I've been looking forward to this pretty much since last year. The night time rides on The Voyage are the stuff of legends. At last, I'd get my chance.
Diana and I both cut out of work early on Friday and made the drive to Santa Claus in about 6.5 hours, including some really crappy traffic in Columbus. I ended up slowing down a bit in parts of Kentucky and Indiana because the deer were standing there in the median just looking at you, contemplating suicide.
Lake Rudolph was crazy crowded, and as I suspected from various failed attempts by others to book an RV, totally booked. They do not screw around with their Halloween festivities, and that in itself was an attraction. I still don't understand the rental golf cart thing, because I don't really understand where it is people are driving them. It's a big campground, but doesn't anyone ride their bike anymore? It's not that big. But hey, they had free Wi-Fi, which is cool if not a little weird.
After we settled into our giant RV, which was this time not co-occupied by the Jandes family or a tall woman from Michigan, I called Carrie to invite her over for a bit and tried to get a fire started. It might have been a failure were it not for Diana's friendly demeanor and the neighbor's lighter fluid. We turned in at a reasonable time after a long drive.
Paula greeted us in the morning as we set up in a ticket booth. Diana, given her diverse theatrical experience, ran the box office like it was her job because, well, it was her job at one time. After an Elvis sighting, a critique of the IAAPA education program and some great stories about the Koch family, we finally got to enter the park ourselves.
It was well into lunch time by Eastern standards, so we skipped all of the rides and headed down to Plymouth Rock Cafe (for which Paula gave me a hard time about not remembering the name). The "adult" portion is more like something two adults might eat, so we both got "child" portions that included two sides. The turkey was a little disappointing, but the fried chicken Diana had was pretty good. The score was the mashed potatoes. No chemical taters here. They were awesome. Fantastically yummy even.
With full bellies, I suggested we ride the coasters from oldest to newest. Diana was very impressed with The Raven, and I was blown away by how smooth it was. I don't know what was different late last year, but what a great ride.
The Legend is back into strong form as well. There's a little bit of roughness in the first two drops, but I thought it was running well otherwise. Anything would've been an improvement over last year. You could tell how much faster it was just by the forces in the helix.
Our first ride on The Voyage placed us in the second row. They were running two trains and the relatively small crowd seemed to be focusing on the ride. It seemed a bit rough on the first two drops to the extent that it slowed it significantly in the turn around. Mind you, by Voyage standards this still means it was ridiculously fast. For this early afternoon ride, they did not seem to be engaging the mid-course as a trim. It was crazy on the trip back. Just slightly slower than I remembered, but not disappointing at all. Evening ERT would be something entirely different.
After being disappointed last fall with a low score on Gobbler Getaway, and possibly a broken gun, I was hell bent on having the best score of anyone I knew. Of course, Diana did apparently have a broken gun, scoring all of 160 or something. I got something in the 1500 range.
We rounded out a tour of the park with some photos ops and a ride on Liberty Launch. That is such a great little ride.
After that, we napped back at the RV. It's not that there was a lack of stuff to do, we just really cherished a little down time after a crazy week of work.
We returned around 4:30 or so. After chatting it up with the Willi-Young-Anderson-Myers-Neu party, we headed back down for a ride on Turkey Whirl. I also learned that the high scores of the day were generally in the 1600 range on Gobbler.
The turkeys were well lubed and very spin happy. It was a nice long cycle with some nice forces, and it runs about as well as the Tilt-a-Whirl at Cedar Point (the only other one that has ever really stood out for me). Best theme ever. Great ride.
We did Gobbler again, and Diana had a more respectable score, while I did 1860. Gonch and Tyler had nothin' on me. Take that!
Back up the hill, we did the flyers, and it was the first time I had someone in the car with me. Not snappable, but a good time still.
Dinner rolled around, and a good time was had by all. I sat with the Family Gonch, while all the cool kids were at another table. Love the pizza. How do so many parks manage to screw up pizza, anyway? Holiday World has yummy pizza. Paula, Mrs. Koch and I all made a few brief comments, and we were on our way for ERT.
The first hour included Raven and Legend, and as you would expect, they just kept getting faster. The sun was down shortly thereafter, with no moon to be found yet. Totally amazing.
We also noticed that they were doing double visual checks on restraints, and even taking photos of them at times. Some people remarked that they were a little creeped out by that, and I can't blame them. I can't blame the park either, after the accident a couple of years ago. It's sad and unfortunate that the enthusiast community has to be looked after like this.
Finally, we got to have our way with The Voyage. Or rather, it had its way with us. Total darkness, totally out of control, ridiculously fast, and insanely awesome. That thing is even more obscene at night. You kind of wish that it would be over just a little sooner.
I did three laps, and that was enough for me. Coming down to the midway after that last ride, I clearly was not the only one. It looked like a triage area in a war zone, with people sprawled out on the ground and looking after each other. It's a good kind of pain though. Like the kid you feel after a good workout. It was totally worth it.
Back at the RV, I got a roaring fire going, and food and beverages were had by the various component of our little clique. I think we had around 12 people there, which was just about right. Since Gonch and I were both there, we planned to do the podcast, but like a moron, I left the power cable to my mixer at home. I was really pissed off. That would've been fun.
Instead we talked about old times, new times, life, alcohol, nipples, hair styles and how old Gonch is. Good times. That, for me, was really the highlight of the trip.
Tyler ended up crashing at the other end of our RV since we had extra room. Morning came sooner than we would have liked, but packing up didn't take long, and we were roadworthy by 11 a.m. Central. The trim home was seven hours with a stop outside of Cincy at a Cheesecake Factory. Also went to the Apple store, which means I've been to all three Ohio locations (and all of them are near a Cheesecake Factory).
This was easily one of my favorite events to date. I think we've had a total of 16 or something now with the club, so that's saying something. I look forward to many more!