Hot weather--After one of the coldest, wettest summers I can remember, the September 2 Sandusky, Ohio, forecast called for 87 degrees and sunny. I didn't have to work that day, so I decided to go. The strange thing about this is despite mostly clear skies, it sprinkled a bit.
These are obviously not rain clouds. You can't tell, but it WAS sprinkling. One of the Millennium Force ride hosts asked me if it was raining, and I said, yes, but couldn't understand how or why. There were what looked like thunderheads a few miles away, but could drops travel that far? I guess so.
It felt right to experience Cedar Point on a day you might actually drop from heat stroke. That's what summer is supposed to be. For me at least.
Freaky Short Wait Times--I was prepared to buy Fast Pass, but both employees manning the kiosk said I wouldn't need it. Color me shocked. Two peons of Corporate America were telling me NOT to spend money? But they were right. The wait time for Millennium Force when I showed up around 10:45 a.m. was 15 minutes. Later on, it went up to 30 minutes, but then went back down to 15 minutes.
This is NOT a typo.
And it was blissful. I got to ride the best steel coaster in the world six times. SIX TIMES! I'm lucky if I ride it twice in one day. This was like being in a beautiful dream. But--and there's always a catch, right? Five out of the six times I rode MF I had to share my beloved front row with another rider.
But even so, that wasn't too bad, because this day had ...
Fairly Friendly Fellow 'Forcers--I've given up on trying to strike up conversations with people standing in line. People don't seem to want to talk. Waiting gets kind of boring, standing for an hour and a half (or more, in my case, because I'm a front row whore, and it's TOTALLY worth the wait) until you board the train. I usually people watch, or update CrackBook*, or watch YouTube videos.
Today, even riding Millennium Force was weird, because instead of having the front row of the train to myself, the ride hosts kept saying, "single rider for the front seat." I protested, saying I wanted to ride by myself. That worked--once. The other five times I had to tolerate someone beside me. At least I got to sit in my normal left-side seat, looking out over Sandusky Bay. I can't remember all my fellow ride partners--one was some young blond kid. Then there was Andrew, celebrating his 1000th ride this season on MF. Think about that for a minute. We didn't speak until the end of the ride. But what floored me was his nonchalant attitude. I swear, right before the first zero-G hill, he looked like this:
Andrew was facing the other way, but I think you get the idea.
We were on the best coaster in the world, and he was sitting there like he was at a sports bar watching the Cavaliers lose, or something. The adrenaline rush I get from riding MF is amazing--I put up with waiting in line for hours, listening to people's complaints, watching their stupid games, antagonizing each other, because who in their right mind would fight back and risk getting thrown out of the park while waiting to ride THE BEST STEEL COASTER ON EARTH? Many a time I've restrained myself from smacking someone or telling them to stop being an obnoxious asshole because I know it will soon be over, and that instead of heroin coursing my veins (er, not that I've ever done heroin) it's the bliss of the ride, which makes me feel like I know what it's like to be a bird--I'm soaring, dammit, at nearly 100 miles an hour and those stupid people are far, far away from me.
After the ride was over, Andrew nodded at me. I felt compelled to say something, but wasn't sure if I should say, "wow, I hope you show more appreciation while getting a blow job than you did on this ride," but decided on, "the front row is the best seat." Andrew agreed.
But to show you how wacky this day was, I actually had a teenage boy strike up a conversation with me. Trust me, that hasn't happened in a loooooooong time. Even when I was a teenager, boys didn't talk to me much, so to have some kid young enough to be my son start talking to me was absolutely BIZARRE. We talked about hair (his was curlier than mine, if you can believe it) his friend's hair (Jonah: don't you think he has greasy hair? Me: Naaah, I've seen worse.) We also talked about veganism, and how it isn't really hard to do, but at some place like Cedar Point it's a bit of a challenge. He and his friends were actually nice. And because I didn't want to upset the karma boat, I told Jonah, since he was a single rider too, that he could ride with me if he wanted. I even asked him where he wanted to sit, and he asked me where I usually sat. I got to sit on the left, and both of us enjoyed the ride.
Playing With My New Camera--I could have ridden MF a few more times, but I wanted to play around with my Rebel T5. I walked around the Town Hall Museum. I don't remember ever going in there before, but they had a scale model of Mean Streak that was amazing.
This is the starthouse and first hill. Three people spent 1400 man hours building this from blueprints.
Of course, now everything is done on the computer, and there's really no need to build models like this, but I still think this is mind-blowing. The case this was in was probably six feet long by thirty inches wide, by maybe eighteen inches high. Below is the real thing.
Sunset, shot underneath the first hill of Mean Streak.
I also played around with slow shutter speeds. The camera kind of scares me, but I'm getting used to it.
The Monster, shot at a two-second shutter speed at F22.
One of the great things about this camera is that it will display the shutter speed and aperture, so you can compare shots. Back in the day, if you wanted to experiment with shutter speeds, you had to write down what you did with each frame, have the roll developed, and then compare the prints to see what worked the best. With digital, you get instant results, so if it didn't work the first time, you adjust. I used manual mode because I wanted a certain effect. I got it in this shot, but it wasn't dark enough to make the lights stand out. I couldn't do anything about that except wait.
The Midway, at twilight. Raptor's track is silhouetted against the sky.
This last shot was taken at 1/125 with a 5.0 aperture. Of the three shots I took of this scene, this gave me what I wanted--some definition from the sky, with enough details in the foreground.
I wish the park had been open later. Riding Millennium Force and Maverick at night (pretty much any of the coasters, really) is pretty damn exciting, because you can't see where you are going. And I love the way the park looks at night, with the bright lights glowing against the dark sky.
But wow...what a fun time. And how wonderfully weird it was. The usual didn't happen, and the nicely unusual did. As long as I live, I don't think I'll ever forget Wednesday, September 2, 2015.
*CrackBook is Facebook, of course.