Sunday, August 3, 2014

Returning To Knoebels

Ever since I introduced my wife to Knoebels last summer we have been talking about going back. In fact, it was the one place that my wife insisted on us going this summer. Once I found out that my parents had never been there, I knew that the three of us needed to go back at some point. Today I was able to introduce my parents to some place that they had only heard of… today we made the long drive north and spent the entire afternoon at Knoebels.

We left my parent’s house at about nine in the morning with wary of the 80% chance of rain in the forecast and a slight detour on our schedule. Centralia, Pennsylvania is a rather infamous location and we thought that we would drive through the abandoned town on our way to some family fun. Well, after 50 years of natural reclamation of the smoldering streets, there isn’t much to see from the car. It was a much quicker stop than expected as there was nothing to see from the few passable roads remaining. Not wanting to explore by foot, we resumed our drive to the amusement park.

We arrived at the main entrance just after noon and were slowly directed into the busy parking lot where we were guided into a space some distance from the entrance. By the time we entered the park it was time for us to buy some tickets before making our way to the international food pavilion on the other side of the grounds. A ten minute walk and twenty minute meal later it was time to explore.

Tickets in hand we made our way to some of the more relaxing rides with the first stop being at the small train that winds its way under the roller coaster and into the woods.

From the train we walked over to the chair lift as I knew this would be a view of the park that my parents wouldn’t expect but would appreciate. From the top you can see the park in its entirety including the roller coasters and the water park.

And as you make your way down you can see the Ferris wheel…

…the wood of the roller coaster tracks intertwined with the trees…

…and many of the other rides that we really had no interest in going on today.

After a couple of rides and a lot of walking crisscrossing the park trying to see every aspect, we decided to stop by for a small taste of a midafternoon treat at the Fudge shop (and some shared ice cream at another concession stand). It is quite the interesting little building that seems to just invite you to come inside and enjoy the decadent aroma of fudge flooding the entire building.

After a few raindrops passed through the park, things got a little interesting as, for the first time that I can remember, my mom began seeking out a roller coaster on which to ride. We walked over to the new one (under construction the last time we were there) by the line seemed to always be 50-60 minutes long no matter what time we stopped. Similarly, the old roller coaster at the end of the park had a line extending beyond the gate and into the promenade. With a single afternoon at the park those were not viable options.

However, the Twister, another wooden roller coaster with a lot more turns, didn’t have a line visible from the entrance. We walked in, handed over our tickets, and almost immediately stepped into the next car. Riding that coaster with my mom was probably the highlight of the day. The picture taken on the ride was, surprise, not very flattering so there is no picture that I can share.

With that checked off our list it was time to wind down the trip with a few more tickets and a ride together on the Ferris wheel. Again, this ride offered some nice views of the park one of which was watching packed cars drop down the log flume creating an inordinately large splash. While the timing in the wheel was never quite right to get a picture, it was easy enough to walk over there and watch as children and adults alike got soaked both on the ride and standing on the soaked sidelines.

While my parents and my wife sat further away to rest and watch, I walked up to the railing in an attempt to catch a few of the cars as they parted the water. I watched a few go down, zoomed in the camera, and focused on a spot where I knew the car would be passing. Here is the first car I caught with the camera…

For the next car I took a few steps back and widened out the field of view on the camera…

Finally, I found the right spot against the wall. I knew where the car would be and how long it would take to fall. This is when I got the best sequence…

At this point we were nearly done. We had gotten lucky with the weather and we had seen the entire park. It was time to head back to the car and drive to the hotel (the same Holiday Inn Express we stayed at last summer) for a night away from the ordinary Sunday evening. After dinner, before heading up to the room, we sat out front solving the problems of the world and relaxing… these are the moments I really enjoy spending with my dad no matter where we are. A quick shower passed through and not long after we notice the rain we saw a double rainbow over the busy road. It might have been a perfect ending to what was an amusing, entertaining, enjoyable, and overall about as perfect as you can get, day.