Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mortality Check courtesy Cedar Point - Posted by Lisa

Alternate title: You know you're an old fart when...

Yesterday, Chris and I took advantage of a kid-free day (Christopher is camping with Chris' parents, and my parents took Ian for 24 hours) to drive down to Cedar Point (aka, "America's Roller Coast") to satisfy our need for speed. Both Chris and I have each been roller coaster freaks, if you will, for most of our lives. We, however, had never had the opportunity to ride them together. Previously, the only time we had been to CP as a couple (or any amusement park for that matter), was the year I was pregnant with no thrill rides for me.

But this time was different. A last minute deposit of the kids with the grandparents, coupled with a non-pregnant me, meant we could ride until we puked (if we wanted to, anyway). I was so excited!

So yesterday morning, we awoke around 7:00 (already later than we probably would have done in our youth when we would have wanted to be there as the gates opened. By the time we showered & dressed, gathered our things (because we're so last minute), got the little guy up and freshly diapered, bought our tickets at Meijer (again with the last minute thing), dropped said little guy off at the parents', drove the 3ish hours to Ohio, checked into dumpy hotel, realize that wasn't the hotel we really wanted, drive back to dumpy hotel and get refund, drive back to budget-hotel-of-our-dreams (or at least one that wouldn't give us nightmares), then drive to the was about 2:00pm.

Even though we didn't arrive quite as early as we would have hoped, we still had 8 hours until the park closed, so that left us with plenty of time to satisfy the thrill-seeker in us. So we started with the Raptor. Approximately a 45+ minute wait, manageable, but still a little discouraging considering it was only our first ride. It was a thrill though, made even weirder for me since I had to sit on my flip-flops and leave my bare feet hanging in the breeze.

Next, mostly because of location and also for the nostalgia, was the Blue Streak. This coaster is so tame in terms of height and speed, but sure can whip a body around! I still love it, even though I'm always surprised to see it still standing each time I visit.

After a quick lunch, we walked somewhat aimlessly (already a big departure from our younger, "on to the next coaster" mentality) and wound up at the Power Tower where we were shot straight up 240 feet and then free-fell/bounced back to earth. Whee!

Next, we took another trip down memory lane to the Gemini. This one is not quite as old as the Blue Streak, but both Chris and I remember its inaugural year of 1978, when it was (if I remember correctly) the tallest, fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. That title was given up long ago, but it is still a wild ride, and riders are given the chance to pick either the red or blue train which "race" against each other. Our blue train won, btw. ;-)

We then strolled through Frontiertown (old west section of the park) where the newest ride, the Maverick, is located. Unfortunately, as is usually the case during a ride's first year or so, it was not running. We then sat for a while as we ate some frozen custard, then took a soaking (or at least a partial one), on Thunder Canyon.

Next, we came upon Millenium Force, a coaster which was introduced in 2000 (hence, the name). For some reason, in my mind, I had this coaster confused with the Magnum, which I had ridden back in the late 90's. So I somewhat merrily "enjoyed" the hour+ wait in line (even had the pleasant surprise of "Jessie's Girl" being played by the park deejay), thinking the entire time that I had "been there, done that" so it would easy! I even mentioned how I had "psyched myself up for the Top Thrill Dragster." Chris was in a bit more somber mood. When we were about to step on the platform to board the ride, I realized why. "I don't think I've ever ridden this one before," I said to Chris. "No, you haven't" he said, mumbling something about "that first hill." Uh...yeah. :)

So, we sit ourselves into the seat, belt ourselves in, and lower the seemingly puny lap bar when I realize "I don't have anything to hold onto!" Me. The girl who prides herself on keeping her hands up through every ride, wants to hang onto something. I settle for the sides of the lap bar, and realize just how open the car really is. I feel like there is nothing around me. Only now that I see pictures of the ride do I realize there really is a support behind my head. The train starts its ascent up the first 310 foot high hill, with dizzying views of Lake Erie below and no railings to give even the slightest illusion of enclosure. I begin to chant what will become my mantra throughout the entire ride..."ohmygod,ohmygod,ohmygod,ohmygod..."

Mercifully, the trip up the first hill is quicker than most, but the plunge down seems to take forever! Forget my throat, my stomach feels like it has left my body. We then fly at speeds of around 92 mph on two steel pipes for track, are hurdled up and around bends and curves, over hills, and through tunnels. There is no moment that Chris is not yelling, and I am not repeating "ohmygod,ohmygod,ohmygod." After 2 minutes and 20 seconds of this, we finish the ride with wobbly legs. I say "I've been cured of wanting to ride the Dragster."

It took a little while to come down off the adrenaline rush of the Millenium Force, but once we did, we decided to ride the Wicked Twister, which has a lovely view of the beach btw. It was quite tame compared to the Millenium Force, but a thrill anyway. But when that ride was done, and with the sun beginning to set, we decided we had done enough. We left the park after only 5 hours, old farts that we are!

As we enjoyed the park yesterday, Chris and I both realized something about ourselves. Though we are far from giving up on roller coasters and thrill rides, we have gotten to the point in our lives that it's not all about trying to squeeze in as many of them as possible anymore. When we were younger, we were "invincible" (or so we thought), and didn't have anyone to depend on us. Now, we are suddenly aware that our bodies do have limits, and we have two little boys (aside from other members of our family) who need us around for a long time. It was this realization that kept us from pushing ourselves yesterday.

This is not to say that we won't go back on those rides. I fully intend to ride the Millenium Force again (masochist that I am ;-), and even brave the Dragster. But yesterday gave us enough of a thrill for now.

Facing your own mortality can be a bitch. But it can also open your eyes to the truly important things in your life.