Leaving the dizzing heights and delights of NYC we were soon deep into Amish country, with a cool breeze and horizons filled with rolling corn fields, tall silos and red barns only interrupted by the many retro looking bible bashing signs, our favourite of which was
“Life has no remote, get up and change it yourself”
A noticeable difference from life in the UK was the church blackboards we passed advertising that “Children eat free”. In the UK this would have been your local pub advertising such a bargain, thus also filing it with undesirables!
One of first stops was the eerie ‘town’ of Centralia, PA. First on our radar after Sarah read Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk in the Woods’, we couldn’t resist passing through the once booming 1960’s town that’s now been basically wiped off the map (seriously…even their USA zip code has been revoked). The reason – an underground out of control coal mine fire that refuses to go out, toxic fumes that forced the government to buy back and demolish houses, forcing people to leave, apart from the few stubborn residents who’ve refused to be told what to do. While we could go into detail, we won’t, as Margaret Eby does it so much better – suffice to say a 12 year old boy was nearly incinerated when a gaping hole opened up in his grandparents backyard where he’d been playing – her post on Centralia is well worth a read!
Any journey through Pennsylvania and Ohio’s Amish country wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t stop in at least one of the many Amish produce outlet stores. We decided to stop at the Guggisberg Cheese Factory (of course…si con queso por favor!) for homemade cheese which you can see being made through the huge glass windows within the store itself. Making sure to try all of the many many samples (most of them twice) we finally made a decision and purchased a couple including a tasty smoked horseradish variety. With Matt salivating all over the floor we dragged ourselves out and took the back roads back to the interstate, witnessing an amazing spectacle of nature when an eagle attacked a flock of sparrows mid-flight. Passing the men and women on bicycles trailing carts of local vegetables in the heat whilst dressed in full Amish clothing, as well as the older men and women in their horse and carts you feel a little guilty cruising through here in a big 1980’s Dodge Ram camper van, but we were on a mission to experience a completely different part of Ohio, one which draws people from all over the country. So leaving the Amish life of relative simplicity for one of complete and utter excess, we finally arrived at our destination – Cedar Point Amusement Park.
In total contrast to where we’d come from, Cedar Point smacks you in the face with America’s well off white trash spending their hard-earned cash on unlimited pop and all day buffets to make their spoilt fat kids even fatter. Ok that wasn’t everybody, there were also the cheerleader types in their Ohio state t-shirts and fanny packs with couples racing around hand in hand to make sure they hit all the rides on their list (Guilty!!).
Our big draw for visiting was the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster, which we’d seen on a documentary back in London over a year ago. After an hours wait in line (trust us, that was short! Three hours is the norm for this one) we were soon strapped in ready to be rocketed from zero to 120 mph (195km/h) in under four seconds, to a height of 420 ft (130 m) before being twisted and turned straight back down to earth….all in under 30 seconds. The ultimate ride and one that will leave anybody with eyes streaming and appendages shaking the adrenaline from their body yet unable to wipe the smile from their face.
We spent the rest of the day hitting all the big rides, getting soaked on the water rides, heading back to Betty for a cheap, ‘healthy’ lunch, then hitting the rest of the rides (some twice!) before leaving satisfied 10 hours later feeling like we got our $60 worth. Make that $75 each, once you add the compulsory $15 parking fee and $15 locker fee. At least the Ye olde world fiddle band playing a great rendition of Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘Sweet Child o Mine’ made us feel a little better about the blow out! An awesome day we’d recommend to any fellow adrenaline junky. Oh and if you’re not strapped for cash, splash out on the fast track ride ticket, you’ll pi$$ everybody off when you breeze to the front and push in on people who have been waiting over an hour already. Soooo worth it.
Click here for more photos of Amish country and Cedar Point. Go one we won’t tell anyone!!!