Monday, April 16, 2007

V2 - Day 389

About the time my stomach had found an unnatural affinity for my spleen the whole thing reversed and my stomach was looking for my left big toe. The g forces I was experiencing were not related to the sea state. My Catalina 27 was nicely nestled in a safe harbor. What I was experiencing is called Vertical Velocity , or V2. V2 is one of the most punishing roller coasters that I have ever been on. V2 was the reason we had set sail the day before.
Sailing is often a destination in and of itself. My family is the happiest when we are more than 30 miles from shore. It is here that the noise of civilization ceases, the shoreline is gone and we can all relax. V2 is the polar opposite of that feeling. V2 is a roller coaster that has more in common with a Fermi Lab's particle accelerator than a roller coaster. It uses a magnetic drive powerful enough to move a Japanese super train a half mile long. You go from 0-70 in four seconds – backwards. Twisting.
Every year we make at least one trek from our home berth in Port Sheldon, Michigan to Port Washington, WI. The Westward jump across the pond of lake Michigan is usually against the prevailing wind, a 90 mile slog lasting 12 hours with 12-15 knots of wind and 2-4 foot waves on the nose. This is just preparation. Tying up to the beautiful Marina we take a half mile walk to the bus station and motor to the teeming masses of Six Flags Great America. If you can't take a 12 hour slog to windward to get here, than believe me you will never survive the day.
First, it is always fifteen degrees warmer in the park than by the lake. Second, every person in Chicago visits the park on the day you arrive. Third, you are constantly assaulted by every known sensory input you knew possible, and some you didn't. I am deliberately seeking out the crowds and the noise, and plunge ourselves into what is by comparison to relaxing at sea, mass hysteria.
The roller coasters allow you to climb to the sky real slow – clinka, clink, clinka, clink. Soon I can see Lake Michigan from my perch of death. The lake looks so calm, so cool, so relaxing. As the coaster crests it's steel wave and plunges, I ask myself what possessed me to allow someone to drag me up there. Screaming for the longest 30 seconds of my life, I escape by running with my kids to the next ride. The logic of doing this is that there is no logic of doing this. The best part of the morning running around trying to catch all the max coasters is that you have all the water slides to tackle yet. A water slide is much like sailing, except you forgot the boat. Remember the logic.
Ten hours later you have a bus to catch. You are sunburned, dizzy, sore, and your wallet is empty. Just like a good sail on the boat. The journey home is a downwind run with the sun sinking behind you. Thirty miles out you are at peace with the world. The kids (who should be too exhausted to talk) cry out, “Can we do it again tomorrow?”

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