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Photo TR: Franklin, Hamilton, Hershey, Morey, and Knoebel


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Thanks everybody!

 

Day 3: My Brief, Exhilarating Career as a Coaster Escort

 

Saturday was a busy, very long day for me. I planned to do the credit whore thing and go to 4 different parks in one day. I was really only interested in a couple of coasters, though, so these would be quick in and out trips. So since I was credit whoring only the best coasters, it’s a bit classier. Classier credit whoring deserves a classier title: Credit escorting.

 

My day as a credit escort began back at Six Flags Great Adventure, where I again got the hour of ERT. Today was El Toro, Bizarro, Mine Train, and Safari Adventure, so I of course spent the whole hour on El Toro, and left right as the park was opening for general guests. This was one of the best ERT experiences I’ve ever had—we could just stay on forever, as there never was enough to fill an entire train, let alone get any line.

 

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Who's ready for ERT on El Diablo?

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This one's not as loopy, but it's absolutely amazing.

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You know, I just might. Probably not too soon, but Great Adventure is a really great park.

 

Next I headed down to the famous Jersey Shore. First up was Casino Pier. The website had advertised that they would open at 11AM, but, er, they didn’t. So I took advantage of this time to get my first slice of good pizza. I got it from that restaurant where the carousel is. Can’t even remember the name of it. Really good! It’s probably not actually good, I just come from the land where if it ain’t fried, you prolly shouldn’t et it.

 

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On to Seaside Heights!

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I'm definitely on the Jersey Shore!

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Woohoo! My first boardwalk!

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It's pretty, but there aren't too many people yet.

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I didn't go onto this beach. Besides the lack of time, I'm not paying the mafia for a beach tag.

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Uh...yeah. Website said 11, and then they change their game here.

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Well, not much else to do until noon, I guess.

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They have a carousel in the middle of this restaurant/arcade.

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Holy crap, seriously?

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No way. I have it on good authority that everything is legal in New Jersey.

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New Jersey pizza credit!

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Guess I'll walk along the boardwalk a bit now.

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Oooh, shiny.

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Shore shot. The puns are strong with this one.

 

Finally the rides got started and I ran in to plunk down my $10 (yeah…these boardwalks are super expensive) for Hydrus. It’s a really great ride, basically a shorter version of SpongeBob. I could totally re-ride this again and again if it weren’t $10 a pop.

 

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Woohoo! Pier is open!

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And straight to Hydrus.

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Hydrus is fantastic!

 

And with that I ran back to the car to head out toward the parkway. Glad I got here right at opening, as the traffic headed toward the shore was now insane. It was bad enough when I arrived, but wow. People apparently love them some Jersey Shore action.

 

Two hours down the parkway, I came to my next stop in Ocean City, for Gale Force! This is a brilliant little coaster, totally unlike anything I’ve ever been on. Again I would re-ride this again and again if it weren’t $10 a pop.

 

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Lucked out in Ocean City with a meter that still had some time left.

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Beautiful.

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Boardwalk #2

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And through the arcade to the rides.

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There are a lot of rides in a very small area.

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Some of them looked pretty fun, but there are better versions at Moreys, and unlimited rides too!

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In and out and on to Wildwood!

 

Again, I went back into my car immediately. I’d say I spent a grand total of like 15 minutes at the park, something I just never do. But that’s coaster escorting!

 

Overall, this was worth it. I rode three fantastic rides in a row, and I really wasn’t actually interested in any other rides at Casino Pier or Playland’s Castaway Cove, especially at those prices. Plus, I had a wristband for Morey’s and was really wanting to spend the majority of my day there. And so I drove southward down the Garden State Parkway toward the legendary Wildwoods to meet up with the legendary Coasterbill, Boldikus, and their fiancées.

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That pizza slice looks like it came from Three Brothers. That's my mom's favorite place, she used to make us stop there every time we went to Seaside. There are better places, IMO, but you could've done a lot worse.

 

Shame you didn't ride Tropical Storm while you were at Playlands. That's hands down one of the best flat rides I've ever been on.

 

Glad you had fun, though! Awesome photos.

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Awesome update Andrew. With some super great photos. I completely forgot you said you went back to GreatAdv Saturday morning for that ERT.

 

Then again, we were sh*tfaced when you caught up to us Saturday afternoon.

 

Can't wait for the next chapter!

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Great update! I was so hungry at Casino Pier that I went to the same pizza place in the arcade. I fully expected it to suck but it was actually really good.

 

You skipped Gillian's while you were in Ocean City? I actually enjoyed that park more than Playland's Castaway Cove. Gale Force was just ok in my opinion.

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Yeah, I was really only interested in those two rides. This wasn't the leisurely stop to enjoy those two parks, which I normally will do even with a small park. Today was all about Morey's, so Hydrus and Gale Force were really just a bonus. If I ever get back out that way, I may explore the shore a bit more, but I couldn't keep two drunk assh*les waiting any longer.

 

Awesome update Andrew. With some super great photos. I completely forgot you said you went back to GreatAdv Saturday morning for that ERT.

 

Then again, we were sh*tfaced when you caught up to us Saturday afternoon.

Great report!

 

I can't wait to see the next part, mainly because it'll be my first time hearing about what happened that afternoon since it's all a bit of a blur for me

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Really enjoying following along on your trip! I've never been to Morey's or Ocean City but frequent SFGAdv several times a year. It's fun to hear you got to meet up with Boldikus and coasterbill. Seeing as you're still alive to write this TR, they were either cool and you're safe and sound back home... or they're holding you hostage somewhere while blasting Holiday in the Park music on repeat and forcing a false positive review of your time with them. If it's the latter, use the code phrase "I love Ka in row 9" and we'll come look for you.

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I love Ka in row 9.

 

It's a metal building. I can hear freeway sounds and seagulls.

 

Do any of these images look like your surroundings?

 

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It'd be much too obvious for those Jokers to stash you in Skull Mountain so I think you're just across the way.

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Day 3 Continued: Three Guys, Two Girls, and a Pizza Place

 

I got into Wildwood about 3 and checked into my hotel, the Hojo at the north end of the boardwalk. It’s actually really nice, plus they offer free parking and free breakfast, the former of which will save you a stack of cash, and the latter of which is very much appreciated after a day of drinking and riding.

 

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All right, finally at Morey's!

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Boardwalk #3 is the best!

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Lots of go karts here.

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There "it" is!

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And this place has a Chickie's and Pete's too!

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The legendary Curley's fries. We did not go there.

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The equally legendary Sam's Pizza. We also did not go there.

 

I met up with everyone at the bar (come on, you didn’t seriously expect them to be anywhere else, did you?) and we then went to get our wristbands. Morey’s is the third most expensive one-day ticket I’ve ever bought, behind Universal and Disney. It’s honestly overpriced for what is there, but it’s also a much better value for the money than any other Jersey Shore boardwalk. I paid it, and so did many other people, so they’re clearly doing it right.

 

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Am I with these people, or are they fleeing from me? You decide.

 

First up was Great Nor’Easter. This is a fantastic ride. I’ve always thought that the Vekoma SLCs had a killer layout, they just also try to kill you. Great Nor’Easter is not only content to let you live, it actually shows you a good time too. I love it, and I love any place willing to put this much effort into making a terrible ride really great. T3, you can still die in a fire.

 

Next was AtmosFEAR. I did not expect the onboard audio, but it made the ride so much better than it already was, and if you’ve ridden a Larson drop tower, you know it’s already awesome. I’m a sucker for any ride with a storyline, especially a cheesy one, so this was absolutely among the best drop towers I’ve ever been on.

 

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Where are Bill & Brit going?

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Where else?

 

We could not put off the log flume any longer. I got to ride with Bill and Brit (so if you’re following along, I rode both a skyride and a log flume with the world’s biggest fan of these rides, which was a highlight of the trip). The flume is spectacular, and certainly one of the best I’ve ever been on. It’s right up there with Timber Mountain and Splash Mountain in California. Both drops are quite large, which makes it seem like you’re riding two log flumes in a row without getting up, plus the “Under the Boardwalk” scene is pretty great. Yes, they do play the Drifters song if you’re wondering.

 

We had to do “it” next. We were thinking about “it,” and walked over to “it,” and then we got in line for “it.” We watched “it” until it was our turn to ride “it.” Then we put our stuff in the cubbies next to “it” and got in “its” seats. Could we handle “it”?

 

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Loved Zoom Phloom, and I loved the tram car seating. These tram cars don't yell at you.

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Dante's Dungeon had some great animatronics.

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We didn't end up doing the Musik Express.

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Finally going to ride "it"!

 

Nope, “it” couldn’t handle us. We broke “it”! About halfway through the cycle “it” had to be e-stopped and we were escorted off “it.” We were so devastated, there was only one thing to do: Hit the bar.

 

We went to Joe’s on Surfside Pier, which was really great. I tried out some of the Cape May Brewing Co. offerings, both of which were very good.

 

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Random Donkey Kong cabinet in the gift shop.

 

All liquored up and ready to go! Sort of. Boldikus had to run back to his parents’ house to do some dogsitting because he’s lame like that, so Bill, Brit, and I rode the other coasters on this pier. Doowopper was just okay, not a bad ride but nothing special either. Flitzer was pretty fun though, much better than you’d expect just by looking.

 

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I'm thinking Bill enjoyed the Flitzer.

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Probably.

 

That was all we wanted to do on that pier, so we headed south. This was my first experience with WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLEASE WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLEASE WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLEASE WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLEASE WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLEASE WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLEASE WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLEASE. Wow, it must suck to be a tram driver, having to hear that godawful noise hundreds of times per day.

 

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Now on to Mariner's Pier.

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Boardwalk was starting to fill up a bit. This lighting would look awesome after sunset, too.

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Whatever a Lime Ricky is, this is its world.

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The boardwalk had all the classic amusement park stuff, like this costumed photo place.

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They had some really great arcades too, some of which had actual real-gambling slot machines.

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Time for more fun!

 

Okay, down on Mariner’s Pier now, and it’s early evening, so the crowds are starting to pick up. We headed straight to Rollie’s Coaster, which is a hilariously mild coaster to have OTSRs. WTF, Moreys? Not a bad ride, just not great.

 

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I guess Sea Serpent wasn't really any worse than all the other Boomerangs. They're all terrible.

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My daughter loves these giant snakes, so I had to get a picture for her.

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Okay, now for the most absurd use of OTSRs ever!

 

Next up was Sea Serpent. Yeah, I got roped into this one. Hey, this is the place that made an SLC good, maybe their boomerang doesn’t suck? Nope, it totally sucks snake balls. Only bad coaster here, honestly.

 

Still no Boldikus, so the three of us decided to ride the monorail swan boats. Oh man, does this ride suck swan balls. Do swans have balls? No idea, but if they do, then this ride would suck ‘em. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle if that bicycle were made out of concrete. It would be a good workout, except that it’s not fun in any way at all.

 

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Gotta love a really big Ferris wheel.

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If this entrance were a snake, it would have bit me.

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Only photo I could get from Ghost Ship.

 

Finally Boldikus decided to show up again, so it was time for the Ghost Ship! We had ideas of waiting until after dark, but decided just to do it right then. I’m not that big into haunted houses, but it really is one of the best walk-through attractions I’ve ever been in, complete with a pre-show! One of the actors cornered me with a surgical scalpel, and it was legitimately frightening, even though I knew they weren’t really going to harm me.

 

On to Pirates of Wildwoods, the park’s 3D dark ride. I have no idea what this is about, but I do know that it requires two riders, no more, no fewer. Since we were a group of 5, this posed a logistical problem, as apparently this park hadn’t considered that odd numbered groups might possibly want to ride together. Their solution? Bill would parent swap for me and Brit. Yep, you read that right. So I rode this adventure probably conceived by people on LSD, then Bill just sat there on the car from the exit platform to the loading platform, then Brit got on and rode with him while the other 3 of us waited at the exit. I mean, I love parent swap, and it really helps with kids who aren’t tall enough or are too afraid to ride, but this is definitely the only time I’ve ever experienced a parent swap with a group of adults. Well, we’re sort of adults. We resemble adults sometimes.

 

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This is the most bizarre ride I've been on, bar none.

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Where are we going now?

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Pretty busy now, but it was a Saturday evening in August.

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There were a number of good looking water parks here.

 

Adventure Pier! Loved the atmosphere. They had a very decent cover band, especially considering how young they were. All of them were teenagers, and they had some talent. Great White is a really good coaster, and I was totally sold on it being the best coaster here. I had no idea that it wasn’t running at its full capabilities (ominous foreshadowing).

 

Next up was the Screamin’ Swing. We got our tkts at the shipping container, then boarded. The swing is really great, as they all are. This was my first ride on the smaller model, the one that’s usually an upcharge, and it definitely has a bit more open feeling. They run a long cycle too.

 

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Now to have some adventures!

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Art and radio

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Here's where you get tkts.

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The teenage cover band

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More go karts

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They have a Skycoaster. I don't do these.

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Here's what we're here for!

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Beautiful view across the beach from Great White's station.

 

It was time for some pizza, and we of course went to Mack’s. Quite possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had. We have a pizza place in Springfield owned by a guy from New Jersey, and it tastes a lot like this.

 

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Ah, here's where we're going.

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Hopping joint.

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Very good pizza.

 

Now back to Surfside for another attempt to ride “it.” I would not go home having only had half a ride on “it.” This time “it” could handle us. Super long cycle, ridiculously awesome, and weird sideways/upside-down airtime—all with lap bars! This is the absolute best ride of this type, and it’s a type I love. Now, for those of you who are about to bring up the Ohio accident, I remind you that I survived the Badlands just two days earlier. I am invincible.

 

We also had to do Dante’s Dungeon while we were over here. I liked this one a lot better than the other dark ride. Very old school and very well done.

 

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Love this.

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The piers come alive at night.

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The Mister Softee was playing the jingle.

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Time for more phloomin'

 

We then went over to ride Zoom Phloom again, only this time, they thought it was a great idea to pair me with a boy about 10 years old. Bill and Brit were in the section behind me…so…yeah. Awkward. Super awkward.

 

All right, we haven’t done enough walking today, so we headed back to Mariner’s Pier to ride the Wave Swinger, then back to Adventure Pier for one last ride on Great White. Now THIS is what this ride can do! Wow, this thing is just awesome. Best ride at Morey’s by a long shot, and the second best that I had ridden that day.

 

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We found a novelty candy shop with many, many things like this.

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Ooh, foreshadowing.

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Always love a good wave swinger.

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Great White all lit up

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A few people enjoying the Battle Balls on the beach.

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Thanks for hanging out, everybody!

 

It was around midnight, the piers were closing, and everyone had had a long, boozy day. I had a great time at the boardwalk hanging out with some enthusiasts who don’t at all act like enthusiasts. We were just there to have fun and ride rides like everybody else. The boardwalk itself is fantastic, but I don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun alone. Morey’s is the sort of place where the people you’re with are more important than the things you’re doing. So a big thanks to Coasterbill and Boldikus for being dumb enough to agree to meet a total stranger they met on the Internet and to trust that I wouldn’t be horrible to hang out with.

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Great report! Looks like I had a great time.

 

I was absolutely trashed for Pirates of Wildwood and totally forgot about that parent swap thing until now but yeah, there was nothing more awkward than sitting in that boat for a good 5 minutes riding from the exit to the entrance right alongside a queue line full of incredibly confused people.

 

My favorite was the kid that asked if I worked there while I was sitting on the boat. Yeah kid, I work here and spend my days power riding this acid trip of a boat ride over and over until they kick me out.

 

We were all at least 10 drinks in when you showed up so I'm sort of impressed to hear that I held it together so well. I'm a f*cking pro apparently. On a similar note I think Boldikus deserves a trophy for making it back to the boardwalk. Good times, good times.

 

Lol in all seriousness it was great hanging out with you. Sorry you missed most of the boozing, I definitely had to cut myself off pretty much as soon as you got there so I didn't die. It was a definitely a great afternoon / night of rides, boardwalk food and hanging out. Glad you enjoyed it!

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Wonderful TR, Andrew! I've never been to any of The Piers, so this was a real treat watching how your

visit went, especially with The 2 Bs as your "guides", there.

 

It's good to hook up with the locals, at times.

 

Thanks for sharing all of it with us!

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Oh man, all four of us are so obviously trashed in that last photo.

 

Awesome update. Happy Wildwood lived up to the hype and you got the proper introductory experience. Great to meet you and hang out, Andrew - and glad we got to meet up later in the week too (spoiler!)

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Is it just the angle of the photos or is Bill (and possibly Boldikus) a giant? I have obviously never met either of them and am second guessing even staying friends with Bill on FB because I don't want to chance ending up with a burlap sack over my head and shoved in a shipping container somewhere. Ka row 9 and all that.

 

Can you explain how the parent swap worked for the acid trip boat ride? Did you have to go get a piece of paper somewhere to show the attendant or they just trusted that you had kids, not realizing that Bill was actually the (man)child? You know, for, uh, research purposes. I could have done without 3 days of the ride attendants at Dollywood on Wild Eagle absolutely screaming at people for jumping under the small child swap chain half way through the exit queue when there was ZERO line instead of walking alllllllll the way around the ride to reride. How about they put in a gate there instead of a pathetic European-like suggestion to "please stay out" that few Americans understand or obey? Mind boggling on both ends of the spectrum. This is why we can't have nice things.

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No, there was no such thought put into the parent swap. They literally just had Brit stand there awkwardly while they loaded other people behind us. When we got to the exit, I got off while Bill just sat on the boat until that boat got up to the entrance and then Brit got on. It was all super awkward and weird. It really was as if they had never considered the possibility of an odd numbered group and were just making something up on the fly.

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All right, work has been brutal this week. I took Monday off to watch the eclipse, and I've been paying for it ever since, trying to catch up on everything. But here it is, the next installment of what surely will be (I'm calling it now) a legendary trip report.

 

Day 4: Stay Alive

 

Today I began the solo portion of my trip, as Coasterbill and Boldikus went back home and went on with their ordinary responsibilities. Meanwhile, I’m still on vacation! This was the biggest day of driving of the entire trip, as I had several places I wanted to visit.

 

First up, Valley Forge. I took the scenic route back through New Jersey rather than the Atlantic City Expressway. Seems weird in a time crunch, I know, but I had one goal in mind: To add Delaware to my list of state credits. I went a couple of miles into Delaware, turned around, and went on to Valley Forge. Nerdy? Hell yes. But you’re in no position to judge. You’re reading a theme park forum.

 

Valley Forge was really cool. I took the free method and just drove the rental car around the park, stopping when I wanted to look at something. You can pay money for a tour bus if you wish, but I don’t think the experience would be substantially different. I love our National Park Service and how they consistently provide high quality educational experiences for free or very nearly free.

 

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First stop, Valley Forge

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This is a mockup of the cabins that formed Gen. Washington's winter camp.

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Good to see military bunks really have never changed.

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There was one bunk on each side, and a fireplace in the middle.

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The park itself is beautiful. This would definitely be a lovely place to freeze to death.

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Arc de Triumph! Okay, not quite. Still impressive though.

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Gen. Anthony Wayne

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Gen. Anthony Wayne's eternal view. I could be happy looking at this forever.

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New Jersey put together a super impressive monument here.

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This called a redoubt. They were more or less the 18th century version of trenches.

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Baron von Steuben was instrumental in helping us win the Revolution. We owe a lot to this man.

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The Grand Parade. This is where military drills were done when the soldiers weren't busy freezing to death.

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Gen. James Varnum's quarters

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The view from Varnum's back porch. Stunning.

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The Valley Forge train station. Not available to Gen. Washington in 1777-8.

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Here comes the general! Rise up!

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Forget what this house was used for.

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Washington's stables

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Washington's quarters

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Here is where Hamilton took over writing all Washington's correspondence.

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This was used for strategy meetings.

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Washington's dining room

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Bedrooms for Washington's staff

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Washington's bed

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Washington's trunk

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Bedroom with Continental Army officers' uniforms

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And this is the upstairs attic bedroom where John Laurens and Alexander Hamilton were quartered that winter. I am so fanboying right now.

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Washington's kitchen

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And the other side of the kitchen

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Washington's quarters from the train station

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The world will never be the same.

 

Next up was Gettysburg. I turned onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike and rocketed west toward Harrisburg. The tolls are a bit pricey, but wow is it a fast road. Once I got to Gettysburg, I went to the visitor’s center to get a map and set out as before on the self-guided tour.

 

It’s a very big park that wraps all around the town of Gettysburg itself. What struck me, though, was how very little interpretive material actually spoke about the importance of this battle. There was a lot detailing what regiment did what on what day, but almost nothing on what all of this actually means. I’ve been to a number of national parks, and the interpretive material is consistently high quality and very informative, so to see this park omit it was conspicuous. I have to believe that it isn’t by accident. Kind of a bummer to visit the place where the Gettysburg Address was given, only to have the NPS act like it’s nothing important at all. It’s only a major turning point in the fight against slavery, but sure, let’s not say anything about slavery. That Mason-Dixon line about 10 miles away has clearly been strong arming this park.

 

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As an avid baseball fan, I had to pay my respects to Gen. Abner Doubleday

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Another beautiful park maintained by the National Park Service

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It has Civil War era replica cannons! It's legit!

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The pickup truck is historically accurate.

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Eternal flame

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Beautiful views everywhere here.

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Quite a number of monuments here, both Union and Confederate. This particular one is Confederate, if you're wondering. Remember, these wouldn't be controversial until a few days later....

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Views from the famous Little Round Top

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Pennsylvania put up this giant monument. Very impressive.

 

After leaving the battlefield, I stopped by a nearby Sheetz. I have to say that I was much more impressed with this place than I was with Wawa, which I visited on my Great Adventure days. The service was much better at Sheetz, and I felt like I was at a real deli. Whereas Wawa basically made me their employee while I was there. However, the food at Wawa is much, much better. Given a choice, I’d pick Wawa every time.

 

Next goal was to buy a tent. I had reserved the Hersheypark Camping Resort for the next two nights and the Knoebels Campground the following two nights. I own a tent, and we do enjoy camping, but American Airlines charged a fortune to bring that stuff on the plane, so it was actually way cheaper to just buy a tent here and then donate it to Goodwill before I went home. I found a Bass Pro in the Harrisburg Mall, and although there are other outdoor stores around here, I had to shop local. Local to me, that is; Bass Pro Shops is headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, about 4 miles away from the house I grew up in.

 

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Ah, a little taste of home.

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Yup, that's absolutely the Ozarks.

 

Camping gear acquired, I was now ready to check into the campground. It was super easy, and I drove over to my campsite fairly near the main office and shuttle stop. It pays to book far in advance. No time to build a tent just yet, I had coasters calling my name! I boarded the shuttle and was whisked off to one of the best theme parks anywhere: Hersheypark!

 

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My chariot awaits!

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Great update, thanks for sharing! Always good to see places like Valley Forge and Gettysburg through the eyes of people that really appreciate them.

 

Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on Hershey.

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Nice report. It's not really my thing (I've driven past it countless times without stopping) but I'm glad you enjoyed it. Maybe one day...

 

I stopped by a nearby Sheetz. I have to say that I was much more impressed with this place than I was with Wawa

Get out.

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