It is at this point that I remember the first time I went on that ride with my brother, friends and family. We had gotten on and off the ride multiple times and everyone had been soaked but my brother. Somehow he avoided that, or even barely a sprinkle despite the fact that they had waterfalls pouring water from up above. He was proud of himself to have missed it all those times. So a friend and I tried to tempt him on it one last time. There was no way that we could convince him, until we noticed that they shut off the waterfalls. He laughed and figured that he would be able to get out unscathed now, so he took us up on that challenge. While we began that ride with frowns, figuring he had escaped the soaking, they quickly turned as I believe he got soaked more than all of us put together, despite the fact that the waterfalls were off.
Fast forward to this last weekend and Knott’s has shut off the waterfalls, permanently. There were too many people trying to get out of their seats to avoid getting splashed, and that was too dangerous. So removing the waterfalls, Knott’s figured, would reduce the need to get out of seats to avoid getting splashed. While I was not going to get out of my seat, I knew better than to believe I could avoid getting splashed. Getting on the ride proved to be a risky proposition: for my brother then; and for myself now. And lo and behold, the chilling water claimed another victim. I might not have been as drenched as my brother on that first day. But in a race for who could be wetter, it was a photo finish. I’m not sure it’s a race I would have wanted to win. And ultimately I think my brother got the better of it all as it was a warm summer day that first time out. For me, it was the last weekend in January.
Here I am, water dripping down my body beginning with my neck and traipsing all the way down my back landing in my socks, trying to figure out what to do next. My daughter decided that we should go to the school house once again. We had done the Robin Hood play the last time we were there. The time before that we had done a play with George Washington and chopping down the cherry tree. In a role that was quite a stretch for me, I portrayed George’s father. (You can send your votes to nominate me for the Tony awards later. It will be on Broadway, I swear!!!) This time we arrived and there was a new school master in the school house.
Why did they feel the need to change things up? While going to Knott’s Berry Farm, I understand that most of the attractions there in Ghost Town are just to give you a little sense of history. The glass blower place was always one of my favorites as I was able to watch someone blow and shape glass. They also have the livery stables and the blacksmith, with people standing around watching them practice their craft. And they always have some western show going on at the Birdcage Theater. It’s like going into a living museum. Think Westworld without the shooting . . . and the robots. The schoolhouse was no different, usually. There was some school master or schoolmarm standing at the front of the classroom explaining what it was like for people to be learning way back in the day.
Today had been different. Today they had a teacher who was actually teaching lessons in the front of the class like it had been 1870. He even went out a couple of times to explain to the children about gravity and how it worked. He joked that the students should get extra credit for going to class on a Saturday. Usually, that pronouncement would have received the standard guffaws that it deserved. But today, the kids really did learn a few lessons and they were enjoying it. (Knott’s, if you are listening, you have a good thing on your hands so don’t blow it.)
But after soaking myself to the bone and sitting down to watch this different school master, after the amazing one this morning, I was sorely disappointed. And what’s worse, it meant that my daughter was no longer happy to be in the school house because she was comparing the teacher to the amazing one we had earlier in the day. My daughter usually loves that place, even with the boring people who stand up in the front of the class talking about how the school moved from Kansas in the mid 1900’s because Walter Knott wanted to retain a piece of history for his ghost town. She would have fun listening for a little while. But even if this teacher knew his stuff, nothing was going to live up to the fun of earlier in the day.
I attempted to distract her from the not quite as exciting schoolhouse by having her take her medication. It is at this point that I realize that I am missing another thing on this grand adventure besides the sunscreen. I am missing one of my daughter’s medications. I suppose I could have been happy because it was not I who had misplaced the pills. It wasn’t in her pill box that her mother packed for her when she came with me. I knew I was going to have to call her mother when I got out and possibly have to drive all the way back to her house to pick up medication after we were done at Knott’s. I suppose if everything is going to go wrong, why not that? Trying to forget about that fact, I had her take what she could, trying to extend the time in the school. But that didn’t last long and she wanted to leave.
While I am sure the next person who took my seat was not going to have a good time with how wet the bench was in the classroom, I was none too pleased myself as I was being dragged out into the rapidly cooling air of what was now night time. Thankfully we noticed they were letting people in to the Birdcage Theater to watch Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. I was able to smile knowing I was going to listen to some good bluegrass music.
If you were going to talk to me when I was growing up, and even into early adulthood, and heard me say anything about country music of any stripe, it was always going to be accompanied by an UGH!!! Or a why? If it came on the radio, I was as likely to leave the room as anything else. Krazy Kirk was the first band that convinced me that maybe . . . just maybe . . . there was something more to country music than twang!
Krazy Kirk wasn’t always so called. And if you ever go to one of their shows, despite protestations that they came from the mountains of Santa Monica, they are a group of performers who had been forged in the fires of the Mouse. Yes, that’s right, Disneyland was where they got their start, and their popularity. They had replaced the very popular Golden Horseshoe Revue. I’m sure for those who went in to the Golden Horseshoe and saw them there instead, they would have been quite a disappointment. But by the time I was able to go in to the hallowed doors of the Golden Horseshoe for first time, Kirk, I mean Billy Hill, was up there doing his shtick.
As I said in the previous blog, they were a band with a ton of talent, and a lot of comic timing. They would play anything from The Devil Went Down to Georgia to The Orange Blossom Special with a little Surry With a Fringe on Top in the stylings of Elvis to boot. Ok, maybe they didn’t do the last one all that often. But that’s what made going in there so exciting. They did their usual stuff but they always threw in something different for the people they knew to be their audience. And if you ever get to see him and his “prosTEETHus” you know you are in for a laugh, and some amazing music.
Unfortunately, as we left the school house earlier than I had planned, we had to wait a bit of time before the show. In the meantime the theater filled up to capacity, which was good as it warmed up the place. But my daughter, who had been overheated earlier in the day, now began to exhibit some stomach issues. She wanted to watch the show with me, but as a parent you know you feel badly as you watch your child contort their body to get comfortable. With every twist it was like she was twisting at my stomach instead of dealing with her own. The show couldn’t start fast enough.
When it did start it was some amazing music as always. I could express to you all the things that Kirk does in the show, but I think you should go and check it out for yourselves. If you are in Southern California and want to see an Amusement park that is a little piece of history, with some thrill rides thrown in, go to Knott’s Berry Farm and check out Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. You won’t regret that.
Although, after we were finished, I wasn’t sure whether I would regret staying at Knott’s later into the evening. I knew I was going to have to make a phone call to my daughter’s mother and figure out what was going on. I needed to make it out to the car and given her latest contortions, I didn’t know what lie in store.
Thankfully she was able to walk pretty well and make it out to the car in the parking lot. But then I was going to have to deal with the parking lot challenge. At any major event, no matter how good of a memory you have, after a long day it’s a challenge to remember precisely where your car was parked. The advent of the alarm clicker for the car was a good help in this regard, but if you didn’t make it to the proximity of the car, you better hope that it’s loud enough for you to hear. And Knott’s, unfortunately, never really designed the parking structure with easily verifiable markings to know where your car was. It’s not like there were signs on the lamp posts that read cowboy C-3. What’s worse is that Knott’s must have had a ton of lightbulbs go out all at once, or they had changed the timing for when the street lights came on, and the parking lot was dark . . . too dark.
After guessing at the aisle and walking down it, I started pressing the button. Thankfully, I wasn’t too bad of a guesser about the location of the car and I was only one aisle off and made it to my car. But by this point my phone had run out of power, so I knew I was going to have to wait a minute or two for it to charge before calling up. I'm sure that the family who came to the car next to us wondered what we were doing in the parking lot. Hopefully they didn’t get too scared by the glowing lights in the car with two bodies in the window... Maybe they thought we were waiting for Knott’s Scary Farm, 10 months too early.
After a few minutes I made that phone call about the medication. Evidently there was some confusion about where I paid for the medication and picked it up in the first place. And I am guessing there was a little bit of laziness too. Also, there was some forgetfulness, on someone’s part, to inform me that we had run out of medication and I needed to go to the pharmacy to get more. So I pull out my IPhone and check the maps for local pharmacies. I look at the clock as well. It’s 7:15 P.M. This does not look good for getting the medication.
But we made the trek to the local CVS keeping our fingers crossed. I also was going to throw in some Pepto Bismol as she was still having these contortions that were not getting any better. We arrived there to find that the pharmacy had closed. So we picked up the Pepto Bismol, Gatorade, and some mints for her to suck on to help with the stomach nausea. And we asked the clerks if they knew of a pharmacy that was open later. Thankfully they did. Forty Minutes south of us. I get that gone are the days of the 24 hour pharmacy, or they are rapidly ending. But every community should have some pharmacy locally that is open late to deal with late night medication needs. I wasn’t looking forward to the drive and was proceeding to walk out the door when the clerks stopped me.
“What direction do you live in?” One of the clerks asked.
“I live about 15 minutes north of here.”
“Well there is one by St. Jude, if you know where that is.”
Thankfully I did. And it was only about 20 minutes away. Yes it was even further away from home, but at this point it needed to get done. A hop, skip and a jump, or maybe a 20 minute car ride, we arrived at the CVS ready to pick up medicine. It was after 8:00 by this time, and I was hoping to get in and out and head home.
“45 minutes,” He said, after I gave him the refill for the prescription.
“Well I had to transfer the prescription and it is a busy night, sir.”
Forty-five minutes was nothing by comparison. I would just take Bethany somewhere to have a light dinner, hoping she would be able to hold down whatever she ate. We went to a restaurant that was right across the street and sat down. This was a mostly pleasant experience of food and conversation, as the Pepto had begun to kick in, and my daughter was feeling perkier. They almost gave us free fried zucchini for appetizer. But being the father and person I am, I explained to the waitress that it was not our food, despite them giving our table number for the food. I hope some people did get to enjoy that appetizer.
From here, after picking up the medication, we finally made it home. It was only . . . wait a second . . . 10:45 again??? I swear I can get my daughter to bed at a reasonable hour. Not sure if this makes me the hip dad after this kind of a day. And we have plans for tomorrow that include shopping . . . the dreaded shopping. I get her upstairs and to bed as quickly as I can, and get her to sleep. At this point my brain is on overload and it’s trying to settle down before the long day tomorrow. Tomorrow . . . what’s tomorrow again?
It’s at this point I will bid you adieu in the story . . . Before putting you all to sleep. There is going to be one more installment I swear. And also a moral. Because every good story has to have one. So this is me signing off for today.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life
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If you liked my blog, continue to check me out at singledadsguidetolife.wordpress.com