Hixie's Natural Log

2009-03-23 08:50 UTC Sacré manteau!

When we heard, last year, that Avenue Q was on tour once more and headed to San Jose in March 2009, we scheduled an appointment on our calendar to buy tickets on the first day that they would be put on sale. On that fateful day, we learnt, to our dismay, that the hosting company was bankrupt and the show, canceled.

Sadness was felt, but finally a few weeks ago we noticed that Avenue Q was also playing in Sacremento around the same time. This presented us with an unexpected option: we could take a trip to our state's capital city and watch the show in spite of the failure of our ill-fated erstwhile plans!

For reasons that elude me (we are usually pretty lazy), we thought that this was a good idea. In fact, we decided to make the most of it, and pack some other entertainment into the weekend.

Thus, on Saturday, we headed to Sonoma Train Town. Review: They have a reasonably long circuit, but it is mostly unexciting from a railway point of view. There are few points, mostly just headed into their storage sheds. They get significant bonus points though for having two actual stations! Unlike most model railways, which have one passenger station or freight yard, they do in fact have two operational stations. The train sets off from the front of their plot of land, does two and a half nested loops around their amusing model-peppered landscape, and finally stops in a scale model village-cum-petting zoo. There, the train pauses for a short while, before resuming its journey to return to the point of origin. The stop is not really a fully operational station, since you can't opt to not reboard the train. But still. Points for effort.

After Train Town, which didn't take long to fully experience (the only other attraction worth mentioning was a series of three cabeese that, while interesting, did not take long to explore), we headed on to Sacremento. On the way, we noticed a sign for Jelly Belly's factory tours, and, since we had some spare time due to the briefness of our Train Town stop, we decided to spontaneously take advantage. It was well worth the price ($0), though I wouldn't necessarily recommend going there if you're not going by anyway. The conveyer belt system was significantly more complicated and interesting than Train Town's layout, though that may be saying more about the simplicity of disguised loop layouts than the complexity of the factory floor.

When we arrived in the city, we checked into our hotel, had dinner at its restaurant with illusions of grandeur and slow service to match, and headed to the venue for the cornerstone of our trip.

Avenue Q is by far the best experience I've ever had in a theatre. I wish there was some way to do something to indicate my fandom beyond having a signed poster, T-shirts, the book, the soundtrack, and knowing all the songs by heart. (The Internet Is For Porn is an Internet classic, of course, but let's not forget What Do You Do With BA In English, There's A Fine Fine Line, If You Were Gay, and, well, all of them.) My second favourite show so far is Into the Woods, which we saw at the Children's Musical Theatre San Jose last year.

This is the third time we've seen this show, and I'm starting to sound like people who watch Opera, giving commentary on the performances (Christmas Eve's "I am!" line in response to "Who's your daddy?" was half a beat late and was stepped on by the next line in You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love); the audience applauded early to My Girlfriend, Who Lives In Canada, thus missing the joke, though the actor playing Rod handled this smoothly). I really wish I could go along to a sing-along performance of this show. It was really hard to not sing out loud. Oh, and, for those who have seen this show before and are wondering how they fixed the topical lines in For Now, — spoiler warning! — the only change I noticed was that "...Bush is only for now" became "...Bush was only for now".

While we slept after the show, to our later dismay, our car was broken into and several items stolen, including about 400 audio CDs, an earthquake prevention kit, and some papers. We discovered this in the morning. We also learnt that the number one trick for fixing computers, namely plugging them in, is also a good way to fix cars. The thieves had disabled the alarm by unplugging the car battery. Sadly it took an AAA mechanic to teach us this valuable lesson. I was also surprised to find that I'd somehow not realised that parking garages have a pretty serious security flaw (quite apart from the obvious theft and vandalism issues): you can bypass payment by getting a new ticket from the entrance gate and using that as your exit ticket, discarding your original entrance ticket. (We had paid for the parking before finding that the car wouldn't start, so the garage's token "security" personnel came to "override the gate" to let us out when we were finally ready, which he did by the simple method just outlined.)

We made it to our third fourth and final event on time despite the crime. Moaning Caverns: a cavern, which, insofar as I could determine, did not moan in any discernible way. We had reservations for the Adventure Trip, consisting first of a rappel down 165 feet, mostly in the large open space of the titular cavern, followed by an hour or so of crawling and climbing in the cavern's tunnel network.

Rappelling down chimneys is fun. Rappelling down in midair hundreds of feet above what seems like your inevitable doom is frightening in a way that is hard to describe. Holy coat indeed. It's not like rappelling is particularly safe as far as I can tell. What if you faint and let go of the rope? It would seem to me that this would result in your death. It's not like top roping or lead climbing, where if everyone involved faints, the worst that might happen is a fall of a few feet. So, no fainting allowed in rappelling.

The crawling and climbing aspect of the tour — known officially as spelunking, though that sounds far cruder to me than I am comfortable with in polite company — was a lot of fun. The brief experience I have had with rock climbing routes up to 5.10b or so in climbing gyms (equivalent, as I understand it, to about 5.7s in "real" environments) came in very handy, as I found myself squeezing myself through passage ways that were, after all, merely created for the conveyance of water, and not for ambulating humans.

I drove part of the way back home, the furthest I've driven in one go so far (I'm a cyclist and until recently didn't even have a driver's license).

All in all, a busy weekend.

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