Posted by SkaterDee on September 18, 2017

Well, kids, I'm back from my trip... and what a trip it was. There were so many things to see. For exmaple, in New Bethlehem, PA, watching the townspeople walking along the wine tasting tour, wine glasses in hand... I tell you, I damn near pulled over when I saw a sign outside a restaurant advertising karaoke night! I mean, where else did I have to be? Then, Saturday morning, I got to see a working Ford Model T driving along. That was pretty cool!

Of course, the big event was riding the Log Jammer. If you'll remember from my blog post yesterday, that was the whole point of this trip.

Unfortunately, when I got there, it seemed that it wasn't running because of a malfunction. It was running earlier in the day, but by the time I got there, it wasn't.

(Notice I don't look too thrilled in this photo.)


That's right kids! Four hours (and 45 minutes of waiting in line) later, I finally got my last turn to ride the Log Jammer! At least I didn't have to ride in good ol' lucky log number 13. Those people died horribly. *

Thrills and spills on The Log Jammer. Farewell, old friend.

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At first glance, the line looked long. I mean, like, obscenely long. I admit, there was a moment where I thought, "Do I really want to stand in line?" The idea that this could take an hour or more didn't really appeal to me — except that after sitting in a car for 4 and half hours just to get here, would it really have been that great a task to stand in line for an extended period of time? So, I quietly resolved myself to stand in line, only to be pleasantly surprised that the line was really only about 45 minutes. It really wasn't that bad.

To ride the Log Jammer one last time, to dig up all those old memories and feelings of nostalgia... It was worth it. It was totally worth it. I had a lot of fun, and it helped me get away from the stresses of life for a while. All in all, it was just the thing I needed to give myself a more objective look at life, and to consider the possibilities of what was, what might have been, and what was yet to come. To say goodbye to an old friend, to tearfully walk away at the end of an era. It was a wonderful experience that filled me, in many ways, with a sense of awe and deep introspection.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: travel changes you — especially when you travel alone. You get a sense of resiliency and confidence. You learn how to rely on yourself when things go wrong. You start to see obstacles as challenges. You gain a better understanding of the concept of "There are no problems, only solutions," as a major philosophy.

If I do have one real regret, however, it's that I didn't get to go skating. I found a group that seems to meet up on Sundays to skate through parts of the city, but I wasn't sure I wanted to get up early enough to drive into Pittsubrgh and track them down. From where I was staying, the city was about an hour away, and I just wasn't feeling it. I was missing home, and missing Andrea. Fortunately, that was easily solved. Before long, I was home, skating alongside Andrea, up and down the Riverfront in Wilkes Barre. Mission accomplished.

Goodnight, Kennywood. See you next year!

1 Allokataplixis?
2 No... no, they didn't. They're perfectly fine. I mean, I guess... It's been 2 days since then. I have no idea how they're doing NOW

North-East Meets West

Posted by SkaterDee on Septemer 15, 2017

I'm editing this with an iPad Mini... and Neocities' editor does not seem to play well with iPads, so it's taking me several, careful, attempts to update this blog. If you're reading this, then I was successful!

Regardless of technical difficulties, I'm in (a place very near) Pittsburgh! Ahh... my hometown! Which is why I'm on an iPad instead of using my trusty computer to put out this update. (seriously, why didn't I just pack my ancient MacBook? It's not like I didn't have room in the car.)

Anyway... I saw on Facebook that one of my favorite rides at Kennywood, the Log Jammer, is being retired. I can hardly believe it. Seeing as how it's been 2 years since I last had a chance to visit Kennywood (which means I haven't been able to see the re-done Noah's Ark ride) I've been saying that there was no way I was going to let another season go by without taking some time off to visit my old stomping grounds. I mean, I need this. Reconnecting with my roots, remembering where I came from, enjoying some time off... Like I said, there's just no way I'm letting this season go by and miss out, especially with this being the final season for one of my long-time favorite rides. So, I packed up a suitcase, made arrangements for a place to stay, and now I'm here!

Oh! And, of course, I brought my skates! So, you can bet I'm researching places to skate, and I'm told there are several locations to check out. I can't wait!

Rebel Swell

Posted by SkaterDee on September 12, 2017

I've been nursing a cold since getting home from the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference this past weekend. I ended up spending most of Sunday watching footage of Hurricane Irma as it bore down on Florida while slipping in and out of consciousness. It wasn't a fun way to spend the day, but it clearly could have been worse, as the footage showed.

I felt good enough to go into work on Monday — about 80%, give or take — good enough to take advantage of the beautiful break in the lousy, grim weather we've been having lately. As far as September goes, with the remnants of Hurricane Harvey blowing through, plus whatever's coming next, it's just been nonstop cold and rain. We're pretty sick of it, so when the temperature peaks well into the 70s, get your skates on.

The riverfront common was full of skaters, bikers, and scooter...ers. It was a perfect evening for it! Not too hot, not too cold. After a few turns to the courthouse and back, we decided to head downtown and skate around the square a bit.

I used to get really bent out of shape about skaters on the square. Every year, the cops ramp up their presence and make sure skaters and bikers are aware of the laws and to stay off the sidewalks. And, inevitably, no one listens. ...except me. Because I'm sure I'm going to get harassed by cops. Except that I see cops standing around, and they see me, and no one says anything. So... Skate on, I guess?

People, in general, tend to suck, so I like to stay as far away from people as possible. But not last night. Last night, we charged right down Main Street, hopping sidewalks and slaloming through people and obstacles. Whoa... am I becoming an aggressive inline skater? Hmm... Maybe? Or it could just be a distinct lack of fucks to give about public safety. The season's almost over, so get it while you can. No time to worry about consequences. Lace up, get out there, get some. We never know when we'll get another day like this. And it felt really, really good. Hopping curbs, dodging cars, swerving in and out of harm's way. Made me feel alive!

All of this, pretty much, cements an idea I had last year, at the Philly Pride and Trans Health conference. An idea to bring my bicycle along and use that to get around all weekend. After 3 days of walking around, I'd rather have a faster, more convenient way to move about the city. I WILL be bringing my skates to Philly, next year. Oh, yes.

New Skates!

Posted by SkaterDee on September 1, 2017

A long time ago, I said I was going to buy some Powerslide Swell 100s. (That was August 7th, FYI.) Well, I did!

New skates! I finally got some time off and good weather (seriously, it's been chilly the last few days) to give these puppies a proper roll. Love! And, yes! Those are Reptar socks! #powerslide #swell #100mm #wckd #nicktoons #reptar @powerslidebrand @wicked_bearings

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The new skates arrived about a week later -- all the way from Denmark. Thanks,! Unfortunately, I was working like a million hours and didn't get a lot of time to try them out. (In this case, "a million hours" is more like 50-60+ hours in a single week, which is not entirely crazy, but I was really not feeling too great after that.) So, today, I finally got my chance to really break these things in, and I'm in love.

Some things:

It did take me a little bit to adjust to the new height. It's only an extra 20mm or so, but it was still enough that I was a little shakey. After that, though... my god! These things rip!

The increased wheel size means more spin and less rolling resistance. Also, they really help to smooth out those rough spots -- not a lot; you still get a lot of vibration, but you don't lose as much speed because the wheels can't get as bogged down in the pits and cracks on rough surfaces. They'll roll over an obstacle before hitting it and stopping, which means less potential to trip and fall.
Then you have the bearings. ABEC 7 are a nice step up from my old skates -- especially considering that my other pair were about 10+ years old, so they had a lot of wear and tear on them. That kind of thing isn't something you can fix just by cleaning and adding lube -- new bearings are going to beat old bearings any day, especially ones that are rated faster. I was able to get up to speed sooner and maintain speed longer. Even going uphill, I was able to accelerate with a lot less effort! It's great! And the faster you go, the faster you'll want to go. More speed, more fun!

So far, I love these skates, but they do need to be broken in. I'm finding the fastening mechanism on the right skate to be a bit stiff and difficult to cinch. They're also very tight. I don't think I'm crazy about the laces, and the ankle strap seems a bit too far ahead. Of course, some of that is my fault... I wear a size 42 (EUR), and these are 43. They didn't have a size lower. But then, I'm not even sure what my size is, because it varies so greatly. I can wear a size 9 (US) women's shoe, and these skates say that a size 43 (EUR) is equal to a size 9 (US). But they seem too big. Maybe a 42 would have been better? Unfortunately, a size 42 wasn't available. I'm compensating by wearing thick socks. Better to have skates with wiggle room than with none at all. Right? We'll see how they feel after I put a few more miles on them.

And so, as we head into September, and the season winds down, I find that I will have less and less time to enjoy them before it gets too cold and I hibernate for the Winter. It's unfortunate, but at least I was able to finally afford a pair of new skates, and I am extremely happy with my purchase!