Sunday, July 26, 2015

Roller Coaster Inventory UPDATED

Last year, after a record year for roller coaster riding, my daughter Melody and I decided to inventory our roller coaster rides.  We love roller coasters, and we've been on quite a few, all across the United States.  We used the Roller Coaster DataBase (http://rcdb.com/) to help us compile our list.  There are several that Melody rode that I have not (indicated by a double asterisk - **), and there are a bunch of others that I rode without Melody, mostly long before she was born (indicated by a single asterisk - *).  Many are no longer around, having either been torn down long ago, or moved to another park (or country!).  When compiling the list, we did not include how many times we rode each one.  That was next to impossible for me, especially on ones I've been on hundreds of times since I was a kid (like one of my favorites, the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, which I rode for the first time way back in the late 70s).  We were surprised by the results.  We hadn't realized just how many different roller coasters we've ridden.  Assuming the Roller Coaster DataBase is accurate (and I believe it is), and that my memory is accurate and I am remembering correctly all of the parks my family and I have visited since I was a kid, then our totals are:

Eric has ridden 137 coasters.  Melody has ridden 120 coasters!

(Just a note.... While doing the updates for this list, we discovered that Melody had ridden more coasters prior to our most recent road trip than we had initially counted.  She thought her 100th different coaster was The Voyage, at Holiday World, and we made a big deal about it at the time.  In reality, her 100th coaster was Batman The Ride, at Six Flags St. Louis, which she rode in July 2014!)

In no particular order, here is our list...

Busch Gardens Williamsburg - VA:
Alpengeist
Apollo's Chariot
Griffon
Grover's Alpine Express
Loch Ness Monster
Verbolten
Big Bad Wolf - gone
Drachen Fire* - gone
Das Katzchen* - gone
Die Wildkatze* - gone
Glissade* - gone
Wild Maus* - gone
Eric - 12 coasters, Melody - 7 (Numerous visits to the park)

Dutch Wonderland - PA:
Joust
Kingdom Coaster*
Eric - 2, Melody - 1 (about 10 or so visits)

Sesame Place - PA:
Vapor Trail
Both - 1 (about 10 or so visits)

Luna Park - NY:
Cyclone
Both - 1 (1 visit)

Knoebels - PA:
Phoenix
Twister
Both - 2 (1 visit)

Idlewild - PA:
Rollo Coaster
Both - 1 (1 visit)

Kennywood - PA:
Phantom's Revenge
Jack Rabbit
Racer
Thunderbolt
Sky Rocket
Laser Loop* - gone
Eric - 6, Melody - 5 (3 and 2 visits)

Cedar Point - OH:
Blue Streak
Cedar Creek Mine Ride
Corkkscrew
Gemini
Iron Dragon
Magnum XL-200
Maverick
Mean Streak
Millennium Force
Raptor
Wicked Twister
Woodstock Express
Disaster Transport* - gone
Mantis* - transformed into a new coaster
Eric - 14, Melody - 12 (2 and 1 visits)

Hershey Park - PA:
Comet
Fahrenheit
Great Bear
Lightning Racer
Sidewinder (Melody finally rode this coaster in May '15)
Skyrush
Sooperdooperlooper
Storm Runner
Trailblazer
Wild Mouse
Wildcat
Both - 11 (about a dozen visits)

Kings Dominion - VA:
Anaconda
Avalanche
Back Lot Stunt Coaster
Grizzly
Hurler
Intimidator 305
Rebel Yell
Ricochet
Shockwave
Volcano
Woodstock Express/Scooby Doo
Galaxi* - gone
HyperSonic XLC* - gone
King Kobra* - gone
Eric - 14, Melody - 11 (10 or so and 1 visits)

Six Flags America/Wild World - MD:
Apocalypse
Batwing
Joker's Jinx
Mind Eraser
Ragin' Cajun
Roar
Superman - Ride of Steel
Wild One
Both - 8 (about 10 or so and 2 visits)

Six Flags Great America - IL:
American Eagle
Dark Knight
Demon
Goliath
Vertical Velocity
Whizzer
Both - 6 (1 visit)

Six Flags St. Louis - MO:
American Thunder
Batman The Ride (Melody's 100th Coaster)
Boss
Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast
Ninja
Pandemonium
River King Mine Train
Screamin' Eagle
Both - 8 (1 visit)

New York New York Casino - Las Vegas, NV:
Big Apple Coaster
Both - 1 (7 and 1 visits)

NASCAR Cafe - Las Vegas, NV:
Speed:  The Ride* - gone
Eric - 1 (1 visit)

Adventuredome - Las Vegas, NV:
Canyon Blaster*
Eric - 1 (1 visit)

Six Flags Magic Mountain - CA:
Apocalypse The Ride
Gold Rusher
Goliath
Ninja
Road Runner Express**
Scream!
Colossus
Viper
X2
Eric - 8, Melody - 9 (1 visit)

Universal Studios Hollywood - CA:
Revenge of the Mummy
Both - 1 (1 visit)

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure - FL:
Incredible Hulk*
Pteranodon Flyers*
Dueling Dragons (Dragon Challenge)*
Eric - 3, Melody - 0 (too young) (2 and 1 visits)

Universal Studios Florida - FL:
Revenge of the Mummy*
Eric - 1, Melody - 0 (too young) (3 and 1 visits)

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom - FL:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Space Mountain*
Eric - 2, Melody - 1 (2 and 1 visits)

Legoland Florida:
Lego Technic Test Track
Coastersaurus
The Dragon
Both - 3 (1 visit)

Busch Gardens Tampa - FL:
Air Grover**
Cheetah Hunt
Gwazi
Montu
Sand Serpent
Scorpion
SheiKra
Python* - gone
Eric - 8, Melody - 8 (3 and 2 visits)

Sea World Orlando - FL:
Manta
Kraken
Both - 2 (1 and 2 visits)

Dollywood - TN:
Blazing Fury*
Mystery Mine
Tennessee Tornado
Thunderhead
Eric - 4, Melody - 3 (2 and 1 visits)

Holiday World - IN:
The Legend
The Raven
Thunderbird
The Voyage
Both - 4 (1 visit)

Kings Island - OH:
Adventure Express
Backlot Stunt Coaster
Banshee
The Bat
The Beast
Diamondback
Firehawk
Flight of Fear
Flying Ace Aerial Chase
Invertigo
Racer
Vortex
Both - 12 (1 visit)



Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer 2015 Road Trip, Part 3: Kings Island & Roller Coasters


7/15/2015 - Kings Island, Cincinnati, Ohio; Nice 70s to 80s

Up at 7.  We got ready, ate a nice breakfast, then headed out to Kings Island amusement park.  Kings Island got its claim to fame by being featured on the Brady Bunch TV show years ago, not too long after it opened, as well as on other shows.  Beautiful weather sparked a fantastic day at the park, riding lots of great rides and some incredible roller coasters!  This was our first time visiting this park.  It was fun!  We rode the Beast, an awesome wooden roller coaster, the longest in North America, and one of the best coasters I've ever been on.  It's like a runaway truck, hitting some impressive speeds and Gs, roaring down the track deep into the woods.  What an incredible ride!  We also rode the Diamondback, a really great hyper coaster that reminded me a bit of Apollo's Chariot (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), and just a little bit better!  We also rode Adventure Express, an old mine coaster, Backlot Stunt Coaster (just like its twin at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA), Banshee (World's longest inverted coaster), Firehawk (where you ride on your back and stomach), the Bat (just like the old Big Bad Wolf at BGW), Flight of Fear (an indoor coaster, another twin of one at KD), Invertigo, the Racer (reminded me of the Rebel Yell at KD), Vortex (which was similar in some ways to the Loch Ness Monster, at BGW), and the Flying Ace Aerial Chase (a very tame inverted coaster), for an even dozen different coasters!  Just an all-around great day!

Big day of travel tomorrow, Lord, so please keep us safe!  Thank you for a wonderful day!



Banshee!


Invertigo

Entrance to Firehawk and Flight of Fear through The Racer
Flight of Fear

The Racer

Waiting to ride The Bat

Riding on The Bat



Vortex

Vortex

The Diamondback

Have a great evening, everyone!  To be continued...


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer 2015 Road Trip, Part 2: Holiday World, Churchill Downs, & Cincinnati

7/13/2015 - Bloomington, IN, to Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN, to Corydon, IN; Hot, hot, hot 90s!

Up at 7.  We got ourselves ready, at a nice breakfast, and then checked out.  We were on the road by 9.  As we checked out, the hotel manager assumed we were there to visit Indiana University, mistaking Melody as a college student!  Once on the road, we headed towards Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.  Our GPS, which I have a love-hate relationship with, gave us a terrible route to the park.  Lots of backroads made for a much more lengthy drive.  We finally arrived at 10 after two hours on the road (going from the Eastern Time Zone back to the Central).  The time change kept messing me up.... Indiana has too many time zone boundaries!  We had a great time at Holiday World!  Nice small-town park with world-class coasters.  The Raven started us off.  It's a fun ride, an old school woodie.  We rode up front, and it got our blood flowing.  Next, we rode the Legend.  There was a long line, probably the longest we saw all day, and the ride had a complication that took one of its trains out of rotation, which kept us waiting in line for 30 minutes.  It was a fun coaster, though.  The we rode the Voyage.  Wow!  What a ride!  Very tall, very long wooden coaster that gets lost in the woods.  Very fast, and seems to go on forever.  Just an incredible ride.  Moved right into my personal Top 5 favorite coasters.  This was also Melody's 100th different roller coaster!  (My Top 5 - Millennium Force, Cedar Point; Apollo's Chariot, Busch Gardens; The Voyage; Loch Ness Monster, Busch Gardens; Thunderbolt, Kennywood.)


Had a delicious Thanksgiving lunch in the Thanksgiving section of the park, then we roamed over to the back end of the park and rode the brand new Thunderbird roller coaster.  This is a steel launch coaster, which goes quickly from zero to 60 and has a smooth, unique design.  Really fun.  After riding it twice, we walked over to The Voyage and rode it again.  It was so hot, though, so we decided to cut short our day at the park.  We rode a few more rides, including the Raven, then shopped for souvenirs, before heading out around 4:30.


We headed east to Corydon, IN, and checked into at Comfort Inn, topping off the gas tank at the next door Shell station.  We checked in, freshened up, then had a tasty dinner at the adjacent Frische's Big Boy.  Came back to our room and we crashed.  Eventually went to bed at 10.  Lord, thank you for a really great day!  Praying for more good times tomorrow!

7/14/2015 - Corydon, IN, to Louisville, KY, to Cincinnati, OH; Hot 90s and hazy, then brief rain, followed by nice 70s weather.

Up at 7:30.  Melody up later.  After breakfast, we finally hit the road at 10:20.  On to Louisville, KY, and the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.  Neat museum and tour.



Tried finding a place to eat lunch, but construction in and around Louisville and the suburbs made stopping very difficult.  Finally stopped at a KFC (where else do stop when you're in Kentucky?).  It was not very good, and the place was really dirty.  Why is it so many fast food places don't seem to care or respect themselves.  I hate fast food for that reason... except Chick-Fil-A.  On to Cincinnati.  Ironically, we arrived in downtown Cincy just as the Major League Baseball All-Star Festivities were getting going.  Wish we could've planned a little better.  We drove right past Great American Ballpark.  However, the skies got very dark and we had a brief rain storm as we exited downtown.  Found our Quality Inn just outside of town, in Blue Ash.  After checking in and changing clothes, we went to visit my old friends, Tim & Lisa.  Way back in the 90s, Lisa and I worked together at two different churches as youth leaders.  She was the youth group director, and I was a counselor.  We were a part of a foursome that worked really well together for about 6 years.  Lisa and Tim moved to the Cincinnati area, where Lisa grew up, shortly after that, and we've stayed in touch.  Tim worked as a steward on Air Force One under President's Reagan, Bush, Sr., and Clinton.  Lisa hadn't seen Melody since she was a baby, when she came to my wife Teresa's funeral in 2004.  I hadn't seen Tim since 2000, when Teresa and I were on one of our cross-country adventures.  Really nice to see my old friends!  They took us to Skyline Chili for dinner.  Melody loved it!  They treated us right and gave us a grab-bag of goodies.




After we ate, we went back to their place to gab for a while, then we said our goodbyes and headed back to our hotel.  We checked in with my mother (Grammy), who was sitting with Faithful Pup Scout, back at home.  At our hotel, we went to bed at around 11, after watching a good bit of the All-Star game.  Lord, thanks!  Prayers for a great day tomorrow!  Thanks for a wonderful day!

To be continued....

Have a great evening, everyone!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer 2015 Road Trip, Part 1: G-Fest XXII

7/9/2015 - Home to Toledo, OH, on the way to Chicago; Rainy - 80s

Up at 5:15 a.m. for work.  Rushed home at 11 -- Vacation time!!!  Straight to Laurel Car Wash for a much needed and much postponed cleaning.  Over to Grace Adventures Day Camp to pick up Melody.  They have such a great staff!  Melody & I came home to load up our Jeep, then we hit the road to Chicago!  Left at 1:15.  Up I-95 to Route 100 to US 29 to I-70 West.  Made a brief stop at a McDonald's to get a little bit of a late lunch and an iced coffee.  Back on the road to the Sideling Hill Rest Area on I-68.  Dark clouds in the sky mean my newly washed Jeep won't stay clean...  Rain almost immediately after getting back on the road.  Bad storm!  Heavy rains and crazy winds!  Rained all the way to Keyser's Ridge.  Decided to stay with I-68 into West Virginia instead of US 40.  Turned out to be a mistake.  Stopped at another Rest Area in WV to double check mileage on GPS and assess our route.  Normally would take US 40 West to Uniontown, then Route 43 and 51 into Pittsburgh.  Instead, we decided to take I-68 to Morgantown, WV, and then I-79 north to Pittsburgh.  Route turned out to be fraught with issues.  Areas of construction, accidents, and off-and-on rain causing stop and go traffic, marred our trip, Arrived at the Max & Erma's for dinner in Cranberry, PA, at 7:15.  Took us six hours to make a trip that should've been less than five.  We had a nice meal, plus their trademarked hot baked chocolate chip cookies!  Got gas at a Sunoco, and a fresh cup of coffee, and we hit the road again... PA Turnpike to Ohio Turnpike to a Comfort Inn in Maumee, Ohio, just past Toledo.  Hotel in a shady area, but too tired.  To bed after midnight!  But we were happy to make it to Toledo, which was our first day goal.

Lord, thanks for watching over us and keeping us safe through the storms.  Praying for good rest and safe, fun travel tomorrow.  Amen.


7/10/2015 - Toledo, OH, to Chicago, IL; cloudy, then clear - 70s to 80s

Up at 6.  We got ready, at a typical Comfort Inn breakfast, and were on the road by 8.  Cooler weather, still overcast, but became sunny as we went along.  Boring travel along the turnpikes.  Into Indiana!  Stopped at a service plaza... possible the worst one ever.  Good job, Indiana.  Place is a dump.  No food services.  Rest rooms were atrocious -- smell was bad and not clean.  Shady people everywhere.  Watched an older man give a toddler an empty box of cigarettes to play with on top of the trunk of his car.  Huh!?!  The whole place looked like it should be bulldozed.  Decided not to get gas and wait until the next rest stop.  Got out of Dodge.  Next service plaza up the road was much better, and I filled up at a Philips 66.  Entered Central Time Zone and Illinois.  Heavy traffic along I-90 in and around Chicago.  Finally arrived in Rosemont, IL at noon.


We went straight to Giordano's for my once-a-year deep dish stuffed pizza!  It was just awesome!  On to the Crowne Plaza.  Check-in was a breeze.  Got parked, headed to our beautiful 12th floor room-with-a-view, where we unpacked and caught our breath!  Back out to the registration table for G-FEST XXII!  Got our credentials and started exploring.  G-Fest is the largest gathering in North America of fans of Japanese giant monsters.  Checked everything out, walked around, and Melody got some stuff in the dealer room.  Good time.  Took a break in our room and ate some leftover pizza, then to the opening ceremonies.  JD Lees, editor of G-Fan magazine and the host of G-Fest, introduced the guests:  Director Masaaki Tezuka, Actor Noboru Kaneko, Friend of the show Robert Scott Field, and author August Ragone.

Masaaki Tezuka

Noboru Kaneko

Scott Field

August Ragone

 Then everyone funneled out for the Big Concert at the nearby Pickwick Theater for Symphonic Fury!  The drive over was uneventful, but other events in the area around the theater made parking nearly impossible.  Very frustrating.  We gave ourselves 45 minutes to make the 10 minute drive, but still didn't find parking until the start of the show.  Dumb luck gave us a space three full blocks away, and we ran to the theater.  Got held at the door because we had print-at-home tickets, which apparently confused the ticket takers.  Once we got in, the show had already started.  How everyone else found parking and got seated is anybody's guess, but once we were seated, we relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful concert.  Music was from composer Kow Otani, a big name in movie scores in Japan, who was in attendance.  After intermission, we heard a suite of music from the wonderful Akira Ifukube, the incredible composer of many of the Godzilla and other monster themes.  I was a backer of this Kickstarter event, and I was very pleased with my investment.  It was a great show.



We went back to the hotel and crashed.

Lord, thanks for a great day!


7/11/2015 - G-Fest Chicago, IL; Mostly cloudy, some rain - 70s

Up at 7.  Decided to try room service for breakfast.  It was delivered at 8, and it was terrific.  It was also expensive, and would be the most expensive meal of our trip.  We got ready kind of slowly.  Out the door at 9:45.  Down to the show.  Shopped a bit in the dealer room, then saw a session with Noboru Kaneko, with Scott Field.


Had a makeshift lunch at our room, then went out exploring at Mitsuwa Japanese Market in Arlington Heights.  This is a favorite stop of ours.  Got a bunch of great Asian snacks, and then a great Japanese-style meal that we took back to our hotel.  Decided to enhance it with some White Castle burgers, but we couldn't find one!  We found an historic McDonald's, which was kind of cool, and we passed East Maine High School, which is where part of THE BREAKFAST CLUB was filmed (the football field).


Back to our hotel.  We ate a nice meal and relaxed, and I actually got a nap.  Headed back down to the show at around 6:30.  The place was packed out for the annual costume contest.  No seats anywhere in the viewing areas.  Melody found a seat on the floor near the main viewing area, and I camped out against the wall, about as far from the action as possible.  Melody got bumped out of her primo spot by a few selfish adults who just don't care that there were kids sitting there.  Great costumes by a lot of people, and we had a great time seeing them.  After the costumes, we saw a few of the homemade films, which was fun.  Then we crashed back at our room.

Lord, thanks for a fun day!  Prayers for more tomorrow, plus a safe drive out of town.






7/12/2015 - G-Fest Chicago, IL, to Bloomington, IN; Sunny 80s

Up at 7:30.  We slowly got ourselves ready and packed up, then loaded up the Jeep.  Formally checked out of the Crowne Plaza, but still a lot of show left in G-Fest!  We went to a session by Robert Scott Field, "Android M-11," who showed us a cool video clip of a short film he made with students in Japan, and then told us about writing his autobiography, which should be out by next G-Fest.  We walked through the dealer room one more time for a few last deals.  Saw a session on Symphonic Fury, and then mentioned that next year's should be great, too.







We had a nice lunch at the hotel's restaurant, Chicago Fire.  Drove up the street to Target to get a Rand McNally road atlas.  I've been so disenchanted with our GPS.  Going Old School, my prerogative as a cartographer.  Back to G-Fest for JD Lees session on G-Fest, G-Fan, etc.  He's a good guy.  Lastly, we attended Stan Hyde's Kaiju Konfessions, the official close-out of G-Fest.  It was a great show!  We immediately hit the road and headed out of town.  Took I-294 to I-80 to I-65 south towards Indianapolis.  Getting late, so we stopped to eat at a lousy McDonald's, about the only thing still open on a Sunday night in the middle of Indiana.  Terrible meal.  This is why I don't like to eat fast food.  Gassed up and got some coffee, then continued on down the road.  Decided to stop at a Comfort Inn in Bloomington, IN, at 11:30.  So tired.... on to bed immediately.

Lord, thank you for keeping us safe, happy, and healthy.  Amen.

To be continued....

Have a great evening, everyone!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

VACATION!!!

Too much travel over the past month or so has resulted in very few posts here on the blog.  I'm very sorry about that.  But we are home this evening after 10 days on the road for VACATION!!!

We'll spend the next several days sharing the details of our road trip, but here are a few highlights:


  • G-Fest XXII in Chicago was a blast, as usual.  G-Fest is the largest annual gathering in North America of fans of Japanese monsters.
  • We went to several amusement parks:  Holiday World, in Santa Claus, IN; Kings Island, in Cincinnati, OH; and Kennywood in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • We rode SEVENTEEN roller coasters on this trip that we had never ridden before!  We'll update and publish our personal coaster database soon, but my daughter, Melody, rode her 100th different coaster on this trip, as well!
  • We visited the Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs) in Louisville, KY, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.
  • We saw Meghan Klingenberg, a Pittsburgh native, of the U.S. National Team that won the 2015 World Cup, who was honored at half-time of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer game.
  • We totaled just over 2000 miles on our road trip!
While Melody and I take a lot of vacations together, they never get old, and we had a BLAST on this trip.  We really enjoy our time together, and I never take for granted the privilege of spending so much quality time with her.  She's growing up so fast, and I know we won't always have these types of opportunities, so I'm happy she enjoys them as much as I do.  We're so thankful for God's blessings on us as we travel, too, keeping us safe, healthy, and happy.

More to come....

Have a great evening, everyone!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Holiday World

I love roller coasters! Melody and I visited Holiday World, in Santa Claus, IN, which is a small theme park with several world-class coasters.  Here are a few pictures: