Busch Gardens 2004

  As Hurricane Charlie was just about to blow through Williamsburg, Virginia, I thought it appropriate to kick off an abbreviated summer vacation in the targeted Hurricane area. With my wife predisposed to some home work, my daughter and I left for a blast through America's most beautiful (as judged by J.D. Powers and Associates) theme park. It was late August. I had planned to motor down in the Miata. But with the rains and the winds, I figured we needed something a bit more substantial so we took the pickup.  

  Number 1 - Big Bad Wolf The high-light of our trip was our new found bravery in riding serious roller coasters. The last time we were there, the entire family commited that it was time to ride a real roller coaster. So we looked at a suspended roller coaster called Big Bad Wolf. It looked doable, so my Kid and I summoned up all our courage and gave it a go.

Once we mastered it, we gave it another tentative ride, this time a little closer to the front. Since it was raining that day, the lines were short and by the end of the day, we had ridden it five times.

  The next day, the weather was dry as the two newest big league roller coaster veterans strutted around the park with the rest of the big boys. But underneath, we both wondered if our credentials might not be augmented with a real looper with conventional, not suspended, cars. So with the better weather (and larger crowds) of Monday evening, we convinced one another to try the Loch Ness Monster. This coaster was the first big one of Busch Gardens and the first with interlocking loops. The first time we went on it, I closed my eyes at the top and then opened them as we went down. The second and subsequent times, we opened our eyes. It was a big drop, but lots of fun. We were even more proud of ourselves. Loch Ness Monster

  Alpengeist On Tuesday morning, the crowds were gigantic, with cars clogged up all the way back to the interstate exit trying to park. When we got there, we rode Loch Ness again. Then, after the Log Flume, we came upon the Alpengeist, the one we always believed only nut cases would ride. Junior looked at me and said, "How about we ride that." With some trepidation, I agreed. Again, we closed our eyes at the top for the drop, but the rest was great - all positive G's. The next time, we held our eyes open the whole way with smiles on the whole time. It was great!

  In between rides, we went to soak ourselves on Roman Rapids. However, the lines were extreme. So on the way back, we glanced once again up several hundred feet and commented on the insanity of anyone riding Apollo's Chariot. That's the purple and yellow one on the edge of the park with the launch hill peak pearched atop a tiny little tube with some little tracks hooked on. The peak appeared to rise above the clouds. Its called a hyper coaster with a first drop of 210' at a 65 degree angle. Junior, having seen it go pretty slow at its turnaround point (its an out-and-back) suggested a quick go. So being cautiously optimistic that I could hold on to my stomach, I agreed that it would be fun. So off we went. It was scary. The first drop (again with my eyes closed) was huge. The train went over the top and just kept falling away. No tracks were in sight or felt until the train was nearly at the bottom when we pulled out of the dive. That's probably what fighter pilots feel all the time. Apollo's Chariot

  Anyway, it was pretty scary. So we did it again just for good measure and to ensure we kept our Coaster Swagger! Next time, we'll spend our time on Alpengeist and Loch Ness, with maybe a few runs on Apollo's Chariot just to keep our nerves sharp. If Mom's with us, we'll break her in on the Big Bad Wolf!