Category Archives: Travel

Dippin Dots, Cotton Candy, and The Best Week of My Life

It is so hard for me to think of birthday presents for Andrew. And being me, it can’t just be a movie or a video game. It needs to be Awesome, Unique, and way Cooler Than Everyone Else’s presents. Because of this, I am brainstorming ideas practically year round. (Not only are there birthdays to consider, but Christmas and Valentine’s Day and sometimes we do anniversary gifts!)

Back in April, I was trying to think of a good present. I suppose it started by me thinking that Andrew and I had never been on a road trip before – that would be so much fun! – we should do it this summer! – we both love amusement parks! – Cedar Point and King’s Island are in… OHIO! I talked to him about it and he loved the idea. I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay all of it, but we booked the hotel rooms, set up an itinerary, and waited impatiently for August to come.

Andrew spent all summer in Kansas City working and going to school while I came back home to Saint Louis. It was kind of rough, not being able to see him hardly at all, so I was so excited to be able to spend an entire week with him.

Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early (5:30 AM to be exact) and were on the road by 6:30 AM. We reached Mason, Ohio, and checked into our first hotel. I was really nervous because we are both only 20 and almost all hotels require that you be 21 to book and stay in a room. But we had no problems at all (thank goodness!) and unloaded our stuff. We then drove to King’s Island and I was practically dancing in my seat, I was so excited. King’s Island is more of a local amusement park, but it is still far better than anything we have near Saint Louis.

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As soon as you walk in, you see this giant replica of the Eiffel Tower. We were going to go up to the top, but we didn’t really have the time. Andrew grabbed a map and started planning our beautiful day full of cotton candy, pretzels, and roller coasters. He even put in order which roller coasters we should do first and which we should do last.  :D

Ohio

Our favorite ride that first day was called the Diamondback. It was a fast, steel roller coaster that had large hills and fun turns, but most of all it was smooth. We weren’t big fans of the wooden ones because they were so jerky. Roller coasters don’t really scare me, and they have never made me nauseous in the past, but I guess I just rode weenie roller coasters. :P

They had a laying down roller coaster named the Firehawk and me and Andrew had never been on one like that. You sit down in the seat like a normal train, but then it lowers you down onto your back. On the first hill, it does half a corkscrew so you are hanging in your seat – it felt like you were flying! The first half of the ride was so much fun, but about halfway through, there were several corkscrews in a row and it was like I was being flung in large circles. I started to feel sick. By the time the ride was done, I had a huge headache and didn’t have anymore plans to ride that one again. Our train came back into the station and as we we waited. for our seats to be raised back up (we were still in the laying down position).  And waited. Finally they announced they were having mechanical issues and were trying to get us back into the upright position as fast as they could. I just giggled and held Andrew’s hand. He joked how romantic being stuck on a roller coaster together was. :P

After about ten minutes, we were raised back up. Andrew and I both had a bit of a blood rush so we thought we’d take a break and go eat some grub. I can’t even tell you how much food we got that first day – we were so excited for amusement park food! We didn’t stay real late the first day because we were both so tired for being in the car six and a half hours that morning and those two rides had really done me in. So by 6 o’clock we headed back to the hotel.

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On day two, we headed back to King’s Island to ride all the roller coasters we hadn’t rode yet. My favorite that day was one called the Flight of Fear, which was an indoor roller coaster that launches you out onto the tracks. Andrew also won me a cute prize pikachu from one of the game booths.  :love:

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I wish we could’ve stayed late that night to see the whole park lit up, but we had to drive four hours to Sandusky, Ohio, where Cedar Point is.

The drive there was relatively eventless, but Andrew’s GPS on his phone took us on some creepy country backroads. One of the roads was closed that we were supposed to take, so that was slightly nervewracking, but we arrived safe and sound at our second hotel! We woke up early on Tuesday to get to Cedar Point. More excitement. Cedar Point is considered the best amusement park in the world and has received that reward for the last ten years (or something like that). It definitely lived up to our expectations. It was also much bigger than King’s Island – there were like forty roller coasters! And we rode every, single, one.  :D

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The first thing you see when you enter the park is this massive, winged roller coaster. We had to ride it. Called the Gatekeeper, the seats are on the side of the track instead of on top of or below, like a normal train, hence why it is called a “wing roller coaster.” It was hands-down our favorite ride of the week. It was smooth, fast, fun, high, and so much fun. I think our second favorite was the Top Thrill Dragster. It launches you from 0 to 120mph in just four seconds straight up a 90 degree angle 420 feet. You barely crest the top hill and drop down the other side at a 90 degree angle. For such a simple ride, it is so much fun. Sometimes the train doesn’t go over the hill and will come back down backwards. They posted signs that this may happen and to not be alarmed. Andrew and I both hoped that it would happen to us but in the two times we rode it, it didn’t. Nonetheless, super fun!

The third roller coaster I want to highlight was one that I enjoyed more than Andrew. It was a standing roller coaster, called the Mantis, which neither of us had ever done before. There’s a support that runs between your legs in case you need it and the entire ride Andrew was nervous that the roller coaster would jerk the wrong way and hit him in the crotch, so he didn’t enjoy it as much because of that. It was so bizarre to be doing loops and corkscrews standing up – definitely something to try! When we were coming back into the station, we got stuck again. :P I joked that I had never in my life been stuck on a ride but when we do, we get stuck on the most uncomfortable ones! I wasn’t too upset, though.

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On our second day there, we got ice cream at this little stand and totally underestimated how much they were going to give us. We both got our own and then wished we hadn’t (or I did at least – Andrew insisted on eating all of his!). I got a vanilla banana swirl in a dish and he got blueberry covered in sprinkles on a cone. I wished I would have gotten the blueberry instead because it was so good. I wouldn’t call it blueberry flavored though, because it didn’t taste like that to me. It tasted more like cotton candy, maybe? So delicious.

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We stayed until close because we both wanted to make our last day last as long as it possibly could. We rode the Ferris Wheel as our last ride to end our romantic week away. It was a little chilly up that high, so I snuggled close to my fiancee and just closed my eyes, soaking it all in. Soon enough, it was time to go. :( I can’t believe it’s already over, honestly. We had both been looking forward to the road trip for so long and I feel like it when by in a heartbeat! But it was worth every penny we spent and I can’t wait to do these more often with my future husband.  :love:

Nothing but the Road Before Us

When I was younger, my family would drive twelve hours to visit my grandparents in Pennsylvania every Christmas for a week. In the last five years or so, though, we’ve only been up for a couple of long weekends and for my grandpap’s funeral. Each time, someone wasn’t able to come because they couldn’t get off work, but this year it was like old times again.

Drive

We used to have a van that all six of us would pile in, but my mom sold that for a 5-passenger SUV this year. So three of us crammed into the back (a good example of why it’s annoying that my family is so tall sometimes) with me in the middle. My sister had to work late so she was going to fly in to Pittsburgh later.

We got stuck in some traffic in Ohio where it started to snow, and my mom kept saying quietly, “we’re going to get stuck in this blizzard,” and “we should have stayed home,” and “it’s like a blizzard out.” I was about to throw snow at her to keep her quiet. Other than that we arrived just fine at about 2AM.

The next morning, I awoke to find a white blanket of snow covering the ground! :D

My Dad and I went to pick up my sister and left early to make sure we had enough time to get there with all of the snow. It was really nice, just hanging out with my dad. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with him anymore, just me and him, so it was really cool. We crossed the bridge over the river by my grandma’s to head to town, and struggled up the hill. We giggled together as we slid all over the place. (Looking back, it probably wasn’t that smart, sliding all around in the snow when we could have slid right off the cliff and into the river, haha. But… YOLO.) We finally made up it up the hill and once we got to town, the roads became clearer. He pointed out the neighborhood that he wanted to grow up in with the nice houses, and where he had to come rescue my aunt when she slid off the road and into a ditch once when it snowed. They also took the old brickhouse out, where my dad worked as a teenager. Driving into Pittsburgh, I saw a sign for PNC park. I asked if anyone besides him was into baseball growing up and he said he was really the only one. He would get tickets from high school and wouldn’t find anyone to go with him. We were quiet as we went through a tunnel. My family knows I love the tunnels – when I was really little, I would constantly ask if we were close to the tunnel (specifically, the one in Wheeling, WV), not the “are we there yet?” that most children ask.

Even though I didn’t grow up here, Pennsylvania is my home away from home. I feel like I’m at home when I’m here. It’s so humbling how so many things can change over time, and other things will remain almost exactly the same. We grow older, but grandma’s house remains the same, and her peanut brittle will always be the best.

I feel like it’s truly Christmas now, with snow on the ground and being back in Pennsylvania. There’s truly nothing like sneaking pieces of peanut brittle when my mom isn’t looking and my grandma giggling while I huddle on the far side of the house, trying to mooch off my aunt’s wi-fi down the road. And my aunts and uncles are hilarious. It’s so good to see them again – even if they joke with me about the stink bugs they have here. (In my defense, they are HUGE.)

We’re headed back early tomorrow morning, probably about 6:00AM. I’m sorry to leave, but it will nice to be home. Six-hundred and seventy beautiful miles to go.