Monday, June 13, 2016

Blowing Rock rocks

We were off to see the Wizard, but I ended up buying underwear instead.

OK, I see that I've gotten your attention.

Here was the plan:

A few weeks ago, Kim heard about an event at Beech Mountain's The Land of Oz, a popular amusement park where she had once visited as a young girl before it closed for good in 1980 after just 10 years. Each Friday this June, the park — still in need of serious renovation but now serving as something of a Nostalgia Land for generations of Ozzies — is going to open for its "Journey with Dorothy" program, where you get a one-hour guided tour through the surviving park, on the Yellow Brick Road, by Dorothy her own self. (see here).

Hmmm. Kim and I had gone several years ago in October when the park opened for one weekend in the fall in something of a mass free for all (it wasn't free — there was an admission) that was still kind of cool. So we thought we'd go to the Journey event. All we had to do was reserve our tickets online on the Monday before the Friday we were planning to attend.


At 9 a.m. sharp, when tickets went on sale, I jumped on my laptop, typed in the URL, and got ... a 404 server file message. That usually means the server is down, or busy, or something. Kim also tried it at work, and got nowhere as well.

Here is the new location for Art in the Park. Kim and I go early...
 After two hours of trying, we finally got to the page we wanted — only to find that tickets were already sold out.


We found out a day later, through some news story, that apparently 200,000 people tried to get their share of the 360 tickets that were available.

Good grief.

The good news was that we had reserved a motel room in nearby Blowing Rock for that weekend, because Art in the Park was also going on. We like Art in the Park. We've gone for one weekend there every year for probably 20 years or more. The town is quaint, the food is good, and in summer the temperatures are usually 10 degrees cooler there than in Lexington.

The line for ice cream was lengthy...
 Like this past weekend.

As we arrived in Blowing Rock on Friday, we stopped at the Shops on the Parkway, a usual detour for us.

That's where I upgraded my personal undergarment wardrobe. Not quite Oz, but still purposeful. And on sale.

Saturday's Art in the Park moved its location this year. In the past, it was actually behind the park, on the top floor of a parking deck. This year, the vendors were located on both sides of the road leading to the parking deck, which makes sense. Cars can actually park on the deck now, freeing up parking space on what's usually a very congested Main Street.

The low-humidity weather was spectacular — so spectacular, in fact, that we forgot about Oz — and consequently Blowing Rock was slammed by day trippers (well, there was also a horse show going on nearby). A good indicator of weekend attendance is Kilwin's, an ice cream and chocolate shop that becomes the town's focal point. A line of ice cream enthusiasts stretched out the door and down the sidewalk. Business was good. Most take their cones and cups to the park across the street, sit on the benches under the shade trees, and watch people try to parallel park their cars on Main Street. Some drivers, it turns out, are better than others.

It was one of our better weekends on the mountain — even without Dorothy.

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