Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A sad day for the Flying W Ranch

I recall my first family trip back in the 60s.  I'm talking all three of us piled into the car, along with a tiny porta-potty for yours truly, and ventured Westward across this great country.  I remember stopping for a Dairy Queen in Kansas, visiting the Bug Museum, Cave of the Winds, Santa's North Pole Workshop near Pike's Peak, Pike's Peak itself (via the nifty tramway), and eventually Disneyland.  I was three years old and still have fond memories of that long-ago trip (even the part when I accidentally left my crayons on the back window and they melted there, decorating my Dad's car with dots of rainbow - and giving my Skipper doll's hair some unwanted highlights and lowlights).  In fact, I recall these places in vivid sense memory.  And that's really saying something, especially since many trips made in more recent years don't have that hold on my heart - and aforementioned senses.

But if you asked me to recall one place we visited most clearly, in small details of sound, smell and (Ooh Lordy!) taste, it would be the Flying W Ranch Chuckwagon Show and Dinner.  The musical cowboys took the stage under an outdoor, open air structure.  They played songs like "Happy Trails" and the eerie "Ghost Riders in the Sky" (evocative both back then and now of whispy, transparent-gray cowpokes and their phantom horses).  We sat at a long, wooden table with throngs of other happy vacationers and were treated to a tasty cowboy supper of a BBQ beef brisket sandwich, baked beans (best ever, ever), buttery corn bread and tangy-sweet lemonade.  I can still remember plunking down my empty tin cup after draining it of the lemonade, wiping my mouth clean with the back of my sleeve, satisfied and full.  What more do you need while listening to cowboy crooners while a gentle, evening breeze licked up against your shins?

It's with the deepest sadness that I must report this wonderful tourist attraction is no more.  I visited Santa's North Pole Workshop's Facebook page this morning and learned that Flying W Ranch fell vicitm to the tremendously savage fires that are menacing Colorado as I write this.  I'm constructing this blog post in order to inform my readers to please pray for the families affected by this tragedy, and the business owners who've lost their beloved Ranch, which charmed folks for the past 60 years.  And, in addition, I'm urging everyone to keep prayers of protection going for Santa's North Pole Workshop, for nearby towns like Manitou Springs, for the glorious forests, and Garden of the Gods.
Tags: ghost riders in the sky

While writing this, I can't keep my eyes from tearing up for those ghostriders, now a sweet, disntant memory ...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Banjo Player in "Pirates of the Caribbean" and the Gemini New Moon

inside of Pirates of the

I love this time of year, just prior to the summer solstice, when the sun stays out so very long.  When the day just strums along like a banjo player, settin' on a front porch, pluckin' a slow, sweet tea-infused tune.  Kind of reminds me of this image from the beginning of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland, one of my favorite experiences at the park.  When night finally comes, it slowly pours in,  dappled with indigo-sapphire, glinting fireflies, a lunar reflection on the water.

The Gemini New Moon urges us to make up lyrics to that banjo tune, just for the heck of it.  And, while you're at it, stay up until it's dusk and look for the faerie folk in your backyard.  Because this time of year allows you to say what you feel, declare your exploration into the worlds of make-believe and craft your own colorwonderful possibilities.

If you've wanted to write some poetry, you should pour yourself right in - but be ready to read it aloud, with all the passion in your soul.  Walk in nature and talk with the trees.  Tell someone about your guardian angel.

Enjoy this magical, luxuriant time.  And whisper to the fireflies.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pam Turlow "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" Suburban Sun-Times article!

Hey funkids!  I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Sun-Times Local writer Sandy Bosch for my book.  The result is a sweet article that focuses on the way nostalgia played an important role in the writing of "The Cotton Candy Road Trip".  Enjoy!

Me with the Largest Plume of Cotton Candy I've Ever Seen (Lake Compounce, CT)

Friday, June 8, 2012

VIDEO: Mister Rogers Remixed - The Garden of Your Mind

Detail from Idlewild's Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Ride

Back toward the beginning of the Road Trip, I spent a magnificent day at Idlewild Park in western Pennsylvania.  One of the sweetest and most unique experiences was a visit to the Land of Make Believe - they have an actual trolley that whisks you through it and you get to meet all the fabled characters the wonderful Fred Rogers made famous.  I can tell you many tears were shed when the recorded voice of my beloved Mr. Rogers wafted through the speakers and took us along on a fairytale journey.

I counted.  It only took me 40 seconds to start crying while watching this fantastic video.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The tradition of the Conneaut Lake Park pony rides

During our first visit to Conneaut Lake Park, I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of the folks who run the pony track.  The park had just re-opened after being closed for two years, and the ponies were back and ready to resume their duties as if nothing had happened.  The dedication and verve of folks like Don Weyel are remarkable and major reasons I wrote this book.  Please take some time today to read this article and support YOUR local vintage amusement park!!  Heck - take a road trip down to Conneaut Lake Park and experience the magic yourself!