This is part of my ongoing series of posts about a 2007 trip we took to the UK to ride roller coasters and see the sights. Here are the previous installments:
The next few days of our trip were the ones we all were anticipating the most, three days spent at Blackpool, particularly its famous amusement park, the Pleasure Beach. Well-traveled roller coaster enthusiasts have long loved Blackpool Pleasure Beach for its wide selection of classic rides. I'd had a chance to visit in 2002 and immediately fell under its spell myself. It is like no other park I know of in the world, though perhaps Riverview in Chicago or Coney Island before its decline would have been comparable. Not having had a chance to visit those parks, Blackpool's Pleasure Beach may be as close as I can get to being able to step into amusement park history.
However, we'd heard that the new ownership of the Pleasure Beach (the daughter of the recently deceased long-time prior owner) was not interested in preserving its history, and that its distinctive character was soon to be lost. Visiting Blackpool before this happened was one of our main motivations for the entire trip to England.
Blackpool--particularly the Pleasure Beach--has such a variety of attractions that we rode them in no organized fashion. To describe them as we rode them chronologically would be tedious and difficult to follow, so for the next few reports I'll adopt a different approach. This report will focus on the many roller coasters at the Pleasure Beach. The next report will focus on the other rides and attractions, and the final report will deal with the rest of the town of Blackpool. The only remaining element of true chronology is that I'll describe activities outside the park in the order in which they occurred, beginning with our travels from Crewe to Blackpool.
We went down for breakfast, thinking we could eat at the same place we had the day before. If so I would have gotten the full English breakfast, this time including the black pudding. However, we found it just closing up, with the woman there telling us, "sorry, luv". We'd have to eat at the train station instead.
When we got there I volunteered to go down the stairs to scout out for places where we might get our breakfast so we didn't have to all carry our luggage down, and quickly found a place next to the platform called Upper Crust where we could get baguettes. Everybody thought it a good option, so we all decided to eat there.
Several varieties of their baguette looked interesting to me. I considered getting ham with some kind of local cheddar, but eventually I settled on an egg and tomato baguette along with an orange juice. The baguette had a little cardboard sleeve saying when it was prepared; mine was done at 8:30 that morning, and supposedly no sandwich was more than 3 hours old. In any case it was very good. The yolks on the egg looked almost orange, something I've noticed on European eggs before, perhaps due to different standards in raising chickens. We'd run into several more Upper Crust branches on the trip and I always found them a good place to eat.
We had reserved seats in our train. Unlike the German stations there were no diagrams telling us where to wait for a particular coach (ours was coach C), however we just happened to be waiting at the right spot for it to pull up right in front of us. When we boarded the train, a guy sitting behind Tim noticed his Pitt shirt. It turned out he'd gone to Pitt himself, a rather strange coincidence
We had a connection through Preston. The second train, to the Blackpool South station, was much less luxurious by far than most of the trains we'd been riding to that point, more like a commuter train. Some kids sitting near us were clearly excited to be heading to Blackpool. They were the first ones to spot the town's giant iron tower and the biggest roller coaster across the plain. About all I saw myself were many golf courses in the area.
As we got closer, the three of us got a chance for a bit of a flashback to our prior trip. In 2002, American Coaster Enthusiasts had booked rooms at a "holiday camp" called Pontin's near the Pleasure Beach. It turned out to be about as minimal accommodations as could be imagined. The grounds looked like a barracks, the showers were filthy and operated by a pushbutton that only gave 30 seconds of water at a time, and there was no maid service, hence no fresh towels. On the train we saw it pass by to our left, to our great amusement. The sight was familiar, and as unpleasant as Pontin's had been, I got a sense of nostalgia seeing it. It had certainly made the trip memorable. (I've since learned that the camp has closed, which makes me a bit sad.)
There was a train station right next to the Pleasure Beach, giving us a great view of some of the park's many roller coasters immediately upon disembarking from the train. I immediately pulled my camcorder out to tape the scene. There was a sense of constant motion even though the park didn't look all that crowded. Just the sight of the rides operating was exciting, perhaps the biggest thrill of the trip to that point, even surpassing all the coaster rides I'd had. As we were filming, a woman who was smoking on the station platform began to talk with us. She said she'd never been brave enough to get on the biggest coaster in the park, but had ridden just about everything else. Ordinarily I wouldn't be too talkative with a stranger, but I was so thrilled about being there that I felt much more forthcoming than usual.
Our accommodations for the few days we'd be there were at the Pleasure Beach's new Big Blue hotel. It was right next to the park and only a scant block from the train platform. After getting our fill of filming we walked over and checked in. The lobby was pleasant, with a saltwater fish tank behind the desk and a basket of apples on a table that was kept full throughout our trip. It was a far cry from Pontin's! We were given rooms on the fourth floor, Tim's right next to the elevator, ours turned out to be at the opposite end of the long hall.
Since the hotel was next to the park, it had some good views, even better than those from the train station. The view out the window in the elevator foyer was great, but the view from our room was best of all. I think Tim may have been a bit jealous, since his own room did not quite face the park squarely. While I was still filming through the elevator foyer window he took a look in our room and told me I'd "freak" when I saw our view. From it I could see at least seven coasters, three quite close up. Throughout our visit we'd be able to hear the coasters running when we were in our room. This may have been disturbing to some but I enjoyed it. Looking out the window also allowed us to see that the grey skies we'd had all day to that point were clearing. It looked like things were working out for us!
Apart from the view, the room was large and comfortable. Some of the décor was odd, such as the leather headboards above the beds, but all in all I had no complaint. I had a piece of chocolate set out on the bed.
We decided finally it was time to head into the park (I would happily have hurried a bit more!) and walked back down the long wall to the elevators. I noticed that a lot of doors had trays left outside them that room service had not yet picked up, about the only sign of poor service we saw at Big Blue. The elevator had recorded a voice that announced the levels as we passed each. The elevator we took had a male voice, and Janna and I later found that the other one had a female voice.
Somebody thought that there was a gift shop in the hotel. I wasn't interested, but Tim and Janna wanted to have a look. It was supposed to be through the restaurant, but after we walked through we found that it was gone. After this fruitless search, however, we finally left the hotel and headed toward the park. There was a gate on the hotel side (the park's main gate was at the opposite end), but it was closed. We had to go through a building to the left. First we had to go through a metal detector--not something I really expected to encounter in Blackpool--but I was pretty much let through rather than having to deal with all my electronics. We then went to a desk to pick up our wristbands. I'd ordered them online in advance for two days and wasn't quite sure whether they'd give us both days' bands at once, but they told me to come back the next day too.
I was somewhat eager to get riding, but we took things very slowly at first. It was only at 2:55 that we finally got on our first roller coaster, but what a roller coaster it was. It was the venerated Grand National, a racing wooden coaster that definitely harks back to an earlier time, both in its celebration of horse racing and its overall style. Wood coasters have a reputation of being "rough", but that can mean more than one thing. Some are rough due to poor maintenance, while others are simply very intense by design. Grand National is an example of the latter form of "roughness", featuring some extreme forces on its best drops. It's not for everybody, but for a coaster enthusiast with a sense of history it's something to be savored. We'd return to it time and again over the next few days; it was one of the strongest reasons for us wanting to make the trip in the first place and we wanted to have gotten our money's worth!
Grand National is a rare example of a "Moebius racer", in which the two "tracks" are really just a continuous track that crosses over itself, so that riders find themselves surprised to return to the station on the opposite side they left. Throughout the trip we'd ride on both sides, and try also to get the front and back seats on each. The narrow station made getting front seat rides sometimes difficult because one had to squeeze past a lot of people waiting for other seats. I don't recall there being much difference in ride quality between the two sides, but the back seat was definitely wilder than the front, with occasionally shocking upward forces. The front had the better visual experience as might be expected. From the front, one could get a better view of the car on the other side of the track if it was ahead.
The trains were new since the last time we'd been there-there had been a fire in the station, which gave them a reason to change them. They had new ratcheting lap bars, which unfortunately restricted our freedom somewhat, and occasionally hurt during some of the higher-force moments of the ride. Janna spotted a plaque on the front of the car labeling it as the "Andy Hine celebratory train". I believe Andy Hine was a charter member of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain.
The ride layout begins with a turn out of the station and through a tunnel, before both trains climb the lift next to each other. There's a left turn at the top, which usually lets the train on the left track get out in front, then comes a potent double dip drop. After this the ride is somewhat chaotic for a while. Sharp drops alternate with crushing turns. The trains change leads several times as each takes the inside around a turn. The drops have a different character depending on whether one sits in front or back. In the back they're particularly potent, often pushing me up into the lap bar and making me say "oof". In the front you get more of a feeling that the train is bucking over the hills, perhaps fighting the track a bit.
After a sequence of alternating drops and turns, Grand National changes its character somewhat. There's a series of ground-level bumps, milder than the previous parts of the ride, leading to a final right turn and more low bumps, the last ducking under a bridge (and a bit braked). There are even flowers on the ground between the tracks! Though it might seem that the end of the ride is a bit of a letdown after the very intense earlier parts, Janna and I agreed that the ending was our favorite part. It was milder, but sheer fun, and if the full intensity had been maintained through the entire ride it might have been pretty painful!
By the time I am done with these reports I will probably sound like a broken record, but Blackpool is full of historical and unique rides, perhaps none more so than the Wild Mouse. (Wild Mouse is just across from Grand National's station. In general, I will proceed counterclockwise around the park from here on out.) Wild Mice are a popular style of ride that has encountered a resurgence in recent years, but very few are left like Blackpool's, which runs on wood tracks instead of steel. Blackpool's Wild Mouse was one of two such that I rode in 2002, but since then the other one (in Southport) was torn down, so it had become an even greater rarity.
Wild Mouse is a small ride but quite wild, with the single cars zipping around the tight curves at a breakneck pace. Often it feels like they're going to tilt right off the track. Head clearances are very low too, something that I'm sure would not be allowed on any new ride. I had to duck under a piece of track as we climbed the lift. Among the other unique features of the ride is a fountain display within the curve leading up to the lift hill, a sort of decorative touch that many more utilitarian-minded parks would not add to such a ride.
The cars offer tandem seating, but with the strong forces pressing riders into each other, it's definitely more comfortable to ride single! There are no real restraints to speak of. One op even had a "giggle" with Janna, telling her to pull her bar back, knowing that it couldn't be moved. Because only one or two people ride per car, we found longer waits for Wild Mouse than for most other rides at Blackpool, but even then we typically could get on in under 10 minutes.
All in all Wild Mouse is about as extreme a ride as can be packaged into such a small space. Drops and turns alike were very sharp and forceful. On the 2002 trip I preferred Southport's mouse ride because it was a bit less hard on me. Though I still appreciated Blackpool's Wild Mouse, I only chose to ride it twice on this trip.
From the very old to the very new, we came upon a coaster called Infusion that was new to the park since 2002. However it was not entirely new to us, as it had operated in Southport on our 2002 trip and we'd ridden it there. I had several reasons to dislike the ride. First, Infusion's relocation represented the closure of Southport by the Pleasure Beach management (the same management we thought might begin tearing down older rides at their own park). I was very unhappy that Southport had been closed, as I'd really enjoyed my time there, one of my favorite memories of that trip. Second, Infusion had replaced a nice log flume at Blackpool. Though I'm a coaster fan, I like log flumes too, and am always disappointed when a unique ride (such as Blackpool's was) is torn down. Finally, I didn't have very fond memories of the ride in its incarnation at Southport. It's a style of coaster I don't care for much at all and I wasn't really happy to see it at Blackpool.
That being said, Infusion certainly had a very nice setting, amidst a host of fountains. The path to the station wound around some of these water features, as well as the sharply-painted blue track. I noticed a koi pond, which seemed to be separated from the main body of water. This was probably a good thing as the main water clearly had oil in it, not healthy for the fish! We noticed that there was a kind of wall of water next to one of the inversions so that it looked like peoples' feet would touch it. However it went by so fast while I was riding that I only noticed it off-ride.
Since we had ridden Infusion before in another location, there was some question as to whether it would count as a new "credit" or not. By my rules I counted it, but neither Tim nor Janna did. Janna wasn't interested in even riding, but to my surprise Tim joined me. I noticed that there were two trains running, unlike all the other coasters we rode that day. I suppose it was natural for them to run the newest, featured ride at the park to maximum capacity. In any case, it meant we could get our ride without a long wait, which we appreciated. However, our wait was long enough to hear the Big One coaster rumble by several times.
Tim and I went for the back seat. Before boarding I put my loose coins in a zippered pocket of my convertible shorts, just because I was going on an inverting ride. On the lift we could look down and see Janna waving. As we crested the lift hill I saw Big One cresting its own second hill. When we came to the brake, I saw Big Dipper cresting a hill behind us--such interactions between coasters are common in a park with so many, crowded so closely together! All in all the ride was surprisingly good. From my prior experience I'd expected it to be rough, but it was as smooth as any other coaster of its type I'd ridden.
Nevertheless I wasn't interested in more than one ride in Infusion. Nearby was a coaster I thought much more favorably of, Big Dipper. It is another of Blackpool's many classic wooden coasters. In fact in the UK, roller coasters are sometimes generically called Big Dippers; I'm not sure if it's this particular ride that started the trend, but it definitely has the feel of a prototypical wood coaster.
Though it is definitely less thrilling than Grand National, I might like it a bit better. For one thing, the trains were still of an old style. They were also unusual in having four benches per car; nowadays most coaster cars have at most three benches, and usually two. More importantly, it was a coaster I felt I could ride over and over because it was less aggressive. In fact, during that week a man named Richard Rodriguez, who sets a new record almost every year for roller coaster riding, was there doing just that. We'd hear them running the train for him early in the morning and late at night, and saw them rigging up a special car for him before the marathon began. (We also saw a coffee machine set up for him and perhaps the crew too.)
One of the reasons that Big Dipper is milder than Grand National is that it has an "out and back" layout, which consists mostly of linear hills to the farthest point of the ride (which in Big Dipper's case happened to be right outside our hotel room--we could even identify the window to our room while riding), then a return trip with shorter hills. Out and back coasters tend to be gentler in general than "twisters", because turns are usually rougher than straight hills. Big Dipper's hills are also perfectly designed so the train floats over them leading to a delicious sense of weightlessness rather than the sharp upward thrusts of Grand National. Ordinarily I would hold my hands up on such a ride with no compunctions, but since the park announcements were discouraging this, I behaved.
Big Dipper has some quirks of its own that make it more than the usual out and back coaster. The station is a rather large building, complete with fountains that the train passes by on its first turn. It then passes into a tunnel where it is hoisted perhaps 10 feet before emerging outside to go around a turn and then go up the main lift. The 10 foot lift is directly beneath the main lift; I believe there is only one other coaster in the world (Knoebels' Twister) that has this layered nature. After the lift there is an almost impossibly tight turn next to an onion-dome structure before finally going over the first drop. The rest of the ride is more standard, except that like almost everything else at Blackpool, it winds in and around other rides. This means you often get to interact with riders on these rides, such as the Steeplechase.
Big Dipper was the site of the most memorable ride of the trip, on our second day at Blackpool. It had been raining off and on all day, and we were trying to get some rides in during a break in the weather. We could see a storm over the sea as we lined up, but thought we could be done with the ride before it blew inland. However, there was a delay in the dispatch and that was enough to cause trouble. Just as we emerged from the tunnel we heard a loud thunderclap, and as we began climbing the lift the rain came pouring down. There was nothing to do but go through the rest of the ride to get back to the station. I was soaked when we came in, which may have contributed to the cold I'd get a few days later, but I will never forget that ride.
Though Blackpool Pleasure Beach has an inordinately large number of wood coasters (and I'm not done describing them all!), they also have some steel ones as well. Perhaps the most distinctive is Steeplechase. It represents a modern (or perhaps semi-modern, as it dates back to 1977) interpretation of a very old style of ride. The long-gone original was once one of the signature rides at Coney Island, but to my knowledge Blackpool's version is the only such ride that remains. Riders board horse-shaped cars and race each other on three separate tracks around a twisting course with small hills.
It's interesting that Steeplechase's ride design is more appropriate to its theming than many a larger ride. After all, without the queue decorations, there is little specifically "Batman" about the typical Batman ride apart from a general high-tech appearance. Due to the curves in opposite directions, different horses can take the lead at different times, making the competition a bit more exciting. The track also interacts with several other rides, which also adds an element of interest.
All in all I enjoyed Steeplechase very much. I somewhat regret that over the course of our visit I only got two rides, a tribute to how much else there is to do at Blackpool! Though it's not very thrilling, the unusual riding position and the racing aspect makes the Steeplechase particularly fun. It is a shame there are no more of these in the US, but the fact that one rides a horse-like vehicle with very little restraint makes them unattractive for insurers!
Blackpool's premier roller coaster was one of the first ever to exceed 200 feet in height (though in typical Blackpool fashion they inflated the figures somewhat). Originally it had the very odd name of "Pepsi Max: The Big One", but somewhere along the line it seemed to have lost its Pepsi sponsorship and became simply "The Big One". It is clearly a popular ride--whenever I mentioned that we were riding roller coasters to anybody in Britain, the Big One was the ride I was most frequently asked about.
For all the hype, I found The Big One to be mostly bark with just a little bite. The first drop is incredible, a steep twisting dive with an incredible view of the Irish Sea. It has to be experienced in the back seat for full effect. Unfortunately, the rest of the ride is almost completely boring--ramp-like hills that offer almost no significant forces. We rode only once, waiting 25 minutes to do so. It was not worth ever waiting for again when there were so many other things to do at the park.
Like many of Blackpool's coasters, Irn-Bru Revolution ("Irn-Bru" is some kind of drink--clearly Blackpool Pleasure Beach likes sponsorships) is a kind of throwback, but of a different sort than their others. It's a variety of ride known as a "shuttle loop", rather common in the 1970's, but rather rare now. Thus though it's not really quite a classic ride, it has a certain throwback flavor not found commonly at modern amusement parks.
Revolution is based on a pretty simple concept, and technologically primitive compared to more modern installations. The train starts on a high platform, is accelerated from a stop, goes over a drop and through a loop, and repeats the entire process backwards. It's somewhat fun, but has a significant drawback, that you have to climb a large number of stairs to get to the loading platform. It's hard to justify the effort for such a short ride, and so we only rode once. (Incidentally, though this ride has inherently low capacity, it almost never has a line. Perhaps this is due to the long stair climb, or perhaps it's due to them running it very efficiently. It always seemed like when I glanced in its direction a train would be running, in spite of the extremely short ride cycle).
Next around the park was a small steel coaster in a rather cheap-looking building meant to look like a small moon or asteroid. On my 2002 visit it had been called Space Invader, and I hadn't cared for it. It had been updated sometime in the interim and was now called Space Invader 2, so there was at least some reason to hope I'd like it better. The biggest change, as far as I was concerned, was that the restraint system had been changed to a less obstructive one--lap bars rather than over the shoulder restraints.
The line, like the ride, was indoors. We walked through a hall with typical old computer "blinking lights" displays, which I'm always a sucker for. We soon hit the line as we rounded a bend to the left. We couldn't see from there how much longer we'd have to wait due to another bend in the queue. A kid came up from in back of us to look around, but at least he was honest about it and went back when he'd gotten his glimpse--many's the time kids have used this as an excuse to cut in line. Once around this corner we came to a tunnel decorated with light strings and signs saying things like "20 seconds to blast off" and counting down from there. I also remember "space Euros" being part of the theming. In keeping with the Pleasure Beach's practices of seeming to borrow theming from whatever sources they could, authorized or not (I suspected not), we saw a Star Wars storm trooper figure in an inconspicuous corner.
Once on the loading platform I wound up boarding the middle seat of the odd three-person car. We engaged the lift roughly, but we all wound up liking the rest of the ride. The layout of the coaster consisted mostly of helixes, within which threw ere scenes with a lot of glowing cutouts. I didn't really get a good look at these items, and got the impression it would look cheap if I could get a good look, but I really enjoyed the ride nonetheless. On our 2002 trip we wouldn't have thought of reriding, but we did do so on this trip. It was a good ride to take the second morning when it was raining, so riding and waiting inside was a good idea (though unfortunately the ride opened a bit late so we still had some waiting outside anyway).
Unfortunately, while doing research for this report, I found that Space Invader 2 has been shut down since our trip. It's a bit surprising since it was remodeled so recently (and in my opinion, so successfully). I'm glad I got to leave it with enjoyable memories.
In the same corner of the park is Avalanche, a bobsled-style coaster, on which instead of a fixed track the cars run through a trough. There are different manufacturers who make such rides, leading to slightly different styles. Avalanche is made by a manufacturer called Mack. I like their rides because they are more aggressive, and Avalanche may be the most aggressive of the lot. Most such rides are interrupted by brakes, but Avalanche goes straight from top to bottom, accelerating through the turns all the time. It's almost too fast to spot signs labeling some of the turns (such as "The Snake"). The long trains also contribute to a whiplash effect. Though not a tall ride, it's very thrilling. Another reason to love this ride: The plaque indicating that it was officially opened by Eddie the Eagle.
Blackpool has a fairly extensive kiddie area, which includes two roller coasters. One, called Morgan's Circus Clown, is a steel oval that is unexceptional except for the large number of times you're sent around (yes, I rode it), and the amusing theming: clown shoes poking out of the back of the train and the busted drum the track passes through.
The other kiddie coaster is somewhat more interesting. It's a rare instance of a kiddie wooden coaster called Zipper Dipper. It runs right beneath one of the larger wood coasters and almost seems to merge with that ride. The operator seemed happy to see adults, as he was very loud and enthusiastic as he sent us on our course. There isn't much to the ride, just a short trip with a few hills, then a tunnel with flat track through the Space Invader building to return to the station. Nevertheless, whether Zipper Dipper is thrilling, there is no question that it is charming. There are all too few rides suitable for introducing little kids to bigger thrills these days, so I'm glad it's around, and I got a real kick out of riding it.
There is one final coaster at Blackpool, the generically-named Roller Coaster. (A prior incarnation has the more interesting name of "Velvet Coaster".) It has an out and back layout that runs between the street outside the park and Space Invader's building. It is similar to Big Dipper, but even milder. However, the trains are very distinctive. There are no lap bars, just a seat belt. In 2002 it didn't even have that; people rode completely unrestrained. The seats are also luxuriously upholstered, almost room for the knees. As long as one behaves oneself there is no danger at all, because the forces on Roller Coaster are minimal. There is just a hint of airtime at the crest of the hills, which Janna aptly described with a "bloop!" sound. Low intensity level aside, I enjoyed it immensely as a throwback to a much earlier era of coastering.
Blackpool has so many roller coasters that a description of each of them begins to approach a laundry list. However it's hard to see which ones I could have left out. Even Zipper Dipper is significant in its own way as a rare example of a wood coaster for kids. From the aggressive Grand National and Wild Mouse to the graceful Big Dipper and Roller Coaster, their wooden coaster selection is superb. The Big One may be mild for its height, but it's offset by the amazing Avalanche. And then there are unique oddities like the Steeplechase. For any amusement park fan with a sense of the historic and quirky, Blackpool's coaster collection is a must.
Having described the coasters I'll return to my semi-chronological account to describe our first evening in Blackpool. The park closed that day at 8. From our 2002 trip we all remembered a fun song that they'd played over the loudspeaker at closing time, with the kind of goofy chorus of "Bye Bye". We eagerly awaited hearing it again, but 8 came and went without them playing it. Instead there was a male voice announcing a variety of other outside-the-park attractions to try. We waited a good 15 minutes, hoping that they would still play the song, but to our great disappointment they never did. We finally gave up and tried to leave the park, going out through a shop because the gate was already closed. Just outside was a restaurant called The Star, which we thought about eating in. However when we walked in, we found that there was a loud DJ playing. It was not what we were in the mood for, so we gave it a pass.
Instead we went to the restaurant at the Big Blue hotel, which was called the Blues Bar. I remember blue lights dangling from the ceiling as part of the décor. I treated Tim to the meal, which was my way of giving him something back for doing all the trip planning. I had an Amstel to drink, which I'd been anticipating for some time. As far as I can tell, they only sell their light beer in the US, but I had really loved their regular beer when I'd had it on a prior trip. It wasn't as good as I'd remembered, but it wasn't bad.
We observed that others could make their own pizza, or at least spread toppings on the dough before sending it back to be made. I was intrigued, but I wasn't really in the mood for pizza. Instead I got the Chef's special, which was a choice of three dishes for £20. For starters I chose a prawn and mari rose salad, which was pretty good. Janna and Tim had bruschetta, which was a bit too soggy. For my entrée I had a Lancashire hot pot. I also had some of Janna's salmon and vegetables-snow peas, carrots, and green beans.
For my dessert I had a cheese selection--an option I am getting more and more fond of for desserts. It came with bleu cheese, a brie, and a cheese with cranberry. Accompanying the cheeses were crackers and grapes.
While we ate we could see outside the window and were surprised to see lighted figures all along the street. It seemed that the town's illuminations were being tested that day, though they weren't officially to begin until much later in the season. After eating we went outside to get a better look and wander around a bit. We saw figures made of lights such as mermaids, and odd creatures with arms that waved. It was interesting, but the weather was cold and windy, so we didn't stay out too long. I knew this was not unusual for the locale, even in the summer. Another thing unusual for me--and something of a treat--was how light it still was at 10:30, but to be expected for such a northerly location.
When we got back to the room, I began to set up all my chargers, according to my usual routine of trying to have a fresh charge on all my electronic equipment at the beginning of each day. It should have been easy, since there was a whole row of outlets on the wall. However, one of the two adapters I'd brought didn't seem to plug into the wall at all. The prongs seemed to be compatible, but it just wouldn't push into the outlet no matter how hard I tried. The other adapter had absolutely no problems. I was concerned that I really needed to charge everything, so at Janna's suggestion I went downstairs to the desk to see if they might have an adapter they could loan me. They didn't, but when I tried mine in their outlet, there was no problem. They must have thought I was nuts! I went up to visit Tim (also at Janna's suggestion, I think), and found that the adapter fit in his outlets too. He loaned me one of his, which worked perfectly in my outlets. We never traded our adapters back.