Anyway, props to Monnik for guessing correctly. After dropping the kids at MILs for their annual Circus weekend, we spent Labor Day weekend in Sandusky, OH. Home of the Roller Coaster Capitol of The World: Cedar Point.
This impromptu mini-vacation signified, for me, the fulfillment of a nearly lifelong dream. Many have been the hours that I have stared slackjawed at my television screen watching documentaries such as, "Top 10 Wildest Rides," and "Top 10 Amusement Parks of 2007." I can watch them over and over and never get bored.
As you may have ascertained, I am a roller-coaster aficionado. Only lack of money and means has kept me from teetering over the precipice into Junkie status. Funny thing is, I have always been deathly afraid of heights. Introspection has revealed to me the truth: it is not the height I am afraid of, but the fall. Goofy but true. Send me to any amusement park, and I can tell you without even looking at the map what ride I am most afraid of.
Ready? Don't laugh:
I'm SERIOUS!! Just looking at this picture gives me the heebie-jeebies. I just can't put my faith in these things. They don't look PROBABLE. The cable looks small, the cars look heavy, and the little thingy that clips onto the cable? I mean, LOOK AT IT. It doesn't look right! A large percentage of these horrifying contraptions were made in the early part of last century. Am I the only one who has noticed the bodily expansion of our population over the last 75 years? I mean, what if the thing is running at capacity and more than half its occupants are grossly overweight? No thanks.
But put me in front of this beauty, and my mouth begins to water:
This beastie is called the Top Thrill Dragster. It is an out-and-back coaster that launches the rider from 0 to 120 mph in 3.8 seconds, climbs vertically to 420 feet, then drops straight back down, twisting 270 degrees before leveling out and returning to the station. I counted it: this ride takes a whopping 15 seconds from launch to stop. See? You can hold your breath the whole time!! This ride was recently Tallest AND Fastest in the world. It's a title that is always fleeting, and I believe is now held by an almost identical coaster called Kingda-Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure....a mere 8 mph faster and 45 feet taller than this ride. In my experience, second best was still quite a ride.
Three or four of their other giant coasters have been routinely voted in the top 10 best by coaster enthusiasts in recent years; and one, Maverick, got best new coaster of 07. I did not get to go on this one as after we waited in line 30 minutes it broke down and I had to pee so bad we just got out of line. 5 minutes later it was running again, but I wasn't about to start waiting all over. Something saved for next time, I guess!
Cedar Point is home to 18 rollercoasters. A few are wimpy, and though technically qualify as rollercoasters, do not count toward the thrill factor at this park. They do, however, serve nicely to offload some of the crowd. Lines were long by my standards, but hey, my local amusement park has 3, count 'em 1-2-3, rollercoasters, two of which will chip your teeth or send you gimping to the nearest chiropractor in screeching agony. If I have to stand in line more than 30 minutes, that's a long line in my book.
Coaster designs were varied, ranging from wood to steel, with one wooden/steel hybrid racing coaster that was lots of fun. In the steel variety (my favorite for smoothness and speed), there were stand-up, suspended, traditional, and minimal-restraint varieties. The Millenium Force was one such coaster, with just a lap bar and no sides to the cars. Once the Tallest and Fastest, it was a breathtaking ride with unbelievable smoothness.
I found this side-by-side comparison of the largest rides at Cedar Point:
The one on the left is probably comparable to the biggest thrill at my local amusement park. You can see that this was a HUGE treat for us!
As an extra treat, this whole park takes up almost an entire penninsula in Lake Eerie. Temperatures are moderate, and the views are spectacular
Aside from the park, we found a great little place to eat. When I go on vacation I don't want to eat at chain restaurants. I want to find something good and local. Asking locals where they eat is a great idea, but we couldn't find any locals at Cedar Point (go figure, they probably avoid it like the plague). So we turned to our handy-dandy GPS. We decided we wanted Barbecue. Voila! Two local restaurants, in opposite directions. We drove East 11 miles, and ended up in the middle of a trailer park as GPS-Aussie-lady announced perkily, "Arrah-vang at deistinah-tion..." Opting not to go knocking on trailer doors demanding BBQ, we punched in the other location, now 22 miles away. As we pulled up to this destination, this time a dark underpass in a run-down residential neighborhood, we gave up on BBQ and decided to go somewhere close by.
An "All Foods" search by Garmin revealed a restaurant called Crabby Joe's. Down a gravel road and out to the shores of Lake Eerie (Marblehead), Crabby Joe's was a bar with a deck enclosed by a permanent wedding-tent. Sounds seedy, but to us it was just local. A 50-ish man played keyboards in a corner with a pricey sound system singing covers of anything from Neil Diamond to Elvis Presley and more. We ordered the house special, "Drunken Mussels by The Pitcher," and some beers. What a lovely surprise when a beer-pitcher full of mussels and filled to the brim with a butter-garlic-wine sauce arrived, complete with tongs and soft lovely bread for dipping. We joked later that we should have just ordered 2 pitchers! After the appetizer I had local fresh-caught perch fillets, and we danced to "Fools Rush In," our song from our wedding, only done by UB-40 in 1996.
We played pool, got invited onto a 30 foot yacht by some creepy guy named Stele (yes, he spelled it for us), and I got hit on by some local thugs who were trying to sneak their 18 year old hoochie-mamas into the bar.
All in all, a vacation to remember. We'll definitely be back.