Yesterday evening we returned our first rental car in Little Rock, Arkansas and flew to Denver, Colorado. Though we could have driven the distance in about fourteen hours, we figured that two hours on a plane was the better option, even when combined with the TSA and all the other bureaucracy needed for air travel in the United States. Our flight was late, but not unforgivably so, meaning that the overall time saved was in the region of eight hours.
I've driven many different types of car in my career, both good and bad. The latter is the norm in the United States, but one can generally assume that any American car will be large enough to comfortably fit two adults and two suitcases. In Denver, however, the economy offering turned out to be a Chevrolet-badged version of the Daewoo Matiz in a hideous colo(u)r that promptly reduced Megan to fits of giggles. While we could have upgraded to something better, the entertainment value from the carbuncle was enough to justify being cramped for two days. The poor thing had a lot of trouble climbing some of the hills on the outskirts of Denver, with a rev count beyond four thousand and an engine note to match, but it got there in the end.
Mile High Flea Market
1st June 2013
The Mile High Flea Market is located about twenty miles north-east of Denver. My GPS brought us to a parking space within about fifty feet of the Dragon Coaster (#1912), allowing us to tick off the credit and make a rapid exit. It goes almost without saying that the ride was hilariously rough; once was more than enough.
Heritage Amusement Park
1st June 2013
Heritage Amusement Park is to the south-west of Denver, and is one of the few parks in the United States to have no admission or parking fees. We began our visit with the concrete trough Alpine Slide, an installation built with two parallel tracks, one for slow riders and one for fast riders. The latter was our obvious choice, but for whatever reason it wasn't possible to pick up much speed, with my sled shuddering badly as it rounded corners. Once back at ground level we rode the Python Pit (#1913) and powered Miner Mike before heading for the exit.
1st June 2013
The coaster enthusiast community is normally pretty good at keeping up with changes made to amusement parks, especially when those changes involve roller coasters. As such, it was a remarkable achievement for Elitch Gardens to replace one of its roller coasters without anybody noticing until after the new ride was already open. More to the point, the change was made in the weeks before a major event run by the American Coaster Enthusiasts, whose flyer promoted an ERT session on the no longer present Cactus Coaster.
The Blazin' Buckaroo was relocated from the late Alabama Adventure, but it has been refurbished and repainted for its new home. The loading speed was beyond painful today, but in due course we were on board and sent around the course. On arriving back in the station, we released our own restraints (as any enthusiast would do on a ride like this) and promptly got yelled at for our trouble. Future visitors may want to wait thirty seconds for the operator to get around to the task!
It was regrettably necessary to ride Mind Eraser (#1914) for the credit. The ride hurt a lot, though I took consolation from the fact that it was the last standard SLC in North America that I'd yet to ride. In fact, as of this writing, the only existing model I've yet to ride is in Israel, though there is another currently under construction in Iraq. As my friend Maria commented, haven't those people suffered enough?!
The other credit on my list was the Half Pipe (#1915). The group riding in front of us were obviously under the influence of a few too many, but they were having a huge amount of fun and their enthusiasm was infectious. The shouts and cheers from the moving train were an awful lot more enthusiastic than the ride deserved.
Megan needed the other three credits in the park, and as such we had to ride both the Boomerang and Sidewinder. Twister II proved somewhat less of an imposition, and indeed it was running well enough today for us to go back for a second lap. Beyond the coasters, we also enjoyed the Carousel, the Giant Wheel, Ghost Blasters, and the Troika.
Lakeside Amusement Park
1st June 2013
Our final stop of the day began with a quick ride on the powered Dragon, recently restored to service after a number of years standing idle. With that out of the way, we joined the lengthy queue for the Cyclone. The ride was running very well, to the point that we decided to give it a second lap despite the fact that we had a two hour drive ahead of us. We also enjoyed a lap on the Wild Chipmunk with both of us in the same car, which was great fun if not exactly comfortable!
Many enthusiast trip reports have reported that Lakeside Amusement Park has a restrictive photo policy, and rather than fall foul of this, we chose to minimise the number of pictures taken inside park gates and look for opportunities elsewhere. It was worth taking the time to do this, as we managed to get a particularly nice reflection shot from a car park on the far side of the lake.