My desire to go out of town, to explore, and to get up to something fun is, perhaps, rivalled only by Chelsea's.
After I finally finalized plans to be away for the first week of October visiting Northern California and Southern Oregon (mostly solo), and to be away later in the month for a wedding and an eye exam, Chelsea had some travel plans of her own (with me).
The goal: haunted houses and corn mazes.
We left on Friday evening after work. Our first stop was in Enumclaw, for dinner. We hoped for the best.
Alas, I have never, ever, ever seen a restaurant sell a piece of ham with a grill mark stamped on it under the name "pork chop".
After checking into a fairly standard motel with a friendly proprietor in the small town of Buckley, WA, we made our way to our haunted house -- the Fright Factory in Buckley.
This was the first of our haunted houses. It had a sort of madhouse vibe, at least at the start, and it did it's best to tick all of the boxes for things that people might be frightened of, from clowns to undead babies.
The queue was long, but it was a pretty impressive display.
Given that I can't remember visiting a haunted house, other than a ridiculous combination haunted house-escape room in Tokat, I wasn't sure whether I'd actually be scared.
Obviously, stuff can make me jump, but it is far, far, far easier to just laugh at Chelsea jumping at stupid stuff than for me to be scared myself.
She kept wanting me to go faster, and, seeing as I had less of an adrenaline rush, I was more than happy to really take in the funfair surroundings.
The following morning was, in fact, a partial eclipse of the sun. One which I was not particularly prepared for. (No eclipse glasses here, folks!)
The weather was not particularly prepared for it either, gracing us with a thick cloud cover.
In the following photos, and some elsewhere in the article, I'm using a Konica Pearl III 6x4.5 format folding camera that was sold to me as tested + fully working. I absolutely loved shooting with it, but unfortunately it had some pretty massive light leaks and minor frame spacing issues.
Buckley has a small, walkable, charming town center -- here are a few photos that I like that I captured there.
After visiting Buckley, we went on to the one place that I absolutely insisted we add to our itinerary -- Flaming Geyser State Park.
Flaming Geyser State Park
With a name like that, how can it not be cool, right?
...I'm sure the skeptical reader will be unsurprised to hear that this park is not mini Yellowstone-on-fire.
It was full of glorious fall colors.
The park's origin story is that prospective coal miners hit a methane pocket in the early 1900s.
Flaming geyser is where the methane directly reaches the surface and is lit on fire. Wikipedia says it burned higher before the 1960's. Recent Google Reviews suggest it doesn't burn at all anymore, but that simply isn't the case.
A small flame, seemingly fuelled by nothing is at the middle of this rock pile:
From there, we made our way over to "bubbling geyser"... past some lovely leaves.
Bubbling geyser is where the methane pocket naturally seeps up through mud into a stream. A chemical reaction forms calcium carbonate which fills the water, and leaves an eerie gray color.
Though the park could seem underwhelming to some, I loved the fall atmosphere and visiting its unique features.
We were happy to have made the detour.
On our way out of the state park, we happened to pass by a field with some grazing cows, with the mountain beautifully in the background.
We pulled over, and I snapped a few pictures, not expecting that I would attract the cows by doing so.
Thomasson Family Farm
We passed the Thomasson Family Farm on the way to Flaming Geyser, and decided to detour there on our way back.
I mean, there was a corn maze. Do you think we would pass up the opportunity to sneak an extra corn maze into our haunted house and cornmaze trip?
I don't think either of us loved the maze's rodeo theme, but we both were dutifully lost in it for a duration.
Being a lazy person, my strategy was just to try and follow wherever the path looked most worn...
The nearby pumpkin patch looked nice too. But, we were off to our accomodations, and then, it seems, to another corn maze and pumpkin patch later...
Centralia is a cute town, full of antique stores. It's a great place to take pictures of pig merchandise to make certain friends of yours jealous. We enjoyed strolling around the compact downtown.
Our final stop of the trip was the Huntting's Family Farm, where Chelsea was particularly excited about the prospect of a flashlight corn maze.
I was, perhaps, less enthusiastic about the prospect of doing a second corn maze in the same day, this time in the dark.
The maze was of the "try to get to various points, and then punch your card," variety. We both found the maze rather less fun in the dark, and did not see fit to get to all twelve points.
However, all was not lost. The Huntting's Farm was also home to a "haunted forest," which we had combined tickets to. And, this, was a really nice time.
It was like a fully outdoor haunted house, which gave it a more spacious feeling compared to the Fright Factory.
It allowed ample opportunities for performers to run at you from wherever, and I feel like they were really creative with their use of set pieces.
My favorite was where they had the front end of a car rigged up to suddenly blind you with headlights, and the loud sound of a revving engine. This is the sort of idea that sings outdoors, whereas in a traditional "house" setting it might fall flat.
McMenamins of Centralia
After finishing yet another Bowie album in the car, we arrived back in Centralia. Our hotel was to be our dinner -- not just out of laziness and inertia, but also because we were staying at a chain known for their brewpubs and restaurants.
McMenamins basically buys historic properties, and preserves the outers, whilst converting the innards into hotels and restaurants and the like. The one in Centralia has some signage about being an old brothel or something.
The food and beer was delicious. I would have liked some hot wings, but apparently you could only get them by the pound.
And the room was totally adequate. A bit stuffy. Apparently, this hotel is the least well reserved one in the chain, and I was left feeling like I would be happy to give them another shot.
The following morning's drive back to Seattle was swift. Thus concluded our autumnal odyssey*.
* Odysseus not included.
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