Just southwest of Pittsburgh, in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, is my favorite amusement park. Kennywood used to bill itself as “Around the corner and out of this world.” Every year when I was in high school, our marching band spent a day here at the end of our camp week — friends and I would sing the commercial on the bus as we traveled there, rattling off the names of many of the rides as we did (to the annoyance of probably more than a few people). Then we were turned loose in the park, regathered for a parade, and turned loose again. I went back to the park on other occasions, also. Among the rides are some great wooden coasters, including the teeth-rattling Thunderbolt. And Racer is unique in that it’s a racing coaster with one continuous track — you leave on one side of the station and come back on the other.

So it was a huge treat for me to head back there with my wife and kids when we were on our Great American Road Trip, 2013 edition. We spent four nights in my beloved Pittsburgh, also touring downtown on foot, getting Primanti Brothers food in the Strip, seeing the Bucs at PNC, going up Mt. Washington on the Mon Incline… And I made the family experience the awesomeness of emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel as downtown explodes into view. (Yes, of course they were impressed.)