Saturday, September 17, 2005

Thrils in Vacaville and Santa Clara

So, a lot of things I want to record have happened in the last two days. Let us begin with yesterday. I started the day slowly, once again having my yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast. However, yesterday, unlike most other days since I have been home, picked up significantly. I went to meet with my fellow students from the Kyoto portion of my study in Japan for lunch at the newest cafeteria on campus. I will, hereafter, refer to these students as "the gang". Lunch was an interesting combination of company I greatly enjoyed and food I really did not care for. Under normal circumstances cafeteria food causes my digestive system great pain, and this pain was made even worse by the fact that I had not eaten anything remotely oily in the previous week. Still, Kerrie (the fastest walker from the Japan trip) was kind enough to treat all of us, so I really can't complain. After lunch we went to show Masa, the guest of honor, the UC Davis bookstore. He finished shopping quite soon, and so I took him and Mary (remember, my travel buddy) downstairs to visit the MU Games Area. Here Masa had his first encounter with American Skee Ball, at which he is quite good. He was, after all, the Capitan of his high school basketball team. Here are Masa and Mary observing his impressive score.
After all the shopping in the bookstore had been finished, we decided to take Masa to one of the most characteristic American places we could think of: Costco. For this purpose, we drove to Vacaville. Costco was as impressive as I thought it would be. When we saw the guy with the 60 rolls of toilet paper Masa was dumbfounded. The 5 gallon bucket of shoyu (soy sauce) was also impressive.
We didn't stay too long at Costco, and afterwards the gang split into boys and girls for a reason I am not yet at liberty to disclose. Hee hee. Anyway, Adam and I took Masa around to the factory outlet stores in Vacaville, then returned to Davis and showed him some of the interesting shops downtown, like Armadillo Music and Bogey's Books. At 6:45 we met up with some of the girls again for pizza at Woodstocks. Suprisingly, pizza went down easier than Dining Commons food. After pizza we took Masa back to Noel, with whom he is staying, and we all (with the exception of Adam who left his camera in the Yolo County Courthouse and had to go get it) went over to Kerrie's house to do the thing which I am not yet at liberty to disclose. Here we are doing it.
So when we were done we made plans to meet in the morning to drive down to Great America together, and Mary came over and stayed at my place. We woke up at 7 the next day, gathered at 8 and drove down to Santa Clara. I had taken down some instructions from Google Maps before I left because I had never been to Great America before. However, I soon learned that Google Maps has the same problems that Mapquest and Yahoo Maps have. The program will pick the shortest route, but not the easiest and most logical. Thus, after a mid-trip course change, we reached Great America.
Now, the minute I got to the park and heard the screaming of the people on the roller coaster I remembered that I hated roller coasters. Thus, slightly, well, maybe more than slightly nervous, I began to board the first rollercoaster of the day called "Top Gun". Here are Mary and I about to board. Often I will make strange facial expressions for my pictures to make them more interesting. In this case, this facial expression pretty much shows how I felt.
I got on the ride, it started, and I don't really remember the rest. I remember that it was really scary. But the specifics of the ride are all a blur to me. Regardless, I got off, well, staggered off, and took about 5 minutes to recover. We went on the bumper cars next, for a change of pace. Here is the gang in line.
After bumper cars I convinced everyone to go on the rapids ride. Water rides are a favorite of mine for some reason. I don't find them as scary as rollercoasters. Maybe because I am used to kayaking. Who knows. Well, this rapids ride was a little different than I expected since at places there were submerged firehoses that people on the side of the canal could pay a quarter and use to spray you. This resulted in us all getting far more wet than I expected. But afterwards, I took Masa to one of the controls so that he could do the spraying. Here he is waiting with his hand on the trigger.
Masa missed in his first shot, and began to walk away but I thought there might be three shots so I pressed the button once just to test it and ended up soaking a young, unaware couple. Hee hee. Next Mary, a former employ of the park, took us to the Spongebob Squarepants 3D ride. Yup. I am not a fan of Spongebob Squarepants, so I was moderately impressed. The polorized glasses did look cool though, especially on Masa.
And then we went on this ride. It was actually not all that scary. Mostly fun.
Then we went to lunch at In and Out. Since I don't like beef, and I have not eaten fast food in months, I was pleased that my meal did not cause me any discomfort. On the way back, however, we walked by a burrowing owl sanctuary which was right next to a parking lot. I look for owls, but I guess they only come out at night. I saw the burrows, though!
Upon returning to the park we visited several more roller coasters. I was starting to completely lose my fear of rollercoasters by this point, proving once again the adventurous spirit that got me to and through Japan is still present and helping me become a better person. And then we went on Invertigo, a roller coaster with an outside loop in which you face your friends. Well, I loved the rollercoaster. But as we started to go on the second outside loop everything got a little black and when color retuned a second later I realized that many of my muscles had loosened. Daniel and Alice who were sitting across from me remarked that I had turned very pale and for a second my expression had gotten really serious, like I had just remembered I left the stove on at home. In conclusion, I blacked out for a second. It was great, but I don't think I'll do that one too much. Here is the rollercoaster that I blacked out on.
We rode on one more rollercoaster and decided it was about time to leave the park. Then I took this picture, which I think would make an excellent movie poster for a movie staring me, with everybody else as supporting actors. Every single person you can see in this picture was in our group, by the way. What luck.
And finally, we went on the ride I had been advocating since hearing the screams of the people on the rollercoasters.

A fantastic day. I basically managed to remove from myself the fear of rollercoasters and can now say that I actually enjoy them a lot. Masa and Noel are driving down to LA at the moment, so that is all I will see of Masa for now, but I am still not done visiting with Mary and Cindy (who couldn't come today) so I am going to visit them in Berkeley tomorrow.

No comments: