How the Medulla detaches from the spine, or I Am That I Am. Part 2

How the Medulla detaches from the spine, or I Am That I Am. Part 2

Post by Nasa » Mon, 05 Jun 2006 09:37:22

Part 2, if you care.....

As we're sleeping, or should I say Santi is sleeping, I notice the
fan for the air conditioning pulsing back and forth between "cool"
and "fan."  Normally, this wouldn't be that big a deal, but being
overtired, and again completely e***d about what was to come, I just
couldn't lull my brain into a state of quietness.  By 3:30am I was in
a terribly angry, and foul mood, and yet completely devoid of what's
known as an awake spirit.  I was monstrously tired, and I knew what I
had to do.  I got up, slapped the side of the bed, and went to the
thermostat, where I cranked that puppy to the coldest temperature
it'd go to.  This would keep it from dropping off into the "fan"
mode.  That air conditioner mode change was just loud enough to get me
out of my "almost there" daze every time.  As I strode smuggly back
to my rack, I noticed Santi slept in a near perfect, flat back, head
slightly tilted, pose.  How jealous was I, that I had to side sleep,
and have always side slept, because I was trained in the ways of the
Ninja.  Damn him, and his perfect sleeping style.

Within 10 minutes, the air conditioner dropped into "fan" mode
again, and I knew then it was going to be a very long night.  This was
merely capped by the worst sleeping insult of all.

Now, I realize you didn't come here to read my nonsensical ramblings
of sleep habits, but here's the issue:

I love traveling.  I love hotels.  I love the fact that you can take 50
showers (which I do) and still have hot water.  What drives me to the
absolute brink of fingernail ripping madness is short sheeted beds, and
ill fitting mattress pads.

I know you know what I mean.

I'm referring to beds that don't have the correct size sheets on
them, as the hotel managers have been scrimping for years, saving a
buck here and there.  It's an annoyance beyond belief to be somewhat
pleasantly sleeping/dozing, only to find your toes dragging their nails
on the bare stitching of a hotel mattress.  Besides the fact that the
sheets aren't really comfortable, given their insanely low thread
count, you never know who's pubic hair is having a midnight dance
with your big toe's nail bed.

After an hour or so of sweating, swearing, and being disgustingly
uncomfortable, I must have drifted off to sleep.  I can only hope that
my mind dreamt, as I have no recollection, and my body awoke to some
pretty troubling, nay disturbing, gleet in the ol' eyes.

I could never recall when I was ever more loathe to the sound of a
wakeup call.

A shower.
A gentle flossing.
A dismissed shave.
A gentle brushing of my white, non-capped teeth, and an application of
baby powder, because we all know how humid the south can get.  This,
and I don't need any additional sore spots attributed to the
inadvertent rubbing of my "chowder," as my wife calls it.  ;)

We headed down to the lobby, where Kyle awaited us.  We decided to
drive my car over since I was suffering from a slightly sprained ankle.
 Upon arrival, we noticed nary an auto.  It was nice to know we were so
early, but it was also a bit troubling, as we noticed 2 signs, both
saying SFKK was closed.  After a few heart stopping minutes, we spoke
to a park employee and found that we weren't 30 minutes early, but 90
minutes early, as SFKK opens at 11am.

Damn.

We took off to get some breakfast, and arrived back just in time to
catch up with a few friends from other websites I peruse.

Just to be safe, I won't name a lot of names in this TR.  It's not
to be discourteous.  It's that I've a terrible memory with names,
be it folks that I've met recently, in the past, or never.  I don't
want to hurt anybody's feelings, so I'll keep the name dropping to
a minimum, thank you.

I attempted to purchase my (cheaper) annual pass, but the previous
evening's lightning storm had short circuited all the parks
electronics.  We were lucky to use a credit card at all.  Fortunately,
I was able to procure one later in the day.

We all caught the pre-gate show, as it were, with the entire Looney
Tunes line up.  Although I could care less about such a display, I was
thrilled to see that SFI is trying.  Many were standing there, clapping
along to their antics, and/or singing along with the songs.  It's a
good sign of things to come.

The gate opened, and we were off.

First on the list this day, as is always the case when going to SFKK,
was Chang.
My last attempt at enjoying this ride came in May of 2003, just prior
to SRM.  I didn't like it then, (as I'd had an experience on
Dominator, then known as Batman:  Knight Flight, that was rough as an
unshaven Harrison Ford) and didn't expect to like it now.  Besides
the gluttonous display of pill downing, I had decided that B&M had some
major issues with track fabrication, or it could have been SFI's
serious lack of care towards their steel rides.  Either way, to put it
bluntly, K:BF sucked, and Chang didn't do much to change my mind.
This day was to be Santi's first true steel ride.  Yes, he had ridden
the Corkscrew at Silverwood, but we all know that doesn't really
count. ;)

We had jumped the gun so well into that part of the park, thanks to a
few friends that knew all the shortcuts, that we stood in line, ready
to take the front seat, with nary a yelp from anyone.  We stood Santi
to the far left, mostly to get him over the track, where he would feel
the most exposed.  Chang climbed the lift, and we were gone.  Within
seconds, I could see that this wasn't the Chang of 2003.  Yes, it
still rattled a bit, but with nowhere near the ferocity it did in past
days.  Chang was a smooth(ish) machine now, and it was pleasing.  As we
tore into the brake run, Santi exclaimed how cool it was to ride
something that moved like that.  Jumping all over the old adage, I
couldn't resist to say that he "hadn't seen anything yet."  The
line had jumped quickly to a 3-4 train wait, and there were coasters to
ride, so we bailed out, and headed towards Thunder Run, where we were
immediately accosted by a few pals.

As in my previous trip here, Thunder Run was an interesting bolt out of
the blue.  I've never been that big a fan, yet it does what it does
so very right.  It was nice to see that the restraints stayed
restrained this time, instead of uncorking on the lift hill, or into a
hard left turn.  Santi, as well as the others, expressed a big happy
smile after 1 of a few intended runs.  Thunder Run is a great coaster.
I still don't know what I really think, as far as ranking it might
go, but damn if it isn't a splendid change of pace from the typical
woodie.  Perhaps it's the constant left turns?

For whatever reason ( I guess he had the right to be credit whoring),
Santi wanted to ride T2.  I 'm not a fan, let me say that much.
I've only been on a few Hang and Bangs that I've moderately
enjoyed, and one I've loved.  Still, T2 doesn't fit into either
mold, so I'll keep it short as to say, it didn't suck as much as in
the past, but I'd never have one in my own park.  It didn't head
bang.  It did have some serious potholes, though.  Yikes.

Next, we did a "group hug" on the Roller Skater.  I had actually
never ridden this until Friday.  2003 was a day of long lines, and I
wasn't in the mood that particular day.  Today, however, was my day,
and I'll be the first to say it in this TR.  Roller Skater is a
blast.  Way too short, granted, but it's a sweet ride.  Oh, how I
wish Vekoma would stick to the smaller family rides.  What a world this
would be, and they'd probably be in the black financially, if they
aren't already....or moreso? ;)  Anyways, back to the day.

Our group of 20 or so enthusiasts/tools had already planned, with much
foresight apparently, to have a lunch with the GM of SFKK, Jay Thomas.
Jay took quite a bit of time out of his day to greet us, answer
questions, tell us the direction of SFKK (his intended, I should say),
and the proposed direction of SFI.  As is typical with these meetings,
there are moments of eye rolling, and yawns.  However, Jay made a great
effort to show that his park, and SFI in general is truly looking to
improve the greater experience of the public, let alone the ramblings
of the 1/16 of 1% of the enthusiast populace.  He's a refreshing cat,
mind you, and even took the time to treat us to lunch, and free
beverages.  What a man.  On the way out, he handed out his business
card, and made a very big point that we could, and should take the time
to email him.  The emails could be regarding the experience of the day
at SFKK, or general concerns we, as enthusiasts, had about the chain.

I brought up my one sore subject:  The horsecollars on Revolution.
Granted, he's not the GM of SFMM, nor apparently has much authority.
He does, however, have the ear of the boss man himself, Mr. Shapiro,
and said that although there are certainly no promises to be made, it
truly can't hurt (like those lame ass online polls that don't do
shit), as he'll forward them on, and comment along with them.  He did
say that things are being considered all over the map with SFI, and
nothing is too farfetched to hope for.... Even something that only
appeals to a small percentage of the masses.

Granted again, I believe that although the GP at large doesn't know
much, nor care much, about Revolution, a better experience on the ride
leads to positive word of mouth, which in turn means a positive outlook
for SFI.  I'll email him, and ask him if it's ok if I post his
email.  He is quite insane, though, as his cell number is listed on his
card!

After the "interesting" lunch, we tarried off to the Twins.  Yes,
they're known as the Twins now.  I'm curious how many coasters have
been named thrice, but that trivia will have to wait for another time.
J

The Twins still have the same Gerstlauer's (squeeking, terrible
tracking, no room, junk trains), but they aren't as bad as other
coasters' versions.  All I remember is the pink side, whichever side
that ultimately is, scored a direct hit in the positive department, and
the green side sank into a less than gentle yawn.  One ride was enough,
although Matt, Kyle, and Frank insisted on a freebie "jump-on"
ride.  We decided to take a picture of them as they passed near the
exit tunnel.

Here's where the day got really amazingly interesting.

My cell phone rings, and my buddy Gwon, from Bellevue, WA., is on the
other end.  These are a close paraphrasing of his words:

 "Dude, I'm not trying to freak you out, or anything, but the block
around your wife's workplace is cordoned off, and has police tape all
around it.  The city is at a standstill because her bank is on the main
block.  There are news helicopters flying overhead.  There is one
ambulance, and about 35 police cars.  There is also a bomb squad.
I'll try to find out more, but don't worry.  I'm sure
everything's fine."

Somehow, I thought, maybe everything isn't fine?

I tried calling her cell phone.  No answer.
I tried calling her office phone.  No answer.
I tried again.
...and again.
...and again.
...and again.
...and again.

I decided if something bad had happened, I would probably hear from
someone close to Tomoko, and they'd parlay that to me.  Still, it was
hard to enjoy my day after that bit of quite sobering news.

In between rides, I'd inevitably get a call from a friend of mine, or
hers, who would ask me what was going on, yet I had less answers than
they did.

We decided to break the day open a bit by heading towards the drop
tower, Hellevator.  Sadly, the Intamin drop tower was down, and was to
stay that way the rest of the day.  Too bad, as I deeply enjoy the
thrill this generation of drop rides supply.  Santi was going to
continue to miss out on the big thrills.....

Instead of that, he and Matt opted for the Skycoaster.  I've done
these twice in my life.  Once, my first experience, at Kobe's
Portopialand, and the second at Valleyfair.  Santi was pretty much
insisting that I go, but I just couldn't bring myself to spring for
the ride.  I told Santi that the only way I'd go is if I didn't
have to pay, as they just freak me the hell out.  Santi immediately
jumped at that idea, and offered to drop the coin for me.

A lump grew in my throat.

I backpedaled faster than a greasy, stoned, Led Zeppelin fan looking
for Satan.  I was out, I tell you.

Nope.
No can do.
Nada.

I wasn't riding that damn thing.  I love the drop, but I hate the
slow climb to the top, with the nylon shoulder straps groaning as they
stretch over your skin.  It always causes a chain reaction of heart
palpitations, and nausea.  Just when you really feel as you might be
birthed out of the harness, you get the soul warming countdown that
signals your urine releasing doom.

Hell no.

As Matt and Santi flopped their arms in "chicken" calling tandem, I
stood to the side of the drop zone, and called for my wife again.
Nothing.  I was, however, very fortunate to stand next to a very hot
milfy (is that a word?) woman.  Her daughter had just taken a solo ride
(I don't even understand that), and was being unstrapped.  She had
overheard my dilemma, and offered her condolences.  I wish I could have
taken her up on them. ;)

3...
2...
1...

I love that sound as the cable snaps, just in time to halt the riders
from becoming aged ground beef.  Santi, and Matt flew by, catching some
mighty air, and drifted back and forth until they too stopped.

Funny.  If they had a bungee ride, I'd have probably done that.
Damn, I'm weird.
Santi, and Matt (can you tell they were joined at the hip by now?) took
off to get a credit on the Road Runner Express, while I processed my
season pass.

The process was much quicker and easier this year, although I noticed
that they aren't exactly careful in who, or what is the background.
Behind me, you can clearly see two young women, smiling away.  It was
nice to know that I purchased a pass that apparently 3 different people
could have used over the course of the year.  ;)

After using the restroom (because that wonderful food digests OH so
well...), and answering the phone from another distraught friend
concerned for my wife's well being, we decided to head off to our
hotel, and Holiday World.  Matt decided to stay behind to join another
friend, but we knew we'd see him later in the night.

We jumped into that oh so warm Kia sedan, and headed down the freeway,
where we were being raced by various other enthusiasts.  Besides
dodging the occasional deer carcass, we thought it might be a good idea
to catch some early grub, just in case Holiday World would run out from
all the obese enthusiasts, or we'd loathe the food so much, we'd
have been dreaming that we stopped earlier.  We decided (make that I
decided) to stop at Arby's for a sammich, but lo and behold, their
credit card machines were down as well from the previous evening's
storms, so I had to borrow some cashola from Santi.  I'm curious if
God isn't a Mastercard or a Visa man?  Maybe he only prefers Diners
Club?  T'would explain my good fortunes, eh?  Happily, Santi had
enough to satisfy my inner cravings, and we headed back towards I-64
with a purpose.

Holiday World was calling.  Forget the hotel check in.  There's
coasters in them there hills.

As we pulled off the 64, we noticed a few cars coming in the distance,
so we pulled our monster torque machine out onto the highway, heading
south.  Whoever was in that car coming down the road from Wendy's
really wanted to get south, because he was on our ass.  Hard.  What the
hell is wrong with southern drivers?  I swear I've never seen so many
tailgating (nay... asspoking) drivers.  They don't just get close.
They drive like doctors checking out that one questionable carcinogenic
mole that grows near your ass crack.

Geez.

As we rounded the bend a few miles down, the Voyage came into view.
It's quite a sight, honestly.  We pulled into the Holiday World lot,
and unpacked our things, making sure to grab just enough for the night,
without having to come back to the car, or purchase a locker.  We saw a
few folks we were e***d to meet up with, specifically Matthew
Sullivan, and his father, and decided to catch a quick coaster tour
around the park, mostly for Santi's sake, as a warm up.

Raven - with the exception that it wasn't night time yet, Raven was
running well.  Very smooth in the lake turn, and fast, fast, fast
through the curvy return to the station.  Good stuff, and an excellent
way to return to this park!   We had chosen to ride in 6-1 for his
first ride on this classic barnburner.  Santi seemed to enjoy it quite
a bit.

Legend - We chose to take a middle train seat, probably 4-2, if my
memory serves me correctly, and we were off.  It was nice to hear the
"howl" at the top of the lift, just prior to the drop.  Legend
still has a surprising drop, and is very powerful.  That's pretty
much it.  After that, the work on this coaster has shattered my former
#1's glory, by taking all the***and vinegar out of the ride.
Sure, it's one big right handed turn at the "4 corners of death,"
but they're taken so slow now you just feel annoyed rather than
frightened or thrilled.   It's truly a shell of its former self.
Goodbye #1.  Maybe I'll see you again someday?  Santi thought it was
pretty good, and if I remember well, he preferred it to Raven at the
time.

Newbie.

Well, then we strode off to the Voyage.  There's not much to say
about it.  ;)

Honestly, I've been worried about this portion of the TR.  Yes, I
could describe everything (again) in great detail, as I've done in
the past, or I could refer you to the other 100 or so TRs that have
been written that pretty much say what I felt as well.  I will say a
few things, though.

Santi and I rode in 7-1.  The climb was quick.  The drop was nice,
although a little less air than I expected.  Allright a LOT less air
than I expected.  Given the length of the train, I fully assumed I'd
be standing up all the way down the drop.  Not so on this ride.  Not so
on any rides over the weekend.  The 3 outbound hills are very nice, and
are taken amazingly fast.  No lag on them like Shivering Timbers or
SD2K, but fast, faster, and fastest.  That was quite a shock honestly.
The first tunnel is cooler, just as Will Koch said in his blog.  What
was a shocker from my assumptions based on the online video was the
remaining part of the ride.  No video gives you any idea of the forces
or proximity to be decapitated that this ride provides.  The second
tunnel is a fright.  The drop in is a LOT steeper than the video seems
to show, and was very nice.  After that, the ride dives into the
turnaround which we've all heard so much about.  Seemingly all hell
breaks loose at this moment.

For posterity's sake, I'll address this section in a separate
paragraph.

The hard banked sweeping left is very tight, and brutally ***,
whatwith the reverse banked hill, and the reverse banked corner into
the first 90 degree turn.  To me, this is the only moment of the ride
that I loved, and hated.  I realize that's quite an interesting
dichotomy, but what can you say about this section?  The reverse
sections seem to cry out "look what we can do" from the designers.
I felt like we were strapped to the end of a smart bomb, and were being
flung to our deaths in some military office building in Iraq, with the
whole world, or at least the coaster designers, laughing all the way.
I really do feel that the Gravity Group guys have designed a section
that isn't right, yet they've proven that it works by sheer speed
alone.  My main problem is at night when you can't plan for it, yet
it's there, pulling you from the top out of your seat, then planting
you on your ass hard into the first 90 degree.  It was a pace killer
for me, but it was exciting.  I'll give 'em that.  I don't
know.... I could probably complain about that section all day, yet is a
terrific sequence.

Anyways, back to our first ride.

After the first 90, you hit another in the opposite direction, then hit
a few speed bumps, turns, a dive, then a very quick rise into the
midcourse block.  Fortunately, they weren't, and supposedly still
aren't, braking the coaster here.  Perhaps I should say
unfortunately?
After that block, you realize all hell didn't break through before.
NOW, it was breaking through.  Satan was coming to this party, and
you're all going to take a bite o' peach.

The triple down is great.  Really great, in fact.  The 3rd drop is a
huge surprise, and has quite an edge to it.  My only complaint is I
would like to see the tunnel a little longer to keep the light out
until the coaster was racing through the structure again.

After the triple down, the feeling of speed is startling.  I've never
felt a coaster move this fast before.  Yes, you get a great sensation
of speed on say... Millennium Force, yet you don't feel like it'll
come off the damn tracks.  With Voyage, I could say it's frightening,
and got much more so by the evening.

The train races back towards the station at a terrifying pace, on
occasion at brief moments, hitting some insanely designed hills, and
corners.  This coaster dances all the way back to the brakerun.  The
two most monstrous moments for me were the last 90, and the crossovers.

1)      The last 90 degree isn't so much harsh, as it's a moment that
propels the ride even faster towards your date with the crossovers.  I
couldn't believe how it felt, but it could be best described as if a
giant were standing at the back of the coaster, and firmly plants his
boot into your ass to kick you towards the finish line.  Amazing stuff,
and just flawless.
2)      The crossovers are brilliant.  I don't think I've ever been so
overwhelmed on a coaster, or on any given element.  Just mindblowing,
and taken so fast.  The first is already a blur, then the ride drops
down under/next to the station, only to come out, and hit the last
crossover at even more speed, then turns to hit the hardest sets of
left turns ever.

Wow.

When you finally hit the last tunnel, and few turns, and hill, you're
done.  Not just stick-a-fork-in-it done, but
wacked-by-Joe-Pesci-with-a-steak-knife-in-the-trunk-of-a-Cadillac done.
 I was just waiting for Godzilla to step out of clouds, and crush me.

People have speculated wildly about what this coaster would do.
We've all heard over the past week about what it DID do.  I'm here
to say the same thing, with a dissenting opinion on the tailend.

The Voyage is the real deal.  It does everything and more.  It throws
in everything, including the kitchen sink.  It can't be topped.  It
doesn't need to be.  Do you know why?

1)      You can't make it longer.  Nobody would want to ride it.
2)      A steel version of it already exists in southern Massachusetts.

To me, the issue I have with Voyage isn't anticipointment.  It's
overstimulation.

There are far too many elements, and the ride is taken at such break
neck speed that I can't digest them.  If I could actually stomach to
ride it more than 2 times in a row (which I can't!), I still
wouldn't be able to know what really happens.  I know what's there,
because I've been told, and/or I can slow down the POV to see what is
there, yet, I'll never really experience it the way I wanted to.
It's an absolute testimony to the power of a computer, and a few
geeky designers' evil sides.  I loved it, and disliked it.  Greatly.

Of course, your mileage may indeed vary, but it's nowhere near #1 for
me.  If I rated coasters on the "ass handing" factor, Voyage
beats....nay, crushes the competition.  There's no doubt in my mind
that 99% of the world will love this ride, even if it isn't that
re-rideable.

The polls will scream #1.
Children in Sudan will be fed.
Christ will return and give the world a 1000 years of peace.

Then He'll ride this beast, and start Armageddon. ;)

Before we were let go in the evening for the official Holiwood Nights
fest, Pat Koch gave a prayer.  It was a very nice, and interesting
moment for me.  I realized they know what they have standing so tall
and proud in the last evening Indiana sun, and they knew 1000
enthusiasts were going to ride her.

Pat prayed so that we might live.

Finally, after dinner, I was able to reach my wife, and hear her lovely
voice.  She was fine, of course, but was shocked that the bank robbery
was even happening.  She wasn't aware of it until 2 armed, and
heavily armored officers came into the bank shouting "clear!"
Apparently, the robber was a homeless man, who wanted $2750 dollars
exactly.  They caught him because they had to take so much time to
count out single bills.

What a moron.

When the police caught up to him, he stated that he had a bomb in his
backpack.  They cut it off of him, then called in the bomb squad, and
bomb robot that ultimately disarmed the bomb-like device.

I was glad to hear from her, and now that I knew she was ok, there was
fun to be had at the hands of the coasters and friends I knew so well.

The rest of the evening was a mishmash of coaster riding, and
occasional tomfoolery.  The coaster riding came early.  The tomfoolery
came later in the evening.

After the event, we skedaddled back to the campground, proceeded to
drive in circles for 20 minutes, then finally found Mike's trailer.
Strange things weren't afoot this evening, but it was really nice to
spend some down time with the boys, and girls.  I love my friends, and
once more this time proved that these events aren't about coasters.
They are about friends, and the relationships that come from meeting
people who share the same passions.

After a few drinks, I was pretty tired, not to mention a bit hammered.
I asked Santi to drive us to the hotel in Tell City.  Having never been
to Tell City, I was more than a bit shocked to see the road traveling
there had a great many airtime moments, as it were.  Fortunately, we
got to the hotel in one piece, checked in, showered, and slept in until
11am the next day.  Sure, Holiday World was waiting for us again, but
we had all day to soak in her glory, and soak it in we did.

Too bad we couldn't stay in the damn innertubes on those waterslides.
;)

Stay tuned for part 3.