Yesterday morning was overcast and gloomy and then it rained. (RAIN in Southern California! In September?! What?) I thought "oh, this bodes well for tomorrow. Yay!" because I love me a theme park in the rain. I envisioned cool breezes and maybe a sprinkle of mist. I saw myself in long sleeves and socks. I imagined the tourist throngs being scared away by the weather (weather!) and Knott's Berry Farm being wide open with no lines for any ride. I dreamed a Utopia.
Instead it was sunny as all get loose, and about 85 degrees at 10am! Holy moley. By 11am I was sweaty and smelly and had to sit in air conditioning for about half an hour just to regain some semblance of normality. I don't know how hot it ended up being (on the black top, in full sunshine) but tomorrow's forecast is for a high of 92 and says that it will be cooler than today, so... yeah. WARM!
Whether it was weather or just the low-season doldrums, the park was EMPTY. We got there right when the park opened, because it has abbreviated operating hours due to Halloween Haunt and we wanted to see it all! We met Kate at the gate and then rushed in and headed toward the park's newest coaster, Pony Express, and were prepared for a long wait in line... only, there was NO ONE in line. Not one person. We nearly rode the coaster alone, until 4 more people came to join. Thinking this was a fluke, we accepted our good fortune and moved on. To the Calico Mine Ride, which also had NO LINE. Eventually, about 20 other people came in behind us, but still - a 10 minute wait (and only because they were running one train at a time and that's the ride cycle). Log Ride? This is where almost everyone in the park was waiting, because it was so hot -- everyone needed that peripheral splash to get them through the noon. We waited maybe 7 minutes. So, um, yeah. Every ride line was the same way the entire day. Just walk right on, why don't you?
It was awesome. We poked around and studied all the details of the old Ghost Town and the remarkable things that no one else ever slows down to appreciate. We talked to the blacksmith and conversed with Sad Eye Joe. We strolled through the shops -- which, I have to give major props to Knott's for their shopping. Since Paul Pressler and his cronies homogenized Disneyland shopping, it is downright boring at the House of Mouse. Once upon a time, DL had shops that reflected the individual character of the 'land' they were in. Antiques in old New Orleans, fine art on Main Street, astronaut ice cream in Tomorrowland, etc. Now it's the same 10 t-shirts and princess crap in every shop. It's very sad. But Knott's has preserved the unique shopping experience. Get a horseshoe with your name on it from the real, live blacksmith and watch him put it into the fire, get red hot, and hammer that puppy into shape! Buy arts and decor from local craftsmen, authentic Native American memorabilia, etc. Want Snoopy stuffed animals? You've gotta go to Camp Snoopy (the kid's area), you won't find it in Ghost Town. I love that.
We had a delicious lunch at Mrs. Knott's famous chicken restaurant, where we were served by the quintessential diner waitress. Her name was Lola or Shirley or maybe it was Kiss My Grits, and she was awesome. About 99 years old. False eyelashes out to here. BRIGHT red lipstick, kind of Madame-esque. A total hoot. (But watch out, because she pimps the cabbage side dish pretty hard. Just be strong and ask for salad instead.) While everyone else ate, I talked and talked and then talked some more (but with my mouth full) about the book I was reading by Erich Von Daniken and asked how is it that someone so nuts can have such a valid point [besides being a rabble rouser for archaeoarcheology, his basic question is: why are we closed minded about new theories, i.e. aliens visiting earth in prehistoric times, because it doesn't fit neatly into the "official" version of our history? That has been true of every discovery and new creation in the world, and yet if we had ignored those, e.g. the world is flat, where would we be today?]. We had a really interesting (to me, anyway) conversation about unexplainable things and speculations about the pyramids and why maybe aliens have been to earth in the past 10 million years (why not?). And then after lunch we wandered through the "museum" inside the park that has various tools and artwork and all sorts of goodies from the past (which was really amazing) and solved the 'how the pyramids were built' mystery. I'm not telling just yet, but I think we honestly might have a new idea to toss into the fray. We also saw a saloon show, featuring Calico Kate and got our fortunes told by a rusty old fortune teller machine. The funniest thing about that was the fortunes were totally accurate, only about 10 years late. Which, incidentally, was the last time anyone spent time at Knott's. [cue the crazy coincidence music]
We had a bunch of fun and got sunburned and heat stroked and tired feet and sweaty backs and we're going to do it again. Thanks to good ol' Burger King, discount ticket coupons abound and we took full advantage of the 'come twice and it pays for itself' hype and bought annual passes. So now we're officially those people who hold annual passes for all the theme parks in town. Oy. But Oy in a good way. And speaking of Oy, Shanah Tova!
I'm excited to be able to spend time at Knott's again, and on my own terms (since we have the passes, we can go for just an hour if we want) and I'm looking forward to the Christmas holiday make-over and seeing all the arts and crafts that get brought in. Although, it's looking pretty cool/creepy right now for the Halloween Haunt prep. Devil babies hiding in trees, rotting corpses on all the lampposts, etc. AND, oh man, who remembered that Ghostrider was so dang bumpy? Oh, no one? Well it IS. My brain was jarring around so much that I ended up gripping the hand-hold and semi-standing and basically riding it like a horse to lower the impact. Which was hilarious to see via the video that was available for purchase, courtesy of the on-board camera. I was able to sneak a bit of it from the preview screen, which I will upload soon. HILARIOUS STUFF. Check out someone else's on YouTube.
I am thoroughly exhausted from the heat. I need to lie down and dream about aliens and boysenberry pie.
Fun fact: Did you know that Walter Knott named the fruit we now call 'boysenberries'?