I am loving this thread! I hope it gets bumped to the front page. I look forward to the rest of it. Your juxtaposition of facts, pictures and personal stories is fascinating reading. If you ever decide to put it all into a coffee table book. I would gladly pre-order one right now.
Like you, I have a great love for this particular ride as well. My father was Sea Bee Engineer in the Navy, and we moved every 2 years up and down the Southern California coast. But for the most part we kept bouncing back to being stationed in San Diego. While not as active as you were in seeing this coaster restored, I did have a great interest in it as a child. My uncle Henri and Aunt Susan lived, and still live about 20 blocks away from the park and we would often stroll by there on morning and evening walks when we would visit. I had my first rides on the Dipper (then Earthquake) in 75' & 76'. Next to the Matterhorn, Corkscrew at Knott's, and The Great American Revolution, it was one of my first "Big Boy" rollercoasters. And as far as I can remember my first ever woodie. We moved across the US in fall of 76', and I didn't even realize that the park had shut down untill we came back to the westish coast (Vegas) in 81'. it was only then on a trip to see my Aunt and Uncle there in Mission Bay when I learned of the state in which the coaster existed. My Uncle Henri filled me and my brothers in on how no one was ever sure what was actually going on with the whole property. That it was tied up in some sort of legal battles because it was now a State Landmark. I remember he would always just end his comments with, "I really don't care what they do with it. I just want them to either fix it, or tear it down. Cause all it is right now is an eyesore and a fire hazard." I didn't realize at the time that he was referencing the fires.
It was such a pleasure to get to ride it again when I visited in 06'. For the past 4 years, I have made it a point to get in a few laps while I am down there working Comic Con.
Again, fantastic thread. It is a pleasure reading this and I thank you.