What started as a distraction was turning into something I would have never expected. Each milestone along the way was changing from an unachievable goal to something possible and from possible to inevitable. 700 came with a bonus of a new one day record of 51 dives. More guests were recognizing me in the queue and on the platform. When I would show them my counts on my phone that wanted to know where they could get the app from. While walking through the queue I heard someone in one of the other queues call out “What’s the count”. I turned around and saw someone I had talked to the previous weekend. I let him know and he encouraged me to keep going. Three more days of riding put me just over 800. Ground rush was starting to set in even though my daily average was still the same. That fantasy goal of one thousand that was so far away was only eight more visits at my current pace.
I always came prepared as best I could when I came to the park. Normally I would have a water bottle, my Tilley hat, and my fanny pack. When I would start the day, the fanny pack would always contain two nature bars, a rain poncho, and a plastic grocery bag. Foot ware would depend on the weather forecast. If it was going to be dry I would ware my hiking shoes. If rain was in the forecast, my all weather sandals were the choice. Rain or shine, I was ready to ride. It was a cold night when I hit 800. Being a milestone, it was barefoot in the front row and surprisingly it wasn’t that cold on the feet. Standing around on the concrete platform after I got off the train was a different story. I usually wait away from the bins until the other guests have retrieved their items and left after I do a run in bare feet. I didn’t want to get my toes stepped on with everyone crowded together trying to get their items. By the time I got my socks and shoes on, the bottom of my feet were so cold they hurt. It took about ten minutes for them to warm back up again.
By the time I reached 900, it was late October. When I don’t wear the fanny pack, I still keep the grocery bag with me. I use it at the security check by emptying all my pockets into the bag, hold it above my head when passing through the metal detectors and then hold the bag open for them to inspect. It makes it way quicker and easier to get through. During the evening we started to get some light rain while in the queue. I didn’t have a hood or hat to wear so I pulled out my grocery bag and turned it in to a make shift rain hat. Moments after I put it on, I heard from the row one queue “you sir, have a million IQ” referring to my grocery bag rain hat. I am pretty sure I gave other guests in the line and idea of something to bring with them next time they came.
Not having my fanny pack or a hat meant that I had nothing to place in the bins. For the first few runs I was the only one in the single rider queue and not having to use the bins, the groupers would send me directly onto the train that was currently loading. It is not a short walk back to the platform. A long walk down the exit ramp, walk all the way back to the queue entrance and into the single rider queue, down a flight of stairs, under the track, and then back up two more flights of stairs to the platform. Power walking it all the way, I was still catching my breath as I was sitting down on the train. It was cold that night. By the time I put in 15 dives, it was time for 900. I was chilled to the bone and decide front row, but no bare feet. With still an hour and a half before park close, I decided I was cold, just completed my 900th dive on Yukon Striker, and that was enough for me this season. I headed home feeling I had accomplished more than I ever thought I could.