Chaos Attraction

Do Knott Go There

2011-12-30, 9:08 a.m.

(And here's the final backdated vacation entry. From now on, we join the modern era in 2012...)

Years ago back in the 80's, we used to go to Knott's Berry Farm along with Disneyland. Neither of us remembers a whole lot about it beyond going to Camp Snoopy and eating fantastic fried chicken dinners at this point, nor do we remember why we stopped going. But at some point, Mom was all, "hey, why not go to Knott's again while we're down there?" Sure, why not. She bought tickets.

Mom had bought a 3-day park hopper ticket for Disneyland/California Adventure, thinking that we'd show up in SoCal Monday afternoon and do Disneyland for a few hours since it was open till midnight. But by the time we got there at 7 p.m. that night, neither of us were in the damn mood. And after finding out on Tuesday that we couldn't get a reservation at the Blue Bayou until Wednesday, and the early morning hours at the park were Tuesdays and Thursdays....well, the plan was to skip out to Knott's for one of the three full days we were down there, but then she decided, "oh, we'll just go to Knott's before we drive home."

I thought this was a bad idea when I heard it. Especially since it took 8 hours to get down here in the first place. "But we're not going back to YOUR place, we're going back to mine, which is shorter," she pointed out.

As time went on, this seemed like more and more of a bad idea. But by late Thursday night when we staggered home early (by early I mean 10:30 rather than 11:30, btw, because Mom kind of had a meltdown and demanded to go home early. Managed to stretch it out by a few hours with dinner and taking her to see Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, which always makes her happy), even I was feeling rather theme parked out. I don't remember feeling theme parked out while going to Disneyworld, but then again, that was a huge, probably one time trip to a place I'd never seen before and therefore I had the drive to do everything there. Also, Disneyworld parks were shutting down by about 8 p.m. there at the time and thus you still had a few hours to kick back without feeling like you were missing out. When Disneyland is open from 8 a.m. (or 7 a.m. on Magic Morning) till midnight, you feel like you need to be getting your time and money's worth... so we weren't sleeping a whole lot. It was kind of like going to a con: try to get 6 hours sleep and 1 shower every few days or something.

So basically, by the time we had packed up our shit at the hotel and had driven down to Knott's, I was already fairly tired and not really in the mood to do another theme park. I would have been quite happy to just skip going. Except we had already paid for the tickets, so that wasn't happening. And on top of that, Disneyland, etc. is done so well that any theme park was going to look like crap right after that. And on top of THAT, it turned out that Knott's is now pretty much a Six Flags-esque park. (Note: not officially, I'm just saying it's a "type.") Which is to say that most of the park now revolves around death-defying, vomit-inducing rides that my mom absolutely ain't gonna go on. I think there might have been one ride out of 20 there that she might have been willing to go on. But since we weren't going to be able to spend all day and night there anyway, it was probably all for the best that the park wasn't overstuffed with awesome things I'd be very sorry to miss out on when we left early. She wanted to leave by 3 p.m., and the number "5" immediately popped into my head. Whee, psychic information as to HOW late we're gonna be there.

But even beyond me not being in the mood, KBT not being as good of a theme park, us having to leave early, blah de blah... I had a very "oh dear effing god, THIS PARK IS CRAP!" reaction to the place. I'm not sure if it was out of proportion to what the actual park is like. I'm sure most folks who like going to Six Flags Vomit Comit Adventure Parks would be quite happy to go here, and that is just not so much my thing. (I go to the Six Flags nearby me because it's also an animal park and I spend most of the time there going to animal shows.) But all I kept thinking was that we were going to be dragging ass back to the Bay Area at midnight while Mom whined about how sleepy she was and we'd be fighting over whether or not to have me drive on the freeway at night with her... and this park was NOT worth paying that price. Maybe Disneyland would be worth leaving late for, but NOT this place.

It's just...kinda not that impressive. The themes of this park are (a) old Wild West (kind of blah-ly done) and (b) Peanuts, but that's mostly for the wee kids, and I am kinda big for Camp Snoopy these days. The shops are full of odd merchandise-- and yet, I of all people didn't buy a darned thing. We went to three shows while we were there and 2 out of 3 were bloody awful. The Wild West show is about fifteen minutes long, I really don't know what the hell the plot was, and it was mostly really bad slapstick that made you ashamed for occasionally laughing at it. I felt embarrassed for the performers.

Then there was the saloon show. I don't know what the KBT people were thinking with this show because that building is NOT set up for a show well. There's a handful of chairs on each floor (2 stories) and tables, and otherwise people have to awkwardly stand around in the back. It's not set up to accommodate a lot of people at all even with standing room early. And the show (which according to the program was 25 minutes) started 10 minutes late and ended after about 12 minutes. It consisted of one guy singing and another playing the piano. The fellow sings well, but the schtick he came out with in between songs was...also not good. I kind of wanted to leave early (in a 12-minute long show!), but given how close you are to the dude making eye contact with you and calling people out, I figured it'd be like walking out at a stand-up comedy show: asking for trouble. But it ended after 12 minutes, so. You can't help but wonder why the hell a show would start 10 minutes late when there are only two people in it. I wondered if one was lost or stuck having diarrhea, but I think Mom nailed it: "I think the girls didn't show up." Probably so.

Okay, I have a few good things about KBT as opposed to Disneyland:
(a) You can walk into any fairly crowded show within 5 minutes of the show starting and still get in.
(b) Disneyland so far does not appear to have any ice rinks.
(c) The Snoopy on Ice holiday show was actually quite good.
(d) The gift shops nearby KBT (not inside KBT) are quite fancy. (A few photos of this start here.)
(e) The fried chicken is delicious.

The third show we saw was Snoopy on Ice (photos start here.), and that was actually the one good thing within the park. I wanted to see people skating in large unwieldy costumes, and by god, I got to! It was a bunch of skating numbers, with Snoopy or the occasional other character, and that was just fine and dandy. So, one hour of the day wasn't a waste.

But by the time we got out of that--around 2:30, I think--I had had e-fucking-nough of this shitty park and wanted to leave. Now I was the one throwing a tantrum, while Mom was in a bizarrely giggly mood and kept wanting to give the park a chance ("Want to go on a ride? I'll wait") and hit the stores. I was all, "Look, I just want to get our chicken dinners and LEAVE ALREADY." I'm pretty sure I was actually growling most of the times I said that. Okay, fine.

Except for the part where there was an hour and a half long line just to get seated at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinners Restaurant. This is about where I freaking wanted to blow up, because while I love me some fried chicken and I really wanted that chicken dinner (note: we hadn't eaten today yet either), the last thing I wanted to do was to wait an hour and a half just to get a fucking table, because that would mean we were spending MORE TIME at Knott's Berry Farm. Now, coincidentally, I found a "Chicken to Go" section of the restaurant around the other side of the building with a shorter line. I begged and begged Mom to just go buy a chicken dinner to go there and we'd find somewhere else to eat it, so we could LEAVE before it got dark. She didn't want to--really didn't want to and it took like 20 minutes of convincing-- but she finally caved in and waited in the other line. This also took awhile, but probably still not as bloody long as waiting to sit down would have been.

However...we promptly got lost trying to find which parking lot had our car in it, and by the time we found the car and sat down to eat in it...well, we didn't end up leaving until 5 p.m. Hell, we could have stood around in the fucking line for an hour and a half, and had a sit down chicken dinner, and left just as fucking late as we did anyway. GRRRR.

NEVER going back there again, except maybe for the dinner. I'm just saying. My 80's memories are now tainted.

Well, at least Mom didn't get sleepy until we got home at 11:30. So there was something. Took 6 hours to get back (about 2 of that leaving LA and 40 minutes of it on the grapevine).

So, back to the moving dilemma.

We had six long hours in the car to discuss that on Friday night.

It went better this time. I pointed out that I'm not particularly happy living my life here at this point--I would describe it as "just okay." Not horrible, but not terribly spectacular at this point either and unless I get laid off, things are going to stay the same. Mom chirped on about how she is enjoying life these days other than moping about the damn ex-boyfriend, and I kind of had to bring it back to "weren't we talking about me instead of whatever random crap just rolled through your head?" there. I asked her what she thought was going to happen to me if I stayed here and she was all.... "Yeah, I don't think anything else is going to happen for you there." I think that's where she kind of got the point about why I might want to do something different even if it's not around her. She's still freaked about the idea of moving with no job and thinks I should get a car first and I agree there, but she seemed slightly more sane or at peace or less disturbed about the whole thing. Or at least not so inclined to argue with me about it. After she left my house Monday night, she called to say that she was on my side no matter what I decided and she didn't want to hold me back in life. Good to know.

But...while I certainly like the atmosphere of SoCal, I seriously hadn't even been in a car driving around SoCal for several years before making this decision, and when that was, I wasn't thinking of it from the point of view of an actual driver. I pretty much don't think that way unless I am actually driving--while someone else drives I pretty much feel like I'm on a ride and someone else is taking care of my safety somehow. So looking at it from a point of view of "it's going to take you hours to get anywhere on the freeway" and "right now you can't even figure out how to drive to Sacramento yet" and "you've been a fucking slow learner at driving your whole damn life, what makes you think you're going to miraculously handle THIS in 8 months, hello?", well...

I'm not particularly changing my mind about moving in general, but maybe I should fucking postpone it for another year and wait out the 20 months so I am more used to driving before I go. I don't like the idea of it, it doesn't particularly make me feel good inside and makes me wonder if I'll lag so far that I'll never move at all, and backtracking on this big decision isn't great either... but maybe I should wait. Mom said that I should think it out for another month. Maybe so. But realistically, I don't think I am going to speed up my comfort with freeway driving in a massive way at this point. Especially when I am reluctant to drive with Mom in the car. I don't know. I am tired of being undecided about this shit, but...

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