As many times as we have been to Dollywood, this time we had a couple of surprises.
We arrived early, around 8:30 or so, and got to park all the way in B section! We stood at the entrance waiting for the park to open, the ropes dropped and we moved forward to an area where they were checking bags - a first time for that.
Then we moved on up to the turnstiles which were not open yet. Standing there with all the other early folks, with the sun rising over the top of the Show Street Theater, a lady came out and welcomes everyone to Dollywood on this beautiful day, and then invites us all to take off our hats and put our hands over our hearts to join her in the national anthem - another first, a great way to start the day.
As is the case at places like this - hurry up and wait. We headed over to check out the latest greatest roller coaster, the Lightning Rod.
Waiting in line for the Lightning Rod we are listening to all the other folks, how they have been trying to ride this but it is often shut down for repairs, wow that is encouraging. About this time I am asking myself why do I let him talk me into these things, what if something happens, oh well it's been a good life and will make a good story to tell - about how granma flew off the roller coaster at DW.
Sitting in the roller coaster car, making sure everything was extra tight, we made the curve out of the loading area and faced the vertical rise. The car paused for a second like most roller coasters do to start the slow ascent, but not this one - we were shot out like a cannon up to the top of the first hill. My heart was in my throat, no wait it was my breakfast. From then on it was a minute and a half of eyes wide shut and jaw clinched tight telling myself just breathe it's almost over don't pass out.
All in all it was worse than the Tennessee Tornado or The Eagle or Thunderhead - or in rollercoasterspeak I guess you would say it was better if that's the kind of thing you like - the nausea the lightheadedness the getting all shook up.
Check that off the list, we had now ridden all the coasters at DW, then on to the shows where the old folks go to rest.