I’d originally hoped to spend day seven of my trip mopping up half a dozen small coasters scattered around Michigan. This mission would have been entirely feasible in an ordinary year, but the pandemic made a total mess of my plan. Arzo Sports & Fun Park was closed. Cedar Valley’s Wild Frontier Fun Park was closed. Michigan’s Adventure was closed. The only parks that were open were those of the Craig’s Cruisers FEC chain – so I decided to cut my losses by visiting the two with coasters.
On the plus side, the various closures at least meant that an unplanned requirement to dial into a work conference call for several hours in the middle of my holiday presented no major issues. I’d been worried about network coverage from a moving vehicle, but for the most part things were fine; I only lost signal once en route, and even then the interruption was brief. I can report that business meetings are much more enjoyable when they wrap with a lap or three on a coaster; Warren Buffett take note.
Craig's Cruisers Grand Rapids
11th August 2021
The Grand Rapids branch of Craig’s Cruisers is located to the south of the city. My GPS brought me to within five hundred feet of it along US-131 North, before asking me to “navigate off-road”. This was not enormously helpful, though after circling for a bit I managed to locate the main entrance nearby. Cruiser Coaster (#2915) was just inside the building door, and cost $6 for a five lap cycle. I took a quick look round the rest of the facility before heading back to my car.
Readers should be aware that there are signs at the park entrance asking visitors to fill in a legal waiver. These can be safely ignored by enthusiasts, as they’re only required to use the trampolines.
11th August 2021
After leaving the first Craig’s Cruisers I drove north to the branch at Silver Lake, where I discovered a SBF Big Air coaster in an advanced state of non-functionality. The hamster wheel car was nowhere in sight, and three remaining spinning cars were resting forlorn on their own with a tie-down holding them in place. Rather than hang around I decided to cut my losses and started my drive south, but I didn’t get far; just minutes later I had an explosive tyre blowout that came far closer than I’d have liked to ending my holiday altogether. I managed to regain control and stop by the side of the road, where, after my pulse returned to normal, I discovered that my rental vehicle wasn’t fitted with a spare. That left me with no choice but to call the 24 hour roadside assistance number, which I did at 1:55pm.
The first indication that the rest of my day was shot came shortly afterwards, when a recorded voice told me that my hold time might exceed fifteen minutes. Thirty-five minutes later I finally got through to a human, who informed me that they could not supply tyres – but that they could send someone to come pick me up if I was able to get to a local business. That was never going to be practical while stopped half way between two exits on a freeway in the middle of nowhere. Instead, I was told that they’d bring out a replacement vehicle, which would take “four to six hours” and that I’d be charged for it at the end of the rental. It wasn’t like I had any other choice.
They promised to call me with a status update as soon as they had a more precise time estimate, but no call came. I followed up at 4:00pm and spoke to a helpful agent who told me that they’d just found a provider, and the ETA for my location was now 45 minutes. At about 4:30pm a friendly state trooper pulled up to offer assistance, listened to my tale of woe, and offered his sympathies. At 5:30pm I followed up again to get the latest information, and was told that the ETA was now “40 minutes or less”. The replacement car eventually arrived at 6:10pm, four hours and change after the incident – along with a bill of almost six hundred dollars.
The long delay meant that there was no hope of me getting to a Chicago credit before closing, so for the hell of it I decided to route past Craig’s Cruisers again on the off-chance that they’d sorted things out. It looked for a few moments like I might be in luck as the full train was back on track, but moments later it became clear that tie-downs were still in place. After a brief pause to swear I got back into my car and headed south.
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