My First Visit to Minnesota… and It Only Lasted 22 Hours!

March 2, 2017

You’ve already seen my race recap from the Minneapolis Fight For Air Race, so this post is about the rest of my Minnesota visit. Even though I didn’t spend much time there (less than a day!), I had a wonderful visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and a big reason why is Read the rest of this entry »

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My Overnight Trip to Las Vegas Had Lots of Ups and Downs

March 2, 2016

I’m talkin’ about ROLLER COASTERS! The night before the big Scale the Strat race, my friend Tavi and I met Tavi’s friend Sarah for dinner, then we headed over to New York, New York to ride The Roller Coaster.

Manhattan-Express-Roller-Coaster-Las-Vegas-New-York-New-York

It used to be called Manhattan Express, but now it’s The Roller Coaster. It’s 203 feet high, hits 67 mph, and goes upside down twice, all while Read the rest of this entry »


Magic Mountain 2 – The Sequel!

September 17, 2012

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME! A few days ago, I reached a big milestone: my two-year blogging anniversary. On September 13, 2010, I started a new venture of chronicling my weight loss efforts, and I’d say so far so good! This is my 639th (!) post, and I’ve now lost and kept off 160+ pounds for over a year. At the moment, I’ve lost 164 pounds, but I’m also due for a weigh-in that I should’ve had the other morning but I completely forgot.

I think my weigh-in slipped my mind because I had something much more exciting to do this weekend: a return trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain! I think there’s a few of you out there that have been blog readers since the very beginning (I’m looking at you, Mom), so you might remember that my very first blog post was about my inaugural visit to Magic Mountain. If you’ve never read it, or want a refresher, check it out hereThat trip was a reward I gave myself for losing 100 pounds, and it was my first time on a roller coaster in eight years, thanks to my obesity, which prevented me from fitting within most coasters’ harnesses.

That first trip was nearly tear-inducing – it felt so incredibly awesome to fit on rides that I used to not be able to fit on. What was most eye-opening about this trip was how much of a non-issue my weight was. This is partly because I’ve made theme park outings a semi-regular affair since I started blogging, having been to Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Cedar Point, the Ohio park where I was once kicked off a ride for being too fat. But more importantly, it’s because I’m no longer a stranger to being at this weight. I walked in the door after a long day of riding coasters and realized I never once thought about my weight all day long. I’m proud of that.

Wanna see some pictures?

I went to Magic Mountain with my friend Greg, who I’ve known most of my life. Here we are waiting in line for Superman:

Read the rest of this entry »


I Came, I Saw, I Conquered… CEDAR POINT!

September 12, 2011

The past two weeks crawled by.  I’ve spent my days with family and friends in Colorado and Michigan, so I’ve kept busy, but my brain wandered every time I had a spare minute, and it always ended in the same place: Cedar PointI’m not exaggerating: I feel asleep thinking about roller coasters, woke up thinking about roller coasters, drove around town thinking about roller coasters, worked out thinking about… you guessed it… roller coasters.  I couldn’t wait to get to Cedar Point, and the day never seemed to get any closer!

Finally, on Saturday, it was time.  It was CEDAR POINT DAY!  And it didn’t start off well.  I checked and rechecked weather forecasts all week (and posted them, too!), watching the chance of rain fluctuate between 40% and 60%, and I was nervous that we’d show up and it would rain all day long.  My sister Laura emailed me Cedar Point’s Weather Policies (at the bottom of this page), and basically, once rain starts falling steadily, most of the good rides close.  What a bummer that’d be!

It rained all night before we left in the morning.  Laura and I picked up my friends Molly and Dan, and it rained the entire 2.5 hour drive to Sandusky, Ohio.  Sometimes the rain was a mere sprinkle, sometimes it was a pounding, torrential downpour that drowned out all other noise.  It didn’t look good for a fun-filled, rain-free day in the park.

But on our final approach, with the roller coasters in sight, it got quiet.  No more raindrops on the windshield!  The timing was perfect – we stepped out of the car in the parking lot, and the skies, while overcast, were free of rain clouds.  It was our lucky day.

We had prepared and had a game plan in place: head to the back of the park first, and work our way around in a clockwise manner (see the map I made to aid in our strategy sessions here).  We were in line for our first roller coaster 20 minutes after the park had opened.  Let the pictures begin!

Here’s Laura and me getting ready to ride Maverick:

Maverick is the park’s newest coaster, and while it’s not the highest, it’s one of the best.  It’s fast, smooth, and has great twists and turns (watch a video here).  I ended up riding it three times – twice in the morning, and once at night, when much of the track isn’t lit, so you’re flying around at 70 mph in darkness.  Very cool.

All of us by the Gemini station, the classic dueling wooden roller coaster:

Because there’s two trains that race, we split up into boys vs. girls.  Laura took this photo of me looking backward with her cell phone from her train:

Taking that picture was a big no-no.  As we climbed the lift hill, the ride operator’s voice boomed from some speakers: “Put the cell phone away!  Put the cell phone away!  Put the cell phone away!”  She did was she was told, and after the ride, she was pulled aside by the ride operator, who told her that having a phone out on a ride is a misdemeanor under Ohio law. (!)  BUSTED!  Laura could have gone to Cedar Point jail!

Now some of the biggest, most insane rides.  Here’s Molly and Laura in line for Millenium Force:

That lift hill in the background is 310 feet high, and by the time you reach the bottom of it, you’re going 93 mph!  This was another coaster we rode twice, once during the day, and once at night, and interesting things happened both times:  On our first outing, coins fell out of another rider’s pocket while going over a big hill, levitated in front of us, then flew past at speeds at which no coins should ever travel.  During the nighttime ride, Molly and I sat towards the back, which was smart, as the riders in front ended the ride peeling dead bugs off their arms and faces.  Gross.  Gnats should learn to stay away from roller coasters.

Here’s Molly and me waiting for Top Thrill Dragster to start.  I love how Molly leaned out to get her face in the shot!  This ride is the tallest and fastest in the park, at 420 feet high and 120 mph.  It’s basically the same height as a 40-story building!

Once you board the train, it moves out to the launch pad.  There are motor revving sound effects, and 30 seconds later, you’re rocketed forward at 120 mph (see video here).  The picture above was taken at the launch pad, and this next picture was taken one second before launch (there’s a lighting display, similar to those at drag races, that counts down the final seconds):

Molly and I on the ride – WHEEEEEEEEE!

We planned our day so we went on many of the coasters before tackling the one I was most excited to ride: Raptor.  Raptor is the ride that I got kicked off of ten years ago (it was one of the most humiliating experiences in my life, and one that I recall moment by moment in this post), and I was ready to go back and show it who’s boss.  I’ve been waiting for this day for a long, long time.

I was ready to ride the Raptor.

I was ready to replace a horrible weight-related memory with a wonderful one.

I’M GONNA RIDE THE RAPTOR, GODDAMMIT!

We headed up to the station platform.  There was no one in line, and we were able to get on the train that was boarding right then – NO WAIT AT ALL!  Within seconds, I was in the seat, and the over-the-shoulder harness and seat belt were securely locked into place.  It all happened so quickly!  There was no time for me to get emotional or reflective, because before we knew it, we were click-click-clacking up the lift hill and then flying through 6 inversions at nearly 60 mph.

Raptor is an amazing ride.  Your feet dangle, and there’s so many twists and turns that it’s completely disorienting (watch a video here).  We got off and immediately got back in line for a second ride.  Within minutes, we were boarding the train again, and Molly and Dan hung back for the next train, so they could take this next picture.  This, folks, is the picture I’ve waited ten years to share.  Here’s I am, comfortably fitting within the Raptor’s restraints:

That’s a ride operator giving the thumbs up, which tells the guy in the booth that everything’s set and the ride can start.  It’s my favorite thumbs up ever.

It wasn’t until the end of the second ride on Raptor that I was struck a little bit with the magnitude of what this ride represented to me.  I didn’t become an emotional wreck – I just felt proud.  Proud of the weight that I’ve lost, proud that I made it back to Cedar Point to experience something I wasn’t able to experience before.  There wasn’t tons of time for me to revel in the pride, either – there were more coasters to ride!

Later, it occurred to me how little I had been thinking about my weight at all that day.  It had barely ever crossed my mind!  This wasn’t my first roller coaster outing since losing the weight – I’ve been to Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm in the past year (click on the names to read my posts about them) – but on both of those outings, every time I stepped onto a coaster platform, there was a moment where I held my breath and hoped that I’d fit.  At Cedar Point, that thought never crossed my mind.  My weight had become a non-issue in my own head.  That’s a feeling I can get used to!

Not all the coasters at Cedar Point were awesome.  Blue Streak, the park’s oldest coaster (built in 1964), was so rough it was almost violent, and so creaky that it sounded like the supports were collapsing as we rode over them.  Disaster Transport, the indoor coaster, was lame, and the park has abandoned all the story-based elements (the ride was originally themed to be a futuristic journey to Alaska that goes haywire), which made it even lamer.

Their new ride this year, WindSeeker, is pretty cool – it’s a standard swing ride, except that it takes you up 300 feet!  Here it is (next to another coaster, Wicked Twister):

WindSeeker is next to the beach, and there’s great views.  Call me immature, but I was laughing because someone had drawn a giant, 60-foot-long dick and balls in the sand.  If only my camera wasn’t in my zippered pocket, under a lap bar!

All in all, it was an amazing day – the best day I’ve ever had at Cedar Point.  More often than not, we waited ten minutes or less, and our longest line was 20 minutes (for Mantis, and they had closed it for a few minutes because someone puked on a train).  We went back to ride Mantis (Laura’s favorite ride) a second time, and in the course of the 15 minutes we were in line, two people puked, one on each train, and they had some mechanical problems.  The ride closed, and we moved on to something else.

In total, I went on 15 different coasters, a total of 21 times:

Maverick (3 times), Raptor (3 times), Top Thrill Dragster (2 times), Millenium Force (2 times), Mean Streak, Cedar Creek Mine Ride, Gemini, Magnum XL200, Corkscrew, Iron Dragon, Wildcat, Mantis, Blue Streak, Disaster Transport, Wicked Twister.

We also went on 6 non-coaster rides, including Skyhawk and Power Tower, a freefall ride where you get dropped 240 feet straight down.  My cousin Macrae is obsessed with Power Tower, because she loves Supreme Scream, a similar ride at Knott’s Berry Farm.  She hasn’t been on Power Tower, and wanted me to take a picture from the top of it, which I couldn’t do, because 1) my camera was inaccessible under my harness, and 2) I was too scared.  Here I am with Power Tower (you can see riders at the very top of one of the towers):

Cedar Point is incredible, and I went with a great group of people.  Molly and Dan are funny, easy-going, and they happily put up with all my nerdy coaster strategizing.  Here’s the three of us at Iron Dragon:

And I’m so grateful that Laura was able to come.  She drove 5 hours from Chicago on Friday night, just to get in a car for another 2.5 hours the next morning to get to the park.  That’s 15 hours in a car over one weekend, just to come to Cedar Point.  She’s a trooper!

Laura took one of my favorite pictures of the day, when we were on Sky Ride, the gondola that runs down the length of the park’s main midway:

OH!  FOOD!  The lunch I packed for all of us (read about it here) went over swimmingly, and there was plenty of food, so it also provided a nice dinner and snacking for the drive home.  I didn’t buy any food in the park whatsoever (which my wallet loved), and the only non-packed food I ate was a couple handfuls of popcorn that Laura bought, about 6 pistachios, and 1/2 a bottle of Diet Coke (for some caffeine, since I drove most of the way home).

You know I end all my posts with the same 4 words, and for this post, those 4 words represent so much: planning and eating healthy food in a place that’s filled with tempting unhealthy options, getting tons of exercise (I can’t even guess how many miles we walked), but, most of all, for all the hard work over the past year and a half that’s led to me being able to fully enjoy, without an ounce of worry, all the thrills that a place like Cedar Point has to offer.  Thanks for bearing with me during this monstrously long post.  All that’s left to say is…

…KEEP IT UP, DAVID!


Five Days Until Cedar Point!

September 6, 2011

How was your Labor Day weekend?  Did you eat well and exercise?  More importantly, did you keep up with Keep it up, David?  Of course you did.  But in case you’re one of the few people that couldn’t break away from the pool/barbeque/parade/whatever, here are links to the two posts I published over the long weekend: one focuses on food, the other focuses on exercise.  Now, on to today’s post!

I can’t wait!  On Saturday, I’m heading back to Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast.  There’s no place on earth with a collection of roller coasters like the seventeen that are gathered at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  As their commercials from the ’80s proclaimed, Cedar Point is the cure for the summertime blues.

Cedar Point is about 3 hours away from where I grew up in suburban Detroit, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve been there – I’ve gone with family, with friends, with church groups, on school outings… growing up, I went nearly every summer, and never tired of it.

My excitement always peaked for the first time each visit in the car.  Cedar Point is on a peninsula that sticks out into Lake Erie, and a significant part of the causeway that gets you there is over water.  I remember pressing my face to the window in the car, scanning the horizon, watching the peninsula get closer, waiting until the moment when I could see the tops of the roller coasters appear above the trees.   I can see it!  We’re here!

There was the excitement of trying to pick the shortest line to buy tickets and actually get in the park, and once you made it through the gate, the decision became Where do we go first? What do we ride before we ride anything else?

Cedar Point has a fantastic record of regularly building new roller coasters.  The first new one that I can remember eagerly anticipating was Iron Dragon, which opened in 1987, when I was 8 years old.  It’s a suspended coaster, which mean you sit in trains that hang from the track, and they swing back and forth around the curves.  While the Iron Dragon is rather tame compared to the coasters they’ve built since, at the time it was terribly exciting, especially the end of the ride, where the track dove in and around itself in a final pretzel-like helix over a lagoon that was surrounded by the midway.

The rides that came after continually raised the bar and, consequently, made me more and more excited to return to the park each year:

  • Magnum XL-200, which opened in 1989, was the first coaster in the world to be more than 200 feet tall, and it’s still an amazing ride: it has the clackety, anxiety-inducing lift hill (which takes nearly a minute to climb), great drops, hills that lift your butt from the seat, and tunnels.
  • Mean Streak, the new coaster for 1991, broke records among wooden coasters when it first opened, and I loved that the long queue line for the ride was located in the middle of the ride, so I could watch the trains diving and turning all around me.
  • In 1994, the new coaster was unlike any other in the park.  Called Raptor, it’s like riding the topsy-turvy ski lift – the track is above you, and your legs and feet dangle freely.  It goes upside-down 6 times, more than any other coaster in the park.
  • 1996 saw Mantis, the park’s first stand-up roller coaster, which was so crazy and terrifying that rumors spread immediately about people losing consciousness on it.
  • Then there’s Millenium Force, which, when it opened in 2000, helped Cedar Point shatter 13 world records, including roller coaster height (310 feet) and speed (93 mph).  The anticipation for this ride, at the time, was astronomical, and it’s been named either the best or second-best steel roller coaster in the country every year since it opened.

The last time I went to Cedar Point was in the summer of 2001, when I was 22 and about to enter my final year in college.  I was much, much heavier then, and it was… well, it was memorable, and not in a good way.  I went with my friend Jim, and a couple buddies of his from high school.  Because it was located near the entrance to the park, the first coaster we got in line for was Raptor.  The wait was long – at least an hour – but finally it was our time to board the train and scream for a few exhilarating minutes.

I sat down, and brought the over-the-shoulder harness into place.  As I remember it, the harness had to brought down far enough so it could lock into place, and a seat belt that came up from between your legs buckled into it.  I couldn’t quite get the over-the-shoulder harness far enough down.  I was too fat.  A ride operator came by – a guy around my age and probably 150 pound lighter – and tried to push the harness the final inches so it could lock.  He couldn’t do it, and then he sighed, loudly, and looked up at me.

I can still remember the look of contempt on his face, as if he’d spent all summer dealing with fatties who should know better than to try to get on roller coasters.  “You need to leave the boarding platform,” he declared, squinting his eyes at me.  “You can’t ride.”  He had his arm fully extended, pointing at the exit, like a parent scolding a child and sending them off to their room.

Here I was, in a situation where my excessive size caused a problem, and yet, I’d had never felt so small.  There’s noise in a roller coaster station – the chattering of excited riders, the hissing of hydraulics – but it seemed to all go quiet, and the eyes of everyone in line behind me, staring at the situation unfolding before them, made my skin burn.  “Let’s try one more time,” I stammered.  “I’ll take a deep breath.”  Please oh please let this harness lock into place I don’t want to be humiliated I really wanna go on Raptor it’ll be so embarrassing if I get kicked off.

The ride operator took a step closer to me, his eyes narrowing even further.  He got so close I could feel his breath, and his tone, in an instant, turned angry and combative.  “Look,” he shouted, “you can’t ride, and if you have a problem with that, you need to take it up in the main office located next to the park entrance.  Right now,  I.  Need.  You.  To.  LEAVE.”  He grabbed the harness and yanked it up off over my shoulders, and pointed again at the exit.  I looked at Jim, who seemed startled, looked back at the ride operator, whose nostrils were flaring, and climbed out of the seat.  My eyes welled up, but I wouldn’t let myself cry in front of all those people.  I avoided eye contact with anyone as I made my way to the swinging gate, and called out, over my shoulder, “I’ll wait for you at the exit!”  I tried to sound cheerful.  I felt anything but.

When I got to the midway, I found a bench, sunk my head into my hands, and wiped away some tears.  I could hear the train that Jim was on climbing the lift hill, but I refused to watch.  I pulled myself together – I wasn’t going to look defeated when Jim and the others found me in just a few short minutes.

I stood when I saw Jim come out of the exit.  “How was it?” I asked, fulling knowing the answer: It’s awesome.  Jim didn’t answer the question, but rather, he made an observation.  “That guy was a jerk.  He could have let you leave with your dignity.”

For the next few hours, I did consider going to the main office.  I had no intention of demanding a chance to ride Raptor – I understood why I was kicked off.  But I did consider filing a complaint against the ride operator, who handled the situation so poorly and rudely.  I never made it to the main office, though, because as the day progressed, I learned there were other coasters that I could fit into (barely) – the ones without over-the-shoulder harnesses – plus, complaining would require me to relive the whole scenario again, and I didn’t want to do that.

I haven’t been back to Cedar Point since that day, 10 years ago, and as I plan for this Saturday’s trip, I feel a certain detachment to that memory.  It’s still painful, but now I feel removed from it.  It was a different me that suffered the shame of being booted off a roller coaster.  I’m not that guy anymore.

When I return to Cedar Point this weekend, I’ll enter the park having lost 168 pounds in the past 20 months and having gained the freedom to go any death-defying contraption I want (and I want to go on everything!).  There will be no ride operators looking me up and down, squeezing me into restraints, ordering me to wait for my party on the midway.

More than anything else (including the three coasters they’ve built since my last visit), I especially look forward to riding Raptor, and treasuring every moment: the anticipation of riding, the boarding process, hearing the harness click into place, ascending the lift hill, whirling down nearly 4,000 feet of track at 57 mph, coming to a stop as the ride concludes.

I need a new Raptor memory to replace the one that’s seared in my brain.

This weekend, I’m going to get it.

Unless, of course, it rains, and the park shuts the coasters down.  It’s true.  Ten years of waiting to go back to Cedar Point, and I ended up scheduling a day that has a 40% chance of rain.  See for yourself – this is what I saw last night on The Weather Channel’s website:

If you know any anti-rain dances or have an ‘in’ with Mother Nature, can you please see what you can do to keep us dry on Saturday?  I’d really appreciate it!  I’m going to continue what I’ve been doing for the past two months, which is to think positive thoughts and picture seat belts easily buckling into place, then getting double-checked by ride operators who will never know that these moments would never have happened for me as recently as two years ago.  I can’t wait to smile at them, then look ahead, and gear up for the click-click-clack of the lift hill chain that will take me up, up, up into the sky.

Keep it up, David!

—————————

Want to read more about my theme park adventures?  Check out my posts about visiting Six Flags Magic Mountain last September, and Knott’s Berry Farm in February.  Also, check out what it’s like to ride Top Thrill Dragster, Cedar Point’s tallest and fastest roller coaster – you can find the video here.


Knott’s Berry Farm!

February 22, 2011

I’m still catching up from all the fun I had over Presidents’ Day weekend.  You’d think lunch on Saturday at a fancy, famous restaurant would be enough, but nope!  Sunday proved to be an incredible day, too, which I spent with my cousins at Knott’s Berry Farm.  (Monday was also one hell of a day, but I’ll save that for my next post.)

I love roller coasters, but for most of my adult life I’ve stayed away from them, because I was too fat to ride them.  My very first post on this blog, back in September, was about going on roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and that was the first time I’d been on a roller coaster in eight years.  Here’s a little more of my history with roller coasters, from that blog post:

The last roller coaster I had ridden before today (excluding 2 kiddie ones at Legoland in June) was the one that goes around New York New York in Las Vegas in July of 2002, and it was a tight fit.  I had to suck in my gut and hold my breath to get that harness to click into place, and once I did, there was no room for me to exhale completely.  Good times.

That, however, was a better experience than the time before: maybe a year prior, I had an awful experience with friends at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (the park I grew up going to, America’s Roller Coast, my all-time favorite park), where I was kicked off Raptor because I didn’t fit, in front of everyone in the station, by a thin (naturally) ride operator who really couldn’t have been ruder about the whole thing.  Now that’s a walk of shame – holding up a train full of people who have waited an hour or more, while a punk-ass guy scolds me, then tells me I have to leave, then getting up out of the train while trying to laugh it off and fight back a tear then shouting to my friends over my shoulder, ‘I’ll wait for you by the exit!’ as if I had any choice in the matter.

The first couple times I boarded a coaster at Six Flags, about 6 months ago, I had lingering fears that maybe, just maybe, I still wasn’t gonna fit – but the other day at Knott’s, the thought never even occurred to me once, and we went on a LOT of rides:  Eight different roller coasters, and we went on two of them twice (Xcelerator and Montezooma’s Revenge), and one of them (Ghost Rider) three times.  We also went on four other non-coaster rides, including Supreme Scream twice, which is the scariest ride in the park – It’s a freefall ride, where you get strapped into a seat, taken up about 250 feet, and then they drop you back to earth.  Here’s the tower:

There’s three towers, so they can accommodate more riders, and you can see on the tower in the center of the picture, about halfway up, a car-load of riders making their ascent.  I took this picture while waiting in line the second time we rode, and riding at night is even scariest than during the day.  It’s beautiful to see all the lights of the park, and surrounding Orange County, spread out before you, and get smaller and smaller as you rise above them – oh, and it’s also ridiculously terrifying, because you don’t know when you’re going to reach the top until you reach it, and you only hover at the top for about 2 or 3 seconds before Whoosh! You start falling, and your butt lifts off the seat, and your heart pounds even harder, and it feels like your stomach is somewhere near your neck.  My heart is racing just recalling the experience!

Here are a few other photos:

That’s Macrae on the left, then me, then Erik, then Aaron.  Erik and Aaron are my first cousins, and Macrae and Erik are married, so I suppose she’s my cousin-in-law?  I just call her my cousin too.  Behind us is Xcelerator, the park’s fastest coaster, which shoots you out of the station at 82 miles per hours and sends you straight up (and down) a 205-foot hill.

Here we are in front of the entrance of Montezooma’s Revenge:

This is a fun, quick coaster that shoots trains out of the station, through a loop, and up a hill, and then you go backwards down the hill and through the loop, and that’s about it.  But I loved that there’s a ride at a family-friendly theme park named after diarrhea.  Love it.  And for the record, none of us got the shits after riding it.

The waits at Knott’s weren’t that bad – I’d say we averaged 20-30 minutes per ride.  Our longest wait, which was probably close to an hour, was for one of the mildest coasters, Pony Express, which only lasts about 35 seconds, but it pretty unique in that instead of riding in a train, everyone rides their own horse.  Here’s me and Macrae on our horses before the ride started:

In case you’re wondering how I ate at a theme park, where funnel cakes, corn dogs and caramel corn await around every corner, I’ll tell you.  I ate breakfast before leaving the house (oatmeal, banana, apple), then, on the car drive down (which took about an hour), I munched, the entire time, on carrot and celery sticks – I wanted to bulk up on veggies, as I knew they’d be tough to find throughout the rest of the day.  For lunch, we stepped just outside the park and went to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Restaurant.  This restaurant opened in the ’30s, and was so popular that the theme park was built around it to keep diners occupied while they waited for hours to get a table.

My meal began with a salad and some rhubarb, which was served in a cherry syrup:

I ordered the rhubarb over the soup (which was cream-of-something, I forget) because I’ve only had it maybe twice before in my entire life, but the syrup was really sweet and it all tasted like it came from a can, so I only ate about three pieces of it.  The salad looked like it came from a bag, but I ate all of it, because it’s salad.  I ordered Italian dressing on the side, because our server identified it as being their low-cal dressing, but only used a little bit.  My main course was broiled chicken and potatoes:

I couldn’t tell what the sauce on the right was, but it looked like a flavored butter, so I didn’t touch it.  The chicken was fine, and I ate one of the potatoes, and all of the braised cabbage, which is in the bowl on the top corner.  Dessert came with our meals, and was the choice of three types of pie, but I passed.  My cousins all got pieces, but no one ate more than three or four bites (they weren’t that good), so I felt perfectly happy passing on dessert.

We stopped at a gas station leaving the park, and I picked up a bottle of water for the drive, and a banana, and I also ate 5 or 6 almonds that Macrae had brought, and a Gummi Bear that were being passed around the car, and then my dinner, when I got home, was leftover balsamic chicken, couscous, and quinoa from the other night.  I ate well.  At one point in the day I started craving kettle corn really badly, because the girls behind us in line were eating a giant bag of it, but once the ride was over and we got away from the girls, the craving went away.

Keep it up, David!


Magic Mountain!

September 13, 2010

What a day!  I’m beat and ready for bed.  I thought I’d share some photos first, though – because today I went on my 1st big reward trip, to Six Flags Magic Mountain!  A little background:  months and months ago, I decided that my first weight loss goal would be 100 pounds.  I chose it because it was more than I’d ever lost on a diet before, and because, well, it’s a nice round number and I like nice round numbers.  I also decided that I should motivate myself with some sort of reward once I read that goal, and it took me a little while to figure out what that goal should be.  It seemed wrong to reward myself with food (“I’ve lost 100 pounds, I’m gonna buy me some FUDGE!”), so I went with roller coasters.  I love Love LOVE roller coasters, and because I was so overweight (or, in theme park parlance, a ‘guest of exceptional size’), I haven’t really been able to ride them my entire adult life.  In fact, the last roller coaster I had ridden before today (excluding 2 kiddie ones at Legoland in June) was the one that goes around New York New York in Las Vegas in July of 2002, and it was a tight fit.  I had to suck in my gut and hold my breath to get that harness to click into place, and once I did, there was no room for me to exhale completely.  Good times.

That, however, was a better experience than the time before: maybe a year prior, I had an awful experience with friends at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (the park I grew up going to, America’s Roller Coast, my all-time favorite park), where I was kicked off Raptor because I didn’t fit, in front of everyone in the station, by a thin (naturally) ride operator who really couldn’t have been ruder about the whole thing.  Now that’s a walk of shame – holding up a train full of people who have waited an hour or more, while a punk-ass guy scolds me, then tells me I have to leave, then getting up out of the train while trying to laugh it off and fight back a tear then shouting to your friends over your shoulder, ‘I’ll wait for you by the exit!’ as if I had any choice in the matter.

But I digress.  It’s all in the past now, because damn it, I’m skinny enough to ride roller coasters again!  I actually reached that 100 pound milestone in July, much faster than I anticipated, actually.  I decided to hold off on the Magic Mountain trip until now, just so it wouldn’t be so crowded.  Man, was that a good idea!  The park was not busy at all.  We waited 10 minutes or less for about 8 different coasters, and the most we waited was about 50 minutes, once, for X2.  In total, we went on 12 different coasters (all of them except the 2 that were closed for maintenance or whatever), and we went on 5 of them twice, for a total of 17 coaster experiences, plus 5 non-coaster rides (“carnie rides” as my friend Jen, who came with me, called them) – 22 rides total.  In 8.5 hours.  A great day!

Here’s some pics of Jen and me in front of our favorite rides:

X2. The favorite ride for both of us.  The seats are on either side of the track, and they rotate in a complete circle, so at any point on the ride, you don’t know what direction you’ll be facing.  Craziness.  You go up the lift hill backwards, then you’re rotated so you go down the first hill face first, and so on.  It’s fast and smooth and unpredictable (the first time you go on it).  Amazing.   Oh – the loop in the picture in the top right isn’t actually X2, it’s Viper, which is right next to it, and my least favorite coaster, because I am a little too tall.  I’m 6’4″, and the over-the-shoulder harness dug into the tops of my shoulders.  Plus it was jerky.  Jerky + Painful = Bottom of the list.

Tatsu. This is the flying coaster, where you’re in the train lying on your stomach, head first, with the track above you so you have no idea where you’re going.  Lots of big hills and swoopy curves and inversions.  It was the only coaster we did twice in a row – we loved it so much we did it again, in the front row the second time.  It helped that we waited, like, 10 minutes combined for the two rides – we got there pretty much just as the park opened.  Jen’s head kept getting cropped in these pics – whoops!  I was taking the pics myself, and it was hard to get me, her, and the sign all in the frame!

Colossus. I got all of Jen’s head in this pic!  Colossus is their big, older wooden coaster with twin tracks so 2 trains could race each other.  But when the park isn’t so busy, like today, they only run 1 train.  That’s ok, though, because the ride is awesome.  It’s everything you want a wooden coaster to be:  Loud, clackety, steep drops, lots of air time.  Reminded me a lot of Gemini, Cedar Point’s twin wooden coaster.

Goliath. I finally enlisted a stranger to take a picture, since their entry sign is so huge (huge enough to not even fit entirely in the frame).  One of the park’s tallest coasters with a first drop of 255 feet (into an underground tunnel!).  It doesn’t go upside down, but it’s super fast and only has a lap bar, so your butt rises off the seat at the tops of the hills.

Jen and I also loved Scream, where your feet dangle beneath you, and I loved Riddler’s Revenge, which is their stand-up coaster, but Jen didn’t like it nearly as much.

Since this is (or will be, as this is my first post) a blog about weight loss and food, I thought I’d mention what we ate there, since there’s so many unhealthy choices, and I didn’t want to go off my diet, especially since I had decided I wasn’t going to reward myself with food.  Around 1pm, we started looking for a healthy lunch, and decided upon the “family-size” salads at Papa Johns.  Here’s a photo:Lettuce, 2 cherry tomatos, 2 pepperoncinis (but Jen gave me hers, so I had 4) and dressing – I had a couple tablespoons of Ranch.  A few hours later, we stopped and got big turkey sandwiches (bread, turkey, lettuce, tomato, relish, mustard – we both removed the cheese), and I had half a single-size bag of potato chips – about 3/4 of an ounce.  Add in a good breakfast beforehand of fruit and eggs, and a good dinner at home after of carrots, celery, leftover cauliflower mash (cauliflower, yogurt, scallion, herbs), and strawberries, and a ton of water, and that’s my food log for the day.  More on food logs in future posts.

One final picture:  The last moments of daylight behind the coasters as we walked to the car:The wooden one in front is Colossus, and Goliath is behind it, and the vertical tower is Superman The Escape, which was closed today.

It’s just after midnight as I type this, and as I think back about the day, there’s one highlight that I will remember most of all.  It’s not the short lines, or seeing employees on 2 different rides cleaning up other riders’ puke, or the wonderful people-watching (theme parks are great places to see lots of what-were-they-thinking tattoos).  The best highlight of all is that I fit.  I worked hard, and as a result, I fit on rides that 8 months ago I couldn’t go on.  There were moments during the day where I felt like crying when that harness clicked into place, and I didn’t, because the excitement about the coaster itself was overwhelming as well.  But what a feeling!  My determination and willpower brought me to Magic Mountain, and sent me flying along miles of track and through countless inversions.  What am I gonna be able to do next?  That journey really is the most exciting ride of all.

Keep it up, David!