The kids had a pleasant day at Knoebels (pronounced kuh-no-belz) Amusement Resort in nearby Elysburg, Pennsylvania yesterday. It is the oldest free admission family-owned amusement park in the USA. After our Universal Studios Japan (USJ) experiences, it was a much more relaxed, enjoyable and cheaper than the expensive and over-crowded USJ.
It gave the kids a taste of Americana culture. The park is set in a beautiful wooded valley and with free parking and admission and tickets for rides ranging from $1.50 – $3.00, there was a wide socio-economic variety of people. It felt like a bit of old-fashioned Americana. Ocean went on 20 rides and Owen went on 18 rides. In the afternoon, the wait times for rides was very short (5-10 minutes). I even did a roller coaster, The Twister. There are three big roller coasters, many smaller rides, a water park with log ride, games, food, entertainment, etc. It felt like a much bigger Iron County Fair that I used to go to as a kid growing up in Michigan, but maintaining that intimate, travelling carnival-like atmosphere.
We passed some beautiful scenery on the way there and back. The Pennsylvania forested mountains being cut by rivers in the back ground and beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch farms in the foreground. The weather was almost perfect with lots of sunshine and not too hot.
A couple of observations about life here that really stand out coming from Japan. The conditions of the roads are much worse than the gold standards of Japan. There are many potholes, cracks, and uncared for shoulders. The USA really needs to invest in infrastructure projects. I also notice the size of people here. We were guessing the percentage of obesity and put it at between 1/3 and 1/2 of Pennsylvanian citizens. In looking up the official rate, I see Pennsylvania is ranked #24 with a 31.6 obesity rate. In Japan it is rare to see someone overweight, so it is a bit shocking coming here. It makes me concerned about the future of American health care, as the rate is increasing. A national exercise and healthy eating campaign should be started immediately. Supporting ways for people to eat less, eat healthier and exercise more needs to be a priority. I was surprised to see rentals of motorized wheelchairs for non-handicapped, non-elderly adults so common. They even had a shuttle taking people the 500 meters or so to the parking lot.