Tuesday, September 5th
Tuesday morning found us both sleeping in a tad bit since we were both gonna have redeyes home that night. Once awake, I showered, then finished packing up everything into my backpack. Luckily, everything fit since I hadn't overindulged in souvenirs. We checked out, then loaded up the car (which we hadn't even touched in the last two and a half days), and headed out to find some breakfast. On the way to Knotts, we stopped at a McDonalds for some grub.
We arrived at Knotts a little while after park opening, but the park was really dead, so we knew that lines wouldn't be a problem. Since we didn't find a Ralph’s with the discounted admission, Kevin got a AAA discount, which was better than full price at least!
Before we were even inside the park, I noticed all the trash cans that everyone always talks about! Too funny! But everyone is right, there are way too many trash cans!
The first ride we went for was Silver Bullet since it was pretty much right at the entrance to the park.
Since there was no line, I rode in the front row, and Kevin in the row behind me.
I quite enjoyed this ride, and really don't understand why everyone calls it "forceless." It had plenty of forces, just not as strong as other inverts. It was a fun ride, but not one of my favorite B&M inverts.
Teepees right up under a Beemer? Weird.
Since it was nearby, we rode Jaguar next. It was a fine ride, though nothing that thrilling.
Montezooma's Revenge was nearby, so we headed for it next. There was no line, but we still ended up waiting for quite a while before they would dispatch the train. This is just like the shuttle loop at Kentucky Kingdom, so while it's a good ride, it's sort of a "been there, done that" type feeling.
Kevin gets to know a couple of the lovely Orange County locals
The park's frisbee was near Montezooma's Revenge, so I stopped to watch it for a while. I'd been wanting to try out a frisbee that was kind of small, and didn't have an insane program on it, and this one seemed to fit that bill. Kevin didn't want to ride, so I rode by myself. I was quite worried that I wouldn't like it because of the pendulum motion, but in reality I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was fun, and not as sickening or disorienting as I thought it might be. Now I'm excited to ride a bigger or more intense one!
Kevin said that the heat was getting to him, so we popped into a candy store to cool down a bit. We had an interesting conversation about Jelly Belly jelly beans with the lady working in the store, and we tried our hardest to get her to sample some of her product, but she wouldn't! When we were sufficiently cooled down, we decided to catch a ride on the sky tower. I really enjoy these type of rides, and this one was no exception. The glass seemed very foggy or dirty though, so none of my pictures came out well :-/
Kevin still wasn't feeling 100% because of the heat, so he decided to sit out on Boomerang and go inside and stay cooled down. The boomerang had no wait, luckily, so at least I didn't have to waste half my day waiting to get my head bashed in. Good thing Kevin didn't decide later to go back and get that credit, or he'd have been riding solo! We also noticed that Perilous Plunge was open at this point, though neither of us had any intention of riding.
Moving along, we decided to ride the Timber Mountain Log Flume next. This ride had the only significant wait of the day, clocking in at just a little under half an hour. This, I believe, was my favorite ride in the park. It got us just wet enough to be cooled off, but not enough to really be wet. And it had lots of unexpected theming and show scenes inside the mountain that houses the ride. Frankly, I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the Disneyland version of Splash Mountain!
Approaching the Calico Mine Ride, Kevin thinks "Ahh, this is just like the Alhambra!"
Next, we decided to try out the Calico Mine Ride. They were only running one train, which would have made for a terrible line had there been many more people in the park. We waited probably 5 minutes or so, and were on the next vehicle that came by. I enjoyed this ride quite a bit too! But Kevin and I both had the question...does this ride count as a coaster?? It's pretty much like a train ride, or a dark ride, but then it's got a chain lift at the end! If you count powered coasters, should you count this ride? I don't know! It straddles the line between coaster and not-a-coaster more than any other ride I can think of!
We were both getting snacky by the time we left the ride, but we knew that we wanted the Mrs. Knotts Chicken Dinner restaurant to be our dinner stop. As we passed a fruit stand, Kevin picked up a container of watermelon and I got a container of strawberries. We went into the nearby Calico Saloon and sat down to eat. I pondered getting a giant pickle to accompany my strawberries (and pondered buying a garter even more, since it was on the menu right next to the popcorn!) but ultimately decided to find something heartier since I was really hungry.
I walked out the opposite side of the saloon and found a place with potato soup in a bread bowl on the menu. After being assured that it didn't have bacon in it, I ordered a bowl and headed back to the saloon.
After the first bite, I could honestly say that that potato soup was some of the best soup I had ever eaten! It had a huge handful of cheese on the top of it that was now gooey and stringy, and the soup itself was still steaming hot. And the bread bowl...yum! It was so soft and fluffy! I just never imagined that I would go so crazy over a bowl of potato and cheese soup...but it was truly a fabulous meal! Best theme park food I've had in a long time!!
As I was finishing up, a show was beginning, so we stayed and watched. It was pretty cute...it was the story about a woman who left her boyfriend because he wouldn't marry her, and he was trying to get her back. It was funny, though I doubt I'd go out of my way to see it again.
Before the show, Kevin had also purchased a sasparilla, which I didn't even know that they made anymore!
A show time for the Mystery Lodge was coming up soon, so we headed deeper into the western themed area of the park. This area was so cute, and so well themed. Most buildings had windows that you could peek inside and see little dioramas of things going on at the time. Lots looked like bedrooms or offices, while one was a post office, and one was a gold seller.
My favorite was one that appeared to be a man sitting in a barber's chair, while the barber nervously eyed a wanted poster with a picture of the man in the chair on it! Those were great little touches!
On the way to Mystery Lodge, we passed a gold mining sluice, and having wanted to try out gold panning for some time, I decided to give it a go. It was $6 and you got a pan full of dirt and sand to sift through.
Long story short, I got pretty tired pretty quick, so I asked the man working there for help.
Tom, AKA Dead Elvis
Once he emptied out my entire pan of sand, he'd only found one little tiny chunk of gold. So he reached into a bag behind his back and pulled out a few handfuls of what was obviously not regular sand! Every hadful had a few tiny pieces of gold in it, and by the time I was done, I had enough gold to cover the bottom of the vial they gave me. I wish I'd found more, but what I was got was ok too.
Finally, we headed into the Mystery Lodge. The employee let us into the air conditioned preshow early since it was so hot outside, and everyone was pretty much wiped out and laying on the floor. Kevin and I laid down too, which felt great after walking all morning. Soon the show started, and I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed this show! I loved it! I thought the story was so beautiful, and was presented so well! It even made me misty eyed a couple of times! Kevin didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I did, but it was my favorite thing in the whole park! I don't know why people don't talk about it more...it was wonderful.
Kevin does his best "Dead Kevin" impression. Convincing, no?
We wandered around a bit more, popped our heads into the teddy bear shop, and pondered having an antique photo session done. We also found an old schoolhouse with some interesting framed items! One was rules for teachers, with rules such as "After ten hours in school, teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or any other good books" hahahaha Another was a list of punishments for things such as "wetting each other during washing at playtime" and "climbing for every foot over three feet up a tree" haha The school also had garters for sale, so I picked up one since I thought it was one of the more random souvenirs I'd seen!
Ghostrider was the last major coaster we needed to ride, and when we arrived, it had no line. The coaster is very pretty...it takes a great picture! But that's just about the only nice thing I can say about it! After my ride, I now have five woodies that are on the lowest rung of my coaster list...the "never in a million years will I ride that pile of crap again" rung. We hadn't even made it 1/3rd of the way through the ride before we were both grimacing and wanting off.
The onride photo is priceless though! I wanted to buy a copy, but no one was manning the photo booth. Unfortunately, this ride has a really nice layout...sort of adds insult to injury to imagine just how great this coaster would be if it didn't try to kill its riders.
The last credit left in the park was Timberline Twister, so we headed off to Camp Snoopy. This area seemed a little haphazard, but was very shady, which was great! Kevin stopped for a frozen drink, then we got in line for the coaster. This was the first time that I almost hadn't fit into a coaster I was trying to ride!
Kevin notes that this is the first time he's been able to drink a drink during a roller coaster ride.
Kevin fit just fine (he was straddling the lap bar) but I wasn't able to fit when tucking both of my legs onto one side of the car. So I got out, they sent the train, and when the next one came around, I was able to fit by straddling the lap bar. Whew!
As we wandered, we saw some caves with suspension bridges leading to them. We both thought "Cool! Like Tom Sawyer's Island!"...uh, no. The cave was only a few feet long, and had nothing in it. Lame! They also had a very carnival-y looking Ferris wheel, which looked very out of place for such a large park.
We were pretty much done with the park by this time, so we started back towards the front of the park. We passed the Butterfield Stagecoach along the way, and since the line was pretty short, we decided to ride. We only had to wait through one "cycle" which was good since the ride has such an insanely low capacity. I thought it was a pretty interesting ride, though not one I would ever wait very long for! They also had a funny "Rules for stage riders" sign just before you enter the stagecoach!
When we left, we saw that the train was just about to leave, so we decided to ride that also. Everyone else was seated in the open sided car just behind the driver, but we decided to sit in the front section with the driver, despite it's being closed in with windows. That was a really good decision because since we were the only two up there, we got a private lesson about the history of the train The Galloping Goose. The front originally had a gasoline powered car attached to it, but it now runs on deisel per the modern codes. There were also photos of the train when it was in service as a real train, which was very interesting! The train conductor was awesome...you can tell that he's really into his job, and loves what he does.
Being completely done with the park, we scooted out the front gate with about half an hour left before park closing.
We decided that since everyone and their mother raves about the Mrs. Knotts Chicken Dinner Restaurant, we wanted to try it out for ourselves. There was only one large group in front of us when we arrived, but not everyone in their party was there, so we got to go ahead of them.
We were seating towards the back, next to what appeared to be an outdoor patio that was now closed in.
I got the fried chicken as my entree, and got chicken noodle soup as my appetizer. The soup was great, though it was exactly like what they serve at the Mr. Gatti’s I have been to numerous times near SFKK. Does Mr. Gatti’s buy Knotts chicken soup, or do they both buy from someone else? Hmm...the mystery continues. Kevin got the rhubarb soup, which he said was great too. I took a little bite, and having never tried rhubarb before, I thought it was pretty good.
When the entree arrived, I really was expecting it to be better! I got three HUGE pieces of chicken, which was way too much to finish (I finished one and a half pieces). But the chicken had barely any flavor...the batter was very flavorless, and there was very little of it at that. Any average piece of KFC chicken would have been more flavorful. And the mashed potatoes were abysmal! Ugh, they were like drywall paste! Not one bit of seasoning in them...no salt, no butter, no nothing! Ugh! Couldn't eat more than one bite of them. Even the rolls had no flavor. Would it kill them to brush some butter over the tops of them?
But then the waitress did something that really didn't sit well with me. She came back to the table and asked if we were full, or something to that effect. We said yes, and she reminded us that dessert was included in the price, and that she could box it up to go if we wanted. Since I'm so picky, I was just gonna ask for ice cream for dessert, which isn't something you can really take with you. And we were heading straight to the airport when we left, so we wouldn't really have time to eat anything later. So I said that I'd rather eat it then. So she stressed again how she would be more than happy to box it up, but again I said that I'd rather eat it there. So she walked away for a bit, then comes back and says something like "So I'm boxing up your dessert to go?"
Now, I know that any restaurant wants to put through as many people as they can in a day, but this insistence on us taking our dessert to go was extremely rude in my opinion. I had to tell her that we wanted to eat it there three times before she asked us what we wanted! It really felt like she didn't care if we'd enjoyed our meal or not...she just wanted us out the door as quickly as possible so she could seat another table. Needless to say that once she brought us the dessert (which was great, and just about my favorite part of the meal), she didn't return to the table.
A native southern Californian friend of mine described the Mrs. Knotts restaurant as a tradition, and I can respect it as such. But since I'm not from California, I can almost certainly say that I won't be back. The food was very average, and the service was sub-par in my experience. Kevin seemed to enjoy his entree (chicken and dumplings) much more than I did, so his opinion is probably different. I'd rather eat another bowl of the awesome potato and cheese soup than go back to Mrs. Knotts!
Leaving Knotts, we headed back towards LAX. We took a brief detour while I tried to find the Randy's Donuts, but wasn't able to find it quickly. I dropped Kevin off at the arrivals gate, and bid him a sad farewell until December.
With Kevin safely on his way, I headed back out in search of the Randy's Donuts. I found it quickly on the second try, but since it was dark, I didn't get very good picture of it. I called my mom and chatted for a bit, then headed up to the window. She was very insistent that she wanted a t-shirt from Randy's, so I got the t-shirt and a dozen assorted donuts to take back home and share. I gave her the caveat that if I got hungry during the ride home, I reserved every right to eat a few of the donuts!
On the way to return the rental car, I stopped to top off the tank with gas, then went to return it. I rearranged most of my stuff so I could check my large backpack, and keep all my important stuff (camcorder, ipod, etc) in my smaller bag to carry on the plane. When I went to pay for the car, they acted like it was a huge inconvenience that I wanted to pay part of it in cash. When I originally got the car, the girl I got it from also acted inconvenienced because I hadn't called ahead to attach my Blue Chip number to my reservation. I had to wait for about 15 minutes in line just to get to a cashier that would even accept cash! Next time, I will know...put the Blue Chip number on ahead of time, and definitely don't pay cash!
I took the Thrifty shuttle back to the airport, were I got checked in reasonably quickly. The security line wasn't too long, but was filled with people who have no common sense. Almost every person was waiting until one x-ray machine was completely empty before going up to it, neglecting to see the huge tables in front of the machines where you get all your stuff ready to be x-rayed! The security folks kept yelling at everyone to fill in any spots they saw at the tables, but people still just stood there like morons. Airport security has got to be one horribly stressful job since you deal with a steady stream of morons all day.
Once I got to my gate, I had some time to kill, so I called Mike and chatted for a while. Later, I went and got a fruit parfait from McDonalds so it would tide me over until I got to Atlanta and could find breakfast. Just about as soon as I was done with my parfait, we started boarding.
RANT: I will NEVER carry a dozen donuts onto a plane again. When I got the first comment or two about the donuts, I thought "heh that's kinda funny." But then more and more people started making comments about the donuts...and soon it felt like every person who came within five feet of me felt obligated to comment on the fact that I had donuts with me! You couldn't smell them...and they were just in a plain brown box, so it's not like the box screamed DONUTS either! And do you believe that I had two people even ask me the question "Is that a live animal, or is it donuts?" What the hell kind of idiotic question is that??? Is it a LIVE ANIMAL or is it DONUTS??? Give me a freaking break! I don't even think a person who reeks of body odor would get as many "I hope I'm not sitting next to you!" comments as I got with those donuts. So a word to the wise...as nice as it may seem to bring your mom a dozen donuts from an iconic donut shop in SoCal..DON'T DO IT!
Anyway, once the donuts were safely stored, I was fast asleep. I only woke up a few times...on take off, when I was handed my little snack pack, one time when I moved from one seat to the one beside me, then when we were about to land. It was nice to get some decent sleep on a plane for once.
Arriving in Atlanta, I didn't have too much time to spare, but I had just enough to get to my gate and find a Nathan’s Hot Dogs along the way! I'd never had a Nathan’s hot dog, so I ordered two with sauerkraut. I knew that the very last thing I needed was to not only carry those donuts onto the plane, but to carry two sauerkraut loaded hot dogs onto the plane with me also! So I ate them as quickly as I could, and didn't finish until after my plane was loading. They were good...I'd definitely get them again.
The flight from Atlanta to Nashville was pretty much just like the LA to Atlanta leg. The girl next to me looked like Claire Danes, but I was too tired to try and start a conversation with her and figure out if it was her or not...probably wasn't, so no big loss. The next thing I knew, I was landing in Nashville. After collecting my backpack, my mom arrived to pick me up. She drove me to my place, where I promptly opened up the box of donuts and declared that by God they were going to be the best donuts she'd ever eaten in her whole life! In reality, they were good, but not anywhere near good enough to go through the airport donut hell that I went through to get them back to Nashville again! As soon as she left, I hit the sack and got some more sleep.