High in the Middle and Round on Both Ends

Eleven  roller coasters and two “thrill rides” in twelve hours with the Boychild. That was my Saturday.  It was a stupid amount of fun, even if, by the end, exhausting.

I’ve wanted to take the Boychild up to Cedar Point, an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, ever since Ad and I went there about 7 or 8 years ago. I’ve always been a roller coaster fanatic, and when I discovered that Boy is too, I decided that I’d take him there one day for his birthday.  For the last several, years since her father and I divorced, my daughter and I have taken a mom/daughter trip every year. I love our trips, both for the trips themselves, and for the chance for she and I to spend time alone together. We travel well together and she has little of the teenage disdain for parental-type people, and in fact looks as forward to these trips as much as I do each year.

I’ve considered traveling with the Boy this way, but he isn’t as…easygoing…a child as she is, we have very different interests, and he is one of those teenagers that would rather spend (all) his time with his friends or on his computer than doing just about anything with his Mom. So I have been understandably reticent to push the idea of a mom/son trip, and not really sure how my suggestion for this one would be received once the opportunity to make it happen presented itself.

He surprised me with his enthusiasm. And though there were times of crabby teenage-ness, of the occasional eyeroll when I wanted to wander off the designated schedule (“Mom, we have a goal here,”) and of exasperation on my part with his complete lack of curiosity or fascination in the new, the unknown, and the mundane, we managed to have a great time.  By the end of it he was even enthusiastically taking pictures of “Americana,” after he realized it was for a blog post, and discussing why I found these things interesting.

On the trip we talked about writing and reading, both things that I knew he enjoyed, but which we hadn’t talked about much, since his reading tastes run more to Ad’s than mine, and he got to tell me about the music he enjoys, and play a good bit of it for me. We also talked about his recent upheaval with his Dad, and its (apparent) resolution, and about school and what he (maybe) wants to do with his life (he’s just turning  17, so that could change.) We talked about his love of acting but his decision (so far) to go to college for something else, because, as he says, he wants to do something meaningful with his life, and heck, would like to do something that he could actually a) be a success at; and b) make enough money to live on.  Not earth-shattering topics, but more in-depth discussion than we’ve (maybe ever) had.

In some ways he’s my most frustrating child. Fantastically intelligent, he skates through his classes when he chooses – but oftentimes he doesn’t choose to. This past year is the first year he has not gotten an F on his report card in something. Not because he can’t pass the tests, he does, easily, and with A’s, but because he either doesn’t do or doesn’t turn in his homework. He just can’t be bothered half the time. This year that attitude changed, an d though he didn’t suddenly become driven to succeed with straight A’s, he’s passing with A’s and B’s and a few C’s.  I’m grateful he is passing, period. And he’s talking about college, and what he wants to do with his life.

He is also frustrating because he has the most “teenage-itis” of any of my kids. He can be moody, morose, sarcastic, derisive and condescending with the best of them. He keeps his attitude in check for the most part, and I do believe it is just being a teenager and not his actual personality, but I have little patience for that kind of attitude. He also has that “I’m so cool,” attitude and says things just to affirm that coolness, a teenager affectation that sets my teeth on edge. For instance, we Ohio has the nicest people anywhere I have ever been. Seriously helpful and nice, for no other reason than they wanted to be.

“I don’t trust them,” he says darkly. That is his response to anything good or serendipitous that happens. I get that it’s just for show, but seriously, after awhile it’s annoying.

I never was very good with teenagers, even when I was one.

So anyway…what follows is a bulleted synopsis of our weekend and the observations that both he and I made (after he got into the spirit of chronicling things.)

  • Things started out shaky. Ad observed, perhaps presciently, that I wasn’t in my usual Planner Girl mode in the days leading up to the trip. In fact I hadn’t packed a thing until the night before we left.
  • Nor did I remember to print off directions, or a map, or even the hotel name, address and confirmation.
  • I also forgot my glasses, without which I can’t see to drive at night. I had remembered my prescription sunglasses, but when we arrived at the Dayton airport, where I was to pick up my rental car and Ad and I were to split off on our separate ways, he to a wedding in Michigan and the Boy and I to Sandusky, I realized that I had a 3 hour drive ahead of me in the dark, without a map or directions to the hotel. The Boy was going to have to navigate.
  • He did passably well, for someone that hasn’t had to do so before, and had to do so with the GPS going in and out in my phone and sketchy directions that didn’t include a “road closed 12 miles ahead” detour through dark, empty countryside. As we drove the same way in daylight on our way back to the airport this morning he looked around. “Wow, doesn’t look as sinister as it felt when we were driving through at midnight, does it.” It certainly didn’t.
  • As I said, the people of Ohio are the nicest I have ever met. Before Ad and I parted we were at a gas station discussing dinner choices. Two strangers at adjacent gas pumps offered suggestions, with directions, without being asked. At the amusement park someone walked up to the Boy and I in the ticket line and handed us coupons for $20 off our tickets. “We aren’t using them,” they said. At a Menard’s, where we had stopped to see if they had a map (we had tried 3 gas stations before that with no luck), and upon having the girl at the counter say that no, they didn’t carry maps, a man in line sent his wife after me. “Where are you going?” she asked. “To Sandusky,” I replied. “We’ve got a map of Ohio in the car, dear,” he said. “Take her out and give it to her.” (“I don’t trust people that do nice things for no reason,” my son said. “Welcome to my world,” I replied. “Expect good and that is what you will find. Expect distrust and suspicion and that is what you will find.”)
  • After our fruitless search for a map that night, on the way back to the car rental place this morning I had to stop for gas. Of course there was an entire rack of maps and road atlases. I almost bought one. Just because.
  • In spite of forgetting unimportant things like directions, glasses and maps, I didn’t forget to pack one slut outfit along with my “mom clothes.” You know, just in case.
  • There was a hopping bar next door to our hotel, too, with a band and a rowdy bunch of patrons. Apparently 12 hours of amusement parking took its toll though, because I had no desire to get my slut on after we got back Saturday night. Imagine that.
  • It was weird as we got closer to Lake Erie. It was dark and our windows were closed, but I sensed when the countryside changed, when we went from “interior” to coastal landscape. It was something about the feel of the space around us, like the sky suddenly got bigger, more open. I felt myself relaxing, even though the situation, with me being unable to see well and yet forced to drive, was a bit tense. I felt a weight coming off me, felt my chest opening up in response to the openness I felt out there, with the wide, wide water somewhere out there ahead of us and to our left. I wish I could live by the Great Lakes or the ocean.
  • Ohio really wants to be sure you see their stop signs: they paint the entire posts reflective red. I was very grateful for those bright red posts that night.
  • Wasps are really nasty creatures. They lay their eggs in the abdomens of spiders and then the larvae eat their hosts when they hatch. Worse, some even exhibit some kind of bizarre mind-control over their spider hosts.  I know this because it was one of the weird factoids my son shared with me on our drive. I said he has some different interests than me, didn’t I?
  • We DO both share a love of classic rock though. A favorite moment: both of us singing at the top of our lungs, windows down, to a Van Halen song blaring on the radio.
  • In addition to failing at sluthood, I was also unsuccessful at getting a Scavenger Hunt at the park. I really wanted a roller coaster Scavenger Hunt, and even wore a sundress just in case, but they have a strict policy against cell phone and camera use on the coasters, damn it. Thank goodness I saw someone get kicked off a ride for using one early on, or I might have attempted it.  And if the Boychild was embarrassed about me bobbing and swaying to some music on the speakers while we stood in line (“Don’t, Mom.  Just don’t,”) how embarrassed would he have been to have me kicked off the ride for taking a picture of my cooch??
  • Did I say the weekend was a total vanilla one? Not quite…they practice non-consensual predicament bondage at Cedar Point. The ride: The Mantis. The set-up: a standing coaster in which you are strapped in standing up. Basically you are straddling a bicycle-seat-like protrusion that is lifted up snug between your legs, to which they bring down and secure shoulder straps, preventing you from lifting away from the “seat” between your legs. I tried to avoid pinching my rings by standing on my toes (much like when W made me straddle the log in this pic.) The park employee was having none of it. He came over and made me lower myself onto the seat, and then, just for good measure, shoved it up, hard, between my legs to lock it in place. I had to bite back the exclamation as hard plastic met my rings. And then I couldn’t move more than a centimeter or two to the side to relieve the discomfort, being strapped in and down. I think I was probably the most uncomfortable person there. And the least concerned about the twists, turns, and upside-downs of the ride, since all I could think about was my pinchy pussy.

Lastly, here are some pics of a few of the rides we went on and some of the cool things we saw. My camera died before we got through all the rides, and we missed a pic of my favorite sign on the way there outside a high school (“Have a great hummer” on one side, “Have a great summer,” on the other. Typo?) but we got some good shots before then.

Our little rental car – I LOVED our little Fiat! And oh, I almost forgot, this was another instance of a nice Ohioan: the guy in the garage upgraded me for free to this car from the “economy” I had paid for. (Or two others – my choice – but they were sedans. MUCH preferred this little guy!)  No idea what could be smaller than this one, but I have always loved them, so I was thrilled to get a chance to drive one for the weekend.
Our hotel was called the River’s Edge Inn. And it was RIGHT on the river!
Of course as you can see, our view was only one that W would think was picturesque. I think he may be the only person I know that finds the sight of industry, smokestacks, quarries, power plants and oil refineries preferable to nature.
Our first view of Lake Erie. Stopping to look at the lake, and to take these pics, was what earned me, the “We have a GOAL, Mom,” comment. (Every roller coaster in the park.) He was right – but I still wouldn’t cut out the ten minutes it took to get here and take the pictures. I may never see Lake Erie again!
On the other hand, you wouldn’t catch *me* swimming out there!
Loved this sign. When I saw it, and the fact that the business is closed, I joked that it made me feel better to know that the rides were taken so put together that it put the mechanics out of work. The Boychild’s reply? “Or maybe it’s just that the park has lost so much money in the down economy that they decided to cut out the cost of maintenance. You know, they did a risk analysis and figured that one or two accidents was worth the risk to save a few hundred thousand a year.” See what I mean about having a totally opposite POV? lmao
First view of the park as we get onto the peninsula. After an HOUR in traffic to go 5 miles.
First ride!
Another view of that first ride. Those are people HANGING upside down. This ride took us 90 mins in line. We realized at this point that we *might* not have enough time to get thru every ride if they were all going to be hour+ waits. Thankfully we discovered that they weren’t all that long…but it did take us SEVEN hours to get thru the first 4 rides – some of the most popular ones – in the park. We rode the rest of the 15 we managed to ride between 9pm-midnight.
Next up, the decidedly lower-tech Blue Streak. But as the parks’ first coaster, and a wooden one to boot, we couldn’t pass it up. At one point they stopped using one of the trains. “Why aren’t you using that one,” the Boy asked. “Someone threw up in it,” the attendant replied.
Then it was over to the MaXair. This ride is deceptively innocuous, until you realize how freaking high it is. And are in it, hanging upside down at the top of its arc, looking straight down 140 feet before swinging to the other side at 70 mph. One of both of our faves.
An other view, at the height of its arc.
Then it was another 2 hour wait for the Millennium Force. i can’t even describe the terror this one instilled in me. I’ll just quote from the website: So huge, it created a whole new category – the giga-coaster. 310 foot, 93 MPH thrill ride. The first hill features an elevator cable lift system to get you to the top faster, then it’s an 80-degree drop.
This is the photo from their website, since no picture I could take would do it justice.

And then…my camera died. But we managed eight more roller coasters and the highest “swing” ride I have ever been on (181 feet in the air) before they closed the park at midnight and made us leave. No, we didn’t make every coaster, dammit! But…we came pretty close.

Next time?

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