Saturday morning technically came at about 1:20 AM. That’s when the other Matt showed up and disrupted our sleep. His flight was delayed by several hours in Atlanta. I swear, he has the worst luck with flights. Anyways, I didn’t get much sleep after that. But we had to get up early to go pick up the rental car, so 7:30 it was.
After getting ready we headed down to the lobby as the front desk called us a cab. We got in and out of Enterprise pretty quickly with a cute little Hundai. Then we immediately headed to Walmart for supplies and breakfast. Then we headed out to the La Cantera area of San Antonio.
La Cantera is a development that houses some resorts, a large mall, Six Flags, and other things. They took old rock quarries and redeveloped them, and it turned out very nice. Joe and Hannah parked at the mall and rode into the park with me and the Matts since I had national free parking with my season pass. We took the opportunity to take some pictures of the coasters from the top of the cliffs of the quarry that the park sits in.
I’d been looking forward to a visit to San Antonio for quite a while, and I’m glad I waited and did a few days there instead of a quick drive-by for the roller coasters. San Antonio was beautiful, the people were friendly, and I could almost pick up and move there. I rarely feel that way about a city on my first visit, it was amazing. But alas, I have no plans on moving from the Charlotte area any time soon.
I was supposed to go to San Antonio 2 years prior when I went to Dallas, but it’s a great thing I didn’t. This trip started for me at about 3:30 AM on a Friday morning. I got up, got ready, and had my Sister in Law drive me to the airport in Charlotte to catch my 6:20 AM flight. Even if it wasn’t as glamorous as it once was, I still love flying. I always try to schedule flights early to get thru security early, then lounge at the airport. Plus, I was starting to learn which security checkpoints at CLT aren’t as busy, so I walked right thru security upon arrival.
The flight from CLT to IAH was uneventful and I tried to sleep most of the flight. We arrived later than we were supposed to, but that was okay since I had a 90 minute layover in Houston. I boarded the next plane to SAT which thankfully was a little more turbulent, but it ended up landing later due to another plane that didn’t take off on time, so we circled around San Antonio for a while. Then it took forever to taxi because our gate got switched. Oh well. I nearly missed my opportunity to get a ride with Ed, who was arriving around the same time I was supposed to.
I woke up early on Saturday morning. It was still very overcast and misty. I left Cleveland going north east, and after less than 90 minutes I was at Waldameer. That Sirius XM had a Daft Punk special on made the drive go by even faster. I got to the park and it immediately reminded me of a nicer Camden Park. It was very quaint. I got there around 11:00 AM, but the park didn’t actually ‘open’ until noon, and then they do the rolling open where rides open in phases through 1 PM. After buying my wrist band the lady at the gate noticed my nifty Gatekeeper jacket and asked how I liked it. I ran in to some other coaster geeks in the park throughout the morning, all very nice.
The first hour I spent wandering around the park, taking some bad photos since the lighting was terrible, and sat down for a bit. The park was very quaint, and the employees were very friendly. I’d love to have a park this size close to me for convenient evening coaster riding. And right at noon, the National Anthem played and some rides opened. My first ride was the Wacky Shack dark ride. It was really a lot of fun. Again, it reminded me a lot of Camden Park There were some decent flat rides, but I didn’t feel like spinning a lot during the day. I rode the chair lift across the park and took more pictures. I wanted to ride the Mega Disc-O, but decided to skip it. Besides, there was one at my next destination, Kennywood, right? (Insert ominous tone here) So after getting back around to the end of the ride I headed to the Comet, the park’s smaller wooden coaster.
Comet–This was a lot of fun. I was in the 2 row. There was nice light floater air over the various hills. You turn and go up the lift hill and the first drop, while not very large, was fun. And there were plenty of hills. Plus the setting is very nice running thru the trees.
I went and got in line for the drop tower next, which was very good. It drops you as soon as you hit the top, and you don’t stop till very near the bottom. Then, finally, I walked over and waited till Ravine Flyer 2’s queue opened. There was about a train’s worth of people in front of me. When I did finally get in the station, I opted for the front.
Ravine Flyer 2–This coaster was really amazing and packed such a punch for a smaller wooden coaster. The first drop had beautiful views of Lake Erie, and then it’s airtime over the bridge, amazing airtime on the turnaround section, more airtime back over the bridge, airtime up and down, then a slower 90 degree turn that was odd, and then you dive back in the ravine, then up and into the brake run. It was non-stop. I immediately got on closer to the back and it was even more insane.
After riding RF2 a couple of times I went over to Steel Dragon. It spins, so I didn’t know how I’d like it. I was in line for a bit, but the park just wasn’t that crowded, so it was ok.
Steel Dragon–I set on one side while 2 smaller adult brothers were on the other side. I went up the hill backwards. The first drop was really amazing. We got some decent spinnage when we hit the release for the car. This was my first of this type of spinner, and it was definitely better than the Gerstlauer spinners and the spinning mice I’d ridden. Highly enjoyable. I’m not sure why more parks, big and small, don’t have one of these.
I went back over to Ravine Flyer 2 for some more backseat rides. This was going to rank highly for me. It was smooth, fast, and chock full of airtime. I toyed with another Comet ride, but I wanted to get to Pittsburgh. I was going to stop by Conneaut on the way, but I didn’t have cell service, so I couldn’t call to see if Blue Streak had opened, as they were re-tracking it. I probably should have just stopped. I did get to my hotel near Pittsburgh around 4:30. Craig and kids were at Kennywood and they said it was packed, Phantom was down, and so I decided to wait till Sunday morning to go instead. I went to bed around 5 PM and didn’t wake up till the next morning. Side note, the Sheraton in Coraopolis was very nice for $53 a nite.
On Sunday I wanted to go to Kennywood a couple of hours and the head home, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. When I went to get gas, my debit card wouldn’t allow me to make any purchases. I had moved money from my checking to my savings. Nothing recognized the savings account. No ATM, no store, no nothing. And the stupid number on the card was all automated and there was no one to talk to.
Eventually, I had to drive all the way to WV, about 70 miles, to a BB&T ATM, as there were none in Pennsylvania, just to get the correct number to call and get it straightened out. Apparently at some point, BB&T didn’t have my savings account attached to my debit card. I toyed with going back to Kennywood, but I was about 90 minutes away at this point, and I was on my way home. And I really needed some quality Phantom time.
So that was that. I arrived home around 7:30 and uploaded my pictures. I missed out on 2 parks during the weekend, but in the end, I still had a great get away.
I’d never been to Coastermania. Every year I thought about going but it often conflicts with Holiwood Nights, which I usually went to every other year or so, and then in the ‘off’ years for that, I’d usually been busy around that time doing other things. In 2013 I planned for Coastermania though, because I really like Cedar Point, and I wanted to ride Gatekeeper.
Because of things that couldn’t be helped I left work 2 hours later than I’d wanted to on Thursday evening, leaving the Charlotte area around 6 PM. The drive to Huron, where I had a room, was long. Really long. And it just felt like it was never ending. Getting stuck in roadwork and traffic at different times didn’t help at all. Eventually, though, I made my way up to northern Ohio and got to the motel around 2:30 in the morning. I usually use Hotwire to reserve a room and always get a decent deal, but rooms for Sandusky were quite a bit higher than I wanted to pay for, especially for the star ratings available. I ended up booking $49 at Motel 6 only because I’d heard it was clean and close. It was. In fact, it seems Motel 6 was renovating its rooms and going for a more post-modern, minimalistic approach. Wood floor laminate, white and orange walls, IKEA looking furniture, and it was all very clean.
Having only been able to sleep for about 4 hours before waking up and checking out, I sleepily stopping by McDonald’s for breakfast on the way to the park. The forecast kept calling for sunny skies and 80 degree weather. Well we were in deep fog and it was maybe in the 50s.