Dispatches from America’s Great Wonder-Land, Part 2

Click to read Part 1

Amy continued shooting frame after frame, seemingly unfazed by the presence of the most dangerous wild animal in North America. I felt a fierce rush of admiration for her courage.

Tower Falls field sketch;Thomas Moran;1871; YELL 8523;
The first drawing of Tower Falls, probably.

The grizzly bear — for there was no doubt this was a grizzly — continued its advance down the hill toward us. The bear was making quiet snuffling noises, and I combed my knowledge of the animal. Was snuffling a sign of irritation?

I thought of my deep affection for bears. Being eaten by one would not make me as posthumously mad as if I was eaten by, say, a great white shark.

As the grizzly moved closer, we noticed something extraordinary: three more bears. We were facing a female bear guarding her cubs. Darkness was closing in.

Saturday, May 14

It was the second morning of our slapdash vacation to Yellowstone National Park, and we roused ourselves with the energy and zip of a pair of experimental lobotomy patients. We were in room 307 of a (possibly haunted) Best Western hotel.

Continue reading “Dispatches from America’s Great Wonder-Land, Part 2”

Dispatches from America’s Great Wonder-Land, Part 1

We hurried down the path, going a bit too fast, rushing against the dying light. Our time was dwindling. Our quarry might be just over the next hill, or crossing a distant meadow, and so we kept moving.

We did not even know for sure what we were hunting, or whether we would find it.

Yellowstone Poster
Old posters are the best posters. Image by National Park Service [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Then we rounded a corner and felt a subconscious, animal tingle warning us that something was not quite right. A hazy figure to our left came into focus in stages, like looking at the face of a stranger for a few moments before discovering you have stumbled upon an old acquaintance. But once resolved, it was unmistakable.

Twenty feet ahead, with nothing but empty ground and clear air between us, was the most dangerous wild animal in North America.

Amy slowly raised the aperture to her eye, her finger hovering over the trigger. “Cool,” she whispered.

Thursday, May 12

Here’s a nugget of information about us: our modus operandi is long lead times with heavy emphasis on strategic planning. We would never buy, say, a refrigerator, without research, deliberation, and several (several!) trips to the home improvement store for in-person evaluation. One time, and this is a true story, we decided to rescue a cat from our local shelter as company for our current cat, and making that happen took us longer than the Summer Olympics. Continue reading “Dispatches from America’s Great Wonder-Land, Part 1”

From History Lessons to Horseplay at Epcot – Walt Disney World November 2013 Day Three

The stone slabs leading up to Spaceship Earth look a little too mausoleum-y for my taste.
The stone slabs leading up to Spaceship Earth look too much like a mausoleum for my taste.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

― Winston Churchill

Tuesday November 12, 2013

Epcot was still something of a mystery to us, and I woke up the morning of our third day eager to change that.

Amy and I had vacationed at Walt Disney World twice before, in 2007 and 2009. These trips cultivated a burgeoning love for the amazing East Coast property, but were also barnstorming affairs. We had thundered right past masses of experiences in each of the four theme parks* on our way to the high-profile attractions. We also knew that these lesser luminaries – the things you “discover” – were the battleground. Either you found them, loved them, and it crystallized your fan heart forever, or you spent the rest of your life complaining about the price of ice cream bars and the line for Winnie the Pooh. There was no middle ground. Not for fans like us, anyway.

(*To say nothing of the two water parks and twenty-plus resorts.)

Continue reading “From History Lessons to Horseplay at Epcot – Walt Disney World November 2013 Day Three”

The Under-Appreciated Value of Waiting – Walt Disney World November 2013 Day One

“Time always seems long to the child who is waiting – for Christmas, for next summer, for becoming a grownup…”

– Dag Hammarskjöld

T-Minus 13 Months and Counting

There are life lessons to be gleaned – should a person be so inclined – from the animated feature films of the Walt Disney Company. Many of these are Big, Important Themes: love overcoming obstacles, accepting those who are different from you, and being kind to your fellow creatures because you never know when one of them will spring you from the room where your abusive stepmother has locked you in order to keep you away from your true love.

"You're not my real mother!  YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE!!"
“You’re not my real mother! YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE!”

The challenges our heroes and heroines face is an essential element of Disney movies. Although everyone takes pleasure in the happy ending, we require the struggle in order for us to value the happiness. Delaying our gratification is necessary, in other words, so we can better appreciate the conclusion. From that point of view, the under-appreciated value of waiting may be the most important lesson any of us take from Disney movies.

At least, that is what I tried to convince myself as we planned our next Disney resort adventure.

Continue reading “The Under-Appreciated Value of Waiting – Walt Disney World November 2013 Day One”