roller coaster

imageimageMy nephew, Josh Griffith has totally embraced the role of fatherhood. Josh and my niece Susan want to make sure that their girls have memorable childhoods. As we all know, kids grow up so fast, and childhood is over before we know it. Josh and Susan try to do something special every few weekends, when the chores around the place can be put on hold. The girls, Jala and Kaytlyn love going to the Park County Fair, and this year Josh volunteered to take them on rides they hadn’t been allowed to go on before. Jala chose the Sky Master and Kaytlyn chose the Zipper. There was a bit of a scare on the Zipper, when Kaytlyn slipped out of the seat the first time it went upside down, but here daddy caught her and held on tight for the rest of the ride. Both girls were kind of scared to go on the rides, but once they realized that they weren’t going to die, they decided that they had a great time. The girls like the scary rides…what is it with scary rides…so Josh took them on some when the family went to Elitch’s, while they were in Denver a couple of years ago. Susan and I tend to feel the same way about rides, because when the family talked her into going on the roller coaster at Elitch’s, it ended the day, because Susan was imagesick. I would have been too, Susan. Thankfully, they had been there all day, so it was time to go anyway, but getting sick on rides is a problem Josh doesn’t have. For the girls, that’s good, because he can take them on the rides Susan can’t stomach.

While Josh was in good shape for the fair, the summer started out with…not a bang, but rather a crash. Josh was riding his dirt bike with friends at the beginning of May, and broke his ankle pretty bad when he took a spill. He didn’t think it was broken at first, but by the time he got home…it was obvious. In the end, he had to have surgery to repair the badly broken ankle. It would take a plate and eleven screws to put it back together. Thankfully he only missed a few days of work. Then his dad let him borrow a wheel chair he had and Josh went back to work. Josh used the wheel chair for a couple of weeks, and then his boss hurt his ankle. He got a wheel chair too, and they were both working in wheel chairs. Personally, I think his boss decided that it looked like fun. And even if that’s not the case, I have to think the whole thing would have been a little bit funny to see. Susan wondered the same thing…what did the customers coming into the shop think, seeing two guys in wheel chairs working on cars? They didn’t get any pictures, and I think that is a real bummer. Nevertheless, I’m glad Josh is doing better now.

Susan told me that Josh is one of those people who is funny, without even trying. I think that is a wonderful imageimagetrait to have. People love to listen to someone who can find the funny in any situation. Life is never boring. For those of us who are a little more shy, that is a trait that we would love to have, but while we know jokes and such, they just don’t come to mind when we need them. Josh doesn’t even have to try to find the funny. It all comes quite naturally to him. Today is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Royal Gorge Incline RailwayPretty much everyone has taken a ride on a roller coaster, but have you ever thought about where these originated or who thought them up? You might be surprised to learn that the roller coaster originated in Russia. I know that this is not at all what I expected. In Russia, they built a wood frame that the sledders used to fly down 70 foot high mountain slopes as early as the 16th century. Now, I don’t know it I would consider that to be a roller coaster, but I can tell you that I know it would be a scary ride. There weren’t any breaks on the whole thing. Just you and gravity. The ride was so popular that they built a summertime version…a wheeled cart that took riders down a wooden ramp. If that version, which I have seen in Jackson, Wyoming, and Keystone, South Dakota, though not at 70 foot drops, was as uncontrolled as the first one, I would not be on it.

Many of the early roller coasters, which were probably not what we would consider to be real roller coasters either, were designed as improvements to incline railways systems. Those patents began as early as July 2, 1872, but they were designed to take you from the top to the bottom of a hill or canyon, like the one at Royal Gorge in Colorado, or at Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I have had the pleasure of riding and both of those and I enjoyed them very much. I’m sure that most people would consider this type of ride to be pretty tame, as it is very controlled. It would have to be controlled in order to stop at the bottom.

The ThunderboltThe Circular Railway, is probably the type of roller coaster that most of us rode as children. There are a few hills and slightly fast moments, but for the most part, it goes around in a circle, while going up and down hills. Pretty tame in the eyes of most thrill seekers, but for little kids, it works pretty well, or at least the old style did. I don’t know if some of the current circular railway roller coasters are scary or not.

Probably one of the most famous roller coasters received it’s patent on this day, January 20, 1885, and was the first Switchback Railway roller coaster. If you thought about it, you might guess that is was at New York’s famous Coney Island. It was designed by LaMarcus Thompson, and debuted in 1884. This roller coaster was considered to be the first successful roller coaster. It was really a fairly primitive Gravity Switchback Railway, but the people loved it, and it immediately began bringing in as much as $600.00 a day…an amazing amount of money in 1884.

Roller coasters continued to be very popular until economic changes in he 1940s, 50s, and 60s caused them to lose their appeal. Nevertheless, the roller coaster would rise again. Now, we have Megacoasters, Hypercoasters, and Gigacoasters. Megacoasters such as Phantom’s Revenge in Pittsburgh’s Kennywood Park or The Beast at King’s Island were first. Hypercoasters standing 200 feet high, the first of which was Cedar Point’s Magnum XL-200 and the Desperado near Las Vegas, Steel Force at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Mamba at Worlds of Fun Millenium Force Gigacoasterin Kansas City, Missouri, took things to the next level. Cedar Point then introduced Millennium Force, the world’s first Gigacoaster topping off at an astounding 310 feet above the ground.

I suppose that in order to compete, rollercoasters will continue to become more wild, higher, and scarier as time goes on. I’m sure that many people look forward to each new one that is developed, but since I never liked merry-go-rounds or anything much scarier than a Ferris Wheel, I guess that I will have to leave those riding challenges to someone with more of a stomach for it than I have.

Children on old fashioned Merry-Go_RoundIf you were ever a kid, I’m sure you have been on a merry-go-round. Still, I doubt if the one you were on was exactly like this old merry-go-round from days gone by. I have never seen one that had actual chairs on it. I showed the picture to Bob, and he thought you might be able to hang on better. Maybe, but it would not be something I would be willing to test. You see, I hate merry-go-rounds…and any other ride that spins in a circle, usually far too fast, and definitely far too long. Even as a little kid, I got off of the merry-go-round almost as soon as I got on, and I’m quite sure my face had changed from pink to green. I can’t say why that bothers me, but it always has. I can do other rides, like Roller coasters…provided they don’t incorporate spin into the mix, and I can do a ride like the Ferris Wheel, that goes up and over…just not a spinner.

While I am not the person to ask about how fun a merry-go-round is, I can tell you that there are lots of kids over many years who have had the best of times on the merry-go-round, and the funny thing was that it didn’t do anything fancy. In reality it simply let a child be twirled without the parent having to be dizzy too, another good thing for me, because that was almost as bad as the merry-go-round.

Most people don’t have the issues I do with merry-go-rounds, and for them this would be a lot of fun, and in reality none if these kids are trying to get off of the ride. As a child, I remember all of my cousins running for the merry-go-round at the family picnics. And I know my girls liked them too. And if they could get an adult to push them so that they didn’t have to make it go, they were in 7th Heaven. Of course, the adult usually got worn out pretty quickly, and the kids were on their own again. Nevertheless, kid leg power worked pretty good too, and those who weren’t having to push had a really great time.

I checked into the history of the merry-go-round, or carousel, and was amazed to find out that the earliest known record of a carousel was in 500 AD. I couldn’t believe that. Of course the first one was different than what we see today, and had a very different use. It had baskets suspended from a central pole, and was use to train soldiers for battle. Wow, I guess I can see that, but it’s still very odd. I think I prefer the more modern version, whether it is the simple style in a park, or the one we see at the fair each year, with horses and carts.

Daniel's BuildingDaniel's Scrap Wood TowerFor a long time, I have been impressed with the abilities of Daniel, who is the son of my cousin, Tim and his wife, Sherrie. Much like his Grandpa, my cousin Gene, his Great Uncle Denny, and his dad, Daniel likes to build things. I don’t know what kind of builders his grandpa and uncle were, but I have heard that they took a clock apart, and…well, lets just say that their mom wasn’t too happy with them when they couldn’t get it back together. From what I have seen, Daniel doesn’t seem to fall into the category of unable to build things or put them back together. In fact, he seems to have the ability to build anything he wants too. His work includes towers, roller coasters, and even bird houses. Daniel can do it all.

Daniel comes by many of his skills and his curiosity naturally, since both of his parents work in areas of Atmospheric Research. I don’t know if Daniel is interested in going into the same fields as his parents, but it wouldn’t surprise me. He must hear a lot about their work every day, and as I see it, who wouldn’t be interested in atmospheric research. It sounds like very interesting work to me. Whatever Daniel decides to do as a career, my guess is that he will be very good at it, because he seems to put his all into everything he does. His work is meticulous. No, it isn’t perfect, but then he is still a boy. Imagine what he will be The Bolder Boulder MenDaniel's Roller Coasterable to do when he gets older.

Recently, Daniel followed in his parents footsteps again, when he participated with them in his first Bolder Boulder 10K Race. Daniel’s parents have been in the race several times, so I’m sure Daniel saw that as the perfect new challenge. While his dad ran the race, Daniel and his mom walked it. I have no doubt that he will be running it in the future. Congratulations on your first race, Daniel. Today is Daniel’s 12th birthday. He has done a lot in his first 12 years, and I’m sure the next 12 years will be even better. Happy birthday Daniel!! Have a great day!!

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