29 May 2008

Highlights of the trip

  1. My godparents are just as cool hanging out with at 29 as they were when I was 7. They're versatile like that.
  2. Cedar Point is great, but the lines are super long, so we only go to ride 5 coasters. The rundown:
    1. Top Thrill Dragster - Awesome, OF COURSE. When they're worried about rollbacks, they only partially load the cars. This makes it cooler than Kingda Ka, which stops running altogether. But of course, it's not quite as fast.
    2. Raptor - A solid entry in the steel coaster category. Shouldn't be your priority, but I'm not sorry we waited in line for it.
    3. Millenium Force - Great ride. One of those build 'em tall, build 'em fast steel coasters. This should be your first stop after the Top Thrill Dragster.
    4. Mantis - Unfortunately, Pat and I only thought to do mantis fists after we got off. The better* standing up coaster I've been on.
      *Yes, "better." I've only been on two. But it's MUCH better than the Georgia Scorcher at Six Flags Over Georgia.
    5. Blue Streak - A smaller wooden coaster that we mostly rode because there was a wait of exactly zero minutes. Good, old-fashioned fun.
  3. I stink at golf. So does my brother. But it's fun.
New Jersey:
  1. Hampton Inn is pretty nice. We almost didn't get a room.
  2. Bathrooms get nicer as you head east.
  3. Six Flags: Great Adventures was totally worth a second day:
    1. Kingda Ka - It's line runs really smoothly, but like I mentioned, they shut down at the first sign of rain or strong wind. Pat and I DID think to do tiger fists on this one the second time we rode.
    2. Batman: The Dark Knight - A ride new this season and TOTALLY NOT WORTH THE WAIT. DON'T GO. Not until everyone knows it's not what they think and the lines reflect that.
    3. Batman the Ride - Standard hanging coaster, virtually the same as its namesake in Six Flags Over Georgia. Which is my favorite ride at Six Flags Over Georgia.
    4. Nitro - Sorry, I know I'm comparing a lot of these rides to SFOG, but this IS a Six Flags, after all. Anyway, it's like the Goliath. Big. Not as fast as the Millenium Force, but still big and fun. Ride it.
    5. El Toro - Obviously, I was predisposed to like this one (have you noticed the URL you're at?) Best. Wooden Coaster. Ever. As it turns out, it's the second-tallest and second-fastest wooden coaster, and the first-steepest at 76 degrees, which is NUTS and such great fun. It bucks more than a wooden coaster has any right to, hence its name. I'd go so far as to say that if you only had time for one ride while you were at SF:GA, skip the Kingda Ka and hit this one. You'll thank me.
    6. Superman: Ultimate Flight - The gimmick is you're hanging, kind of in a Superman position. Kind of. Worth doing because of the gimmick, but it's still pretty tame. Just like the Superman at SFOG.
    7. Medusa - I love floorless coasters. If you're ever at SeaWorld in Orlando, they have one called the Kraken, which is freakin' great and there's no line (because who goes to SeaWorld for the roller coaster?) Well, the Medusa does have a line. And it's still even better.
    8. Great American Scream Machine - This one reminded me of SFOG in two separate ways. For one, there IS a Great American Scream Machine there, but it's wood (and decent). For another, it's virtually an exact replica (or is it the other way around?) of the Ninja at SFOG. Again, we rode because there was no line. It was fun. Ride if there's no line. Otherwise, skip it.
Washington, D. C. (a short list until I add photos) :
  1. Tons to see. TONS.
  2. Alexandria is cool. Skip the jazz festival.
  3. Arlington is incredible. Someone gave me an ornament for my service to the country as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
  4. My brother's friend has a sibling who works for a senator, so we got a guided tour of the Capitol Building. Given by a statuesque brunette intern by the appropriate name of Grace. Wow, she was gorgeous. And the capitol was nice, too. (Actually, the capitol was fascinating, and it was super-neat getting a tour with just the three of us.)
  5. The L'Enfant has a really posh lobby, and shopping underneath, but when it comes to amenities in the room, give me a Hampton Inn any day.
The trip home:
  1. The flight crew must have just started duty. They were hilarious. When discussing crash procedures and giving oxygen masks to children (or people acting like children), their advice, if you were traveling with two or more children, was to pick the one with the most potential.
  2. Ran into an old college friend - well, anyway, we had several mutual friends - who we called Filly. She's even prettier now than then (no small feat), and seems to be doing well.
  3. Pat got home and was immediately out the door to meet with friends. I remember having that kind of energy.
Ok, that's the best I can do for the trip until I add pictures. Pictures will include the safari we drove through at SF:GA, and most of our time in D.C.

More in-depth mailing directions

David T. Duckworth, PCT
S/c Corps de la Paix
O1 B.P. 6031
Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso

You may use the U.S. postal service to send letters or small packages - preferably small enough to fit in a padded envelope rather than a box, to minimize taxes and customs fees on my end. Mark all packages with "Airmail / Par Avion". There is the possibility that things you send through the mail will be lost, so don't send anything too valuable. In particular, don't send me postcards without enclosing them in an envelope unless you'd really like your postcard to adorn some post office along the way that I'll never see. If you have something that you feel it is very important that I receive, DHL ships to Burkina Faso. You can use the address above, and if they ask, the PC HQ phone number there is 226 50 36 92 00.

Mail can take 2 - 5 weeks one way, so don't be surprised if it takes me a while to respond. If you plan on sending several letters over the two years I am away, it would be a good idea to number them so I know if I've missed any.

22 May 2008

Riding the Tiger

New communiqué from HQ: I have to purchase my own bicycle helmet to bring with me. I'll be reimbursed, but that's that much less space in my footlocker for other stuff. Oh well.
Last Friday we flew to Ohio to visit my (and my brother's) godparents. They are great fun, and we ate good food, had good times, and learned that golf is not like riding a bicycle (the last time I was played, I was 12, and I was decent. This time, the best I can say is that I had a stretch of three holes that I didn't lose a ball.)
While in Ohio, we also visited the second-tallest and second-fastest roller coaster in the world, the Top Thrill Dragster. I'm told by my brother that the view of Lake Erie from the top is incredible; I wouldn't know. I was too busy looking down. I will admit, I spent most of my time in line considering backing out. I'm glad I didn't. Yesterday (Wednesday) we drove to New Jersey* to visit THE tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world, the Kingda Ka (also a name of one of the golden tabby tigers at the park, hence the name of this post). At this point, being a pro at stratacoasters, I was calm enough that I can say that the view from the top is nice enough. Also, the line moves much faster than any other ride at Six Flags: Great Adventures or at Cedar Point.
Plans - Tonight: Indian Jones!!! Tomorrow: More coasters!

UPDATE: Movie tickets are wicked expensive up here. We've decided to wait until we get back before seeing the movie. I are sad.
Check it out! On my profile on the right, there's an address! You should send me things!
*SCREW Pennsylvania's turnpike. I was irritated enough at the very idea that we should have to pay to use an interstate - there are toll roads in the south, but none that I've been on were interstates - but to pay $20 only to find most of the road down to one lane because of construction?! That was not a fun drive.

12 May 2008

The date approaches...

I received my staging information today. There's not much to fill out, happily. I also received a couple of emails from Peace Corps Headquarters (it was very tempting to word that as "I've received a communiqué from HQ.") with some more forms. I need to go get measured for a bicycle. I wonder if it's as personal a measurement as the inseam.

Speaking of inseams, I've been packing, and I'm not sure what to do about the pants situation. I need a couple pairs of breathable, durable slacks. The ideal solution, in my mind, is washable silk. I even found some washable silk slacks on sale at SteinMart. Just not in my size. I'm tempted to try some similar slacks that are labeled "Dry Clean," but lack that crucial "Only." More likely I'll just settle for cotton.  I need to get a good bit of packing done this week, since Friday my family and I are going to visit friends and other points of interest (namely, the two tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world) in faraway locales. Well, far enough that we convinced Dad it was worth flying instead of driving.

Other things I need to do - get my brother on my accounts and get his power of attorney paperwork notarized and filed. Scratch that - first I need to clear up a couple questions I have about that paperwork (some clauses seem mutually contradictory). Fortunately, while professionally my life has fallen short of spectacular, I've at least been clever enough to remain friends with some successful people. Including a couple of lawyers.

While a recent question to one of my favorite websites did not generate any practical answers, it did get me in touch with a couple other people who are going to Burkina Faso next month. That's kind of cool.