Passing the Time on the Road with Wikipedia

On Sunday afternoon, Sid and I departed Charlotte and made the drive back to Myrtle Beach. When we reached the North Carolina/South Carolina border, I couldn’t help but notice the gigantic theme park outside to our right. It happened to be Carowinds, a legendary entertainment destination of the Carolinas. With the gigantic roller coasters catching my eye, I said four words to Sid:

“Teach me about Carowinds.”

While in the car on our way back to Myrtle Beach, we made the ride go by fast by playing a little “game.”

Almost three years ago, I wrote about my Wikipedia addiction. I love to reference the website if a question pops into my head. I also use it to do some leisurely reading when I have an hour to kill. In my lifetime I have used Wikipedia to look up thousands of articles dealing with fast food restaurants, breakfast cereals, sodas, sports stadiums, professionals I admire, retail stores, mascots, movies, and so much more. I start on a Wikipedia topic and then go on a wild tour as one article leads me to another.

To kill some time, I wanted to go on a little Wikipedia odyssey with Sid. Carowinds was the perfect place to start. Lucky for me, I have a nice wife who was willing to feed my curiosity and read me various Wikipedia articles.

Topic: Carowinds
Two Interesting Facts I Learned:
1. Two roller coasters in the theme park are literally built to cross the state border. Thus, after you ride one of these attractions, you will have crisscrossed from North Carolina to South Carolina numerous times in just a couple of minutes.
2. Building the park on the border and having rides cross it was all by design. Carowinds was built to create harmony between North Carolina and South Carolina. The park’s name is half “Carolina” and half “winds,” the latter referencing the winds that blow across the two states.

After learning about the theme park of Sidney’s childhood, we learned about the theme park of my childhood, Silverwood.

Topic: Silverwood
Two Interesting Facts I Learned:
1. Before Silverwood was built in 1988, the property was an aerodome complete with an airstrip and hangar.
2. The ride I remember going on the most as a kid, Roaring Creek (a smaller version of Disney’s Splash Mountain), was actually relocated from a theme park in Kentucky. As Silverwood is in Idaho, the ride had a long journey to its new home!

Talking about these theme parks had me thinking about the general history of roller coasters. Luckily, Sidney entertained my curiosity.

Topic: Roller Coasters
Two Interesting Facts I Learned:
1. Although the origin of the roller coaster traces back to the 1700s in Russia, the first recognized coaster in the United States was built in 1885 at Coney Island.
2. Roller coasters became extremely popular in the early 1900s but the Great Depression halted construction of the thrill rides for four decades. It wasn’t until 1972 that theme parks were revived and roller coasters started to be built again.

We had fueled our hunger for theme parks and coasters. It was time to learn more about the main reason for our trip to Charlotte…the Cheesecake Factory!

Topic: Cheesecake Factory
Two Interesting Facts I Learned:
1. One of the restaurant’s menu items, the crispy chicken costoletta, contains more calories (2,610) than a bucket of fried chicken from KFC.
2. The chain only operates 208 restaurants – obviously not enough because I have never lived in a place with a Cheesecake Factory location.

We switched gears again, this time looking up the movie we watched in our hotel room that morning, “The Flintstones.”

Topic: “The Flintstones”
Two Interesting Facts I Learned:
1. John Candy, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase were all considered to play the role of Fred – it ended up going to John Goodman.
2. Rosie O’Donnell won the role of Betty because of her perfect impersonation of Betty’s laugh.

Still on my mind after eating lunch before we left Charlotte, I pressured Sid to teach me about Panda Express. However, exhausted from reading and discussing so much with me over the past 90 minutes, she said “no way.”


Road trips that go by fast are great because they usually mean you were enjoying yourself. Taking advantage of the wonders of Wikipedia is a fabulous way to expedite time in the car. Thank you to Sid for putting up with me! Don’t Blink.

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