"Wooohoo! Here we go Charlie! Don't touch my beer. I can still see it, Charlie!"
I don't realize that I am, in fact, Charlie, until my new drunk friend starts petting my fleece from the seat behind me. We're hanging upside down on "Kamikaze", a fair ride that doesn't quite live up to its name.
It occurs to me that a carnival may not be the most Tynan-friendly environment. Every single food available is either deep fried, dipped in some sugary coating, or both.
The people are so drunk that even as they hang upside down on a crazy ride, their number one concern is the beer that the carnie made them leave down below.
Well, that and petting my fleece.
And there are the carnival games, a full on assault on my minimalist sensibilities. The prizes are defined by their uselessness and the games are set up so that you always pay more for the prize than it's worth.
But then we have the rides. I love rides, but there's one ride in particular that we came for.
I'll never forget riding The Zipper at the Vermont state fair as a kid. It was by far the most clever and fun ride at the fair. The others were predictable, but The Zipper is different every time you ride it.
Its beam rotates around an axle, a track runs around the beam like a tank tread, and free spinning cages move along the track. Pure unpredictable chaos.
Todd and I ride The Zipper over and over again, laughing out loud the whole time, half because of the absurdity of us being at a carnival populated otherwise with couples and children, and half out of sheer joy for being randomly tossed around in the metal cage.
Next we go to the petting zoo. It might sound juvenile, but I LOVE petting zoos.
I have a philosophy that, whenever possible, things should be experienced rather than seen. Instead of just visiting the temples in Japan, Todd and I did the traditional pilgrimage between them. Learning how to paint from a good painter is more fun than looking at the painting of a great painter. Feeding and petting and hugging animals is a lot more engaging than watching them behind glass.
That's not to say that there isn't a lot of value in seeing things too, I just find that experiencing them is more satisfying.
And so we crouch on the cedar chips and feed the animals. They have tons of goats, baby cows, deer, wallabies, a kangaroo, ponies, sheep, and even a llama. It's amazing.
Other groups come and go but Todd and I stay for at least half an hour in the main pen feeding and petting the animals. They're all so adorable that it's hard to stick to my resolution of not feeding the ones that headbutt me and bite my fleece.
Finally once our cups of food are gone and our hands are thoroughly coated in mixed animal saliva, we leave. It's hard to imagine that anyone who spends any amount of time around animals wouldn't be an animal lover.
Now I have to figure out some way to get a zoo to let me pet tigers and polar bears. When Annie and I were at the aquarium in Mandalay Bay in Vegas we got to pet stingrays, which was pretty neat.