Relocation / Road Trip / Graceland
Total Timber Tour 2 Blog Day 11
Hi all again from “The Big Country”.
Today was a relocation day but before we tell you about our stop-off, a bit more about yesterday.
We cancelled our scheduled “dip in the sea” at the beach in Gulf Shores for obvious reasons and arrived at Waterville at 10am for opening. You may remember this was THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY from our 2008 attempt because the whole of the south coast was evacuated with the imminent arrival of Hurricane Gustav. Our tight itinerary and the end of season hours meant we had to finish our journey without having ridden this one so this time we were nervous for any problems which would mean us missing it again. Well, after nearly 2 years, we made it back to the States, drove a few thousand miles to the park, and got to the coaster only to see two maintenance guys working on the train! In our heads we were already starting to juggle the remaining itinerary so we could stay here until it was running.
Then, the next delay – the coaster wasn’t scheduled to open until midday! So time for a round of golf and a cool off in the water park.
Finally, we got on the coaster and all was well. It’s only a mid-sized family coaster but rides Ok with some pops of airtime. During the day it’s treated like any other attraction in the park, so guests ride it in swimming gear and boy did we need that water park as the temperature got into three digits for the first time on the trip. So a couple of hours on the coaster and time to head on.
On leaving Gulf Shores and Waterville, we had to pull over to let the President of America and his cavalcade go by, he was on yet another visit to the area and we just happened to be driving along the same road at the right time. It’s probably the nearest we’ll ever get to the President!
On our way to the second park for the day we thought we’d make a small detour onto New Orleans to see what’s left of Six Flags New Orleans. For the non-coaster readers, this park was flooded when Hurricane Katrina hit and never recovered, probably due to many factors including lack of guests and employee availability.
Prior to the disaster it had always been on our “to do” list of parks to visit but we never got a chance to try it. Looking at the incredible rebuilding program in the area, and the traffic jams we encountered in New Orleans itself, the time can’t be far away when this city can sustain a park of this size once again.
Onto the second park of yesterday then and an evening at Dixie Landing in Baton Rouge. This was our first visit here and we hadn’t given it any prior thought to it as the Google satellite image just showed a Boomerang coaster and not much else. What a surprise then to find 4 decent coasters, a shot’n’drop and lots of flat rides.
The evening atmosphere in the park was great and, like Waterville, the guests had just spent the day in the water park and were now enjoying the amusement side. An added bonus was the boomerang itself, one of the smoothest we’ve ever ridden and obviously well maintained. Highly recommended for a few hours if passing by.
So today then, originally a chilled drive to St Louis planned and then Six Flags Great America announced they were saving the nearby junior “Little Dipper” coaster. So now a LONG driving day as we try and get as close to Chicago as possible in one day without flying.
Spending 14/15 hours in the car in one day is something we have done before on the last tour and we needed something to break the journey about half way for a couple of hours. There were no parks on the natural route so we decided to do a typical “non-coaster” tourist thing and stop by at Graceland.
Neither of us would call ourselves die-hard Elvis Presley fans but we’re both keen music followers and have an understanding of the impact Elvis and his music had on the pop we have grown up with. We gave ourselves 2 hours to do the mansion tour etc. as advised by their website and, with no queues, managed to do it in that time. It would have been easy to spend half a day or more there and the whole experience was far more interesting and impressive then either of us had thought it would be. Elvis fans or not, you can’t help but be impressed by the strange mixture of indulgence and modesty. We wouldn’t hesitate in going back someday and giving ourselves more time there. Highly recommended.