Bear with me, I'm a little punch-drunk tired from a weird night of odd experiences which I call "Playing the elbow." I'll tell you why shortly.
Missy, Rachel and I are all a little tired. We had an interesting evening last night and trip home.
So first, the crucial details. We were away this weekend with our girl Rachel, finally delivering on a much overdue birthday present (her birthday was back in January). We took her away for the weekend to go to Knoebel's, an old-time amusement park, that's in Pennsylvania. It's pretty far from us, about 4 hours by car.
Friday night I hopped on hotels.com's app to find us a room for saturday night. After some dinking around I got one in a little town called Frackville, about 20 miles away from the park.
We drove up early to the park. I should say, Missy drove. She had me & Rachel in pull-ups, and wanted us both little for the trip. We stopped at a restaurant Missy really likes along the way, and made good time getting there.
We had a great time in the park. It's pretty terrific. It's radically different from mainstream amusement parks. It's kind of like a county fair on steroids. Some of the attractions (the roller coasters especially) are top notch, comparable to anything you'd go on at something bigger and pricier, like King's Dominion or Six Flags.
But the park is old and has a different vibe. (This is a positive, not a negative.) It's got a distinctly, um, Appalachian feel to it. I don't mean this in a derogatory or value-judging way at all.
It means there are a lot of differences.
For one, there are trees everywhere. I didn't wear sunscreen (shush, it worked out okay), and instead shade-hopped, and stayed largely unburnt, getting just a bit of color.
For another, people were polite and easygoing in that way people act in small southern towns. Plenty of please, thank you, and be-my-guest, from park staff and patrons alike.
The food was pretty good, too. It ranged from traditionally shitty crap to places that actually had healthy choices and decent quality. We had awesomely good baked potatoes from one stand, and sat with some folks that had pizza-made-from-scratch that looked really good. There's a sit-down legitimate full on restaurant there too that I want to try next time.
Maybe best of all, many of the rides are just like something at a fair. It doesn't cost a thing to get in, or to park. Instead, you buy ticket books, and give tickets to the ride attendant as you get on. Rides range from $1.00 to $3.00 to go on, depending on how "high-ticket" they are.
This is awesome. It has several net effects. Ride lines are manageable. Even some of the big, big stuff we did, like the Haunted Mansion, barely had more than a 10 minute wait. It also means that your park day winds up being really, really cheap. I went on at least seven things, as did Missy and Rachel too, and I think we spent maybe $50 total in tickets, some of which we still have. (And which by the way never expire.)
Where things got weird was when we left the park.
First off we skirted the edges of Centralia, Pennsylvania, as we left, taking a back way, because of my GPS app. Centralia is an abandoned, condemned coal mining town which has had an underground coal-fire burning since 1962.
When we got to Frackville, I discovered that some combination of my own fumble-fingering and an app glitch had booked our hotel room for Friday night and not Saturday night, and that the hotel was full-up and we were not getting a room there. (Side note, I also was not able to get a refund from the hotel, nor from hotels.com. So I'm out $70 and they're out me as a customer.) Loads of folks in the lobby were also getting turned away, so I had that in mind as we figured out what to do next.
Not too far from where we were supposed to stay was Granny's Motel. We pulled in there, and I hopped out to see if they had a room. Granny's is, there's no nice way to say it, a little creepy. It looked sort of run down, and there was some sort of statue in front of the place I didn't get a good look at before I went in.
But Missy sure did.
The Granny statue is about eight feet tall. It's of a flat-affect faced grandmother, with a 1,000 yard stare. She's holding a pie-of-questionable-merit in both hands. Her androgynous, yet incredibly-badly-hairstyled grandchild is hanging onto her with one mangled arm, while with the other they clutch a horribly mistreated headless doll.
I didn't know any of this.
I went in, and got us a room from "Granny", who turned out to be a very tired, but very kindly indian guy. (After a bit of research I have determined that he's not the original Granny, but a subsequent buyer. The motel closed back in 2009 until he bought and re-opened it.)
Meanwhile, Missy and Rachel sat in the car, getting more and more creeped out.
So we had this text exchange, as I was getting the room. (Note, formatting is my own.)
Missy: "What's the deal. This place is giving me the creeps."
Me: "We're good."
Missy: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN 'WE'RE GOOD'"
When I got back in the car, Missy was somewhat not pleased I had already bought us a room. She pointed out the statue to me, and I got a good look at it. Then she pulled our car around the side to the parking lot, and we parked. On the second floor, a shirtless man had his hotel room door open and stood at the railing, staring at us as we unloaded the car. Missy semi-joked to me, "If we all wake up dead tomorrow, I'm going to be so mad at you."
As it turned out, we did not in fact, wake up dead. The hotel turned out to be rather nice. The room had decent furniture, had a mini fridge and a microwave, and also came with a lack of soap and shampoo. (Unlike fancier motels which often come with a lack of soap OR shampoo. Granny doesn't skimp. Actually, when we called reception, they rushed some soap right over, which was a good thing. He and his wife, Mrs. Granny turned out to be really super nice people, and we were glad to stay there.)
In the morning we got on the road. I got to wear my big-boy underpants and drive us home.
I can hear you - what's the bit with the elbows, Mako?
I'm getting there.
We were all pretty wiped out when we got home a little bit ago. We unloaded the car, and tromped up the many, many steps from our driveway to our house. (Really, it's a lot.) I crashed on the bed, to read the 30 odd text messages I got while we were driving, and to respond to them.
From downstairs, Missy texted me (because, stairs) about deciding on dinner, and to let me know she and Rachel were playing a video game. I was so exhausted, that I realized I probably needed to be wearing a pull-up or diaper for the rest of the night, and I texted her so.
Here's how the conversation went: (again, emphasis mine)
Me: "I think I need to be in diapers or pull-ups maybe too. But I'm not sure."
Missy: "OK. Can you put a diaper on yourself or do you need me to come upstairs and do it because Rachel and I are playing the elbow."
Me: "Playing the elbow! ROFL. Can you unbend it for a bit and come help me?"
I told her how it was my gratitude today, because it may be the single funniest thing I had heard in days.
And it was.