Saturday, May 15, 2010

Update on Bonfante Gardens

Before we write about the newest information on Bonfonte Gardens, we want to tell you about a celebration we had here in our park.  Late last week, Judy Martel, one of our leaseholders, passed away. Judy had been living in a local rest home for several years, but her husband, Ralph, lived here in the park. We knew Judy only from the few occasions Ralph brought her home to sing in the park's chorus.

Judy loved to sing, and she joined the chorus regularly, even as she drifted deeper and deeper into dementia. Eventually, Ralph needed to sit with her in the chorus so she wouldn't fall off her chair while she sang. Ralph couldn't sing a note, but he mouthed the words to keep her company and to be with her.

Friday morning, we gathered in the club house for a "Celebration of Life" for Judy. At least 50 of us were there. Bob Younts, one of our long-term renters, had been a pastor in his earlier days, and he spoke glowingly of the life and love of Ralph and Judy, and of the promise of a Kingdom where she'd know no more pain, no more suffering, no more sorrow. And that Kingdom awaits us all.

Afterwards, we joined in a "finger food" festivity. (Suzy prepared a Crock Pot full of turkey meatballs in barbecue sauce.)

Such a difference from our younger days when death left a void, tearing at our hearts and minds, with grieving survivors weeping, and somber faced friends mouthing words of condolence. We celebrated. Ralph stood up and told entertaining stories of Judy's love of life and her sense of humor, because none of  us had known her before her stroke, which began to seriously limit her physical and, later on, her mental faculties. We had a celebration of our Judy, and we look to the future, when -- hopefully -- our families and friends will gather to celebrate our lives, as we move on to the new life awaiting us.

Back to Bonfante Gardens.

Wow, it's fun looking back, as we did the other day with Bonfante Gardens. But look out if you're interested in going!

Reader Mary Russell told us that Bonfante Gardens, in Gilroy, CA, is still operating, now under the name Gilroy Gardens (which doesn't sound nearly as appealing as the old name) and doing well. Their website address is

We peeked at the site and had our eyes opened for us. The gardens have grown into the only horticulturally-oriented theme park in California. They have 21 rides for folks of all ages, and are working to educate us all about how man can help shape and preserve the natural world. (Editor's note: man hasn't done too great a job shaping the natural world so far, but the natural world is doing a "Bangup Job" shaping mankind! Think volcanoes in Iceland, earthquakes in Haiti, China and elsewhere.)

Happily, Gilroy Gardens is fully handicapped accessible, and you can even rent electric wheelchairs. It seems nearly every ride offers special access for disabled folks, and that's a real benefit.
From 2004 Bonfante
If you are interested in visiting Gilroy Gardens, better get on-line. They are currently offering an on-line special one-day entry price of $29.99 per person; that gets you an all-day adventure including all the rides and the opportunity to eat in their restaurants. If you are just going to drop in, you'd better be age 62 or older, 'cause the price for a Senior All Day pass is only $34.99. If you are younger than 62, but not a kid, the regular front-gate price is $44.99, but with that entry fee you can also get, at no additional charge, not a set of Ginsu Knives, but Gilroy Gardens' Lotsa Card, which includes entry during any regular admission day during the 2010 season.

The park is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization (but the daily admission is not a membership, so you cannot use it as a tax deduction). Oh, and the admission price does not include parking in their lot: that's another $10, so load up your friends and carpool!
From 2004 Bonfante
It's a great place, but I'm sure glad we got to go there in 2004, early on in ... Our Life on Wheels.


  1. I applaud the "celebration of life" instead of the morbid stuff we usually experience. Your post was awesome and reminds us that we should all live our lives so that one day we too can "celebrate."

    Thanks for all the great information on Gilroy Gardens!

    Take care,
    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

  2. I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your friend, Judy, but how fabulous that her Celebration of Life was really that, a celebration of her life and of the person she was before she went downhill. To have a heavenly home waiting for us is truly a gift from God. It doesn't mean that family and friends won't miss us when we pass away, but how great to know that Judy is now restored and singing in the heavenly choir!

  3. Wow! I think I'll have to rethink my idea of visiting the Gilroy (Bonafonte) Gardens! The way I read it, the cost for Paulette and I would be $80 - that's quite a bit more than we're prepared to pay to get into any attraction! I'm sure glad you posted all the great pics of this place as it will have to do for us!

    That was a nice story about the celebration of the life of your friend in the park. It sure beats the old times you mentioned.

  4. Botanically speaking it looks like a very nice place but not likely we would go there with those prices & amusement park rides. Somehow in my mind the two don't fit. Seems to me the rides & crowds of kids they would attract somehow takes away from the peace & serenity a quiet botanical garden would offer.

  5. What a wonderful thing to celebrate the life of a person, as opposed to their passing, Tha Gardens look beuatiflu, Maybe someday we will be out thataway, Be sfae out there. Sam & Donna.

  6. WOW that is kinda pricey BUT it looks so beautiful... Thanks for all the great info! Hope your both doing well!! Give Suzy and you a BIG hug from us!
    Have fun & travel safe

  7. I never met Judy, but I believe it was Ralph who came to me once when I was president of Solos and visiting the SKP coop in Benson. With tears in his eyes, he explained his wife's situation and asked whether he would be allowed to join the Solos. He thought he would enjoy being with solo RVers more than a couples' group. Thanks for sharing this story, and the update on the Gilroy Gardens.

  8. Oops - Forgot to add that, of course, we welcomed Ralph into the Solos. I don't know if he ever traveled with any other single RVers or attended a rally, but I'm sure he earned lots of Hugs!


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