Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Scream If You Wanna Go Faster 

I went down to fetch coffee and cornflakes from a little breakfast counter in the motel reception.
The same lad who had checked us in last night stood up to say hello. His hair was all sticky up and he was still in his pyjamas. He'd clearly been sleeping just behind the reception desk. I apologised for waking him and scampered back to our room to tell Girlfriend.

It was another sunny California morning and we walked into town.
My friend Juggling Protege tells me that in Liverpool, if you see a pair of shoes dangling from telegraph wires, it means that's where drug dealers go about their business. I wonder if the same applies in Santa Cruz.

The town, like our motelier, was just waking up: shops were opening their shutters to the day, and the only people about were students heading off to college and homeless people congregated around the bus station. It was all very ordered and civilised. There were two pleasingly old fashioned looking cinemas in the town.

They reminded me of that scene in Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner steps out of his motel to discover he's back in 1972, and the Godfather is showing at the picture house, and he meets Moonlight Graham out on his evening stroll. I love that film.

I splashed out on a few new T-shirts – not literally, thankfully – and the young salesman in American Apparel, on hearing our non-Californian accents asked where we were from. I gave my stock answer – North West England, an hour's drive from Manchester. He mentioned that his favourite band was from Manchester, and when he said it was Elbow everything briefly went warm and fuzzy as we chatted about how great they are, blah blah, etc. So that was nice.

We wandered down to the amusement park on the Beach Boardwalk, where went on the ferris wheel – it goes really high up! - and rode the Giant Dipper, which being made entirely of wood and paint makes it something of a historic relic.
I feel slightly sheepish confessing that before today I'd never been on a rollercoaster, but I have now and it was fantastic and terrible and fantastic. Now I understand why people scream and shout on rollercoasters – it's because you can't help it. It's just the natural thing to do. I feel I'm ready for The Big One now.
Girlfriend also went on the carousel, another historically important monument owing to its “throw the brass ring into the clown's mouth” feature. I took loads of snaps of her riding gently round and round, and she looks really sweet and lovely, grinning like a big kid.

There were loads of school kids running around the place, and lots of teachers standing around with clipboards trying to keep tabs on everybody, and there was a really pleasant atmosphere.
It's a while since I've been to Blackpool's Pleasure Beach, but I don't remember the atmosphere being so good natured and innocent as this.
Kids in America, as the poet and philosopher Kim Wilde once said, all seem so polite and well mannered. It's something you notice again and again, and I'm sure it wasn't just us viewing the world through rose-tinted “We're on our holidays so everything seems great” glasses.
If they do have chav and townie kids in the States, then they keep them all locked up in police cells, because we certainly didn't see any. It makes a big difference.

After all that excitement we loaded up on sugary drinks then hit the road once more.
At The Mystery Spot we paid fifteen dollars to stand on unlevel surfaces while a man dressed up as a Park Ranger – but not a real Park Ranger; I bet he gets loads of stick from his Real Park Ranger mates – gave an entertaining and instructive talk.
Basically, gravity is all wonky at The Mystery Spot, a fact which continually confounds all the world's leading gravity experts. Bottles of water roll up hill! People appear taller or shorter than they actually are, depending on where they stand! You can walk up the walls! I go with the alien spacecraft theory myself.

Then it was back to San Francisco. We left the car at the airport – easier said than done - and got a taxi back into town for our second insane rollercoaster ride of the day. How he managed not to kill anybody was the real mystery of the day, but then again, maybe he did and we were just going too quick to notice.

We're staying across from Mel's Drive In.

Miles of the day: Let's call it sixty.

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