Originally, my plan was to leave Nashville early on the morning of July 10th and drive straight to Washington DC. About a week before my trip, one of my managers at work mentioned that I might be able to leave work early the day before my trip if I wanted to. So that got me thinking...hmmm...if I could go to bed almost as soon as I got home, I could get an incredibly early start, which might allow me to add a bonus park into my plan! So I checked out Kings Dominion as the best bonus park to add into my trip. It was almost right along the way to DC from Nashville, and had tons of credits. I didn't want to get too excited though, since I had no idea if I could actually get off early or not the day before the trip.
Well on the 9th, my managers let me go home 4 hours early, which gave me plenty of time to get everything done and still get a decent amount of sleep before the first leg of the trip. When I left, I got my car's oil changed, then immediately went home. By the time I was done with everything, I ended up getting into bed at 6:30pm.
I got decent sleep, but not the most restful I have ever had before a trip. I got up at about 2:00am, and after showering, packing up the car, watering the plants, and feeding the cats, I was on the road at 3:30am.
The drive was uneventful, and I made my first stop just shy of Bristol for gas.
Uh oh! A sure sign that we are dangerously close to Appalachia!
Since it was breakfast time, I pulled into the Pals drive in that I saw next door since the building was so cute.
But when I asked if their chicken sandwich was grilled or fried, the woman replied "It's microwaved." So I passed...didn't want to waste my money on something that may or may not be good!
I stopped one other time for gas, and ended up arriving at Kings Dominion at about 4:00pm, with a closing time of 10:00pm.
My car...very happy to finally be on vacation!
When I drove up, I noticed some lightning in the area, so I assumed that everything was going to be closed for the moment. But I didn't care since I know that most of the time, a park will empty out if there is even a threat of rain! I got my ticket, and then headed into the park...
...opposite of the masses of people scurrying for the gates! It was starting to rain at this point, but I grabbed a map and headed back to Hypersonic so I could be there when the rain and storm let up.
It's raining, everyone is leaving, and it's a great day to get a dozen credits!
Well by the time I got to Hypersonic, it was raining hard enough to drive me inside a nearby gift shop. Pretty soon the skies opened up and it started to downpour!
This is where I waited out the great flood
And it rained...and rained...and rained...the deluge!
I called my mom just to let her know that I had made it there safely and to ask her to watch the weather channel for a forecast for my area. After about 15 minutes, they hadn't given a good look at the radar for Virginia, so I got off the phone with her and opted to try my cell phone. I downloaded a weather radar program, but when I tried to pull it up, it requested my zip code. So I asked a few people in the store, but they were all from out of town and didn't know it. Then I asked the employees in the store and they didn't know it either! I even said "ANY zip code in this area! What's your home zip code?" and not a single one of them knew it! How on earth do you not know your own zip code?? I eventually asked every person in the store and not a single person knew any zip code in the area. And you just can't tell me that every last person in that store was from out of town. I truly don't understand.
Once the rain slacked up a bit, I ran across the pathway to the diner, where I eventually found an employee who knew her home zip code (this was after asking at least three or four other employees who didn't know!!). When I plugged in the zip code, the radar showed that the storms had passed but that it would probably rain for the rest of the night. Oh well, hopefully it would drive even more people out of the park!
A beautiful pink flower in the Flyers queue
I started to walk around, and found that the flyers were the only ride open at the time. I ended up waiting through four cycles before I got to ride, but I didn't mind waiting since there was nothing else open! The ride was ok, but wasn't as good as the ones at Carowinds last year (and certainly not as good as the ones at Knoebels, as I would find out later in the trip!).
Leaving the Flyers, I started to wander around and take photos, and eventually decided to have some dinner.
I got a turkey sub from Subway, and while it was still $6 without chips, I knew that it would be a reliably good dinner. It was covered in pickles too...did you expect anything less from me? :-)
While I ate, I heard Shockwave starting to test over my shoulder. I'd planned on having Hypersonic be my first coaster in the park, but it was still showing no sign of life. So after I was done, I took a few more pics then got in line with everyone else waiting for Shockwave to reopen.
It took maybe 15 minutes before we got the all clear to load, and when we did, I was in the back of the first train out. It wasn't too bad of a ride...I remember thinking the same thing about the one at Canada's Wonderland...but it still wasn't something I really wanted to ride again!
Next I wandered back over towards Hypersonic, where a group of people was already forming. Since it wasn't open, I grabbed a ride on Rebel Yell, going forward. This ended up being the roughest coaster I rode the entire week! It was excruciatingly bad! It was so bad in fact, that as soon as we hit the bottom of the first drop, I literally saw stars! I'd never had that happen before and it was pretty scary! The entire top half of my field of vision had quick little flashes of light all over it which didn't stop until the train slowed down for the turn around. What a horrible, horrible ride. And unfortunately, I still had the backwards side to ride!
After such a beating, I wasn't sad to see that Hypersonic still had a line. They were cycling people through, but had not opened the entire queue yet, so I joined the mass waiting at the entrance. I didn't have to wait very long before they opened up, and I don't think I even ended up waiting 15 minutes to ride.
And what an amazing ride! I LOVED this ride...was definitely one of my favorites from the trip! The launch is insane...you don't even have time to think about how fast you are going before you are vertical, then snatched down the other side! And while the return leg wasn't exactly smooth, I didn't find it uncomfortable at all since the only restraint is a lap bar. The brakes are really loud, lending themselves to that "trash can rolling down a hill" sound that everyone talks about, but I thought they caught the train at just the right speed to be comfortable. Basically, I thought the ride was fantastic! And if PKD gets rid of it, I REALLY hope that a park near me decides to buy it! I'd love it ride it more often!
Afterwards, I found my way to Grizzly, which is hidden off the main path. If I hadn't known the coaster was there, I kind of doubt that I would have found it. You can't see it from many places in the park, and I didn't see a sign for it on the main path...just a big grizzly bear statue. This ride was pretty much a walk on, so I took a back of the train seat. I found it to be a pretty good ride. A little rougher than I like, with a few spots of painful laterals, but overall it wasn't bad. The seat divider was horrible though...it's this low divider that only came halfway up my thigh. So any time the train turned left, the top edge of the divider dug into my thigh. Really painful...much more so than a full divider that goes up above your thigh.
I wanted a break for a moment, so I bought a Coke and rode up to the top of the Eiffel tower. The view was nice, but would have been easier to photograph if everything up there hadn't been soaking wet and almost flooded!
The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower
Awesome! I can see my car from here!
When I left, I decided that I needed to pick up the pace a bit since I had lost close to two hours to the pouring rain! I went into the Nickelodeon area and got in line for the Ghoster Coaster. But just as I got there, there was a maintenance man working near the lift hill and another trying to get the train dislodged from the brake run. Knowing that I didn't want to miss out on a coaster like Volcano or Avalanche in favor of the kiddie woodie, I left and vowed to try for Ghoster Coaster again later.
As I passed the Scooby Doo dark ride on my way to Volcano, the ride op said that the ride had started to leak and was closed, but should be open again before the park closed. As I arrived in the Volcano/Avalanche area, I opted to take a ride on Avalanche first.
Thinking of Kevin on Avalanche!
I definitely enjoy this type of ride, but I don't think I'd rank one over coasters like Hypersonic! But it was a fun ride...a good starter adult coaster.
Volcano was next, and I had purposely not looked at this coaster very much before my trip so I would be surprised by it. I knew it was launched but didn't know where the launch was or what it did to you. There was no wait for this ride either, so I took a seat in the back row. Their loose article handling was odd...a ride op would push around a cart where everyone would store their stuff, then push it to the unload area where it would be waiting for you when you left the ride.
I ended up really liking this ride. Much more so than I would have imagined! I always find it odd when I enjoy inverted coasters to that extent since they're almost never my favorite coaster in a park (excepting Islands of Adventure and Carowinds). But it was fast, powerful and smooth as butter on a bald monkey.
I'm sure that no one else has a photo like this!
Next, I headed across the path and got my Italian Job Stunt Track credit, thus rounding out the Italian Job trilogy in my coaster count. Afterwards, I gave a call to my friend Diana in Nashville. A few months ago, her fiancée and I had a discussion about if there was a coaster named Anaconda at Cedar Point or not. Try as I might, I couldn't convince him that the Anaconda he rode was not at Cedar Point! So since Anaconda was the next coaster I was riding, I figured I'd give them a call and heckle them about it hehe. I got their voicemail, so I left some kind of silly message, then went to get in line.
One of my favorite photos from the trip
Taking a cue from Ninja at SFoG, I opted for a ride in the front row of the back car, hoping that I might not get a head injury if I rode in that seat.
Fortunately, it didn't beat me up quite as badly as it could have. I didn't find it to be a particularly interesting coaster since it has that sort of meandering ending before the corkscrews. But if it was smooth, it wouldn't be too bad. I don't even want to imagine what it's like riding that ride in any other seat!
Since Flight of Fear was next door, I popped over there and grabbed a ride with no wait. This was the longest wait that Kevin and I had at King's Island in 2003, and in 2005 when I was there, I couldn't even ride it because the line was so long! So no wait today was a special treat! This ride was wild...so intense, and so disorienting! For the whole first third of the ride, I couldn't tell if I was upside down, right side up, in an overbank or what! Crazy! Such an awesome ride!
Since I had gotten all of the major credits out of the way, it was time to clean up the rest of the "If I miss it I won't be upset" credits.
I headed back towards Ghoster Coaster, which was now open and running just fine. It's a nice little woody...in fact, it was the best woody in the park! That's pretty sad!
As I was leaving, I saw the Treasure Cave, which I had seen online before I went to the park. I really enjoy tilt houses...I guess you could say that I am a tilt house enthusiast (as truly lame as that sounds! haha). This one wasn't that impressive though since the tilt house part was very small.
No bears allowed in the Treasure Cave! I know a few guys who would be very upset by this!
The rest of the cave was kinda cool...would be pretty spooky if you were a kid.
The last two credits I needed were next door to each other, and wanting to delay Rebel Yell's sadistic beating for as long as possible, I rode Ricochet next. The ride was a pretty standard Wild Mouse...
...until we got to the last set of brakes before the last turn around, and the ride e-stopped! We ended up sitting there for quite a while with no sign of anyone coming to assist the ride ops. Finally a couple of maintenance men and a security guard showed up. My delay afforded me a couple of nice pics of Hypersonic, so all was not lost. Of course, I also started thinking "What if I get evacuated from the ride? Do I count this as a credit? I haven't finished the entire circuit. But I did finish most of it." Fortunately, they ended up being able to dispatch the cars one at a time back to the station, so I didn't feel dirty about including it in my coaster count hehe When we got off the ride, the kids who had been sitting on the brake run were making a huge deal about how they had been given cups of water and we hadn't been...as though they had been given this huge gift and we should be jealous! haha
Well, not being one to pass up a credit, I decided to go ahead and ride backwards on Rebel Yell. The backwards seemed just as bad as the forwards side, except that luckily I didn't see stars this time. Still not a coaster I ever care to ride again!
Since I was in the area, I couldn't leave without getting another ride on Hypersonic!
It really pains me that this ride may be closing because I truly loved it! If it's not in my top 10, it's really close! I also decided to grab another ride on Volcano, so I hoofed it all the way back across the park. When I was done, I walked back by Scooby and found it open, so I took a ride there as well. The sensors on this ride are much more sensitive than the King's Island one, so my score was higher, I saw more gags and I just had a better time since I felt like I was doing it right!
At this point, the park was closed, so I started out toward the gate. I stopped in a gift shop and found a great t-shirt that says "Coaster Freak says : Be Happy! Go Ride a Coaster!" I thought it was too appropriate since everyone at work calls me the coaster freak. And it was only $9. I seem to have accumulated a lot of park shirts recently because they've been cheap. I wouldn't have thought about buying that shirt if it was $15 or more, but $9 I can do.
Once I was on the highway headed towards DC, I was starting to feel pretty hungry, so I stopped at a Taco Bell for a bite. Their bathroom didn't have any soap or paper towels, so an elderly lady employee barged her way into the men's bathroom and let me wash my hands in there hahaha I had an enchirito, but then the dining room was closing, so I took my beef and potato burrito to go. I didn't even end up eating it because I was kinda tired and didn't want to eat while I drove.
I arrived at my hotel at 11:30, which was the Motel 6 in Capitol Heights, MD. I picked this hotel because it is right off the street that Six Flags America is on, plus it is next door to a hotel that some friends of mine stayed in last year and felt comfortable. So I went with their recommendation since they said they felt safe in that area. With tax, the hotel was around $60, which was reasonable all things considered, I guess. That's the one thing I miss about working for Holiday Inn...I don't get the employee discounts anymore! There was some creepy man checking in behind me, but the lot had a pretty heavy security presence, so I didn't feel particularly unsafe. I did park my car in a place where I could see it out my window though, just in case!
My room was number 212 and it was very no-frills...it had two beds, but the room was only long enough to accommodate the beds when they were butted up against the walls with only a small path between them. It came with one bar of soap, but no shampoo, conditioner or lotion, and the toilet didn't have a lid on it. But I was only there to sleep and shower so it served it's purpose I guess. I called Kevin once I got settled but he didn't answer, so I went ahead and got in bed. As soon as I laid down, he called me back, and we ended up talking until 1:30. I was pretty beat once we got off the phone, so I went straight to sleep.
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