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  • suzannenorquist

Offseason: Abandoned, Like a Zombie Apocalypse

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

Who hasn’t dreamed of having an amusement park or tourist town all to themselves? Why fight the crowds? Just go when no one else is around.

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite little mountain towns in the winter with my husband. I had imagined poking through the shops and eating funnel cakes without crowds or lines. Instead, I found this. Closed for the season.

Most of the town shuts down when the train stops bringing shoppers. One die-hard tourist shop remains open. All of the others are locked up tight. And forget funnel cakes. Pictures of the delicious desserts cover the windows, making my stomach growl, but, alas, no funnel cakes today.

Only one restaurant stays open for lunch on any given day. The clerk at the one open tourist shop showed me a schedule that is distributed to locals. It tells what restaurants are open each day, but is subject to changes at the cook’s whim.

We lunched at the open restaurant. The choice was hamburgers or hamburgers. Plain hamburgers, hamburgers with chilis, or hamburgers with other fixin’s. Tasty and filling, but not a funnel cake.

Worse yet, we found the public restrooms locked up tight. I counted on those restrooms. . . although, maybe if the town is empty, I can pretend I’m in the woods and go behind a tree. Nah. The locals wouldn’t like that.

I should have known better. I’ve made a regular grocery run to Walmart at two-o’clock in the morning. That’s the joy of having a twenty-four-hour store.

The perfect time. Right?

No “People of Walmart” to shock me with exposed muffin-tops or undergarments on the outside of their clothes. No dodging other carts. No long lines at checkout.

Instead, I have to dodge oversized plastic-wrapped pallets of merchandise waiting to be shelved. And forget sale items. Those supplies have long since been depleted.

After I fill my basket to overflowing, I head to the twenty checkout stands, anticipating a speedy exit. But, the only line open is self-check-out. First, I look at my bulging basket. Then I look at the little shelf that is supposed to hold my groceries. If I’m lucky, someone takes pity on me and opens a stand.

Unlike Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation, I’m not able to force someone to open up for me. Although, that is my dream—I hate crowds.

On the plus side, I haven’t been chased through the amusement park by zombies like what happened in the movie Zombieland. (Sorry if that’s a spoiler for you). The abandoned tourist town hasn’t been hit by a zombie apocalypse, but it sure could be used to stage a zombie movie.

I guess if I want the full experience, I’ll have to join the crowds, when the shops and restaurants are prepared to serve the masses . . . unless I want hamburgers or hamburgers instead of funnel cakes.

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