has a system and it works, but it comes at a cost.

In order to make it work, we need to strictly adhere to the system.  We take our vacations pretty seriously, and no one ever returns from a Woodworth/Kriner vacation feeling relaxed and well-rested.  We have things to do and Disney characters to see.  Kriner is the captain and Em and I his crew and we do what he says, no matter how taxing it may be.  It almost becomes a bit of a religion with its own dogma and practices.  He even has Commandments…

1. There shall be no sleeping in.  All wise and good men and their families shall be up before the sun so they can cleanse and feed their bodies in order to make pilgrimage to the chosen park of the blessed day.  All feeding during the breaking of dawn shall happen in the holy hotel room, as it saves consecrated time and blessed money.

2. A wise man and will be waiting in line before the park opens.  When the park opens in the sacred time of the early morning, there shall be no dilly dallying, and all rides in close proximity shall be shunned, for they are evil and can tempt a man into a hellish line.  The wise man will move to the back of the park and work his way back to the front, moving against the tide of the unwise who are sinful line-waiters.  It is then that his good and chaste wife will travel with haste to the other most desired and deserved rides and obtain the righteous and holy fast-pass.

3. The fast-pass is a thing of glory and shall never be mocked or taken in vain.  It must be heeded at all costs.  There shall be no stopping for ice cream or photos with park characters if it means missing a fast-pass.  It is the way and the law.

4. A man must not be afraid to run verily in the park in order to avoid the temptation of the hellish line.  If the good wife is hesitant to do this, she must repeat the mantra “It’s OK, no one knows us here.”

5. At the holy hour of 2:00 pm, a wise man and his family will go back to the holy hotel room for a time of replenishing.  This is the blessed time of swimming, napping and snacking.

A wise man and his family will then return back to the sacred Disney fully refreshed at 6:00 pm for dinner and again, he shall go into the park against the tide of the unwise, exhausted and often sunburned man who is leaving at this time.  The wise man is refreshed and jubilant going in.  The unwise man is spent and cranky going out.

6. After the 6:00 dinner, the family members will then have time to be “open to what they want to do” and no plan need be followed.  This is the most special time of reward for the man who had planned, as the wise man knows. This is a time of low attendance in the park and hellish lines can be avoided.  However, this special evening time may not coincide with special evening parades, for then the purpose is lost and he may again be tempted down the path of the hellish lines, as the unwise man seeks out the parades, the wise man avoids them.

7. Midday meal will be planned and shall not be eaten with sloth or vanity.  It is sustenance only and if possible, should be eaten while walking.  The only meal of the day that can be eaten with enjoyment and abundance is the evening meal.  Reservations for all evening meals must be made in advance at least 30 days prior to the pilgrimage.  This is done to avoid the hellish lines.

8. If a wise man’s mother-in-law is with him on his pilgrimage, a wheelchair must be procured for her, even if she is perfectly capable of walking.  Without it, she will be slow and weak.  The divine wheelchair will also help with avoiding the temptation of the hellish line, as on certain glorious rides, the mother-in-law will be able to move to the front of the hellish line and her family can also be permitted into the glorious gates of “handicapped access entrance.”

Also, if a child is under the age of 6, a stroller will be procured for the child.  The good and wise wife will push the child even if the child is perfectly capable to walk.  This also makes sure that all young and old people do not stray from “the way” and get diverted into the temptation of the t-shirt shop or the evil pin seller.

9. There shall be no pilgrimage to the consecrated Disneyworld Parks during Christmas, Easter, or Halloween.  Those are times of the most evil temptation and the hellish lines cannot be avoided even by the best of wise and good men.  March, May and June are blessed times for the hallowed passage and the wise and good man will be rewarded.

10. There shall be no staying on park property.  It is wasteful and mocks the holy Priceline and the blessed Orbitz.  A wise man and his family will get a hotel in the glorious city of Orlando and rent a car to travel to and fro.  (Also, a wise man will use his AAA status to get the glorious green parking pass to get sanctified “rock star” parking.)  This wise man might be tempted to get a midsize or larger car, but that is not the way.  The car shall be economy and the mother-in-law or child can be cramped in the divine back seat for that very short distance.  They shall be rewarded in the park afterwards for their suffering.

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