Abandoned Tunnels, Corn Mazes, and Raves! Oh My!

Offbeat Offerings,

Halloween is my favorite holiday, which should come as no surprise from a sugar-crazed girl who loves playing dress-up,

Basically, to me the most magical time of year is when you disembowel pumpkins and knife them repeatedly in the side…

…then finish off their rotting remains with a full arsenal of weapons.


This year, I read and watch The Shining for the first time (two totally different experiences), attended a B monster movie themed burlesque show, ate myself sick on candy, marathoned the vampire anime Shiki at work, and explored a couple new Halloween-time activities.

Thomas Family Farm

Rock music blasting, the hay ride rolls out. I swivel the mounted paintball gun in front of me and rat-a-tat-tat at zombies lurching through flashing lights and spurting flames. My qualms about shooting at defenseless people soon fades – these “zombies” are so heavily padded that their staggers look to be caused more by restricted movement than good acting.

Zombie Paintball, phase 1 of the “Triple Threat” package offered by Thomas Family Farm, is complete. One of my friends’ guns stalls, so he gets an extra go-around while we drink pumpkin ale around the fire pits.


The “Nightmare on 9” Haunted House is a slaughterhouse-themed ramble that ends with being chased by a chainsaw. We realize it’s the same one we’ve hit in previous years at neighboring Stalker Farms, so it doesn’t hold many surprises.

To finish the night, we head into the extremely muddy flashlight corn maze. Within minutes, half our group charges off-trail through the corn while the other half tries to reference the map.  It’s a pretty tough maze – we end up getting so lost that we have to ask for directions from some mud wrestling workers in the wolf’s head.  I feel genuine relief upon re-emerging into the open.


While still fun, we all agree it’s getting harder to get any sort of thrill out of these farms.  I need to do something different.

Snoqualmie Tunnel

On the night before Halloween, we pitch a tent, rip open a bag of skeleton-shaped Cheetos, prop up a Surface Pro, and settle in to watch The Descent. It’s a typical horror movie set-up with one exception: we’re in the middle of a 2.3-mile-long abandoned train tunnel.

This Snoqualmie Tunnel segment of the 110-mile Iron Horse Trail is a popular Halloween hike, especially since it closes November 1st for the winter due to deadly icicles. When I realize time is running out to enjoy it, some coworkers and I spontaneously drive out well after dark. We pass through mist and rain and into the relative shelter of the tunnel.


The scenery inside is pretty constant, only a series of numbered niches along the wall to mark our progress, but we find ways to stave off monotony.  After switching off all our lights, we dance to the Pan’s Labyrinth theme in the impenetrable dark, twisting and cavorting until all sense of direction is lost.


The horror movie is the highlight. While blind cave creatures hunt down the hapless spelunkers on-screen, a mysterious breeze beats like a machine gun against the tent walls and water drops echo deceptively through the tunnel.   The atmosphere is perfect, apart from being literally too chilling.  

We have the added fear of not knowing when they’ll actually close the tunnel for the year, and I bet those huge doors on either end would be hard to open from the inside.

At some point, the night passes into October 31 and it’s officially Halloween. We finish our walk out the other end of the tunnel before heading back the way we came.  Cecil Baldwin’s voice narrates the ride home in the delightfully bizarre Welcome to Night Vale podcast.


Halloween night! The one time of year I slave over makeup and willingly take a selfie. Tonight I don a slinky galaxy dress over black tights, dust my skin with silver glitter, and wrap myself in a string of starry fairy lights.  My battery pack slides into a children’s rocket ship backpack.  To add a sexy finish, I pin my dress with paper cutouts of sci-fi icons, like the Millennium Falcon, a space invader, and a Cylon raider.  My space costume is complete.

It’s off to FreakNight at WaMu Theater, a much larger dance party than my usual Halloween house shindigs. We bounce between the three stages with little regard for who’s playing, caught up in all the costumes and lights and music. I play with streamers that fell from the ceiling, ribbon twirling and literally roping in strangers to dance. A few other light-up-costumed people recruit me in entertaining those wearing prism glasses. I even find a few astronauts, upon whom I use lines laden with innuendo.

And of course, there’s my favorite: the carnival rides.  Russ rides the merry-go-round in Deadpool’s irreverent style, and at the end of the night we hop aboard the spinning Spaceship, overcoming centrifugal force to fist pump to Kaskade’s set.

outer-space-halloween-costume vampiress-halloween-costume

I skip FreakNight on Saturday night and head to a rooftop party instead (this time wearing a discount Value Village vampire costume that shows too much cleavage). There, I learn from misplaced party-goers that someone died of a drug overdose at the event yesterday, prompting the organizers to cancel the second day last minute.  Overdoses happen far too often at raves, a harsh reminder that life’s true horrors don’t have much in common with the cheap thrills we seek each All Hallow’s Eve.

Sometimes, when you laugh in the face of death, death laughs back.

That got dark.


  • Thomas Family Farm
    One of several farms that offer pumpkin patches, corn mazes, haunted houses, and zombie paintball.
  • Snoqualmie Tunnel
    Easy 5.3 mile round-trip. Bring a headlamp!
  • FreakNight
    Halloween weekend rave put on by USC with some of the top EDM acts.

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