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August 26, 2005: Fair play

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I still have far too high a vacation balance from work, and Richard and I wanted to go to the State Fair, but also do our best to avoid most of the crowds and the craziness that usually ensues on the weekends. So to that end we took yesterday off from work, and instead of getting up early and poking at computers and searching for the state of the construction market in various parts of the country, we instead slept in a little bit and then went to the fair. Or rather, I still got up as early as I ever do because my mom and I were going to do Curves, except she called to cancel so I took that as the perfect excuse to go right back to bed for another few hours of mostly-uninterrupted sleep (there is no such thing as pure uninterrupted sleep in a house with cats, after all.

We got to the fair around 11, still early enough to get parking close enough so we wouldn't have to hike too far, and headed inside. It was hot yesterday, but not as hot as it's been in years past, so we decided to wander through all the outdoor things first before heading into the exhibit halls, which would hopefully be air conditioned relief from the weather.

We wandered the midway and Richard spotted one of those cheesy haunted house rides, so we forked over money to get enough tickets for the ride. It turned out to be short and mostly dark, interspersed with the occasional dim light flashing over some kind of monster-like creature trapped in a cage growling at us as we rode by. But one does things for nostalgia sometimes.

We next headed for the livestock exhibits and found a huge barn full of cows, and a smaller one beside it full of goats. I'm not sure where all the other livestock was housed; we never made it out that far, unfortunately. Not being farmers, we didn't stay very long because when you've seen one row of cows you've seen them all.

One of my favorite places to go in the fair is the vendor's mall and the county exhibits, because they are so much fun, and they didn't disappoint. The county exhibits ranged from large and flashy and spectacular, to tiny and primitive and dull. It was obvious which counties set aside money in their budget for the State Fair, and which ones really didn't feel the need to bother.

There is a garden area nestled between the buildings that house the vendors and the county exhibits, and every year they do it up with a different theme. This year was pirates and hidden islands with buried treasure, including a volcano in the middle of the garden with glowing red lava, and the occasional puff of smoke from the top.

I'd heard that this year there was going to be sand sculptures but we never found them. By the time we were heading for the art and culture exhibit halls we were running short on time, so I know there was a huge part of the fair we never made it to. But we did make a quick run through all the displays of artwork - textiles, industrial art, the kids' art, and of course the food art, where they were judging preserves as we walked around the displays.

I was a little disappointed because there was no large animal built entirely from dinner knives, like there has been in the past, but there were other really fun sculptures and paintings, and a quilt full of monsters that was quite possibly the coolest quilt of all time.

Then it was time to leave, so we hiked back to the car and drove home to collapse for a very short time, just long enough to rehydrate, and for me to grab some knitting, and then it was off in the car again, this time to Campbell, for Richard's parents' annual play. We weren't sure how much time to leave since traffic in the Bay Area is very unpredictable on Fridays. We gave ourselves a lot of time, which meant we ended up getting there over an hour early. This was okay, however, since we tracked down a nearby coffee shop, bought sandwiches and chai tea for dinner, and had a chance to sit and relax and knit (me) or write (Richard) and catch our breath before the play.

This year they did Suessical, which was impressive mainly for the way the authors managed to compile as many unrelated Seuss stories into one vaguely cohesive plot. Richard's dad was a wonderful Horton, and Richard's little sister played a very energetic Cat in the Hat, and the woman who played Gertrude McFuzz and the little girl who played JoJo were outstanding.

By this time Richard and I were pretty much exhausted, but there was still post-play pie, which was delicious, even if I was ready to fall face forward into my plate. Luckily Richard was willing to drive home because I think I might very well have dozed off somewhere on route and really, that would not have been a very good ending to an otherwise fun (busy) day.

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