"Don't go there...."
I can't go. Yes, you can. I can't make it. Yes you can! It's only Six Flags,
everybody says don't go there! You can go, you're going. But I...... You'll
regret it if you don't, now get up and get going. |
And with that, I made the decision to ignore everything my body was telling me as well as all the advice I received about Six Flags Great Adventure.
Don't go there, they said. It's a concrete jungle. A wall-to-wall, gang-infested, graffiti-covered, trash-ridden dumpster of a park. The line jumpers alone will cost you an extra hour at each queue. The rides are full of rust and the woodie has no grease. The prices for parking and food are astronomical. The employees are just as rude as the guests. The devil himself lists Jackson, NJ as his summer home.
In the meantime I was trying my hardest not to let this injury put an end to my trip, now in its fifth day.
I was losing the battle.
Each day was getting worse. All that jostling about on roller-coasters made everything that much worse the next morning. I was getting 3-4 hrs. of sleep. The Flexural I had taken the day before gave me some much needed relief, but the pills were too strong to take more than two per day. The excitement of being in a park kept me going, but I still felt the fatigue associated with these heavy duty muscle relaxants. A long drive after the park closed would have been disastrous, so I was lucky to have made reservations near Knoebels last night.
Tonight I would not be so fortunate.
This was scheduled to be my big "drive day" where I would go from Knoebels to Fredricksburg, Virginia. I needed to be in Virginia by nightfall so that I could meet Jeff Tolotti the following day at PKD. There were lots of options for me on this "open day." I could take a leisurely drive to Gettysburg and check out a couple of diners along the way. Or I could drive through Washington, D.C., which I have never seen before, on my way to Virginia. I could have visited Hersheypark a few days early, but I wanted to see it for the first time with my girlfriend, Susan, who I would be meeting in D.C. on Thursday night. I could have visited Williams Grove, then Gettysburg, then Virginia. I also considered driving all the way to Wildwood, where the Crazy Mouse sounded like so much fun.
But I chose to go out of my way a little bit to visit Great Adventure. Why?
Well, I don't really know. I just *had* to see it. I *really* wanted to ride The Chiller for one thing. For another, I had never been to New Jersey and I wanted to see what it was like. I also had a Six Flags season pass, and this would probably be the only time I'd ever consider going to this park. And I just HAD to see this park, it intrigued me.
I couldn't believe it was as bad as people said it was. And I wanted to see the people first hand for myself. You see, in Minnesota we don't have anywhere near the kind of crowds like those described at Great Adventure. You go to Valleyfair! on a typical summer day and you will see an all-white crowd (and my God, do I mean white!), no line jumping, no smoking and no one being disruptive. People do not feel compelled to write their name on the walls, nor are they prone to picking fights. It is an extremely reserved, well-brought up Scandanavian crowd.
New Jersey sounded colorful. The Philadelphia and New York crowds would surely scare the daylights out of me, forcing me to confront my prejudices. It would be an eye opener and a good lesson in looking at people who are different from me.
Plus I wanted to see prison in the form of a park. I swear, people made this place sound like a federal penitentiary. As I pulled into the parking lot I grumbled about the $7 parking fee. But then......
The next five hours were a revelation for me. A revelation in that everything I had ever read or heard about this place was untrue. From the moment I walked through the entrance and heard the sweet sounds of classical music being played over the PA system, I KNEW.
I walked over to Viper, which was closed, just to see what it looked it like. Two ride ops were coming out of the queue, which was closed, and asked me if I was a coaster enthusiast. Now why would they think that? Just because I'm wearing a Desperado t-shirt, RRC button and a couple of coaster pins? They stopped and talked to me for a good ten minutes, which really impressed me. They were every bit the enthusiasts that I am, and they showed me where the new-for-99 B&M coaster would be built. They also made it a point to ask me if I was enjoying my day at their park and wished me a good time during my stay.
After I got off I was in a daze. Loud noises really bother me, but this experience made me sick. I laid down on a bench just outside the entrance to the station, and curled up in a semi-fetal position. I felt like I was having a bad acid trip.
About ten minutes later a woman walked up and asked if I was alright. I told her I had a headache and she walked away. But I realized right then I was in terrible shape. I needed to leave the park as quickly as possible. I felt cheated that I couldn't stay as long as I wanted, but at least I got to see the park and find out what it was like.
I'm so glad I went for one more ride. It gave me a little bit of a boost, and I needed it. I stopped by Guest Relations to offer my compliments to the park, and psyched myself up for the drive. The Flexural had kicked in and my body was screaming for sleep! I dreaded the drive to Virginia, but I didn't feel I had any choice. I had no way of contacting Jeff and I didn't want to leave him stranded at PKD tomorrow.
So I drove to Fredricksburg, Virginia. It was THE most difficult drive I have ever had. I felt myself nodding off many times. I was terrified at the thought of being so out of it in this traffic, which is TERRIBLE, by the way. I was really surprised to see empty stretches of land between Delaware and Baltimore. For some reason I expected this part of the country to be continuously populated. Anyway, I fought to stay awake the whole drive.
Four hours and one tension headache later, I made it to the Econolodge in Fredricksburg, Virginia. I was a WRECK. My ribs and back hurt so bad I felt like I needed a bigger shirt size. I called Susan and asked her to e-mail Jeff for me. I couldn't meet him as early as we'd planned. Of course she tried to talk me out of going altogether but I would hear none of that. There was no way I was going to let this kid think I didn't want to meet him. But even though I was only half an hour away from the park, there was no way I could get myself up and around and together in time. I told Susan to tell him I would not be able to meet him as early as we had planned. I told her to tell him I was sorry and I hoped he got my message and I would be at the park a few hours later.
It would take a miracle to get me there.
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