austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Turn off your mind, relax, and float down stream

What brought us to Denver way too early on a Thursday morning for a frightfully brief trip was the fear Lakeside Amusement Park might close. We had heard dire things about the ancient and, to all reports, gorgeous park, ones that made it sound closer to Conneaut Lake Park than anything healthy. It seemed wise not to put it off any longer. Also bringing us there: Frontier Airlines, which despite its participation in Flightmare was also offering direct flights.

Trouble is the flight was so early in the day that we had to spend some time puttering around Denver Airport. The alternative was to have our rental car for four days and a couple hours, or as the rental agency considers it, five days. Fortunately Denver Airport has stuff to do even outside security, as it was built during that 90s era when they figured airports could also be really expensive shopping malls. Mostly we ate at a pretty good burrito place. Also waited for our luggage. Our ``luggage coming up on the carousel that the flight attendants announce and that the baggage-carousel signboard says it's coming up on'' streak, going back to December of 2016, went unbroken.

Finally we could go get our rental car! At the same time that everyone in the world was getting a rental car, apparently. Also in the middle of Denver's worst heat wave since the last time the Sun went nova. We had rented a compact car, because that's the kind of people we are. So did everyone else arriving in Denver. So we stayed there, waiting, in the sun, until the rental people said if there weren't a compact ready in two minutes we could take anything else on the lot. Like, say, this Dodge Challenger muscle car whose hood came up to my chest and that had the front grill that says, ``come over here where I can punch you''. Well, no cars came, and the rental car people were very enthusiastic that we take the Challenger. Also some bottled water. We finally gave in, and spent like ten minutes trying to get the side windows to stop pointing down. (It turned out they just fold manually down for some reason, and this wasn't something that could be adjusted by any control on the dashboard.)

This was possibly the most ridiculous car I could ever drive. My Scion tC is about four times too sporty a car for my personality; the Challenger just made me look puny inside. But it got a lot of attention, and mystified our AirBnB hosts. Also it lacked a satellite navigator, validating my decision that we should bring one of ours. But it did have satellite radio. We tried out the Beatles Station for what was meant to be a few minutes and turned into the whole weekend. We hear advertisements for it on DishTV's music stations, but they don't carry the actual station.

And it turned out driving to our AirBnB home wasn't bad. Mostly interstates, including a stretch where bunny_hugger could see Lakeside Park and I couldn't because I was trying to work out the road paths. The rental car threatened to capside the house's driveway, and our hosts somehow got the idea we had driven here and wondered where we drove from that we arrived at 1 pm. They didn't imagine we'd have flown in that early, I guess. I can sympathize. I'm a bit mystified by it myself.

Our AirBnB hosts had their whole basement floor set up, as a bedroom, library, secondary lounge area with a mini-fridge, Keurig coffee maker, and plate of like 800 giant muffins, and bathroom. Their daughter used to reside there; now, they're retired, so, why not do this? The husband we saw repeatedly working in the garden (with this plant-overhung corner that inspired envy and landscaping ideas from us) or on some kind of carpentry project.

After getting settled in we took a short nap that turned into a huge nap, carrying us into the early evening. Long enough that it spoiled our dinner plans, which were to go to Casa Bonita. Which name you might have heard of, as it was the guest star of an episode of South Park. It's this crazypants Mexican-themed ... show ... experience ... spectacle, and getting to it was one of the minor goals for our Denver expedition. By reports we'd need like three hours to see it fairly; we had maybe one, if we hurried. So we instead walked to a neighborhood Mexican restaurant and ate there while being very distracted by the crazy computer-animated movie on the TV. (It turned out to be The Croods, which we had seen for some reason and remembered liking.)

And on that almost-anticlimax we brought our first Denver day to an end: we had arrived, slept comfortably in a bedroom apartment despite the heat wave (it never felt hot at all), and had eaten more burritos than average for a single day. Still, a pretty good start to things.

In hindsight. Had we known how things would develop. We probably should have tried going to Lakeside Amusement Park, to get in a couple of hours of visiting it at night. It's only about four dollars to get in, and you can buy individual rides after that. The food might be the usual basic amusement park ``vegetarian food? Uh, you can have cheese pizza, cheese fries, or pretzels'' fare, but we could have coped. But we didn't realize, among other things, that Lakeside Park was about 25 feet away from where we were staying. But, hindsight, as I say. Getting a full night's sleep was worth doing too.

Trivia: The first Farrell Line container ship, the Austral Envoy, reportedly set a transpacific speed record for the Panama Canal-to-Sydney route in the early 1970s, steaming 7,928 miles in thirteen days and seven hours, an average speed of 24.85 knots. Source: Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed The World, Brian J Cudahy.

Currently Reading: A Short History of Machine Tools, L T C Rolt.

PS: Now we're into July 2017, photographically, and a dive into South Jersey that would see us visit three amusement parks in one day. Yes, this was madness.


The entrance to Storybook Land, deep in South Jersey, near Egg Harbor. It's another amusement park set right alongside the highway and while there's a deeper parking lot in back, yeah, there's strip mall parking out front.


Fairy-tale castle entrance to Storybook Land, here from the part that isn't really an entrance to anything except the bathrooms.


And now here's the real entrance, except that's more of the exit from the gift shop. The entrance is way the heck off on the end. Still, yes, by the time we got to here we were already thoroughly charmed by the park and everything about it.

Tags: denver dash, elitch gardens, fifth anniversary trip, story book land
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