Monday, August 29, 2016

[SANDUSKY] Life Is a Roller Coaster

Life is a roller coaster and to some extent, I think I agree. When your mood swings are as extreme as mine, then every day is one hell of a ride indeed. Highs and lows aside, though, I think what makes me fond of riding roller coasters is that it’s one of the few remaining things on this planet that makes me feel alive. I know that sounded too emo, but that’s just the way it is, nothing but the truth. Sometimes all it takes is gravity to give you a jolt and remind you that, wow, you’re not dead yet. You win again, gravity. You win again.

Cedar Point is dubbed as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, which is not at all unfounded given how you can ride around 16 of them at this theme park. That count comes close to Magic Mountain’s 17 at Six Flags north of Los Angeles. This is why I decided to go to Sandusky despite Ohio not being the main tourist draw in the American Midwest. I just had to see roller coasters, and of course, ride them all if I could. I ended up on no more than three of them, with two repeat rides before I went back to my normal zombie state.

The last thrilling activity I did was jumping off a bridge in Nepal more than a year ago. It was a bungy jump, not a suicide attempt. You a-hole. I can’t even remember which, when, and where my last roller coaster ride was. You see, I had this 30-Before-30 List on which one of the items indicated that I needed to ride 30 roller coasters before I turned 30. I think I ended up with 22 before the deadline eventually came. But this trip is not connected to that. I just wanted to ride a roller coaster again. End of story.

There are no direct flights to Sandusky, which means you have to land in Ohio via Cleveland, and then take either Amtrak or Greyhound, which sets you back an hour or so no thanks to travel time. Amtrak leaves Cleveland REALLY early in the morning, like 4AM-ish kinda early. Amtrak trips usually come with a free one-hour delay, but you have to be at the station an hour before anyway. Greyhound has two trips a day with the first one leaving rather late after lunch. This gives you a scheduling dilemma.

One possible solution is to stay in Sandusky for a night, except that I didn’t find any affordable AIRBNB place there, which is why I decided to set up camp in Cleveland. I chose Amtrak because I wanted to make the most of this trip. I was also anticipating long lines. This explains the mega zombie mode I was in. Greyhound would have been the more convenient option but since the last bus from Sandusky leaves at 7:30 PM, that’s not really a lot of time to spend at Cedar Point. And so, zombie mode it was.

I don’t recommend going there early. Sandusky is really small. Sandusky is suburbia with a good view of the lake separating them from their Canadian neighbors in Ontario. There isn’t really anything to see aside from the theme park, unless the prospect of touring residential areas excites you somehow. There is a waiting room at Amtrak’s station but it’s really small and the three benches are made of steel with no padding whatsoever. I tried to sleep on it but all I ever got was backache and a sore arm. Hobo feels!

I decided to take a walk around town for three hours to shake off the sleepiness, with several stops at 7 Eleven for some hot chocolate and donuts. I reached the causeway going to the island by quarter past nine, and then it took me forever to find a way to cross the damn bridge. There is a Cedar Point bus but it only takes employees. Everyone else drives their own car. There are no taxis roaming around the streets, you have to call one. If you are a tourist without a local sim card then good luck with that.

I ended up asking the staff at Hotel Breakers to call one for me. They say it’s forbidden to walk across the causeway, although I’ve seen dirt paths and no police patrolling the area. Hey, if you are in for an adventure, then by all means, have a go at it. Otherwise, take a taxi that will charge you USD 10 to get there. I'm so hating on Ohio right now for not having a lot of viable options for public transportation. But then again, this is not a tourist mecca. Why should they adjust to you?

Now with firsthand experience, I can tell you to go to Cedar Point on the last week of August before Labor Day. August 30 fell on a Tuesday this year. That’s a simple weekday and most students have started going back to school the previous week. This doesn’t mean to say that there will be no queues. All I’m saying is that you won’t be spending eternity falling in line. I remember going to Fuji-Q in Yamanashi on a summer and getting to ride only three roller coasters despite being there the entire day. It wasn’t the case here.

Millennium Force has been voted as the Best Steel Roller Coaster in the world, but I did not really enjoy it that much. Huge drops are only scary at the beginning when your paranoia is still high. Once you are done with the first drop, everything else becomes anti-climactic. Or maybe I just prefer screws and loops because they always guarantee a good shake? I had to ride the thing twice because my primadonna Samsung phone’s camera didn’t want to take a video the first time around. Luckily, the lines were tolerable.

I only spent half an hour riding Millennium Force twice, lines and all. I can tell you that that’s a good wait time for such a popular roller coaster. For Top Thrill Dragster, it was longer but still good, given how it was already past 12 when I rode it and the crowds were starting to pour in. Again, my phone camera was acting like a total biatch for the video, which is why I also had to ride this twice. All in all, it was half an hour for EACH ride, which meant almost an hour waiting in line for both, which was still not that bad.

The less popular roller coasters don’t get much attention. For Corkscrew, it only took 15 minutes to get in line and ride the thing. At first, I didn’t notice that it had a loop, so that caught me by surprise and I enjoyed it. One thing to remember about falling in line for Cedar Point’s roller coasters is that they have separate lines ON the platform for the seats, and the very long ones are usually for the front row. If you don’t care about sitting in front, your wait time will be significantly reduced. As for me, I just had to take a video.

Cedar Point has more roller coasters that you shouldn’t miss, but I did anyway because the ridiculously early departure from Cleveland meant I had to revert to zombie mode rather early. After my second ride on Top Thrill Dragster, I just called it a day by using my Panda Express lunch voucher and then finding a bench to fall asleep on. There are plenty of lockers at the park charging USD 1 hourly and can be paid with credit cards. Restos usually charge north of USD 10 for a meal. There’s also a beach if you want to get tanned.

[SANDUSKY] Life Is a Roller Coaster

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