Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy 120th Birthday, Conneaut Lake Park!

CLP bears the distinction of being the only park I visited numerous times for my book.  I did so because I wanted to watch its progress, I wanted to champion it, and, most importantly, I yearned to learn more about its history each time.  As Conneaut Lake Park will be celebrating its 120th anniversary this very year, I give you some of my most favorite photos, taken in 2009, when the park had just re-opened, in 2010, on a rainy day when the park was closed (more about that coming up) and in 2011, when I witnessed the miracle that having faith can accomplish.

In 2009, the park was back, after being closed for two years.  I absolutely fell in love with it, for some of the following reasons:

There be gentle ponies you can ride.  The same family has been in charge of the ponies for over fifty years.

A magnificent carousel, teeming with beautifully-appointed steeds, greeted us with a pipe organ "ta-da"!  The center portion of the ride boasts hand-painted images of the park's history.  If you look closely, you can see the Kaylee Belle, the park's lake excursion boat.

And then there's the Devils Den.  Back in 2009, this sinister harpy greeted you to the dank depths of this classic dark ride.

In 2010, we visited the park, only to have it be closed due to the weather.  However, that didn't hinder the special event going on at the Beach Club: the team from T.V.'s "Paranormal State" were there to lead folks through the haunted Hotel Conneaut.watch Paranormal State season

Happiness prevailed in 2011, when the Blue Streak rollercoaster was back up and hopping, due to the great fortune of the park winning a $50,000 Pepsi Challenge prize. 

Now, I can't really "do" coasters, but I can thrill to the rarest of rare rides when I need to.  And I NEEDED to ride the Tumble Bug, one of only three in existence.  It makes me gleeful.

We set aside some time to take in the schnazzy new mini golf.  Heavens to Betsy, I actually won.  I never win at mini golf, but the putt putt gods were with me that day.
And I felt so brave from my victory, that I knew I could take on the Devil's Den again, and come face to face with the dreaded Gum Wall!  Note the gummy-gooey texture in the photo beneath....

Simply put, Conneaut Lake Park holds its history dearly.  And I raise a glass (juice soda at this very moment, perhaps something stronger later this evening) to its continuation.  Conneaut Lake Park is a place that matters.

That's what these old friends believe...
And so does Ben, pictured here on the venerable Blue Streak.
Congrats again, CLP!  Here's to a wonderful 2012 season!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Goodnight, Bruce.



Jaws Ride in Orlando

As part of my hubby Ben's life coaching activities, he does presentations for various chapters of the ICF, the International Coaching Federation.  This upcoming week, he'll be down in sunny Florida, presenting at a variety of chapters; I'll be going with (which is quite a blessing as it's been below freezing in Chicago for days now.  I look forward to my cracked knuckles healing).

Part of the fun of these visits includes downtime.  And, since I've been Cotton Candying, that downtime has been peppered with amusement park visits.  So when Ben said we'd be going down to Florida, I immediately thought of Universal Studios Orlando - and the "Jaws" ride.

I've mentionined in previous posts that I'm a "Jaws" geek.  It's my favorite film, I know all the lines, and don't even think of testing that prowess in the form of a drinking game, ending in a recitation of Quint's "Indianapolis" tragedy monologue and several rounds of "Show Me the Way to go Home" cuz I'll take you down to Chinatown and you'll have a gangster of a headache in the morning.

So it pained me to the core, knocked me flat against the wall, when I learned that Universal is closing the "Jaws' ride forever.  The "Jaws" ride is the oldest ride at the park; it's a classic and should be embraced and honored, like the Jungle Cruise at Disney.  But, no, in their infinite wisdom, Universal is closing it and so I say "Boo!" to their ass faces, as would a Corky Sinclair from "Waiting for Guffman".  Because I've been waiting to enjoy this ride for a very long time - and those bastard people took it away from me. 

Luckily, a shortened version of a "Jaws" experience still exists at Universal in California - I've seen that one and, although it's only part of the studio backlot tour, I guess it'll have to do.

For those who wish to relive the "Jaws" ride, the classic at Universal Florida, please follow the links at the top.  Or, for folks like me, watch and weep for the ride never rode, and give Bruce the Shark a solid round of thanks for leaping out at unsuspecting visitors of "Amity Island" for years.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Spirit of a Place

I've been signed up for years for The Daily OM, a newsletter of spiritual enlightenment.  Today's post immediately brought up one thing and one thing only:  vintage parks.  Read on and you'll get a bit more insight into why I decided to venture forth into the Cotton Candy Road Trip in the first place.  Each trip had woven within it a sense of pilgrimage:

January 3, 2012

The Spirit of a Place

Visiting Sacred Sites

Visiting a sacred site can be a useful tool to open something within you that has remained inaccessible.
From time immemorial, the hands of men and women have built sites guided by both the earth’s life force and benevolent beings of light. It is because of this guidance that the sites we deem sacred have long served as repositories of wisdom, energy, and illumination that can be accessed by all. The needs that inspire seekers to converge upon sites known to be sacred vary by individual. Some crave spiritual fulfillment above all else, while others hope to draw upon a site’s energy for the purpose of enlightenment, healing, or deep meditation, awareness and knowledge of information long gone.

Sacred sites can appear insignificant to those who close themselves off from the notion of a living earth. But sites can provide us with a link to a unified consciousness that involves the living and the dead, infinite cultures, the physical plane, and the spiritual world. When we look beyond well-known sites like Stonehenge, we discover energetically active sites such as the Iron Age fogou caves of Cornwall, England, or the pyramids of Meroe in the Sudan. Similarly, it is easy to imagine that hallowed places exist only in remote or exotic locales. Yet many of the most richly vital sites are easily accessible, and visiting these lesser-known sites can be a profoundly moving experience. One such site, Serpent Mound in Ohio, was thought to be created by the ancient Adena peoples nearly 1,000 years ago to align with the summer and winter solstices. Its precise purpose remains unclear, but many who visit the site conclude that it was meant to be a conduit through which cosmic en! ergy could flow into the earth.

The sacred sites that call to you from afar—capturing your imagination and resonating deep within your soul—will nearly always be those that can help you forge a deeper connection with the divine energy that sustains all life. During your pilgrimage, reaffirm your intention to accept whatever gifts are conveyed to you through the sites you visit. Your receptiveness will help you establish lasting relationships with these sites so that you can draw upon their peace and their power from wherever you are.

So, in essence, while Conneaut Lake Park isnt' exactly Machu Picchu, there just might be an energy of place there that enlivens and rejuvenates.  That's what I'm talking about when I refer to these parks as magical places