"Next Exit 60 miles."
My plan was to drive from Vancouver, BC on down to Seattle, WA and get a room on the East end of town for the night. Then I could avoid any morning traffic as I headed out East towards Spokane. Forgetting, of course, that I would be travelling on Sunday, so the morning rush-hour would not be a problem anyway.
Well, the trouble was that I didn't have an Interstate exit guide (perhaps someone should produce one as a database file for Pocketinfo or something) or a travel book. I managed to overshoot Seattle completely on IR-90. I got off at the next exit, but that was 30 miles out of town, and I didn't feel like going back. I found a couple of independent motels, but both were displaying "NO VACANCY". I wasn't sure whether that meant "We're Full!" or "Go away! Night manager is asleep!". Either way, I wasn't going to find a room. I mulled it over. I was really tired. I looked around. I realized that my rented station wagon had a feature that Paul Hogan didn't mention in the commercials. I found a dark parking lot, did a quick reconfiguration of the vehicle interior, rolled up my towel to use as a pillow, dropped the windows an inch or two, stretched out in the cargo space, and went to sleep. This isn't how I usually travel, but it solved my immediate problem.
It was about 4:30am when I awoke suddenly, and decided that what I really needed was a pillow. I determined I probably wouldn't get much more sleep at this point, so I got back on the road. The sky was just beginning to lighten, and I could tell (and smell!) that I was driving through a dense pine forest. I'm sure it would have been gorgeous had I been able to see it. Just my luck...just as the sun was coming up, I ran out of forest. Now I was driving through miles and miles of scrub desert, irrigated and turned reluctantly into farmland. Then even the farms ran out and the land became barren except for these short blue evergreen bushes. Dull, boring, and hot.
I eventually reached Spokane, and this time I booked a room before coming into town. My next stop was Riverfront Park. Apparently there was some kind of expo there in 1974, and the Riverfront Park complex is a legacy of that event. They have a tiny little IMAX theatre, some cultural center buildings, some nice views of the falls in the Spokane River, and an antique carousel. I found a convenient on-street parking space, and walked into the park. I noticed that there is a concession offering rental bicycles, recumbent bikes, odd family pedicabs, and other stuff that Marineland should consider offering. As I continued through the park, I heard amplified band organ music. Does no carousel in the Northwest have a real band organ?
As it turns out, the Loof carousel does have a real band organ, and they have cleverly miked it so that its music plays on the speakers outside the roof of the carousel building. What a good idea, if they are going to put the machine in an enclosed building! The machine is a beautiful piece, in good condition. I headed for the popcorn stand, where I bought a ticket for $1.75. I boarded an outside row jumping horse. This is unusual for a big carousel, most carousels have standing horses around the outside. To add to the fun, these outside jumping horses are well within reach of the ring machine. A caveat, though...the carousel does not use metal rings. These rings are plastic, and are a little bit springy. As a result, rings are all the time popping out of the dispenser when riders don't quite manage to grab them. Also, pulling one of the rings out of the dispenser requires that you get a finger into the hole at the center of the ring...a fingertip grasp on the edge of the ring that will cause a steel ring to pop out of the dispenser will deform the plastic ring enough that it will simply spring right back up into the ring arm. Whoops!
The real surprise came after I got off of the carousel. I thought that was all, but as I headed back to the car, the HY-5 wheel got my attention. There is an ice skating rink on the premises, but for the moment at least it has been filled and surrounded with carnival rides. Here's the obligatory list--
|Ride Name||Manufacturer||Common name|
|Carousel||Loof||Carousel w/ring machine |
|Ferris Wheel||Eli Bridge Co.||HY-5 cable drive wheel |
|Spider||Eyerly Aircraft Co.||Spider |
|Bumper Cars||RDC||Krazy Kars (electric) |
|Tilt-A-Whirl||Sellner||Tilt-A-Whirl, cable drive |
|Red Baron||Allan Herschell||Helicopter |
|Swing Ride||Sartori||Kiddie Swing |
|Dragon||Zamperla||Dragon Coaster |
|Bounce||?||Jump and Bounce (bouncy castle) |
|Elephant||SBF||Clown Around (w/Zamperla elephants) |
|Train||Zamperla||"El Paso" train |
|Bumper Boats||Bumper Boat Corp.||Kiddie Bumper Boats |
I would have expected them to use the skating rink for roller skating in the summer. Perhaps facility management figures that people are less likely to get hurt on the carnival rides. In any case, there is a small collection of portable rides on site, at least for the time being. Rides are on a ticket basis, but there are P-O-P plans available including visits to the IMAX theater and rides on a tramway over the river.
As for me...I climbed into the wagon and headed for Idaho.
Northwest Coaster Tour 1999 index
Trip Reports 1999
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--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Footnote 1: What are you looking at? There are no footnotes in this trip report!