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My 100th Roller-Coaster, Part 2

This report chronicles my unforgettable two week trip in June,
where I visited 12 parks and rode 42 roller-coasters, including my 100th.

Michigan's Adventure

"And the answer to....all my dreams....."

Poor Cindy Stout. She's definitely not a morning person. She sure has got some beady little eyes this time of day. She looks like she wants to kill me. I suspect she blames me for the sinus infection she woke up with, the one that will plague her throughout the entire day and night. I *know* she blames me for getting her up so early to drive. Well fine, it's not my fault, I didn't make her sick! And it's not like I *forced* her to come up here with me. Well okay, maybe I did. But SHE'S the one who went on and on about how great Shivering Timbers was so really it's all her fault for making me want to do this in the first place! And look at Shawn McLaughlin. He said he didn't sleep a wink last night. He gave up a planned trip to PKI just for this day. And he REALLY wanted to go to PKI. Meanwhile, I really want to take this Isuzu Esteem and plow it into the side of the Bloomington Motel 6. For God's sake, could this ENGINE BE ANY LOUDER PLEASE, THANK YOU!!! This is the most God awful rental car I've ever driven. I'm stuck listening to a one-channel-only radio, playing the worst kind of whiny rock imaginable, and I'm driving through a state that has all the charm of a..... well,...... of a state. I'm friggin' tired, OKAY? Plus I'm so sore I can barely breathe! LEAVE ME ALONE! Now can I PLEASE GET SOME COFFEE HERE?

Good morning, Cindy! You guys ready to go?

We form a caravan and head north. What a disgusting drive. Seven hours, all the while knowing that right up there in those two cars ahead of me are two people perfectly capable of having an enjoyable, stimulating conversation with me about roller-coasters. But noooooo, I'm stuck listening to the screeching enging of this God forsaken Isuzu Esteem which, by the way, has no cruise control.

We finally enter the city of Holland. Such a pretty name. Ooh looky there, a Steak-n-Shake. I know where I'll be heading for dinner tonight.

When we reach Muskegon I start looking for the signs to Michigan's Adventure. Nothing. A few more miles. Still nothing. We're now leaving the city of Muskegon. Still no signs. Thank God Cindy is leading the way, does she know where she's going? Where the HELL IS THIS PLACE?

"Amusement park 2 miles."


Amusement park? Excuse me? What kinda rinky dink, piece a....... look at that sign!!! It's 4 inches tall! What kind of place is this anyway?

Cindy turns off and leads us down a back road. It's a two lane road but it does NOT look developed. The road is shrouded by trees. We turn left at another little rinky dink sign and I'm starting to laugh. This is the dumbest..... it better be up here, okay here we go, this is it..........

My First, My Last, My Everything
Photo courtesy of Theme Park Review

Say HELLO to Shivering Timbers!!!

To say that the trees parted and the skies cleared would not be an exaggeration. This is the most visually stunning coaster I have ever laid my eyes on. An absolutely MASSIVE display of rolling hills, it looks like the biggest coaster ever built. I am so tempted to pull off to the side of the road and just gawk - it's obvious from the well-worn shoulder that "coaster gawking" has become something of a pastime here, and with good reason. Shivering Timbers has been hyped in many ways, but the wonder of looking at it cannot be overstated. It defines magnificence.

It is 3:30 by the time we arrive. And dare I say the three of us have become quite.... perky. The park closes at 7:00 so there is no time to waste. We paid our admission and headed straight for the coaster. Intent as I was on riding, I could not help but utter an observant "Oh, my" once it dawned on me that at this moment I was clearly in the middle of the most pitiful park on the planet. To call this park homely would be charitable. A slash and burn policy was implemented to level the land and build the park, and it's ironic seeing miles of evergreen trees just beyond the park's borders. No trees, no landscape, no shading, no buildings of any interest, no nuthin. Let's face it, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot. With rides.

Photo courtesy of Theme Park Review
Ah well, who cares. There's one ride here that's been on my mind since the day I returned home from Visionland and turned on my computer, only to find a wave of hysterical euphoria had rocked the coaster loving community. Shivering Timbers is, without a doubt, the biggest sleeping giant of them all. And here I am, standing before it, and I must tell you I am really impressed. A cartoonish construction of exaggerated elements, the coaster cannot be seen from within the park. Is this by design? Somehow I believe it is. I think it's designers knew that shielding the ride would heighten the sense of anticipation for its already anxious passengers.

And oh, the anticipation. The wait looked to be only about 15-20 minutes according to Cindy. We watched each train leave the station and quietly climb the lift hill. Then it disappeared...... to total silence. Nothing! Not a sight nor a sound for over two minutes. This cloaking effect works like a charm - people stop talking for just a second, wondering where it went and why you can't hear anything. Then suddenly and without any warning, BAM! it comes flying out of the lift hill's belly and slams into the helix.

I wanted my first ride to be in the front seat. Shawn and Cindy boarded before me so I could videotape their reaction. When they hit the brakes I noticed they and everyone else on the train lurched forward - Shivering Timbers finishes with plenty of energy to spare. Shawn gave me the thumbs up sign while the veteran Cindy waved her index finger and gave a big woo-hoo!

Now it was my turn. This is roller-coaster number 69. As we climbed the lift hill I felt..... triumphant. It was a huge goal for me to get here. I knew the logistics would be a nightmare, and they were. And I was grateful to be here with friends that I could share the experience with and discuss this coaster that everyone's been talking about for the past two months. I don't know, considering the distance we travelled, the shift in time zones and the park's limited hours, I really hoped it would all be worth it. Shivering Timbers
Photo courtesy of Jeff Cook

Shivering Timbers
Photo courtesy of Fred Biedermann
It was. Shivering Timbers is the best roller-coaster I've ever ridden. I always thought I was a twister man, but Shivering Timbers is perfect. The first four outbound hills are unquestionably full of airtime. And not just *airtime* - BIG airtime! The turnaround is nice and strong, not banked, and there's a great lateral jolt that sends you on your way back home. After that they mix things up a bit - you get a double up and some trick track, a ramp up and down, and some great and varied bunny hops before you come flying out of that cocoon and tear into the helix. The helix is amazing, one revolution going down, then another going up before it levels out and you hit the brakes.

We rode six times, six wonderful, incredible rides. I liked the second seat best, though no seat stood out all *that* much - they were all great rides, even from the middle. We discussed every aspect of it but the one question we kept coming back to, and our mantra for the day was, "Why here?" Why couldn't it be *anywhere* but here? This park has no lights so it has to close before dark. And what is up with that, is this a law or some policy dictated to the park? And if so, by whom? There's not a soul around to be bothered, so I have to guess its only purpose is to piss all of us off by having a magnificent coaster like Shivering Timbers and then denying us the opportunity to ride it at night.

But for today, all is well. My work here is done.

They closed the line for Shivering Timbers, so Shawn and I wanted to take one ride on the Wolverine Wildcat. Cindy mentioned that this was inspired by the Pheonix at Knoebels. Oh good, this should be great then! But I remembered reading some of the comments from respectable RRCers who had less than charitable things to say about it's condition. So I approached with caution.

If Shivering Timbers was the best roller-coaster I have ever ridden, then Wolverine Wildcat was surely the worst. How ironic that this park would contain both. Perhaps we chose a wheel seat, I don't know and I don't care. All I know is that by the bottom of the first drop I knew I was in trouble. The pain was shocking and it tore through my side like a bear with it's claws. I lost my breath less than halfway through the ride and could only grunt as we returned to the station. Shawn timidly said "Wow, if the Pheonix is anything like that, I don't think I'll like it." He found it extremely painful, too, though he wasn't nursing a bruised rib cage. My rides on ST hurt but up until then I had managed to live with it. Now I hurt BAD.

Cindy wanted to ride the Corkscrew to complete her coaster count within the park, so we walked on over. The station housing the coaster is.... well,.... it's..... it's ugly. That's about all I can say. It's so ugly I can't even say how ugly it is. It's so ugly I feel sorry for it. I feel sorry for a building, that's how ugly it is.

We tried to make a run for Zach's Zoomer before the park closed. We were too late.

It was seven o'clock on a Saturday night in June and the park was closed. As Bette Davis once said "WHAT.... A.... DUMP."

Still, I'm grateful to Michigan's Adventure. Any park that has sno cones and Shivering Timbers is okay in my book.

Shivering Timbers was well worth the trip. Every element on this coaster is worthy of discussion. Boy did CCI deliver the goods. They gave the park and the coaster loving community something that is unquestionably unique and memorable. In a year when the amusement park industry began to recognize and talk about the wooden roller-coaster, Shivering Timbers will be remembered as the most talked about one of them all.

Next up: Idlewild/Blands/Lakemont

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10


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