Last week was supposed to be our big summer road trip to Las Vegas, Lagoon and then back home through Tahoe and a stop at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for Joker.
Unfortunately we had to do some "adult" stuff (new washer and dryer) so our trip had to be cut down significantly.
But because we're always up for an adventure we quickly devised a California Road Trip using one of our original hotels (due to Priceline) which made it a truly epic weekend. We hope you enjoy.
Written by Gregg Condon
From our place in Southern California to the Bay Area there are 3 main routes we can take, the 99 (which really only makes sense if your'e going to Sacramento), the 5 (the quickest/most boring way north) or the 101 (which usually makes the most sense for us). Throughout our 3 day trek we'd actually travel on all 3 at one time or another.
We started off on the 5 North, passing Six Flags Magic Mountain, through the Grapevine and ended up turning back West somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
Our fist stop, "The last place James Dean got gas".
After explaining to my son just who James Dean was we found the place just off Highway 33. Unfortunately this was about all there was to the place. There was a shop inside, but it was severely lacking in James Dean merchandise, not even a magnet for our magnet collection. Still, it was interesting and it's only about 10 or so miles off the 5 so it's a nice side trip.
We also made note of the "Wonderful Pistachio" visitor center that was nearby for a visit on a subsequent trip.
After our stop we headed north on Highway 33 and caught up with Highway 41 and headed back East. Which eventually brought us to "Bravo Land".
Turns out this is a pretty popular stop along the 5, and we could definitely see why.
Shooting range anybody?
It's definitely unique and kitschy which is a hallmark of any great roadside attraction.
We made note to stop here on the next trip for Cheese Curds and eat at the restaurant. But we had more places to be.
Our next stop was supposed to be a large homemade Transformer (Bumblebee to be exact) but you can actually see it from the 41 on the way to Fresno, it looked cool, but there was no reason to turn around to see it up close.
After a long trek through farms it was time for the "Largest Box of Raisins in the World".
Now of course, the question came up "are there raisins in it". We honestly don't know. We didn't even think to ask. But the Sun-Maid has a nice visitor center, some samples and of course a whole bunch of different varieties of raisins. After getting a couple of magnets it was on to our next destination just up the 99 in Fresno.
Blackbeards Family Fun Center!!!
Considering it was 110 degrees there were literally no other people in the park, let alone kids to ride with to get the credit.
Fortunately our good friend Cliff came out to play with us and after a bit of sweet talk we were able to get on the ride.
Well, almost. Somebody (yours truly) was unable to fit in the ride at first, I mean, it's a kiddie coaster afterall. So Cliff and Josh rode first.
After standing in 110 degrees for about 10 minutes I lost the inch I needed and got the credit. Be sure to check out our POV below.
Some more pics of the amazing ride. =)
We did it!!! =)
After our ride it was time to hit the road again and for our hotel for the night, oddly enough back on the 33 in Santa Nella. After a nice dinner at Pea Soup Andersen's it was time to get some rest for our next day of fun.
The next morning our first stop was at Denny's (hadn't actually eaten at a Denny's in at least 5 years) to have breakfast with our good friend and site contributor Stephen. After catching up a bit it was time to hit to road to ... Six Flags Discovery Kingdom!!
This is one of our favorite Six Flags parks
Unfortunately something is still "up" with Joker.
When we rode on media day the ride was smooth and fast and fun. They were having some issues but that was to be expected.
It's now a few months into the rides life and they are apparently still having some issues. The ride is still running 1 train, there is definitely something up with the wheels as they are loud and rattle a LOT and the train just seemed to meander through the course without any real force or urgency.
I'm sure whatever it is that's going on RMC and the park are working hard to fix it, and despite some growing pains we're sure this ride is going to be amazing for many years to come.
Nearby, V2's trains are back on the track and we've been told that the train was entirely rebuilt. No sign of any change in theme to make this blend better with Joker, Penguin and Superman ... but it would make sense.
Speaking of Penguins
One of our favorite animal shows at ANY park is Odin's Temple of the Tiger. It's so entertaining and fun to watch, but also very educational. A rare chance to see these beautiful animals.
If you'd like to help the plight of the Tiger you can do so at TheFundForTheTiger.Org or WorldWildLife.Org
After the show we stuck around to say hi to our good friend Captain Lee who then asked us if we'd actually like to meet (meat?) the stars of the show ... who are we to say no to meeting such amazing animals.
Last year I got to meet my favorite Penguins at Sea World, and that was amazing. This was just as awesome. The Tigers have so much personality and are so amazing to see up close.
Odin likes milk as you can see below. (click any of the pics to see a larger version)
If you'd like to see more amazing pics of the tigers be sure to check out Matt's "Photographic Tour of Discovery Kingdom" from last year.
After some lunch at the all new Pick Six and a few more rides it was time to head east and a stop at Jelly Belly!!
We'll have a full update from the tour next week but we'll share a couple of pics for now.
If you are going to do this tour we HIGHLY suggest going during the week when the factory is operational.
Because if not, you just find yourself looking at machines that aren't doing anything.
We hadn't actually done the tour since about 2005 but it's all self guided now instead of having a tour guide. Which is probably great during the week when stuff is going on.
When we were planning our original Utah trip we had planned on staying in Sacramento the night before heading home. We had pricelined the room so we had to keep it, turns out Scandia was less than a mile from our hotel.
So while it was quite out of the way for our Bay Area trip we weren't going to waste a paid for hotel, and well, we got a credit too!!
This is definitely one of the more unique mouse coasters out there.
We were also able to get some POV of the ride, so be sure to check it out.
Some more pictures of the ride (click any of the pictures to see a larger version)
After the coaster and Go Karts (really not much more of the park to show off) it was time to get some rest before our last park of the trip and drive home.
The next morning we found ourselves at California's Great America!!
Still one of the better B&M inverts
The park is home to many classic flat rides including this awesome Enterprise (my favorite kind of flat ride)
One of the main reasons for our visit was to check out the all new Mass Effect New Earth.
So some thoughts on the new attraction (you can also check out more pics and Andrew's review here)
Loved it. Now, I'm totally unfamiliar with the franchise. Have never played the games, don't know the characters, etc ... it didn't matter. The story was easy to follow, was fun and well done.
But the effects, WOW. The video is literally the best "4D" I've ever seen. EVER!! Some of the shots, I honestly don't know how they did it without actually having some kind of physical set come crashing through the wall. It looked THAT good.
I had heard a lot of good things about it, but I'm not a huge "3D/4D" fan, but this one is worth doing a few times.
We had a great time at CGA, this park gets a bad rap due to it's lack of thrilling coasters but they have a great collection of flat rides and we always seem to have a great time at the park.
We would love to see Grizzly get some RMC love though, that ride is just boring. =)
And the last stop of the trip, to the Garlic Shoppe in Gilroy. We were out of "Garlic Dude Dust" and a few other things. ;)
Overall we had a great 3 days exploring central and northern(ish) California. We hope you all enjoyed checking out our journey.
Be sure to check back next week for our full report of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield.