Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thorpe Park

Thorpe Park is probably the second most famous amusement park in England, after Alton Towers. My work's social team did a trip there today. I've never been on a rollercoaster, so I was quite excited about this.

I started with a ride called Tidal Wave, where you sit in a boat and it climbs several stories high and then zooms down a ramp into a pool, spraying out a huge plume of water. It was perishingly cold today, and I wore light clothing. I hoped that the water would spray out from the boat, leaving the occupant relatively dry, but I put on my pink poncho just in case. I was promptly mocked by the ride attendant.

You can't really see it here, but the boat has just come down on the left of the shot. The wave is going over the roof of the shed on the right. It turns out that you get absolutely soaked on the boat. There was water sloshing around in my shoes and my jeans were drenched too. That was a genius move, first thing on a cold day.

I then went to a ride called Stealth. It's a rollercoaster, and it's quite short so I thought it wouldn't be too bad. Then I got to the start, and there was a woman doubled over, doing a series of power chunders. That's a clue about the ride, for the observant. The observant should also look where they're stepping.

Stealth starts flat and rockets from 0 to 80 mph in 2.3 seconds.

It then climbs straight up and drops straight down, all very fast. It occurred to me, just after take-off, that I wanted to get off that ride more than I've ever wanted anything in my life.

Next, I headed to Colossus, which is probably the most famous ride at the park. It is allegedly the first 10-twist rollercoaster in the world.

Colossus was more fun than Stealth, which was just terrifying.

The queue was about 1.5 hours. I had a special ticket that skips me to the front of the queue, but after Stealth, the idea of spending 90 minutes not riding seemed like a good option.

While queueing, one of the nearby kids mocked me for wearing a pink poncho. Damn kids.

I then did a ride called Zodiac. It starts with a bunch of cages in a circle that spin until the cetripetal force is pulling the cages straight out, and then the whole things rises on a hydraulic arm so you end up spinning vertically instead of horizontally.



If you look closely, you can see all the vomit gathering in a pulsating sphere at the centre of rotation, like the birth of a carroty star. You do NOT want to be in the bottom cage when this ride stops.

I also did a few of the minor rides: Flying Fish, Loggers Leap, Depth Charge, and the surprisingly violent teacup ride. How is it that I got more tonged around in the teacup ride than in something called Depth Charge?

I skipped a couple of the major rides because my weak neck was getting pretty sore at this point.

Saw: Based on the Saw Snuff Movies


Inferno Nemesis
(which are two slightly ominous but completely non-sequiter words)

So that was a pretty good day out, and all things considered I look forward to never going back.

(Apologies for the photos. The lighting was dull, and everything was moving really fast.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

...and Frisco at Night

San Francisco by Day...

(These photos are a mix from my trips in January and March.)

This is Lombard Street. It is debatably the crookedest street in the world. It has 8 sharp turns in a one block stretch.

There is a wharf where a lot of people fish (I don't mean the famous S.F. Fisherman's Wharf). Many of the fishermen also lower crab pots. You're allowed to take normal crabs, but not the famous Dungeness crabs, which use the area for breeding.

I spoke to one of the fishers. A couple of the sea lions have worked out that if they hang around, people will lower down crab cages filled with bait. The sea lions dive down, tear open the crab cages, and eat the bait.

The fisherman began shouting "Go away, you stupid idiot!" at one of the sea lions. I mentioned that I wasn't sure the sea lion was the idiot in the equation; I'm not sure I made a friend there.

I rented a mountain bike and rode across the GG Bridge, and around the bay to a town called Sausalito. From there I caught the ferry back to the city, past Alcatraz Island.

There are tons of good buskers along the street by Pier 39. But this guy is the most famous. He's a homeless guy known as "the Bushman". His gimmick is that he has a couple of branches that he's torn off a tree, and he sits on the footpath, hiding behind them. When unsuspecting tourists wander past, he jumps out at them. It's pretty damn funny.

Here's a YouTube clip someone made of him doing what he does: