Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 2, Part 3 of a Four-Week Pleasure Cruise: Would It Have Been Better If?...

Looking out at the rest of the park from the Sky Tower, as it begins to get dark, the light touches the rollercoasters and ride vehicles and trees and walking paths in such a way that it makes it all the only place in this entire to have feelings. When it's sunny out, and even when not, it assumes full control. It is confident of its power in offering up so many rollercoasters, in ensuring that a lot of people have a good time. When the sun goes down as it did in those moments, it feels sad that people have to leave soon, have to give up this temporary world for what awaits them wherever they come from. It wants to get a stranglehold on the sunlight, push it back up, and spread it out to the entire park again. People can't leave yet. There's still so much to do.

This is why it closes at 6 p.m. in winter. There's not enough lighting throughout the park. What is there is suitable only to the immediate areas, but never beyond that. You'd have to bring in floodlights if you wanted to illuminate the park entirely, but that would be too harsh. Near the Golden Bear Theatre, there's lights in the souvenir shop, and a few other places, but not among that walking path. You can get to where you're going, though, by the arcade ahead and brighter lights as you get to the central plaza near the front gates.

The elevator came back up and that was it for us. No reason to stay longer. There's a lot less memorabilia than there was last year. Maybe some of it was being spruced up, maybe they rotate it. It didn't seem like enough, as if there's indifference here as to whether people know more about the park as it was. It's one of the rare instances here that the attitude of the Santa Clarita Valley has crept in: No history. Only the present and the future are allowed.

Going down in the elevator with a few other people, including two employees, I knew already what the park looks like at dusk from on high and what the seemingly distant valley looks like too. So I spent those few minutes looking at the wires of the elevator moving in the structure as we went down. You can see stairwells, all painted orange just like the rest of the tower, and once on the ground, the other elevator, which wasn't in use since there weren't that many people in the tower. Never are. It's the same line of thinking used at Superman: Escape from Krypton. If the crowds grow, then they'll use the second vehicle.

We passed Ninja, and I felt like seven times on it had been enough. "7" is a major number in Las Vegas, and it felt right with a farewell to it that way while looking ahead to my new home.

At the top of Samurai Summit, across from Ninja, is the Orient Express, an air-conditioned tram that takes guests from there to the central plaza of Six Flags without having to walk back down the steep hill that takes you up to Samurai Summit. It was the best way to get back down since we were beginning to run out of time, with it being 10 minutes to 5, and the park closing at 6.

The Orient Express has two trams, operated by the same cable, and when one tram goes down the hill, the other goes up to the Samurai Summit station, and then they reverse. It's not long to wait for a tram, and it was a relief to sit for a little bit. My feet don't hurt like they used to before I lost all that weight, but the day began to wear on me. Not sleepy just then, but tiredness began to settle in all my joints. There was still more to do, since Meridith wanted to ride Colossus, and I had d promised that I would go on it with her.

To get to Goliath, you walk past the Magic Moments Theater building, which is used about as much as the Golden Bear Theatre, and there's the entrance for Colossus. Then you weave through where longer lines would be until you reach the loading station. They were running two trains, so it wasn't long to wait for ours, and it was when our train bolted out of the station that I realized that Colossus is the father, and Apocalypse is the son. Colossus races up the first lift hill, and when I saw the steep drop, I said "Oh shit!" out loud. This was harrowing. It jerks you around so much, up one hill, down one hill, up one hill, down one hill, that you don't have a chance to breathe for even a second. Then there's another lift hill and you drop way down yet again. It's said that the Colossus trains on both sides (There was an empty loading station across from ours) were used years ago to race each other, and during Magic Mountain's Halloween festivities, the trains run backward. I still shudder at the thought of that.

After I knew it was over by Meridith no longer pressing herself into my shoulder and screaming with her eyes shut tight, as she did on Apocalypse for equally good reason, I felt a bit of a headache, which went away as I regained my balance after we got off. I told Meridith that I was done with rollercoasters, and I mean it. I can't do this anymore. Riding the wooden Hurricane rollercoaster 19 times in one night at Boomers in Dania Beach was easy because I was in my teens. It was also easy to ride Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 2000 after eating an entire turkey leg because I was in my teens. In March, I'll be two years away from 30. I know there are some daredevils well older than me, and rollercoaster enthusiasts I've seen at various websites, including, who probably had this love instilled in them at a young age. Reading I did. Movies I did. Aviation I did. Not rollercoasters. I'd be fine with never riding another one again if not for the Desperado in Primm, Nevada, one of the first things you see after the state line in that complex of three casinos and an outlet mall, which I'll ride for home state pride, and the taxicab rollercoaster at New York-New York. But other than those two, I'm finished. At least with Superman: Escape from Krypton, it was just one tall curve and then back down. I know there are easier rollercoasters and I've been on them, but I've lost my interest. Better that my time with all that is replaced with more books and more writing, and probably more Galaga too.

On the way back to the front gate, Mom called Meridith and told her that she and Dad were at the Cyber Cafe and they had already gotten me my pumpkin pie. See, pumpkin pie, butterscotch anything, types of pasta, those are other fine replacements for my interest in rollercoasters, especially with pumpkin pie being my favorite kind. And after the pie we had had at Thanksgiving that we bought frozen from Walmart that had to be baked, I was looking for one far better. When we got to the table where Mom and Dad were sitting outside the Cyber Cafe (with all the computers inside in use, of course), and I got a plastic spoon from inside, I found the pumpkin pie I had wanted for so long. The pumpkin, the spices, the sugar, all melded so perfectly. It was a welcome comfort after the physical turmoil of Colossus, but most of all, it was amazing to me to find this here. I can understand the funnel cakes being so good since they make them on-site, but where would they make a pumpkin pie? They have each slice in individual clear plastic containers, so maybe it's brought in from somewhere else. I really want to know where that "somewhere else" is, and I've just gotten the idea to e-mail the park and see if anyone knows. There are a lot of things worth living for, and that pumpkin pie is close to the top of my list.

We ordered another slice to take home for Mom and I to share, and I told Mom that I decided not to ride Ninja again because first of all, we were already away from Samurai Summit and I didn't want to hike up there again, plus the Orient Express eats up more time and I wanted to make sure I got my Superman t-shirts and anything else Superman related that looked interesting to me. Plus I told her about keeping it at 7 times in honor of Las Vegas, and because the appeal of Ninja to me is gliding past those trees. At nighttime, it doesn't have the same effect. You're just gliding through darkness, and the trees are just outlines of something.

Walking through the main souvenir shop in the central plaza was an immense pleasure. A tinier crowd this time, and I found two Superman shirts, one in a can, and another with the Six Flags name under the image of Superman. Others were comic book covers and too specific for me. I like a general Superman on my t-shirts, open to all possibilities.

While they waited for us when we were on Colossus, Mom and Dad picked up the pickle and the school bus from package pickup at the Looney Tunes Superstore. On the way out, I went into that store to find a relatively unscratched red Superman cup (Has a clear plastic mold of Superman on the left and the right), since the ones in the main souvenir shop looked terrible, more scratched up than is worth buying just to have Superman. Most in the Looney Tunes store were no better, but I did find one that didn't look so bad, and I wanted a spare.

So that was it. All that was left to do after leaving the park was stopping at Grand Panda to pick up the beef chow fun that Dad had ordered for dinner, and at Chronic Tacos for Meridith and I to get what we and Mom wanted. I was still thinking of a chicken and cheese quesadilla when we walked in, but breakfast items are served all day there, and I spotted a picture of a breakfast quesadilla with cheese, eggs, potatoes, and veggie, chorizo, or machaca, which is shredded beef, grilled onions, and tomatoes. I chose chorizo and my god, not only was it filling, but this was what every quesadilla needs to be: Hearty, confident in its combination, and offering up so much good stuff in every bite. Taking our orders home for dinner was perfect because not only were we worn out from the day, but I preferred to be at home, enjoying my quesadilla at my own pace. I don't eat as fast as I used to, but rare is the time that I slow down for something, and this was it. Between the french fries, the pumpkin pie and this, the meaning of life to me seems to be pure pleasure in whatever you love and savoring every moment you have it. The next time we go to Chronic Tacos, that quesadilla is mine again.

Going back to the question that has been part of the title for three entries, I think it would have been better if I had gotten a season pass. When I was in line with my Superman t-shirts and a small Superman desk light I found, there were three people in front of me who were from somewhere else, because the guy at the register told them to have a nice flight back. I was surprised that people venture as far as here, what with Los Angeles, and Anaheim containing Disneyland. But I understand it because perhaps they wanted a different perspective of this region. People watching alone would have made a season pass worth it. A lot to observe and be entertained by, and a lot to write about. A chance to continually explore a different world, to just sometimes watch rollercoasters in motion.

I can't go for a season pass now. Last year was better because though our situation was fluid like it is now, I didn't feel that drive for movement like I do now. Not that I didn't want to leave for home this year, but it felt like things had to take more time to develop. Having passed in August our eighth year of living here, I've become much more antsy. A season pass wouldn't work because it'd be an all-the-time reminder that we're still here. It's not just about having a place to live; it's about where you live, where you're happy. For a final time, though, this was the right feeling. Casual, absorbing everything that I've loved about Magic Mountain, and leaving with a smile. That was the way to do it.