The first thing I do upon leaving Indianapolis is meet up with a fellow explorer whose adventures make my exploits seem tame by comparison. After a tantalizing session on incredible things to see in the States and some edifying conversation on the status of drug legislation on the states (which may or may not have included some applied theory) I set my sights on the latest and greatest of my exploration goals: Kentucky Kingdom.
So, the Kingdom. I head out real early, expecting to have plenty of time in the city to poke around before meeting up with Uliveandyouburn, BuddyKermit, and Eschaton. I’ve learned not to count on things to go according to plan, but was still surprised when racing through the beautiful hills of Kentucky my master link decided to snap and leave me stranded by the highway.
The brotherhood of riders once again comes to my aid. Thanks to Davis for offering me a lift to grab a spare master link with which I just barely made it back to the dealership on in time to get a proper replacement chain. Davis is a Harley Rider with PTSD who drives his SUV hunched over from the anxiety of having been “blowed up twice” in armoured vehicles. He’s with the army corps of engineers and is going back overseas to help with demining, driven by a sense of responsibility for the kids who need his guidance to complete the task alive. A straight up guy, I tell him I hope he wears a helmet – he replies that after all he’s been through he’s not scared of riding without one. Well my best wishes are with him, for what it’s worth.
Thanks to Davis’ help I arrive in Louisville (coincidentally in the parking lot next to my fellow explorers, convenient as I have no phone) right on time. It’s early yet, so we decide to scope out some of the city’s heights and thanks to various open doors we get some lovely views, and even a chance to sit down for a spot of tea.
The preliminaries over with, it is time to infiltrate, nay, to conquer the Kingdom. The 6 Flags park had shut down due to various factors, the most salient of which I believe was a girl losing her legs in an accident on a poorly maintained ride that cost the park $150 million. Naturally we debate whether it’s worth it or not – after all you can buy some pretty nice legs for that kind of cash, especially if the amputation is below the knee. I think being a cyborg and having super legs would be damn cool, but no thanks, there’s nothing like old-school biological legs for me.
Entry is ridiculously easy. We keep pushing the limits, climbing higher in broad daylight, watching the cars along the highway speed by, oblivious. I try to ride a water filled gas can down a waterslide... well, I’ve had worse ideas; the ensuing crash decommissions my shades and rips my shorts. More hobo cred, I say.
Speaking of hobo cred, I get to borrow Uliveandyouburn's infamous belarussian fisheye to catch some shots of me imitating a rollercoaster. I’ve never seen a lens cap fashioned out of Velcro, a sock, and a tin can before but it’s quite an effective contrivance, big thanks to him for helping me capture the experience.
(photo courtesy Uliveandyouburn)
I knew it would be fun monkeying around in an amusement park even without the power, but I had no idea how fun. Reinterpreting amusement rides is going to seriously dampen the thrill of regular park visits. I hope my kids are good climbers.
Eventually the sun sets on a kingdom conquered; the hedonistic glee of claiming the abandoned Kentucky Kingdom for our own is finally overcome by our need for food. Basking in our success, we stroll boldly to our rides right past parked security. Acting like you belong is worth hours of sneaking around... being a fast runner is a good backup plan though. Shortly thereafter, energized by a year’s worth of calories and grease at Rally’s, we set out to say goodnight to the city in style – we make it to another rooftop and perch on some particularly precarious looking concrete ledges. If it can support the winter’s snow, it can support my weight... but for some reason I find myself needing to repeat this like a mantra as I swing my legs over the tapered ledge.
We end the night with a good session of freaking the hell out of the locals. Turns out Uliveandyouburn owns drywalling stilts. Of course I have to try them on, and even manage to get pretty good at meandering without falling once – much to the chagrin of my compatriots and the local carousing drunks. Being almost ten feet tall is fun as hell, even if security won’t let me into the bar district.
How many days can I say I was my own rollercoaster, watched the city lights from atop a ferris wheel, and learned a new method of perambulation? Not many. I think this is going to be a hard one to top, but then again I am riding to the end of the world; it would be awfully presumptuous of me to claim I’ve reached the peak of my explorations so soon.