The arrival of November means the arrival of the second of Gilroy Gardens’ after dark events, [email protected] Despite feeling that the Halloween version fell short of expectations, I was excited for this event, a Craft Beer, Fine Wine & Gourmet Food Fest. For one, an adult oriented evening is quite a departure for a park geared so heavily to young children; only three rides were even open. For another, the park was hosting a media event for the first time since your humble narrator started writing for MiceChat, and the only thing better than food and drink is free food and drink.

The lighting throughout the park was little changed from Halloween, including the curious retention of the fog machines but we parked right as the day was hitting that all too brief time between sunset and full dark, so after checking in I was bouncing around like a super-ball, being grateful that pixels are cheaper than film taking advantage of the situation.

Being fleet of foot meant I was soon back in the Marketplace, scene of the food and drink booths. And kids aren’t banned or anything, so they have some activities on hand. The near complete lack of guests at this time were due to my being there before many had time to reach that area in back of the park.

For those of us that had to do homework after it was all over, samples of food and drink were available inside the Monarch Garden greenhouse. Lentil stew may not be the first thing to catch my eye on a menu, but it was pretty good, thick and hearty, and bound to help ward off a chill. Turkey pot pie was fresh, flavorful, and seemed closer to food than those square boxes in the freezer section of the Piggly Wiggly. My favorite was the pork slider, served with a handful of kettle crisps. I’m one of those traditional types that thinks pumpkins are meant to be stabbed, their faces mutilated after their innards are scooped into the rubbish bin. Yet some persist in eating the stuff, and the bread pudding was a decent treat for something completely surrounded by no chocolate.

In addition to the above, Fried Chicken Wings with Cranberry Glaze, Elotes (Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob with Mayonnaise, Chili Powder & Cotija Cheese) and Apple Crisp are also available at the Marketplace. Beer and wine aren’t a part of my palate, but a wide selection was available. Gilroy Gardens has always played homage to its locale, and that continued with a selection of wines from some of the many local vineyards, most just up the road from the park. A large selection of craft beers was also featured; I had an aluminum bottle of brown sugar water. Satiated, it was back to the fresh air of the adjacent Mission Plaza. No specialty food here, but the drink ticket stand was getting attention, and there were adorandak chairs surrounding fire pits to utilize.

There seems to be something happening beside the glow of that crazy Four Legged Giant Circus Tree over yonder.

I must confess that when I’d seen that music would be provided by The Pfeffers, fronted by siblings Kevin and Cori, there was a foreboding sense of a mellow acoustic duo forming in my mind. However, except for a stylized take on Michael Jackson’s Billing Jean, this was a quartet drawing off the power grid. Both brother and sister had strong voices, and Kevin has solid rhythm guitar chops balanced by the melodic playing of bassist Gordon (he must be like Adele, only requiring a single moniker). The show was a blend of both covers and originals, with the latter getting greater representation as time passed. Having a female singer meant songs like Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by K T Tunstall (the one your buddy, Guy, calls the Woo Hoo Song) and Bishop Briggs’ River. By the time they were ripping through an incendiary take on Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta all worries of hearing two hours of introspective folk music were fully extinguished. There’s even a Disney connection as they appeared at the “Cars” premiere. When you need to choose between live music and a cheerleader with a record player, choose wisely.

So that was the rock, and The Quicksilver Express provided the roll. Riding the little terrain coaster in the dark was a rare treat, and some of the lights used on the South County Back roads during Halloween were relocated to lend a bit of accent to the mine train.

Without the distraction of delicacies, I took my time going through Monarch Garden heading to the front of the park. Looks like they got an exterminator in to handle that giant spider problem they were suffering last month.

The Bonfante Railroad was up and running after some scheduled maintenance, so the plan was to take the circuit before the drive home. To add an extra layer of excitement, I decided to photograph it going through the greenhouse, and then racing it to the Redwood Junction station.

Glad there’s another stop in between as I hit the stairs just as the little engine from the Chance Mfg Co of Wichita, Kansas pulled in. I wonder what the greenhouse looks like from that vantage point?

OK, not bad. I wonder what it looks like when the train enters hyperspace?

Whoa! And that’s without beer or wine (or digital trickery), although maybe next time they…oh, it looks like we’re back at the station. No time to even finish a thought with Christmas rapidly approaching and a near overwhelming abundance of choice, but that will have to wait until the next Day by The Bay.