Santa Cruz Boardwalk, June 16, 2006.
The Boardwalk is a lonely survivor of the great chain of California beachside amusement parks which, at one time, made the state a really fun place to be a kid.
In childhood my friend Craig and I would ride our bikes down the big hill from Clairemont - Ticonderoga Street, wwwwwoooooooowwwwwwwww - to Mission Beach, to spend the day at Belmont Park, the San Diego installment. You'd pay something like $2.50 for an all-day pass, which was in reality nothing more formal than a piece of colored string tied around your wrist. Then the place was all yours.
Craig and I shared a fondness for distinctness. Just couldn't be like the other kids. If there was a big line leading to one of the rides, we probably didn't like that one so much. Instead of the roller-coaster, we rode the giant slide, over and over. Up the big ladder carrying a burlap sack; down the seagreen-colored track, with low walls to keep you in your lane. In hindsight it's amazing nobody fell off the ladder and died.
We loved the bumper cars, the fun-house mirrors, and especially the big thing that spun around and stuck you to its sides. Loved it.
With your all-day pass you could ride for a while, then run across the beach to jump in the ocean to cool off. Then back to the park for more rides. Somehow nobody ever stole our bikes. A more innocent time, says the phrase.
The Boardwalk is a lot like that, with greater emphasis on thrill rides, less emphasis on the beach. Perhaps because you'd have to be suicidal to go into the water in NoCal without a wet suit. Maybe even then. The Boardwalk also has a big hall full of video games, which didn't exist in the '70s when I went to Belmont Park. We did love pinball, but I don't remember there being a huge pinball arcade at Belmont. Maybe there was and I'm forgetting now.
I had a lovely day.
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