I love roller coasters. I love the roar they make when they go by. The way your whole world vibrates when they pass. The push and pull of speed and height and banked corners. The way your stomach drops when you go over that hill.
Cedar Point is practically a pilgrimage for those who like to go fast.
But first we had to get there.
Just across the river from Windsor is another world: Detroit. Crossing the border never ceases to amaze me: how we’re so similar yet so, so different. We took the tunnel into Detroit, which just emphasized the “We Are Somewhere Different” feeling.
Obviously, our first stop is a liquor store.
American liquor stores are unapologetic, magical candy stores for Ontarioans. For all our freedoms, access to alcohol is still tightly controlled, regulated and taxed. So I buy a jug of wine for my mother for her projects ($15! That thing costs $40 at the LCBO) and a six-pack of something called Shock Top Raspberry, which was disappointing. I drank my boyfriend’s Oberon instead. Cheap booze (OH MY GOD THERE’S PRACTICALLY NO SALES TAX EITHER) in hand, we set off to explore the city.
We see what appears to be a vibrant Chinatown but is in fact faux-Hong Kong for the Transformer’s movie. The city seems vibrant and alive, with opera houses and sports stadiums and fun pubs. We even had dinner at a great place, Slow’s BBQ, which happened to be close to one of Detroit’s most beautiful abandoned buildings: Michigan Central Station. It was their equivalent to Grand Central or Union. In a city where car is king, why would anyone take the train?
We then decided to drive in the direction of Dearborn, taking a look at the carnage. There are so many abandoned and burned out buildings. Houses that seem perfectly lovely are black on the inside. But the strip clubs are still in business; I saw three of them on that one stretch of road. That’s your recession-proof industry, people! Quite close to downtown I saw a trio of apartment buildings with all the windows removed. I was so confused: these seemed to be in such a good area, being so close to downtown. Why were they like this?
Anyway, let’s leave this depressing place for somewhere happier.
So rural Ohio is the same as rural Ontario: farms. Farms and corn. Corn corn corn. And a funky suspension bridge!
Some hours later (One? Seven? I think I blocked out that time. I’m not a happy car passenger.), we arrive in Sandusky, Ohio. We immediately marvel at all the restaurant choices because 50% of any trip to the States is trying out food chains that we haven’t had before. And dammit, we missed Sonic again. I will eat there at least once even if it kills me. Also, where is the Denny’s? I only ask one thing of you, America: that there is a nearby Denny’s for my breakfast.
But the important thing is that we are finally here and I can get out of the car. Oh, such joy to get out of the car!
I hate lines. I want to go from ride to ride keeping my adrenaline high so I am constantly shaking and barely able to walk. This is why it is very important I never, never, ever try hard drugs. I’d be dead in two days. But we’re in! Cedar Point has 16 roller coasters. We must try them all.
There is this one coaster, Top Thrill Dragster, which is insane. I’ve never been on anything like it before. Essentially, you get in the car, and they launch you out of the station. You reach 140 /225 KMH in less than 4 seconds. You then go essentially straight up, over the hill, and then straight down. This whole experience takes about 20 seconds.
When we got in line, it took about two hours to get to the ride itself. And all you can do is watch the ride do its thing over and over again. This is the only roller coaster I was actually afraid to go on. Normally, I’m very rah-rah excited, let’s do this, yeahhhhhh, etc. Here I was practically trembling. Not that that was going to stop me. I just waited two hours for this thing; damn right I’m going on it!
I shall attempt to describe it: The theme of the ride is that of a drag race. You wait to be launched in front of those ‘Christmas Tree’ lights, while a speaker plays the sound of engines revving. You don’t know when they will start the countdown. But when the lights turn green… you GO. The acceleration is incredible; I doubt I will ever go that fast in my life again, outside of a plane. And then you just go straight up 400 feet, over the hill, then straight back down. Your brain is very, very confused as to what just happened.
So we went on it again the next day.
But Cedar Point has lots of roller coasters. There’s the new GateKeeper, which is just a delight. It’s really good at making you nervous that you are going to hit things and crash. Gemini is a ‘dueling’ coaster where two trains leave at the same time on similar track layouts. We spent the whole time trying to figure out how they equalized them, since the tracks weren’t exactly the same. Science and physics lovers: you will enjoy this one too much. This might have also happened:
Me: “We could totally make this roller coaster into a problem set! Momentum, speed, curves!”
BF: “Never say ‘problem set’ in my presence ever again. But yes, this would totally make a bitchin’ problem set.”
This is The Raptor: listen to its roar.
Now, we did ride all the roller coasters. And by ‘we’ I mean my boyfriend, since apparently Wicked Twister is not calibrated to someone of my… generous... ness. Then, it tried to call my parents and all I got was this message: “The birth parents you are trying to reach do not love you. Please hang up.” But I got my revenge! I put its processor in a potato. (I’m not that mad, just confused. I was fine on every other ride including the old ones when people were tinier.)
Important: did you know that the water park in Cedar Point has an adult-only swim up bar? Because it does and it was *wonderful*. Also, packing sunscreen but leaving it in the bag doesn’t actually count as applying sunscreen. Oh God we burned. I regret nothing!
Guys, Sandusky has a museum dedicated to carousels!
I’m not ashamed of my love of carousels. If roller coasters are adrenaline and adventure, carousels are sweetness and imagination. Because one day, the horse I’m on will totally detach and go off and win some sort of derby. Yes, like Mary Poppins. Then we will all sing songs together and it will be glorious.
Anyhoodle, have some really cute pictures:
On our way to Cleveland we apparently drove the Wright Brothers Memorial Highway. The following exchange happened:
Me: “Wright Brothers… hey, do you think we’re close to Kitty Hawk??”
BF: “We can check when we get home.”
Me: “So we can find out that we were two miles from it and didn’t stop to take pictures??? “
Some hours and a WIFI connection later…
BF: “Kitty Hawk is in North Carolina.”
Me: “Oh. So Ohio is ‘The Birthplace of Aviation’ because the Wright Bros were born here?”
Me: “That’s cheap, Ohio. I judge you now.”
We did make it to Cleveland without any incidents, thankfully. On to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
I was excited for this, but in a sort of abstract way. As soon as we got in to the museum I got REALLY excited because I was going to dance with Elvis.
You have a new god now, by the way: Michael Jackson’s glitter glove. It rotates!
They have exhibits for Elvis and The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and all these amazing bands that I love. I might have taken pictures with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks and David Bowie.
Look at Kurt Cobain's Guitar!
The lyrics of London Calling!
I also might have given actual money for this picture. We're rocking it, frankly.
I can't recommend this place enough. I just had so much fun! Bonus, currently they are having a big exhibit on The Rolling Stones as it is their 50th (!!) anniversary.
Alas, it was time to go home. We had another five hours of driving ahead of us. It was nice knowing you, Cleveland!
We drove through Pennsylvania on the way to NY. I have no negative or positive opinion on PA. It was there. You know, existing. As we drove through it.
We kept looking for a Denny’s for me, because if I am in America I must go at least once. It is now tradition. Alas, we got off at the wrong exit only to end up in a liquor store again (New York this time). How convenient! My boyfriend wanted to get that 190-Proof Everclear, which you can’t buy in Ontario and is wonderful for making very powerful concoctions at the cottage. Not that I know anything about that. But we did eventually find a Denny's, right on the edge of Buffalo. Where we didn't order off the breakfast menu, for once. Now the trip was complete.
Four days, 1100 km, 16 roller coasters, 1 BBQ joint, and a million rock and roll artifacts.
Yeah, I'll call this trip a success.