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Imagine my surprise on waking this morning to see that today was being called Roller Coaster Day. For some reason I thought Roller Coaster Day was back in May … May 14th … before the days of the Happy Holly Project and the accompanying blog site.

The first site I checked verified this fact and suggested the following:

On August 16th, celebrate the day the roller coaster was patented in 1898. Find ideas for crafts, games, and other activities.

So I decided to do a little further research and … January of 1898 notwithstanding … came up with the following:

On August 16th 1898, the roller coaster is patented by Edwin Prescott. When he first invented it, he called it the centrifugal railway because the car depended on centrifugal force to stay on the tracks.

Even though it was only a loop it was what started it all. The Loop-the-Loop relied on basic physics and had seat belts or any such thing. During that time Edwin Prescott even charged for people to view others on the ride.

The only flaw was that it could only be hold 4 riders every 5 minutes.

And that sounded somehow vaguely familiar.

And I don’t think it had anything to do with the family history of any previous President or his administrations’ similarity to a roller coaster ride.

Now as a quick aside, I will tell you that Amusement Parks in general, and Roller Coasters in particular have held an important place in my life.

I have always thought it would be cool to take some long trip involving nothing but old-fashioned wooden roller coasters … or to join the American Coaster Enthusiasts. But I have done neither.

For those of you constant readers here, you know that my Dad’s family was quite involved in Conneaut Lake Park.

Not only that, but each year in High School our Band would go to Kennywood Park to perform – and ride the rides the whole day leading up to the parade. They have always had fabulous Roller Coasters there.

It was in this park that I experienced my first kiss … not on a roller coaster, although I swear my stomach dropped out like it does on one … but that is a story for another day.

No, the reason that it sounded so familiar is that the “Leap the Dips is a National Historic Landmark and the world’s oldest operating roller coaster. Leap the Dips is now one of only a few remaining side-friction wooden roller coasters in existence today.”

And it resides about five miles from here.

So there was no question what I was going to do today for my Happy Holly Project … ride the Leap the Dips. And just for good measure, I would ride the Skyliner … and old wooden Roller Coaster that was brought to the park piece by piece back in the 1980’s.

Now, far be it from me to cast aspersions on the fine folks who did that move from Canandaigua, New York to the park thirty years ago … but … when the coaster arrived in many, many bundles of wooden pieces, they had all been meticulously marked and numbered. This was to ensure the possibility of re-assembling the coaster.

And just to make sure it looked great for the public here, they decided to paint all the pieces with a fresh coat of white paint, thereby covering all the carefully numbered and marked pieces with bright white freshness … and hiding all the much-needed information.

Sometimes you really have to wonder … but I digress.

Upon arriving at Lakemont Park we got the requisite wristbands and worked our way toward the Leap the Dips.

They had all these nice friendly easy to read signs to point you in the right direction. This should be easy enough, right?

And we helped ourselves to some yummy hot dogs. Of course everyone knows that hot dogs taste their absolute best when consumed while simultaneously swatting away wasps and other flying, stinging insects.

Now before we go any further, I want to make a disclaimer here. It involves my pride and dignity and sense of shame.

I have none.

This will become crystal clear and quite apparent as you see the pictures which I am allowing to be seen of me in my exploits from earlier today.

It was hot.

It was humid.

I was sweating.

I have naturally curly hair. Really really naturally curly hair.

It does not benefit from being tossed about in small cars at breakneck speed.

This is not, I repeat, not the way I usually look. I really do clean up better than this when needed. Honest. Oh well. My charm is in my personality anyway.

Okay, back to the story …

First Leap the Dips.

The nice folks at the ticket counter did not know it was Roller Coaster day. But they sold me a ticket anyway.

The oldest Roller Coaster using friction.

This means that the one car which holds four people … three in my case … is pulled by a nice young man to the place where the tractor pulls you up the hill.

The long, long, slow hill. I call these next three pictures “going, going, gone”.

The rest is gravity.

Gravity, kidney shattering spine compressing drops, metal sided loops, occasions where the car leaves the track to fly in the air, and nothing to stop you from anything … no seat belts.

Great fun … kidneys notwithstanding.

On to the other focus of the day. The Skyliner.

Now this Roller Coaster is more of the classic old school wooden roller coaster. And I mentioned the story above of its ill-handled introduction to the park. I am sure they will be delighted to know that this story is being told again.

Thinking of how to approach this … and fresh from my Leap the Dips success. I decided to ride the Skyliner twice. Once in the front seat. And once in the back seat. Variety being the proverbial spice of life, you know.

So I bravely waited my turn for the front seat.

And since it was a slow day at the park, I was able to take my time with it all and eventually got the coveted front seat position.

Memories of days and roller coasters gone by ran through my mind … and I decided that I would participate in a long gone tradition. Riding the roller coaster with my hands extended in the air.

This proves to one and all that you are a fearless coaster rider, who scoffs at danger, thrills at excitement and enjoys the challenge of a good ride. It also proves what happens to the underarms of your shirt on a hot sweaty day.

Here you see our fearless coaster rider (me) riding into history … arms extended joyfully into the air.

Even if you don’t click on the picture to make it larger, you can probably see the teeny tiny person in the front seat … in the red shirt … laughing with her arms in the air.

That would indeed be me.

And when the ride was over, I joyfully and enthusiastically came off the ride and immediately went back for yet one more round of coaster excitement. This time in the back seat.

Now, have you ever heard the quote “Quit while you are ahead?”

Nope, me neither.

Once more in line for the Skyliner I waited patiently to get the back seat.

Funny, there didn’t seem to be quite the competition for this seat. Well. No matter. Once more into the fray, as it were.

And yes, this is yours truly smugly sitting in the coveted back seat … and waving my hands like an idiot. Foolishly thinking that I would once again ride the coaster in full death-defying arm waving splendor.

Silly me.

It quickly became clearly evident that the back seat was far more treacherous than the front seat.

See?

This is me in exactly the same location as the picture above.

Only this time I am the large red-shirted woman in the back seat … no hands in the air … the one with a death grip on the bar in front of her.

And here we have another picture of our hero hanging on for dear life as the coaster rounds yet another bend.

I think this was right after I swore I would try one of those chiropractors.

No messing around this time. I wasn’t about to tempt the gods or fate. I can be grateful when warranted.

Immediately upon disembarking I did the right thing. And fell to my knees and kissed the ground.

I would show you a picture of the cotton candy we ate right before leaving the park. But, seriously, even I am not willing to immortalize the way I looked after that last ride.

Maybe once you know me better.

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