Near the end of the last school year JoAnn and I once again chaperoned the Cassadaga Valley Jazz Ensemble's yearly trip. We've been chaperoning these trips since 2006 when Meagan (our eldest) was in 8th grade. We really enjoy these trips. The kids in the band are well behaved and we haven't really ever had a problem. It's also great because I don't have to plan anything or drive anywhere. I get handed an itinerary, jump on a bus (one time an airplane) and enjoy the ride.
All four of us in the family have been on every one of these trips except for one a couple of years ago that Meagan wasn't able to make. We treat these trips as mini family vacations. We've had the opportunity to visit some great places like Toronto, Philadelphia, Washington DC, New Orleans, Chicago and Disney World.
John Cross, the band's director, does a great job in planning everything out. He always tries to make it interesting for everyone. The kids of course get to play music in some reallly cool venues (like the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or the riverboat Natchez in New Orleans) but he also usually has some historical part of the trip as well as time at an amusement park.
This year's trip found the kids playing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. If you're into music at all and have never been to the Rock and Roll HOF you should really try and get there sometime. It's really cool.
The trip began on a Friday morning as we left Cassadaga Valley Central School and arrived a few hours later at our first destination; the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky OH. You kind of have to see this place to believe it. It has this HUGE indoor waterpark that we all had the run of for the evening. I didn't take any photos there because I didn't want to get arrested for being some kind of creeper who was walking around taking photos of people in their swimming suits. You can check out their website if you want to see some photos of the place.
The next day we were to spend at Cedar Point amusement park. It was actually opening day for the park and we didn't know for sure if that meant there would be a whole lot of people there or not many considering school was still going on and it wasn't all that warm out yet. We kind of got a hint the night before when I noticed a newspaper that talked about a brand new $30 million roller coaster that would be opening the next day at Cedar Point called the GateKeeper. I later found out that this meant there were going to be roller coaster aficionados from all over the world there on opening day.
We got to the park before it actually opened and someow managed to get in the gates before we were supposed to (Mr. Cross is really good at things like that). We thought we would go to the new roller coaster first because we figured that once the gates were open there would be this huge line we would have to stand in. As we were walking we realized we were passing all these people that were just standing there. My curiosity finally got the best of me and I asked somone what they were doing. They said they were waiting in line for the new roller coaster.
Uh oh again.
Now you may think you've seen a long line before, but trust me, you haven't seen one like this. This line was of biblical proportions. It wound around other rides. It went around buildings. You couldn't even see the entrance to the new roller coaster from the end of this line. If you ever wondered what the Israelites looked like high tailing it out of Egypt, well, minus the livestock, I'm guessing this is what it looked like.
Now what? Do we stand in line for what we know is going to be a really long time or do we just say "forget it" and enjoy the rest of the park. You see, part of the problem was, the new roller coaster had actually been running this whole time. People weren't waiting in line waiting for the ride to open, it already was open! We kind of just stood there for a moment with our mouths slightly open and our eyes starting to glaze over at the thought of standing in this supposedly moving line. We finally came to the conclusion that we would probably never have the opportunity to ride a $30 million roller coaster on it's opening day again, so, in the line we went. And stood.....and shuffled.....and stood.....and shuffled. Literally one hour later we made it to the ENTRANCE of the coaster.
I must admit, there was a bit of jubilation and a small sense of euphoria as we entered the gate of the coaster. That, however, was short lived.
If you've ever ridden a large ride at an amusement park you know how they herd you into these cattle fences that wind back and forth. Well let me tell you, these cattle fences were like nothing you've ever seen before. They had to have been designed by some psychopathic sadist that I am quite sure if his name ever came out to the public he would immediately be drawn and quartered and then burned at the stake just for good measure. We went back and forth and back and forth for, and I am not exaggerating, TWO HOURS! It was like we were starring in another Saw movie. This was psychological torture like none I had ever experienced before. Some people couldn't take it. Every now and then you'd see someone take off and start climbing over the fences trying to get out. I'm still surprised that someone didn't lose their cool and go nuts and just start beating on someone.
Anyway, so after three hours of standing in line it was finally our turn. And guess what? Yeah, IT WAS AWESOME!! Probably the best coaster I've ever ridden on. It was so smooth that it felt like I was flying. It was so good in fact that after it was done we all considered, albeit only for a few seconds, riding it again.
The rest of the day was pretty much your normal day at the amusement park; lots of walking, lots of rides, lots of food that if you ate it everyday you'd weigh 500 pounds, souvenir shopping, being threatened with bodily harm by your wife because you made her go on a certain ride. You know, normal stuff. And to top it all off, as we were getting ready to leave and head out to the bus, it of course started to rain. And I don't mean a little sprinkle. Noah would have been a little impressed. It didn't really matter if you ran or not, you were going to get soaked no matter what. And we did (get soaked). Oh well, all in all it was a good day.
Our last day found us at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Like I said before, if you like music at all you should really try and get there some time. Also, if you're into architecture at all this is a really neat place.
We got to tour the place first and then after a while it was time to set the band up. The kids got to play for around 45 minutes and had a great time. When they were done we packed everything up and headed for home stopping for a short time at the Golden Corral buffet in Erie, PA where we all waddled out with food babies* (*food baby - when you've eaten way too much and you feel like you're nine months pregnant).
We really enjoy these trips but are a little saddened as next year will be our last one because Emily is a senior. (These darn kids, no matter what you do they just go ahead and grow up.)
Following are some photos from the trip. I also threw in a video of the kids playing one of their songs at the Rock and Roll HOF. Emily even has a little solo in it.