My 100th Roller-Coaster, Part 6

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

Paramount's Kings Dominion


Lord, take me now.

There is no adequate way to describe how bad I felt the day before and now, today. I can no longer pretend to have bruised ribs. I don't know what exactly is wrong but it is definitely getting worse and it's bordering on unbearable. Each day, each park, each ride only exacerbates the pain and swelling. I'm now reduced to riding only one time on each coaster, that's all I can take. I feel cheated that my perfectly planned vacation has come down to this. Still, I'm glad I went to Great Adventure yesterday. I was miserable but it was worth it. That is to say my *body* felt miserable. My spirit did not. I had a great time while I was there in spite of the pain. Thank God for these pills. If I didn't have them I'd have been forced to quit two days ago.

But if people could see me in this room I wouldn't be going anywhere but the hospital. They'd call 911 for sure.

I really don't think I can make it to the park to meet Jeff. I am just in too bad of shape to go anywhere. I woke up at 7:30 this morning by a couple making love in the room next door, and I couldn't even turn over to get out of bed. All I could do was reach for my pills, which by now I had learned to leave by the bed, along with a glass of water. Take two pills, wait for the pain to die down then get out of bed. I was learning many little tricks like this to get me through each day.

I took two pills and waited for the pain to die down.

The mornings were worst. I now know what severe arthritis sufferers must feel like. This was crippling. Just turning over in bed was an ordeal. Each morning I woke up, literally, moaning. My chest felt swollen. Every breath was painful. If I attempted to move my upper body even *slightly* I cried out from the pain. Even now, just laying here, I was reduced to grunts and groans accompanying each breath.

At 9:45 I woke up again and realized I could now get out of bed. Here's how it worked: first I moved my left leg and arm to act as a brace. Then I rested until the throbbing subsided. Then I slowly pushed off and rolled over onto my right side. Sometimes it took two or three attempts with a rest in between each attempt. Then I curled my legs up and assumed a kind of fetal position. Finally I slowly pushed myself forward until my feet were on the floor and I could sit up and catch my breath for a few minutes. I could now get out of bed. I did this every day.

I moved around the room like an old man, bent over and holding onto my side. The most insignificant movements were agonizing. A cough sent me writhing in pain. Blowing my nose was out of the question. A simple bowel movement was excruciating. And God help me if I should sneeze.

I took two more pills. This would be the only way I could make it through this day. I looked at myself in the mirror and couldn't believe how bad I looked. Jeff would surely think I was a freak. There was no way I could go looking like this.

I forced myself to take a shower. I came to dread showering because the water hurt as it hit against my back and chest. And the hot water, which cleared my normal everyday congestion, made me want to cough, which I absolutely could NOT do.

I was learning all kinds of little tricks to get me through. Instead of coughing, I'd grunt, and that seemed to satisfy my chest. I cleared my nasal passages not by blowing my nose, which was impossible, but by breathing somewhat heavily through one nostril at a time. It hurt, but it was not unbearable.

Which brings up one other thing, too. You learn to live with the pain. There is tolerable pain and there is unbearable pain, and I did my best to convince myself that *most* of what I was feeling was tolerable. Athletes do this all the time - that's how they're able to play with broken bones and torn ligaments. It also helps to "buck up" in public. As long as the pills were working I could pretty much handle riding each coaster, provided I didn't let my back touch the seats. And I rode the least violent seat on every train, which usually meant the front. It was bad but I just got to used to it. Besides, there was no denying the fact that I was riding a thrilling roller-coaster, and this helped divert my attention from the pain. I could forget about it for a few seconds and concentrate on the thrill of the ride.

I was not so sure I could do that today.

After two and a half hours I finally got myself looking pretty good. I put on sunless tanner so I wouldn't look so squeezed out. I showered and blow dried my hair. I wore nice looking clothes. And I took two more pills.

I went to Kings Dominion.

Thank God I'm doing this. I'd be wracked with guilt if I stood Jeff Tolotti up. I've been corresponding with him on line for over a year now, and he's a good kid. I know he would've understood had I called him later and explained, but the fact is I *wanted* to meet him! And I *wanted* to see Kings Dominion! I wanted to ride The Grizzly!

While waiting in line to buy a ticket a little boy behind me said "Hey Mister, you wanna discount ticket?" His Mom handed me a coupon good for $19 admission. Hey, thank you!!! The little boy asked about my RRC button and coaster pins and was fascinated when I told him and his family what I was doing. He told me not to go on Scooby Doo, that it was the scariest ride in the world.

Photo courtesy of Theme Park Review
I walked in and was BLOWN AWAY. MY GOD!!! What an entrance!! I'd never seen anything like that before in a park - the whole scene just seems to scream "Ta Da!" The fountains were wonderfully full - they GUSHED. Fountains that shoot "fat water" are rare. And the Eiffel Tower, my God. It was just beautiful! But the thing that made this whole area complete were the trees and tables that hugged the fountains and lined the square. I thought it would be so cool to eat dinner like that, at a fountainside table.

I spent some time absorbing this breathtaking entrance, then I went to rent a locker. In it I stored my Ziploc Baggie which held Advil, Carmex, toothpicks, Curiously strong peppermints, and my new best friend, Flexural. I knew I'd be back soon.

I made my way over to Rebel Yell. I waited less than five minutes before Jeff Tolotti walked up and introduced himself. He's so big and tall and looks much older than a 16 year old! He's also a wiggle worm - the kid *never* stopped moving! I liked him instantly. He seemed silly and made me feel comfortable.
Photo courtesy of RRC Page

He said the Rebel Yell was not doing something that it should have been doing. I don't remember what because I was totally dizzy. It was a hot day, even in the shade, and I felt the effects of the Flexural. So whatever was wrong with Rebel Yell was fine with me, because I wanted to ride The Grizzly first. I really thought there was a good chance I might only get one ride before I passed out, and if that were the case I wanted to go out on The Grizzly. This was *supposed* to be my 100th roller-coaster. By now I've lost count but I'll figure it out by tonight. I think this is number 84.

I was confused when we walked up to the sign. Where's the coaster? "Right there," Jeff said. But you could only see a little tiny portion of it. "Wow, it really IS hidden in the woods!" I liked the look of this area. It seemed like the *perfect* place for a classic wooden roller-coaster.

Photo courtesy of Allyn Fratkin
What happened after that is a blur. I feel kind of sad really, because I honestly don't remember much of the ride. I do remember thinking that the first drop was not as bad as some people said. I also remember freaking out when I saw the tunnel. I was SCARED!! I remember I was out my seat and we were headed right for it, and the tunnel seemed angled, which may have been purposely designed to further the illusion that you could not fit inside of it. And the last thing I remember is being surprised at how short a ride it was.

And oh yeah, I loved it! I survived The Grizzly!!! Actually I was so relieved that I made it and still had some coastering left in me that I became giddy. I gave Jeff the video camera and told him to record my reaction. In the middle of my excitement you can still see me holding on to my side. I feel kind of sad when I see that. I'm trying not to show how much it hurts.

Next we went to The Hurler. I had NEVER heard anything about this coaster. I mean I had heard the name but nothing about the ride itself. Jeff said it had a great second camelback. Jeff is very knowledgeable about coasters. He has an amazing memory, which would be demonstrated repeatedly throughout the afternoon.

The Hurler ROCKS!!! At first I thought I like this even better than The Grizzly. Its speed is relentless and it has some terrific drops. Of the four woodies at PKD I think I miss this one the most. One other observation: if I remember correctly there was a pink pig or elephant next to the Hurler. No reason was given for it being there. It's just pinkness.

Photo courtesy of Fred Biedermann

We went over to the Rebel Yell again but it was still not doing whatever it was supposed to be doing.

We walked over to ride Avalanche. But first a pit stop to check out Volcano: The Blast Coaster. Wow! This is VERY unusual looking, so unusual in fact that I don't like it. Orange seats and yellow track against a blandly colored volcano with African based theming. Yuck! Then Jeff said he thought the whole thing worked, and influenced by the power of suggestion I go "Yeah! It does!"

Photo courtesy of Theme Park Review
Avalanche looked like a very fun ride, and it WAS. Of all the coasters we rode that day Avalanche was the one I wanted to ride again. It was MUCH faster than I expected, and I loved the openness of the bobsleds, each of which was designated a country. The turns are very sharp and changes in direction give great but thankfully not unpleasant lateral forces. This is the most fun coaster in the park.

Next up was Anaconda. Now I had heard about this coaster - that its rough. Jeff said so, too. Then as we watched the ride Jeff pointed out the rough spots - "Now right there, in the corkscrew, you'll want to BRACE yourself, cause it's jarring, but after that you'll be okay." As we approached the corkscrew Jeff yelled out "GET READY!" "Okay, brace yourself NOW!!" And right on the word "NOW!" was when I felt the train shudder. I, however, did not, thanks to Jeff's Coaster Rider Instruction Course 101.
Photo courtesy of Fred Biedermann

We were just walking along when Jeff suddenly said "C'mon, you GOTTA do this!" "Do what?" "This, it's a tradition." We entered Yogi Bear's Treasure Cave. Through the entire spelunking expedition Jeff walked a good six feet in front of me and chattered away non-stop through the whole thing. I found HIM more funny than the attraction! He quickly pointed to his right and went on mumbling something about how they used to have such and such and over here they used to do this and that but they don't anymore and oh look over here this used to be like that and here's where you want to wait wait wait right here don't go in here just yet just a minute okay now you can walk.

I tuned the corner and saw Jeff sitting on the wall. It was a trick floor, so if you tried to stand upright everything else looked crooked. I started laughing and told him to get down off the wall, so he jumped off and started to race away telling me oh yeah come here you gotta see this come on right out here. There was a sign post reading "You MUST use hand railing as you exit." Of course Jeff gripped the hand railing as tightly as he could - he respects authority.

Jeff asked me if I was ready for lunch. I wasn't at all hungry but I did want to sample Country Kitchen because several people had posted that it had good barbecue. Jeff ran off to get pizza and said he'd be right back. He is hyper! I had a barbecue sandwich with sides of mashed potatoes and corn. The sandwich was great and it was a relief to get out of the sun and rest. All day I felt as though I would pass out. I needed more pills. After lunch I asked Jeff if we could walk back to the front lockers.

We were making our way toward the front of the park and Je...


All hell broke loose inside my body.

I grabbed my chest with one hand and reached out to the air with the other. I fell forward and to the side, then I stumbled forward a few steps. I lost all my breath. The pain that shot through my body was an experience I will never forget. Jeff thought I was having a heart attack.


I couldn't even speak. Finally I just said "I sneezed." Only what came out didn't even sound like a sneeze. It sounded......foreign. Like a sneeze that died. I've never made a sound like that! I told Jeff I needed to get some aspirin out of my locker and that's why I wanted to go there. We reached the lockers and I took three pills. There was no fooling around, I needed some serious relief. I did NOT want to put Jeff in the position of having to take me to an emergency room. Of course had I been more responsible that day I would have realized that by continuing to stay in the park I was putting Jeff in an equally bad position.

But my only thought was to get through this day and make the very best of it. I was REALLY enjoying my time with Jeff. He's a remarkable young man. He's very intelligent and holds a conversation easily. He transitions effortlessly from serious to silly, from young adult to kid. And he's so enthusiastic about coasters.

So we stayed. And we played.

Jeff suggested we hit the Eiffel Tower. The wait was only five minutes, and the view from the top was superb. This is easily the biggest park I've ever been to. We stayed at the top for a long time, finding our cars in the parking lot and studying Volcano.

Photo courtesy of Fred Biedermann
The Rebel Yell was *finally* doing whatever it was that Jeff said it should do, so we got in line. Jeff said the forward side was best, and he got no argument out of me. I had no desire to let my back touch the seat of a woodie. Unfortunately he chose the backseat.

OWW OWW OWW OWW OWW. The drop coming off the lift hill and the turnaround were so severe I thought my riding was done for the day. I stopped yelling and just hung on and worked on getting my breath back. This was like being racked for the twentieth time in a single day.

Shockwave was my first Intamin standup. The loading process took *forever.* But I enjoyed the ride. It's short, but Jeff pointed out a pocket of good airtime as you enter the helix that was fantastic. I know a lot of people don't care much for stand-ups, but I really enjoy them. I like the feeling of just standing there with your arms straight out and just trusting the coaster to do its thing and let you fly.

We walked by Taxi Jam on our way to Scooby. Jeff was hoping to kidnap a kid so he could finally get his coaster credit, but alas, it was not to be on this day. Scooby Doo, however, was one of the most pleasant surprises of my trip! This is the best kiddie coaster I've ever ridden. In fact it shouldn't even be called a kiddie coaster since it's really a junior. Either way, it's an excellent ride and I applaud Kings Dominion for maintaining this ride so well!

Finally. We're here. Outer Limits: Flight of Fear. I purposely wanted to save this ride for last out of fear that it might doom me from riding anything else for the rest of the day. I told Jeff all day how afraid I was and he assured me there was nothing to fear, that all I needed to do was know how to ride it and I'd be fine.
Photo courtesy of Kyle's Coaster Page

The queue was a good hour, and Jeff, who admitted he was playing hookey from work and home, generously agreed to wait it out with me. He used our time in the queue to give me precise and detailed instructions on just how to ride this coaster. Put your feet up like this. Now stick your neck out like this. Now grit your teeth. And look straight ahead. And just tell yourself that you're not going to let your head move.

He also used the time to recite each and every word of the pre-ride show. Jeff has spent WAY too much time in this park! But I have to admit it was hilarious. He also screamed without cause right in the middle of the crowd, after I dared him to do it.

The theming of this ride is the best I've seen outside a Disney park. The video that plays on the monitors is outstanding, and the lighting and special effects inside the spaceship are first rate. My only complaint is that the cattle bins were a letdown. This ride should have a more creative way of moving people through the queues.

Photo courtesy of Kyle's Coaster Page
The ride itself is AWESOME. We held out for the front seat, and I assumed the position, per Jeff's instructions. I was SO SCARED my hands were shaking. Just watching the launch made me nervous. And the way the coaster comes back empty only heightens the anxiety. The launch was incredibly intense. But I could see inside the ride, so I knew which way we were headed. By the time we went through the second inversion I *knew* I was going to be okay, and I let loose the rest of the ride. I screamed my head off. It was painful to be sure, but what a release!! It was the most thrilling ride I'd ever experienced.

We got off and I jumped up and down, yelling "AWESOME! AWESOME!!" I thanked Jeff profusely for being such an awesome ride instructor. I couldn't stop talking. Part of it was sheer relief, but really, it's just a great ride! I feel sorry for the majority of people who find this too rough. They need to ride it with The Moist One!

It was now after 5:00 and Jeff had to leave. So did I. I was spent. I thanked Jeff for a wonderful day and told him how much I liked him. He left and I stopped by to purchase a couple of shirts before I, too, left the park.

Kings Dominion is fantastic. It's big, it's beautiful, it's thrilling. I had such a great day, in spite of my problems. I will never look back and say I shouldn't have gone. It may have been foolish, but the memories I have of this day are irreplaceable. I made a great friend and had one of those rare days where everything in the park blew me away. Those things are precious and you have to grab them whenever you possibly can.

I'll always look back on this day with a sense of wonder.

Next up: Adventure World

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


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