When was the last time you were on a roller coaster? I mean a real wooden, been–around- forever kind of roller coaster. After leaving Yosemite and spending a week in the Oakland/San Francisco area to visit family and attend a writers’ conference, we headed south to Ben Lomond, California. My friend Ninette, a former fellow Bunny, and her husband, Kurt, had invited us to stay with them. Seguing to Santa Cruz on the way and more specifically, the Boardwalk at Santa Cruz, we stopped for lunch and found it: the Giant Dipper. Growing up in Brooklyn, my roller coaster of choice was the Cyclone on Coney Island. It was a bone-bouncing ride, and I remember my boyfriend promptly relieving himself of his lunch after we rode it once. I loved that rush in the pit of my stomach, and especially loved that I’d remembered my ponytail holder.
I decided to go for the Dipper. The line snaked along from the sunny boardwalk to inside, where TV screens told the story of the ride in more detail than the sign outside had: It had been built in 1924; the length of ride was one minute fifty-two seconds; it was the sixth oldest coaster in the U.S. My husband had said to text him when I was getting on so he would know when to take a photo of me as I sped along twisting curves at speeds up to fifty-five miles an hour. What was I thinking? I tapped out, “Long line. Maybe five minutes more.” Then I was in my seat. At first twirling about in a dark tunnel (think Space Mountain), we emerged and climbed the requisite and torturing, clack-clack-clack ascent to the first summit of the ride. You know what’s coming, and you can’t escape. The rest was pure shrieking bliss. (I’m directly over the “I” in Dipper, below.) When it was over, I stumbled onto the ramp, legs wobbling. Seconds, anyone? You bet.