Saturday, October 23, 2010

To complement our trip to Hershey last weekend, I bought the family tickets at Allaire Historic Village for their haunted hayride on Friday evening. I bought the tickets in advance over the telephone two full weeks ago. For a family of six, it was expensive. Jeff noted that the charge went through on the credit card. But when we went to pick up the tickets, they had no record of the pre-purchase. So they took our contact information and kindly let us in anyway.

The village isn't big and we're familiar enough in the daytime, so we found our way to the hayride queue. The moon was full but didn't offer much light. Propane lanterns lit the paths adequately. The blurb on the website does not describe the hayride accurately at all. The subjects were horrors from literature: Jekyll and Hyde, sirens, Robin Hood, Frankenstein's monster, Harry Potter's nemesis, the giant squid from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. And others. I can't remember them. And really I could have done without them. It was pleasant enough to ride through the woods on a crisp, autumn evening without things jumping at our wagon.

After the ride, we were let off outside the carriage house where some witches had a cauldron on a fire. We were invited inside the carriage house to hear scary stories but the kids wanted to go to the bakery tout de suit. So we did and they got their $2 cookies.

I had also purchased haunted express train tickets on site. Those were significantly less expensive but were for a particular "departure" time. In other words, we had time to kill. After the bakery, we went into a row house which is set up as a museum. At least we could get warm. The older two kids have some experience with NJ museums so they learned from the displays. In fact, Tim recognized mention of bog iron from his fossil-finding field trip to Poricy Park earlier in the school year. We were literally the only ones in the museum besides an "historian" of sorts, whose repeated offers to give us some information we declined.

We waited at the train station for about 30 minutes. But the time flew. Really. We saw some characters from the haunted express train milling about. Took the edge off, I guess. We could see the train moving very slowly along the circuit and then it stopped for a bit before resuming again and pulling into the station. Kenny speculated that someone boarded the train and then had to get off. I just replied that whatever they did for the previous ride, they'd do for us, so we'll see what it is.

Our turn came and we took our seats in the open-sided passenger car. Jeff had Ella. Facing them was Tim with Kenny. I sat with Chris across the aisle. I thought it was a good idea to have Chris on the inside, away from the open train car sides. A lady asked whether she could sit facing us and I said, "That's fine." She said she didn't want to ride alone. She freaked me out during the ride because she seemed to be staring just over my shoulder with a frightened look on her face. I thought to myself, "C'mon, lady, this is for kids!"

The train pulled out from the station heading clockwise around the loop. Every other time I've been on that train it's gone counterclockwise. The first encounter along the tracks was with another engine, set up near the tracks to simulate a head-on collision. The smoke makers were a nice effect too. But we dodged the collision and passed a graveyard in which people stood up from behind the grave markers and started to walk towards the train. Jeff Goldblum's "Must go faster" from Jurassic Park always comes to mind in those instances.

Along the center of the track route were stakes with ghosts and other creatures affixed to them. Jeff was riding backwards so he brushed up against these things before seeing them. They were positioned closer to the train on his side anyway. I could see them in the light of the train but once I reached them they were in darkness. They really needed to have lights on the side of the train or something.

We went around a second time and encountered the engine threatening another head-on collision. This time in passing the cemetery, the train stopped and those things from behind the headstones boarded. I had Chris cover his eyes and put his head down. I held him tight. Sitting on the inside didn't seem like such a bright idea anymore. Tim put up his dukes and was going to punch anyone who went for him. He is a tough customer. I found myself warning the actors: "He will punch you, seriously. And leave a mark."

The train resumed course and these things menaced us. We stopped again at the last turn before the station and they were going to get off. But they said they needed to take someone with them. They settled on the lady facing me. She tugged at my coat and begged, "No, take her instead!" I wasn't too impressed with her selflessness. When they succeeded in pulling her from her seat, I put my feet up for the remainder of the ride. Chris found her boarding ticket on the floor - she'd dropped it in the struggle. We passed her after we got off the train. She'd be needed again for the next trip.

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