Monday, August 18, 2003

Cedar Point!

The night of July4th, we satyed in Buffalo, a city abt 20mi from Niagara. Our plan was to leave from there early in te morning (about 5am or so) and reach Cedar Point, which is abt 4 hrs drive from there. However we were so exhausted that nite that we never woke up to the alarm I'd kept in my wrist watch. (And yeah, did I mention that I had purchased a new wrist watch here....a pretty cheap and simple one from Armitron, which has 2 functionalities I really wanted, night time light glow and water resistant. However, it doesnt have one more functionality i would've liked....a compass needle. Believe me, driving in America, itz a very handy thing to have!) We left for Cedar Pt at abt 8am on Jul 5th.

Cedar Pt is a small town (but looked pretty rich since it had a large no of shopping mall!) located on the shores of Lake Eerie. Itz bang on the way from Niagara to Chicago - almost mid-way. There are two amusement parks there consists of - one with all the rides and another a water park. We went ot the rides on Jul 5th and water park on Jul 6th.

I went to Cedar pt expecting it to be better than the Six Flags amusement park near Chicago I had been to before. The main attraction is Cedar Pt is that it boasts of the world's tallest roller-coaster.

Called the Dragster, it looked very exciting and thrilling. The funda of this roller-coaster is that it will accelerate u from 0 to 120mph in abt 3-4 secs on a horizontal bar.. This acceleration would then take u vertically up 420 ft! And then u come down vertically down in a free-fall and along the way down, the bars are also twisted to add to the fun! The whole ride is over in abt 15 secs!

However this setup is very fickle! Lotsa times, the machine is not able to generate enuff power to take u up 420 ft. If that hapens, then, as u might have guessed, u will come down back all the way - a free fall backside! However, fortunately, those guyz have meters that wud tell them if the machine has geberated enuff power or not. If the machine has not generated enuff power, thenthey will ask ppl to get down, do a trial run (during which lot of times the coaster actually came back after almost reaching the top!). This consumed a lot of time and hence the crowd was growing bigger.

A lot of ppl got jiffy looking at the 420 ft tall roller-coaster. out of 9 of us, only 4 decided to take the ride (one of us was Ramendra, for who these were the first rides in the roller-coasters in US. He was a little apprehensic=ve in the begining, but was pretty enthusiastic later!). And no one was ready to give me company to take the first row of the roller-coaster (Typicallly, if u r seated in the first row, the excitement is much higher, since u r seeing the full path - or the lack of it ;-) - ahead of u. So, there will be a separate queue for the first row and one for the rest of the rows). We joined the q at abt 10:15pm and we actually took the ride at abt 11:30pm! Well, at the end of it, I felt the ride was not as exciting as expected. however, the initial accelartion was toooo gooood! Going from 0 to 120mph in 3-4 secs, the air hits ur face like anything, and it was literally a hair-raising experience ;-) Since the whole ride is over in abt 15secs, u will hardly realise what happned, and by then u r firmly down on terra firma!

There was another roller coaster in Cedar Pt where it takes u up abt 360 ft, and at that topmost point is almost on the sea! If u see below, u can see only the sea, and when it drops u from 360ft height, u feel as if u r falling into the sea! I enjoyed this ride the most.

Another good one in Cedar Pt is called Tower Power. Itz similar to the 200ft free-fall in Six Flags. However, this was abt 400+ ft high and there were 2 flavors of it. One where u r taken up and then pushed dpwn with force, and second where u r taken up with a high initial thrust. I enjoyed the second one better...the initial thrust is more like a rocket taking off!

Overall, I found Six Flags to be a better place than Cedar Pt....except for some attractions special at Cedar Pt.

That nite we spent at Cedar Pt. Next day, we went to the water was more of a family park....nothing too exciting abt it, except for the crowd ;-) We also did some go-karting also in the evening.

We left Cedar Pt at abt 5pm on July 6th. The journey back was almost equally thrilling.......we got stuck in a thunderstorm on the highway. It was pouring so heavily, I could not see beyond a few feet! Lotsa ppl stopped the cars on the shoulder of the road! And once we hit Illinois, we got stuck in a huge traffic jam. It took us abt 2 hrs to travel the last 30 miles! We were finally at home at abt 11:30pm.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Trip to Niagara Falls

We started for Niagara on July 3rd evening. We rented a Ford Taurus car that had run - believe it or not - just 13 miles! We must have got the car right out of the showroom. It was a great car! And of course, it was not really in the shape it came when we returned it after our trip ;-) We reached Niagara Falls on July 4th morning. Had breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts outlet and went to the Falls. The first sight of the falls itself was amazing.

The first word that came to my mind when I saw the falls was "massive". It is such a broad falls and water falling from such a height.......and the noise it makes......all added makes it a sight to see. River Niagara flows from Lake Eerie to Lake Ontario and along the way plunges abt 150+ft at this place! Hold your breath - 6 million cubic ft of water flows thru the falls every second! The falls is divided into 3 streams......the Canadian side of falls, called the HorseShoe falls, is the biggest of them and is also the most attractive. From the Canadian side, you will get a full view of the horse-shoe and hence lot of ppl prefer going to the Canadian side to view the falls. However, we didnt take a Canadian visa and hence had to be statisfied with the view from the American side. American side has 2 streams, one called the American Falls and the other called the Bridal Falls.

With Canadian side having a better view, America had to do something to attract the crowd. And they came up with an observatory tower, a boat tour of the falls and also built a bridge that takes you so close to the falls that the water will be splashing with a force more than the force in your shower!

We took a boat ride, called the Maid of the Mist, that takes you very close to both the American and the Canadian side of the falls. The view of the Canadian falls from upclose is really superb. You feel as if water is falling from the skies at that force. The sight of water falling from that height and that width will always remain etched in my memory!

Later we had lunch at an Indian restaurant just outside the falls park. I must mention at this point the amazing no of Indians who were visiting the falls. Believe it or not, about 20-30% of the ppl there were Indians! As one of my friends said, visiting Niagara Falls is the equivalent of Kashi Yaatra in US. If in India, ppl think that they should do the Kashi Yaatra once in lifetime, then visiting Niagara is a must if you are visiting US! With so many Indians visiting the place, no wonder there are more than a couple of Indian restaurants just outside the falls!

After lunch, we went to what is called the Cave of the Winds. Basically a bridge-type walkway is built that takes u very close to the falls. If u stand at the closest point, u will be totally drenched in seconds. Of course, they do provide water-proof plastic covers to cover urself, but even thatz of no use. Building this walkway is actually a very good idea of enjoying this massive falls in a very safe way.

Next we spent some time roaming around the falls. Later we went to an aquarium....nothing spl abt it, except that I saw sea-lions for the first time there. I was amazed by the amount of noise they generate, and their swimming is pretty good to see.

Later in the night, we went to the falls again to see it in the night. The falls is lit by diff colored focus lights and it will be all the more beautiful to see. [I will be uploading the pics of the falls shortly......Watch this space for more on it ;-)] Every Friday and Sunday nights there will be fireworks at the falls. However, there'z nothin extra-ordinary abt the fireworks.....we have better fireworks here at Chicago ;-) The fireworks was quite a monotonous show. However, the beauty of the well-lit falls was definitely worth all the time we spent there!

That night we stayed at Buffalo, which is the city right next to Niagara Falls and the next day morning we proceeded to Cedar Point for some more fun!

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