Tag Archives: IMAX

Four Corners – The Grand Canyon

28 Aug

Wow, a lot has happened since the last post about our Four Corners adventure. School started. I had to get a root canal. It has been an eventful series of days, but it is not time to write about our day at the Grand Canyon.

The day began at the hotel’s continental breakfast, but this was like no other continental breakfast. First, it was packed with people. Second, most of those people did not live on this continent. From the time that we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we noticed that people were speaking a myriad of languages. I tried to keep track with how many but lost count. All I know is that people were from all over the world.

This brings me to another point. I have always said that the Grand Canyon is something that everyone should see if they get the chance, and we were surrounded by people who traveled from around the world to see it. However, there are people in the United States who will not go. I understand that not everyone can afford it. I am writing about the people who do not go because they are too focused on going to the beach and eating shrimp cocktail while drinking a margarita. This is a great country with a lot of great places to visit, but people keep going to the same old places. A ton of people followed our trip on Facebook and talked about how fun it looked. They talked about how they would love to do something like that. Well, you cannot see the Grand Canyon in the panhandle of Florida.

Alright, my rant is over. Now, it is time to get on with the fun. On this morning, we had plans to do something that I had always wanted to do. We flew in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon. I think everyone was nervous, but it could not have been a better experience. As we flew to the canyon, music played in our headphones. We had a feeling that we were close when they starting playing the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know, the same music that Elvis used to come on stage with. Then, the land under us disappeared.

We got some great pictures.

Like this one.image-45

And this one.image-46

And this one.image-47

However, this is my favorite.image-44

After the helicopter ride, we went to the National Geographic Visitors Center and watched an IMAX movie about the history of the Grand Canyon. Then, we drove to the edge of the canyon to buy souvenirs and take more selfies.

Then, we went back to the hotel to relax and get ready for dinner. Not much happened in the afternoon, but I had an interesting experience in the hotel lobby.

I made myself ready for dinner and left the room to let the ladies get ready. I went to the lobby to read the newspaper and play on my phone. It was not as rushed as it was during breakfast, but there were people arriving to claim their rooms for the evening. There were two people, an African American man and an African American woman, working the desk.

Suddenly, a Japanese woman walked in and asked if they had a room available. Both desk clerks immediately said no. The lady left. A few minutes later, a tired and haggard white guy walked in. With his American accent, he said something like, “I guess you guys don’t have a room.” The lady said that she would look. She got on the computer and found a room for him.

Our nation is filled with racism. If we think that it is no longer a problem, then we can turn on the television for a reminder. In that lobby, I learned that racism can come in different forms. We, as Americans, can be racist in situations that I never realized. The Japanese woman was sent away without a thought. The white American was taken care of.

After that bit of enlightenment, we went to dinner at El Tovar, one of the Grand Canyon lodges.image-48

It was a great meal and a great way to end our day at the Grand Canyon.



Childhood Memories – Gatlinburg

30 Mar

In the early days of this blog, I started a series of “Childhood Memory” posts and planned on it being a recurring theme. I completed a grand total of two – one about my fortune of seeing Elvis in concert and another about our family road trips. Obviously, the theme was neglected, and I moved on to other topics. Then, I read a recent post by Becoming Cliche about a family hike to Alum’s Cave Bluff, one of my favorite trails, and it reminded me of more childhood memories. Make no mistake, my family was not into hiking, but we spent many weekends in the area.

The trail to Alum’s Cave Bluff winds through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee. Nestled in the hollow of those mountains at the entrance to the park sits Gatlinburg, a small town that grew into a tourist destination. I describe it as the Tennessee version of Vail.

Today, Gatlinburg is a collection of theme restaurant chains, drinking dives and cheap t-shirt shops. And, if you don’t know the back way you get to it by driving through the monstrosity that is Pigeon Forge. Don’t get me wrong. There are great places in the modern Gatlinburg like the Lodge at Buckberry Creek, but this isn’t the place of my childhood. My Gatlinburg existed when Pigeon Forge was a few buildings along the highway and t-shirts were made of better material.

Instead of writing an essay about the joys of old Gatlinburg, here is a list of the things I remember most.

Anticipating our arrival while taking the winding, creek-following road between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Playing miniature golf at Adventure Golf and my dad letting me win.

Climbing on the rocks in the Little Pigeon River

Having a picnic in the park and my grandfather (Daddy J) brining his red cooler full of Cokes.

Driving around the loop at Cade’s Cove.

Going to Christus Gardens and getting freaked out when the eyes on the Jesus sculpture followed me.

Watching the taffy machines in the windows of the candy stores.

Eating butter and crackers on the porch of Howard’s Restaurant.

Sitting in the rocking chairs of the Midtown Lodge and watching people walk by.

Begging my parents to let me play at Hillbilly Golf.

Skipping the Pancake Pantry because of the line and getting donuts at the Donut Friar instead.

Riding to the top of the mountain and taking a few steps on the Appalachian Trail.

Riding go-carts in Pigeon Forge and my dad letting me win.

Eating the caramel off the caramel apple and leaving the apple behind.

Listening to my mom and grandmother (Mama J) talk about gossip from back home.

Running into people that we knew from home.

Riding the skylift and getting our picture made at the top.

Going to Rebel Corner and not understanding why my dad and Daddy J were laughing at what the t-shirts said.

Eating a the Peddlar and getting sliced Vienna sausages from the salad bar.

Watching a national park movie on the first IMAX theater I ever saw.

Going to the Sugarlands visitors center and studying the big map of the park.

Figuring out if people actually lived in Gatlinburg or not.

Hoping to see a bear.

Falling asleep on the way home.

For those of you who have never been to Gatlinburg, you should experience it at least once. Just know that it is not as good as it used to be. The historian side of me knows there was never a “good old days”, but the person part of me knows there was. I saw Gatlinburg in the “good old days”.