Rock n Roller 16: New York City and El Torro

We awoke early in our fancy-dancy hi-rise hotel room in the heart of the Big Apple and headed to the truck. We were both surprised that we weren’t towed and more importantly sideswiped. The parking spot we were in was designed for one of those Smart Cars. We headed into the bowels of Queens in search of an ATM. I don’t usually carry cash and I knew we would need some for parking. I had Michele pull up ATM locations on her iPhone. Is there anything you can’t do on an iPhone? We found one inside a little mom and pop grocery. The kind of store you might see on any New York City crime drama, namely one of those thousands of episodes of Law and Order that play 24 hours a day on the USA Network. Why don’t they just change it to the L&O Network and have Ice-T introduce each episode like they do on that Turner Classic Movies channel?

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Check out what Michele says on the text at the top of the screen! 

I jumped out of the truck and told Michele to drive around the block. Yep, Michele was driving in New York City at 8 am on a weekday in a huge Ford F150. I was truly worried I would be mugged–all those Law and Order shows–and held my wallet and my iPhone in my front pocket with the couple hundred bucks in cash. Michele couldn’t come up to the corner fast enough before we were playing Chinese fire-drill in the middle of the road.

We headed over the bridge, I don’t know the name of it, it is the one with the big tram, and immediately were smack dab in the middle of Manhattan traffic! At the bottom of the bridge here we were with at least 30 cars, mostly taxicabs going every which way trying to navigate three or four lanes. Our big white truck was front and center!

For the better part of an hour we drove around Manhattan ducking and diving through traffic, taxicabs were ev-ry-where! People are constantly honking, Ambulances and NYPD were blasting their sirens. It was crazy nuts and exhilarating at the same time. I know everyone who is anyone will tell you to never ever, not if your life depends on it, dare to attempt to drive in New York City. Here we were in the largest passenger vehicle on the street–from Alaska were we get upset if we have to stop for a traffic light in Wasilla, a town of about 8,000 people.

Michele was looking up parking garages and yelling at me to watch out! We were headed to Central Park and every place we came up to was full. We finally found one on Park Avenue and drove down the hill to the attendant. I said, “Can we park here?” The guy said, “Look I will let you park here but I don’t think you want too. Its a hundred bucks for a half hour.”

What!! Luckily nobody pulled in behind us and we quickly said thanks but no thanks to the guy and threw it in reverse. Oh my God. A hundred bucks for a half hour. Who could pay that? Well, it was Park Avenue.

We circled the park a couple times and saw the building from Ghostbusters, you know the one, with the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster? And decided we would park at Lincoln Center. It was a sane, 25 bucks an hour. Yep still crazy expensive being that you can park at the mall in Anchorage for a dollar an hour. The parking garage proved to be another obstacle for the F-150 – I don’t parallel park, so Michele handled it with style.

We headed into the opera house and found the restroom. Lots of cool concerts and shows have been on these grounds. They were planning a show that night for a band that escapes me right now…

We headed across the street and to Michele’s apprehension rented a couple bikes from the bike rack. I still think this is the coolest thing since sliced bread. You put your credit card in and get a bike and you can return it where ever there is a terminal. Why doesn’t every city have these?

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We braved the crazy traffic through the park coming real close a couple of times getting knocked off the road by a semi truck or two. Safely we made it into the park and started our search for Balto. Balto is a dog that is a mushing legend. He helped carry the life saving serum to Nome, Alaska in 1925. We rode around for an hour or so and grabbed a coke and a pretzel and had a quick snack under a huge tree. We finally found the statute and took a few pics. I think this was one of the coolest things we have done so far on our trip, riding bikes through the park.

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The bikes were returned where we started and jumped in the truck and headed towards Brooklyn. We drove through Manhattan on a much less busy road along the water that is full of cool shops and theaters and things to do along the piers. We got close enough to the Freedom Tower to grab a pic before we crossed over to Brooklyn. Being here last year I felt I knew were I was and confident I could find Coney Island.

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We were on the Boardwalk and in line for a Coney Island hot dog and a couple large Orangeaides. We were here last summer and Nathan’s was one of our favorite stops. Our next stop was the mighty Cyclone. This is by far one of my favorite roller coasters in the world! We paid our ten bucks for our tickets and didn’t have to wait long in line. It is such an awesome ride. The coaster feels like its going to fall down any second but it is a perfect marriage of speed and clunkiness that gives it the charm. Michele and I have to sit in separate cars, everyone does practically, people are just bigger than they were in the 1920’s.

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We were back on the road by 2 and headed to Jersey. Our next stop was another Six Flags park, this time Great Adventure. We were in the park by 4 and started riding coasters. All of the Six Flags parks are themed with Looney Tunes and DC Comics characters like Batman, Superman, The Joker and the new Suicide Squad characters from the movie that was released this summer. As such we rode coasters: Batman: The Ride, Bizarro, Nitro and the Runaway Mine Train. The park wasn’t very crowded and we made our way through the park pretty quickly. I rode Green Lantern by myself. Remember that Michele had a pact with me that allowed her to opt out on one coaster at each park. She chose the Green Lantern and after the ride was over I didn’t blame her. It was a stand up coaster and I left a little less of a man, if you know what I mean. I didn’t have the seat adjusted quite right and let’s just say I was walking a little funny out of the gate.

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We then rode El Toro. OMG! I don’t usually type acronyms or shorthand or whatever the kids call it these days, but this coaster soon became one of the top coasters on the trip!

From the Six Flags website to give you a little idea:

Do You Have What it Takes to Tame the Bull?

Bull-taming is an ancient art that is still practiced today. Now you are going to experience the best of the old world and the best of the new. At first glance, El Toro looks like a classic wooden roller coaster, with mind-blowingly complex architecture rising high over the park. But it is in fact built with ultra-modern engineering techniques, so you are going to get that classic feel with a smoother, faster, more exciting ride than those old wooden coasters ever dreamed possible. El Toro is one of the fastest and tallest wooden runs on Earth.
“El Toro” literally means “the bull.” As you feel the power of the bull-like train you’re riding in, you’ll realize how this thriller got its name. This is no peaceful bull—he’s trying to shake you off! This beast bucks wildly so hang on tight!
Ride him up nearly 19 stories to face the first terrifying drop of 176 feet. At a 76 degree angle, that would be the steepest drop of any wooden-style roller coaster in the country. There is a reason El Toro was voted the #1 Wooden Coaster in the World by the 2011 Internet Coaster Poll, and this is your first clue.
You will zoom through the course at a whopping 70 miles per hour, over a series of insane hills designed to give you maximum airtime. In bull-taming terms, that’s when your tail lifts off the saddle. There will be an amazing nine opportunities to experience this incredible lack of gravity. You’ll take a pair of stupendously steep hills, bank hard left and right, then yet another drop, swerving through the wooden architecture faster than any bull ever ran.
The winding serpentine action will feel just like a bull trying to shake you off his back, but hang on tight. With bravery and honor, you can say that you tamed El Toro!
Wow! We were speechless when the ride was over. I think both of us had a cheshire cat grin and we talked about this coaster for the rest of the trip.
After the park we checked into a really nice hotel in Jackson, NJ and found a cool sports bar to grab dinner. Moore’s was the place and it was excellent!
Check out the local history from the Moore’s website:

LEGEND HAS IT…

The history of Moore’s can be traced to Moses Mount who lived in the original structure which now serves as our tavern. Moses was an aide to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Upon his return to his beloved Freehold, Moses began operating a tavern in his home, at this location, for the local gentry and an inn for weary travelers.

According to an order of the Monmouth County court of Quarter Session dated April 25th, 1787, Moses was granted a “continued license” for “keeping a public house of entertainment”. The date of the earliest license was granted to Moses has not been determined. Moses was a colorful and cheerful rogue. According to Historical and Genealogical Miscellany of Monmouth County, written by Dr. John E. Stillwell (Higgins Book Co. 1932), Moses was a “lover of fast horses and a great rider of race horses”. Although county officials found Moses to be a man of good repute, honesty and temperance, Moses may have run afoul of the law. An order of the same court of Quarter Session, dated April 22, 1800, required Moses to provide lodging only to men, stabling to horses and to prohibit any type of gambling.

What a cool place. We headed back to the hotel and it was early by our recent standards. This was the most expensive room on the whole trip. Michele had booked this one on Booking.com and actually booked it because she wanted a nice place after a week of middle-rate hotels. The property did not disappoint.

Tomorrow we are back on the road for a relatively short drive and back into Pennsylvania. This would also be the first day we would deviate from our meticuliosly planned itinerary that we had worked on for more than six months. We would be visiting a little park called Kennywood outside of Pittsburg on the advice of a Facebook friend and we are glad we did!

Tomorrow: Dorney Park and Kennywood 

Coasters to date on the tour: 38.

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