US Road Trip Week 6: Cedar Point, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Topeka & Omaha

Leaving NYC and heading back across the northern half of the country, I had a hard time letting go of what I was leaving behind and getting excited about what was to come.

I’d been looking forward to Cedar Point for so long – one of my ultimate bucket list items, and once upon a time the inspiration for its own road trip. But now it seemed almost a burden, especially since I was now going to be doing it solo. I’d created a Facebook event and invited everyone I could think of who might actually come to fly or drive out and join me for just this stop. Because rollercoasters are better with friends.IMG_20190522_101842460_HDR.jpg

But no one did. So I did it anyway, on my own. Turns out rollercoasters are also excellent solo, coz you can get on cars faster whenever there’s an empty single seat no one in front of you wants.

I drove into the parking lot, my entrance ticket and parking pass deal ready, trying to muster up some enthusiasm for the day. It’d been a long drive from NYC and I was tired, cold, and lonely.

But the moment I hit the drop on my first rollercoaster of the day, everything changed. I remembered how much I LOVE rollercoasters! More than that, these coasters were igniting and inspiring me beyond my wildest dreams. They are truly the best I’ve ever ridden.

The world’s 2nd tallest Top Thrill Dragster (1 of only 2 with a 400+ feet drop), IMG_20190522_125056465_HDR.jpgthe revolutionary “winged” Gatekeeper, IMG_20190522_122850720_HDR.jpgthe classic Magnum XL-200 (the first to start the global Coaster Wars back in ’89), IMG_20190522_112615992_HDR.jpgthe iconic Millennium Force, IMG_20190522_103108572_HDR.jpgthe legendary Maverick, IMG_20190522_105557154.jpgthe extreme-dropping Valravn, IMG_20190522_160314346_HDRthe rickety wooden Gemini, IMG_20190522_125700674_HDR.jpgthe equally whiplash-inducing Rougarou and Raptor,

IMG_20190522_173652823_HDR.jpgIMG_20190522_171009577_BURST000_COVER.jpg

and 2018’s “best new ride” Steel Vengeance, which seriously earned that title. Hands down my favorite.IMG_20190522_130953308_HDR.jpg

Altogether, it was like a religious experience that only a true adrenaline junkie can have. It forever changed my relationship with rollercoasters. Elevated it. I found an even freer, deeper way to experience them by truly letting go and letting myself fully “fly.” I’m talking hands up the entire ride, no fear, letting my body rise and fall naturally with the rhythm of the coaster car as we flew down the track together. My arms outstretched going around every flip and corkscrew, imagining this must be what the characters in Harry Potter feel like on their broomsticks.

I no longer felt my stomach leap into my throat with that first huge drop. Instead, I embraced the drop, every drop, and leaned into it with all my heart. It makes such a difference. Instead of fear (however thrilling), I felt a flood of joy and lightness flow through my body as it dropped, swooped, and rose through the air. I grinned like an idiot through every turn, and giggled uncontrollably every time we pulled back into the loading area. I must have looked like a crazy person to the others riding next to me. But I couldn’t care less. I was having the time of my life.

This mind-blowing experience catapulted me onward to Cincinnati, a stop I’d picked largely in order to catch the Burning Man exhibit that had moved on from the Smithsonian before I could get to D.C. Its next stop was the Cincinnati Art Museum. So there I went too. And it was almost better this way, seeing the wacky world of Burning Man juxtaposed with the more traditional permanent art exhibits. IMG_20190523_155530856.jpgThe museum did a beautiful job of weaving the two together, side by side throughout most of the rooms, as opposed to keeping all the Burning Man pieces quarantined in their own separate room. IMG_20190523_160313386.jpg

After Cincinnati, I decided to take the route through Louisville IMG_20190523_192552859_HDR.jpgand St. Louis – pausing for only a few hours in each – IMG_20190524_122034637_HDR-EFFECTS.jpgon my way to Topeka, Kansas. IMG_20190525_112330876_HDR.jpgNow why Topeka, you may ask. Well it’s where my mother was born. So I promised her I’d go find her old house and childhood haunts, and take pictures for her. I found them alright, and then stumbled upon a most interesting contradiction just a few blocks away. Here lived this beautiful, heartwarming rainbow house painted with words like “love” and “equality” and “acceptance.” And then across the street in stark contrast was this imposing, infuriating church flaunting huge banners that spelled out “Fear God” and “godhatesfags.com.” IMG_20190525_111337017_HDRIt was shocking, and yet quite evocative about our country’s increasingly divisive climate. Deep thoughts.

Kansas was proving too heavy an experience for me, not only because of the heavy downpours that rained down in sheets and thundered with flashes of lightning so close to me that I shuddered while driving and barely slept wide-eyed in the Kansas City Walmart parking lot on the way through.IMG_20190524_202333668.jpg

So onward and northward I went to seek lighter affairs in Omaha. Noticing the state of my over-bitten and outgrown manicure, I’d decided to try to find a nail salon with availability last minute. But alas, everyone was booked solid. On a Saturday afternoon. Imagine that. So instead, I spent that time walking across the country’s longest river (the Missouri River) IMG_20190525_153356651_HDR.jpgon the country’s longest pedestrian bridge (The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge)IMG_20190525_153135433_HDR.jpgand standing in two states at once (Iowa and Nebraska).IMG_20190525_153652539

Not a bad alternative.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: 10 Life Lessons From My Solo Road Trip Across America | The Writes of Passage

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