Sunday, May 29, 2005

Santa Cruz Trip: Day Two

Today we went somewhere where I hadn’t been in more than 20 years: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I think I was in junior high the last time I set foot there. It was the very first time for Tim — and one of those rare moments where I’ve actually been somewhere that Tim hasn’t (my parents weren’t RV enthusiasts).

A view of the boardwalk and the beach, from the sky tram. (05/29/05)

We had a great time going on many of the rides, and eating all sorts of junk food (garlic fries, cheese on a stick, English toffee, and cotton candy — freshly made, not that pre-bagged stuff). I also had much more appreciation for the Boardwalk’s history than I did as a kid.

Tim had them make cotton candy right before his very eyes (no pre-bagged cotton candy for him). (05/29/05)

It’s not only California’s oldest amusement park, it’s also a State Historic Landmark. At one point there were seven seaside amusement parks in California. Today the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the last remaining one. It’s also home to two National Historic Landmarks: the Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper roller coaster.

The Looff carousel, built in 1911, features one of the few remaining brass ring machines in the country (although these days the rings are made of steel), and if you grab outside horses (which we did), you can still grab a ring and attempt to throw it in the clown’s mouth. Meanwhile, the original 342-pipe band organ plays a delightful, early twentieth century musical accompaniment.

Tim, Jenn and Doris get ready to grab the rings on the historic 1911 Looff Carousel. (05/29/05)

The Giant Dipper roller coaster, built by Arthur Looff in 1924, is the 7th oldest operating roller coaster in the world, and hosted its 50 millionth rider in 2002. It was built in just 47 days at a cost of $50,000. Cost to ride on opening day was 15 cents (today it’s $3.60 for an individual ticket). And after years of roller coaster riding, this one still holds up.

In addition to the carousel and roller coaster, we also rode the caveman ride, bumper cars, the sky tram, the pirate ship, some skydiving ride, another smaller roller coaster and some ghost hunting ride where you shoot targets in a haunted house.

Jenn, Tim and Doris have a great time on the cliff hanger. (05/29/05)

We left around 2:30 to go back to Doris & Jenn’s home to rest up a little before dinner, which was at some kooky Italian restaurant called Ciao Bella in a zany little town in the mountains called Ben Lomond.

Tim and James having fun at Ciao Bella in Ben Lomond. (05/29/05)

The interior design is simply unbelievable: disco balls, street signs, black lights, old Barbra Streisand albums, feather boas, and in the ladies room an homage to certain body parts (Jenn took a picture for us, but it’s not really very suitable for this blog).

It was lots of fun, and chock full of entertainment, including karaoke, and a well choreographed dance by the proprietor and our waitress Tapper while wearing Bill and Hillary Clinton masks (sounds weird, I know … which is exactly what it was!).

"Bill and Hillary" do the funky chicken at Ciao Bella in Ben Lomond. (05/29/05)

It was a grand ole time, and a great closer to an adventurous day.


Loren Javier said...

Wow, what a fantastic picture of Jenn, Tim and Doris on the cliff hanger. You always have great photos. I need to get myself one of those high falootin' digital camera things. I used to be up with the times, but I'm so old fashioned these days.

James & Tim said...

What you didn't see was the dozen or so other pictures I took where I was way off! :) I can't tell you how many pictures I got of the people right behind them. :)

Laura Gonzalez said...

You ate cheese on a stick? CHEESE ON A STICK?

Laura Gonzalez said...

How much is it to spend a day at the Boardwalk?