Well, hello there!! I've been gone for over a week... But I have a really good excuse. I've actually been gone -- I went to Portland, Oregon to see some friends for five glorious days. I did a lot of second-hand (and for that matter, first-hand) shopping, and a LOT of eating. I had to sit on my suitcase to get it shut (and I had a whole second backpack my friend Jen gave me), and I had to cram myself into the airplane seat to get the belt closed. Well, I exaggerate, but lets just say I'm watching what I eat for the next... year.
Before I start posting on all the lovely Portland eating adventures I had, however, I have to do a couple of posts on some summer festivals we attended before summer is truly over. Already there is a chill in the air and a snap in the leaves that makes me want to put the deep-fried delights of August behind me, and focus on the warm comfort food of autumn. So here is one of two last summer "hurrahs": our August trip to Indiana Beach in Monticello, Indiana.
Indiana Beach is a special place for me. My brother, my friends and I nagged my father into dragging us to Lake Shafer once or even twice a summer from the time I was very young up through high school. It is a place of un-fancified, cheezy carnival fun that never failed to amuse us. My best friend and I loved the haunted car ride that advertised, "It's cool... Cool... COOL inside," because the air conditioning was just about the only reason to stand on line to go in. My brother and I loved the "Gallery of Ghouls" shooting gallery, and for years we have re-created the hawking-a-lugie sound that the piranha used to make when he bobbed up out of the fish tank (made even more hilarious by the fact that piranhas have nothing to do with ghosts or ghouls, but I supposed they are vaguely menacing.) Often, the park would not bother to power the "scenes" in Frankenstein's Castle, let alone turn off the lights. Once, I distinctly remember a worker's "plumber's crack" being the scariest thing that I witnessed inside. Events like this just made us like the place all the more.
Shockingly, rather than finding ol' Indiana Beach has gone further downhill since my last visit nearly twenty years ago, I found the old girl to be in really great shape. They've changed a few things (the haunted car ride is now pirate-themed, and the piranha, disappointingly, now makes a slide-whistle sound), but most of them are improvements. And the place is not so improved that it doesn't still hold it's vintage charm. Most of the arcade games are the same, and most still cost a quarter.
I could talk about Indiana Beach at even further length, but I'll try to stick to the food. That IS what we're here for, after all.
We began our morning at the campground with a breakfast that would elevate our blood sugar to unhealthy levels and prepare us for the day's feast.
My friend Greg asked me to caption the picture on the cereal box in his hand. The one I came up with was, "There's nothing like a good acid enema in the morning!" I mean, take a look at that rabbit. He's on something besides sugar.
We made our way across the street to the park, where there were more food-related photo op's.
Deciding on the chow was difficult. Our stomachs weren't our limitation so much as the relative expense of park fare. Luckily, a sandwich board sign put me off the corn dogs fairly quickly.
The idea of eating anthropomorphically changed food has never really appealed to me. Especially a mustachioed Pronto Pup. And what's with I.B. Crow's corn dog offering?
I like the Crow, I just don't want to know him that intimately.
If you can shake off the signage, however, the hand-dipped corn dogs inside the park at Pronto Pups do smell mighty fine.
After our hearty breakfast and a few rides, our first meal in the park was at the Taco Shoppe, where I had remembered always buying a few chicken tacos. When we arrived, however, there was no option for "chicken" or "beef" tacos, just "tacos," or "walking tacos." (These are taco meat on chips inside the bag that they come in.) After eating my tacos, I'm still not sure if they are beef or chicken... And as unappealing as that sounds? Let me tell you, those are some really fine tacos. They have some authentic Mexican cheese, a savory meat (of some type), and taco sauce. Very tasty.
My buddy Jen got the taco salad, which she said was very good also.
I got a fairly pricey strawberry and banana smoothie at the Smoothie Hut next door, which I was dismayed to watch come straight out of a machine. Still, it was surprisingly good, and I could taste real fruit in it. I declined the upgrade to a souvenir coconut cup.
Later in the day, we each got an elephant ear. Oh, they were lovely. Greg got the cherry topping on his, and Jen and Chris each got the standard cinnamon and sugar shaken on top.
The two women at the stand were fairly taken aback when I asked for NO sugar at all on mine. I got my plain elephant ear, and then hunted a few stands for salt packets, finally finding them outside the Pronto Pup stand. I had that instead of sugar (when I was a kid and Dad fried dough at home, this is how we liked it). I often opt for the savory instead of the sweet. It was fan-savory-tastic.
Late in the evening, after swimming and a shower at the campground, all five roller coasters and several video games later, we ate at the Skyroom Restaurant. In all my years at the park, I don't remember ever having eaten there before... Jen took pictures for me, so I'll add those to this post when I get them from her (like this post isn't long enough already). I had the best beef liver I've ever tasted. Chris got the spectacular "Chicken Salad Hawaiian," which came with enough fruit on the platter to feed a baby elephant. Jen and Greg had the fried chicken, which looked really fantastic to my jealous eyes.
Sadly, our stay at the Indiana Beach Campground was to be cut short only a couple of hours later. I had never stayed at the campground before, and I don't believe I will again. I don't want to say it was full of white trash, but lets just say the number of Dale Earnhardt flags on trailers out there can probably be viewed from the air. We were kept awake by our neighbor having a drunken brawl with her boyfriend, who was later picked up outside the park for a DUI. I know this, because the sheriff eventually arrived after my friend Greg asked her to turn down her Nickelback, and she became so incensed that she was eventually threatening to burn our campsite to the ground, in a lengthy storm of screaming curses and in front of her two young children. Chris decided that it would be better not to lie awake and listen for a match to strike, and we packed up and abruptly left at 1:30 in the morning. Unbelievably, Greg and Jen stayed, and he said the woman cried, hollered an moaned (to no one in particular) about her boyfriend's arrest and her various child custody problems until early in the morning. Jen slept through the whole affair.
Still, as much as I intensely disliked the campground, I am still so very fond of Indiana Beach Amusement Park. The park was so much fun, and the food was sinfully good. Next time, however, I believe I will just eat, ride, play... and run.
The sound effect you can just hear in the following video is me, adding the original and "correct" cry of the fearsome Ghoul Piranha.
Indiana Beach Piranha, with Original Sound Added
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