Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

Sometimes as a parent, you end up having to settle for the back-up plan; or even the back-up plan of the back-up plan, but as long as you’re with the people you love, you just might have a great time anyway. You may even get more than you expected, in a good way!

That is exactly what happened last week while I was out in northern California with my family. My wife and I had planned a trip to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where we had taken our son nearly 3 years ago.

But after learning from our experience the week before that our 2 year-old daughter was getting burned out on so much travel (after all, we had flown in from Tennessee), we decided to find a closer carnival destination; as Santa Cruz is nearly 2 and a half hours away from where we were staying with my mother-in-law in Walnut Grove.

It just so happened that there was a County Fair going on in Pleasanton, just about an hour and 20 minutes away; which would shave an hour or so off of our originally planned travel time.

That way, our kids could still get their fill of games and rides, like at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz. But after my wife bought the tickets to the County Fair on Groupon and we actually drove there, we learned that the fair didn’t actually open until Wednesday: We were there on Monday.

After getting a refund on our tickets online, my wife found a place called Lost Worlds Adventures. So we drove the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport just 6 miles down to the road to the neighboring town of Livermore.

Fate would have it, our family had just as much fun at Lost Worlds Adventures as we would have had at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, or the County Fair… if not more.

Not to mention, it was actually less expensive than both of those plans, as well!

Fortunately, the whole place was dinosaur themed. For a 7 and a year-old boy who’s currently very excited about seeing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, that served as the perfect ambiance.

We started things off with a fun game of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf. I’m pretty sure our son won, though we weren’t keeping score.

Then we gave our son $20 to spend on games; in which points were earned to earn prizes at the end. I am amazed by how much we got for that amount of money.

Not only did our 2 year-old daughter enjoy playing the games for free on demo mode, as she didn’t know the difference anyway, she also got to help her brother roll the ball for the Milk Jug Toss and Skee-Ball.

However, our son had to explain to her, “Holly, you can’t just crawl up and drop the ball in…”

And speaking of our son Jack, he made out quite well as far as earning points for prizes. He stumbled upon a game called Big Bass Wheel Pro, where the concept was that the harder you pulled the lever down, the harder the wheel spun, and therefore the more points you earned.

But we realized pretty quickly that A) what value the spinner landed on was completely random, and B) the game seemed to just keep giving my son bonus spins for no reason. So in the likeness of pushing the button in the Swan station on the TV show LOST, my son and I starting taking turns pulling the lever, to keep the game going, and therefore, the points racking up.

So with the 2,240 points my son earned (most of which were from the same game), he was able to get his very first Care Bear, along with a couple of planes and balls and squishy toys. In addition to a pig whose eyes popped out when it is squeezed and some stickers, my daughter was very proud of her poop emoji purse and matching plush poop emoji key chain.

Yep, that’s what she chose, so we didn’t turn her down.

Yes, sometimes life is about the back-up plan of a back-up plan. And great times were had by all!

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

4 years, 10 months. 

Dear Jack,

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

For our final stop of our Camry family road trip across northern California, we drove from Monterey to Santa Cruz, before ultimately heading back to Sacramento, where Mommy’s side of the family is from.

Mommy had told me that once before she had been to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Beach Amusement Park and thought our family would really love it.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

So we put it on the agenda, following our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Here’s my video I made about our trip there:

To get going, we stopped at Staff of Life’s Café Del Sol for some vegan donuts. I know that to an outsider that may not seem like that big of a deal, but for a vegan dad like me, it’s epic.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Where we live in Nashville, there is no easy access to vegan donuts; they definitely don’t sell them at our Whole Foods. It would be different if we lived in Portland, Oregon; which I hear is the “Vegan Donut Capitol of the World.”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

But where we live, donuts made without eggs and milk basically cease to exist. Therefore, we enjoyed our breakfast!

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

When we arrived at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, we had about 45 minutes to walk there on the beach; since we had arrived before the amusement park itself had opened yet.

Our family budgeted $50 for the 2 hours we were there; and we based on the 2 hour time limit on how much we were willing to pay the parking meter.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

You definitely wanted to play some games, so bought $50 worth of tickets so we could go on two rides with all 3 of us, then let you go on several rides by yourself, then spend the rest on games.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

I loved how ambitious you were! You rode your very first roller coaster with Mommy and me: the Sea Serpent. It was pretty thrilling for a boy who’s not quite 5 years old yet.

But at 42 inches tall, you were just tall enough to be permitted to ride.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Our other family ride was the Cave Train Adventure, where we were able to “time travel” to the days of caveman and dinosaurs; it was completely dark in there, except for the black lights.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

For your individual rides, you were able to fly a plane as well as a drive a monster SUV, a boat, an orca whale, and a big rig truck. You loved it all!

And then there were the carnival games…

I made sure you only played the games with the sign that read, “A winner every time!”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Your best venture was Bob’s Fishin’ Hole. On the first try, we accidently figured out that the blue fish, which flowed further away from the ledge nearest you, were the heavier fish, which were worth the biggest prizes.

So you caught 3 blue fish and one the biggest prize they had: A giant blue pirate fish stuffed animal. On the first try!

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

By the end our 2 hours, you had a prize in each of the 3 sizes.

We returned to the Camry with 7 minutes to spare, then he finished our day with dinner at Whole Foods, where we enjoyed more vegan donuts.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

And finally, that’s it.

That’s our whole Camry family road trip. We had a blast. I look forward to next year when we travel to San Diego for your Uncle Jake’s wedding.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

What Ever Happened to the Amusement Park Called “Canyon Land Park”, Near Fort Payne, Alabama?

During the early 1970’s up until circa 1983, there was an amusement park called Canyon Land, just a few miles outside of my hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama on Lookout Mountain. In ‘70’s fashion, very comparable to the Dharma Initiative on LOST, Canyon Land could best be described as “1977 carnival meets small zoo”. One of the rides was a ski lift that took people over an actual canyon, Little River Canyon.

Being that I was born in 1981 and the park closed a few years later, my descriptions aren’t based on me being there during its prime. But my parents did go on dates there as teenagers.

Fortunately in 1993 (7th grade) my church youth minister Eddie McPherson was able to rent the shut down amusement park for $4 for the Halloween season. Our youth group put on an evangelical version of a “spook house” called Hell House. We used the old roller coaster carts and its track to manually push the guests through a “no flashlights allowed tour of hell” which ended with a bright room featuring Jesus (played by my dad) who invited them to Heaven.

It was a lot of fun for a 12 year old kid to explore that old place. The grass was taller than I was, where the parking lot used to be. Much of the place had basically been frozen in time as it evidently was abruptly shut down. In a room that stored all the old ski lift chairs, I found a completely intact Mellow Yellow can from 1979 (which I still have in my old bedroom at my parents’ house.

The urban legend is that the man who ran the place just let all the zoo animals go free into the woods. Therefore, to this day, jaguars and monkeys and all kinds of exotic animals can still be spotted on a lucky day. That would be fun to believe.

Because I helped resurrect Canyon Land for a few weeks in 1993, I tend to imagine what current lively buildings and attractions would be like if they became old an abandoned. Like Starbuck’s, for example. Twenty years from now, will all those Seattle-esque building be defunct? Like the old Food World building that remained years after the Super Wal-Mart came to town.

Not so much a ghost town. But a ghost attraction. Once filled with people laughing and buying ice cream. Now, only visited by raccoons.

Canyon Land is so forsaken that not even the Internet really acknowledges it. No Wikipedia entry. The best Google was able to do was take me to Ebay where someone is trying to sell Canyon Land postcards and tickets from 1970.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Fort-Payne-Alabama-Canyon-Land-Park-Card-Tickets-1970_W0QQitemZ310185209860QQcmdZViewItemQQssPageNameZRSS:B:SRCH:US:101?rvr_id=

Also, for anyone who would like to purchase Canyon Land, it’s currently for sale. For the low, low price of $2.4 million.  http://www.mycampgroundsforsale.com/park_detail.asp?ID=11