Monday, February 6, 2012

All I care about the Superbowl is how much I will win in the pools.

It's my conclusion that the best day to go somewhere in SoCal is on Superbowl Sunday.  With the exception of Disneyland (I'm told), most attractions, parks, and shopping centers are eerily devoid of crowds.  Traffic is gloriously light, and no one has to queue for anything.

Thus, I set off for the Orange Country Great Park, the as yet unfinished park in Irvine, CA that resides where decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station El Toro used to be.  When Great Park is completed, it will the be the largest municipal park in Orange County and will be larger than New York's Central Park, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and San Diego's Balboa Park.

Though unfinished, Great Park drew me because of the free tethered hot air balloon ride that it offers.  Let me repeat that--Great Park offers FREE hot air balloon rides. 
hot air balloon in distance
One just needs to register and sign a waiver for a balloon ride at the Great Park visitor center and then wait for one's assigned flight appointment.  Because they are free, the rides are first come, first served basis so my thought was that Superbowl Sunday, of all days, would be ideally suited for guaranteeing a berth in the balloon basket.
However, when I arrived at 1:00pm, I was sad to learn that the day flights were all booked up.  The hours for balloon rides are 9:00am-3:00pm and 7:00pm-10:00pm.  For day flights, I was told that that I should register no later than 11:00am because the rides book up that quickly.  And one cannot book a ride the day before, either.  Nor can one register in the morning for a ride in the evening--registration for evening rides starts at 6:00pm.

Alas, I was very disappointed.  I should have called the visitor center prior to my visit to find out how early I needed to be there to ensure a ride, so it was my fault that I drove all the way to Irvine just to be thwarted.
I should have been up there.
Besides the hot air balloon, Great Park has a free carousel ride that is likewise on a first come, first served basis.  There is also an arts complex that consists of a few art galleries and studios.  Furthermore, Great Park hosts a farmers market every Sunday as well as an antiques flea market on the first Sunday of every month.
Neither the carousel nor the galleries interested me on this day, so I eventually wandered over to the markets to check them out.  I quickly grew bored with the antiques but the farmers market perked me up when I saw that there was a bunch of gourmet food trucks stationed there.  The temperature was very hot and dry so I especially zeroed in on the shaved ice truck.  This hit the spot big time:
coconut & melona flavor with snow cap, ice cream, and red beans!
The shaved ice was in fact my dessert.  Before that, I enjoyed lunch from Rancho A Go Go truck.  There is no photo of my pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich because I forgot to snap a pic prior to my wolfing it down, but take my word for it that it was VERY GOOD.
Rancho A Go Go menu
I left Great Park after lunch.  I spent about an hour there, including the time spent eating.  Despite my disappointment on this trip, I definitely want to return for the balloon ride, and I can't wait to check out Great Park when it is finally completed.

P.S.  I didn't win anything on any of my Superbowl pools.


  1. OMG I want to go on a free balloon ride too. That shaved ice looks awesome.

  2. Yeah, the food trucks were what saved the day. Maybe we can try for the balloon ride when you're next in town.