Love of Coasters
I am captured by roller coasters.
It's not just the coasters. I'v always been drawn to carnivals and amusement parks. I get all caught up in the flashy machinery and the gaudy colors. If I'm outside in the Summer and I simultaneously smell diesel fumes and frying food, I get that goofy Labor Day feeling.
I was raised in rural South Dakota, near a small town called Winner. Every small town in the Northern Plains has a Summer festival. Ours was the Labor Day celebration. A parade, a rodeo, a demolition derby, and most importantly, a carnival. Every year, Bauman Shows would pull into our town on Saturday night, and after the bars would close, they'd set up on three blocks of Main Street. They'd get everything fired up on Sunday afternoon, and by Monday night, I'd be broke from riding every ride I could. It was all flat rides, spin-n-pukes. Scramblers and Tilt-A-Whirls. (Ever notice the evil clown on the back of the old Tilt-A-Whirl cars? Seriously evil. Pennywhistle evil.)
And then I got my first real roller coaster ride.
I'd ridden a kiddie coaster at one of the Labor Day celebrations. That was the closest I had come to a real one, until I was seventeen and my parents took us to Denver to visit an older sibling. A trip to Denver meant a trip to Elitch Gardens, home of two wooden coasters, and a wild mouse. My first ever ride on a full-sized coaster was on Mr. Twister.
Holy mother of God on a fucking pogo stick.
I'd always had this image of coasters being this smooth, gliding, soaring experience, kind of like a Waltz. The reality was a jarring, scary, I'm-going-to-die punch in the mouth from Lemmy. I was alone in the seat, and I learned all about laterals in the first few seconds. This thing was a screaming death machine, shaking the shit out of me. I have vague images of plunging down an impossible slope into the darkness of the structure, flying back up a hill, doing a quick turn-around, and plunging down again. The train threw itself into a jungle of wood. The tunnel was scary loud. I was getting bruises from being tossed back and forth.
It was absolutely furious and frightening and primal and I nearly had an orgasm from riding it.
I rode it several more times that night, and also rode Wildcat, the other woodie. Not as mind-blowing, but fun as well. And that did it for me. Cherry busted. Confirmed roller coaster person. A couple of nights later, we went to Lakeside and I rode the excellent Cyclone coaster and the Wild Chipmunk.
But they still scream along in my brain from time to time.