Sunday, August 31, 2008

Something smelly in the air

There is something in the air in Gilroy. For one, literally: just drive to Gilroy, and you can smell the garlic from miles away.  You start imagining shrimp in a garlic butter sauce, or a roasted pork shoulder stuffed with garlic. In July, Gilroy hosts the garlic festival. Typically on a hot summer day, this great festival has many open air cooking demonstrations, has many garlic products and has great food to taste. However, whoever thought that garlic beer was a good idea, or garlic ice cream, must have eaten one clove too many. (I've tasted both. The ice cream falls in the barf category.)

Similarly I thought Michael and Claudia Bonfante's idea to build a theme park based upon trees in Gilroy was wacky. Can you imagine in Belgium: an arboretum with roller coasters? Originally known as Bonfante Gardens, the theme park is now known as Gilroy Gardens. My kids has been there a few times as part of school excursions. During this labor day weekend, and with some free passes in hand, we made the 45 minutes drive south to visit the park. 

It is a great park for 3-9 year olds. The rides are gentle and the water plays are exactly what kids need on a warm summer day. We were informed and brought swim suites and towels.

The mixture of education and fun worked surprisingly well. Funky "circus" trees, flower gardens and a nice lake to pedlle on are very nice. The monorail through the hot house is perfect: great views and short enough.

What did not work for us? (1) The entrance fee is rather steep ($42 per adult). (2) One is not allowed to bring any food into the park. There is a picnic area before entering the park. (3) Efficiency : unlike Disneyland the lines are slow moving. 

We'll might  do it again near Christmas, especially since your entrance pass immediately can be exchanged for a year long pass. Great idea. 

Thus what's next? A garlic festival .. check .. a tree amusement park .. check .. a July Harley Davidson rally in nearby Hollister .. check. There is something in the air of Gilroy. 

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