Sunday, March 9, 2008

Winter Withdrawal

For coaster enthusiasts, living in the Mid-West has its ups and downs (no pun intended). In season, from April to November for those of you who ride all year, we are in "coaster heaven." Indiana Beach, Holiday World, Paramount Kings Island, Cedar Point, Geauga lake, and Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom are all less than a five hour drive. Throw in the smaller parks, such as Fun Spot and Stricker's Grove, and that's 75 different roller coasters. Classic wood, steel loopers, family coasters, stand-ups and custom coasters! You name it, we got it! CCI, B&M, Zamperla, Vekoma, Pinfari, Arrow, Intamin, Togo, Schwarzkopf, John Miller and Charlie Dinn, just to drop a few names. Spring, summer, fall we ride 'em all!

Ah, but come September… there is a chill in the air and one by one all our marvelous parks close for the season. No more Raven air, no Legendary laterals! No Cornball surprises, no Tig'rr roar! Usually, our last shining, glimmer of hope before a long, cold winter is PKI's closing weekend, or Halloweekends at CP. From November to March is a long, long time and undoubtedly come December, the dreaded "Coaster Withdrawal Syndrome" sets in. Many of us "snow birds" head south for a bit of a respite in Florida. Believe me, this helps! But all too soon, we are back up to our knees in snow and longing for the clackity-click and the wonderful aroma of grease from a chain lift. We haven't hit the lottery, so trekking back south is out of the question, but we did find a winter coaster-like thrill nearby!

Pokagon State Park is located in Angola Indiana, approximately six miles from the Indiana Toll Road. The park, on the shores of Lake James and Snow Lake, offers opportunities for outdoor recreation all seasons of the year. Boating, skiing, swimming, hiking and camping are available. If there is enough snow, cross-country skiing is also very popular. But, what interests us most is to drive to Pokagon early on a cold Saturday morning in February to ride the park's Toboggan Run. The Toboggan Run is a 1,780-long refrigerated twin track thriller, where riders reach speeds in excess of 40 mph. While the course doesn't feature any twists or turns, it does have a fairly steep first drop, a nice, sloping second drop and several bunny hops (that provide a bit of airtime)! Toward the end there is a bridge crossing the track that provides a head chopper effect. The run also provides an added bonus; you get a nice workout carrying the toboggan back up the hill and it is uphill all the way. The Pokagon Toboggan run is open weekends from Thanksgiving through the end of February. Hours of operation are Fridays 5:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M., Saturdays 10:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. and Sundays 10:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

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