Written by David Vogel Wednesday, 29 August 2007 11:16Now that school is back in session, I’m becoming nostalgic for the freedom of summer again. This is a bad thing to have, especially this early into the school year. Being ready for another summer vacation is not a good mood to be in when there are still nine months left.
So in resistance, I have been reminding myself of various summer nightmares. Tourist traps, to be exact.
On long trips, my family insists on driving. I really don’t mind.... For about the first three hours.
By that point, I have been able to read far enough into the one book I brought along to realize that I don’t like it, work my way through an entire booklet of MadLibs and hum just loud enough to make my brother punch me five consecutive times.
Personally, I like flying. On planes, I can hum as much as I want because everyone else, including my brother, is distracted by the howling baby in the back of the plane.
Not to mention, in an airplane, you cannot pull over at any random whimsy a passenger might have.
When it comes to traveling in cars, I have a theory that the higher speed a person goes for a certain amount of time, the more brain cells that the person owns become inactive.
So, say you go an average 75 mph on the interstate for an entire day. By the time you reach your destination you will basically be a body walking around under the control of tapioca pudding.
Yet my family drives, which leads to some great stops. (Heavy sarcasm in use for previous sentence.)
My parents have a prime example from early in their marriage, when they were driving through Missouri and saw continuous billboards boasting wonderful attractions about The Wonder Cave.
OK, first of all, if we as a species should have learned anything by now, it is that any title that includes the word “Wonder” is probably not that impressive.
For example, we have:
- Wonder Bread, which looks a lot like any other store-bought loaf of bread;
- Wonder Woman, whose sole appeal to American culture was that she, if you get right down to the bare bones of it, was not technically wearing any pants;
- and The Seven Wonders of the World, a title used either in tourist advertisements or in reference to places that no longer exist.
The only exception to this rule is Stevie Wonder, mainly because he can sing really high.
But getting back on topic, after seeing so many ads for The Wonder Cave, my parents decided to stop and check it out.
After getting out of the car, they were met by a crude-looking man who led them to, technically speaking, a door leading into a hill. After closing the door behind them, the “guide” asked for the admission fee, and then proceeded to give them a “guided tour” by pointing his flashlight at random rocks and saying, “Ain’t that purddy?”
My parents had learned their lesson about tourist traps.
At least until two summers ago, when we were all duped into stopping at one by none other than our very own United States government.
We were on our way—driving, of course—to Pennsylvania, traveling through Illinois, when we began seeing government-sponsored road signs advertising the Lincoln Log Cabin.
The signs continued to appear with increasing frequency as we got closer to the attraction, and, having been in the car for several hours already that day, our lack of brain cell activity made us decide to take a detour and view the historic site.
Our reduced brain activity rationale was that since we had visited Gettysburg the year before, we should visit Lincoln’s home on this trip.
As you know, Lincoln made a very important speech at the Gettysburg Battlefield, which, named after the location of where it was given, has become known as “The Battlefield Address.”
Finding the site was fairly difficult, as it was located several miles from any sort of civilization that did not consist exclusively of cows.
Once we got there, we entered a very nice looking tourist information center, and were greeted by an older man who informed us they were about ready to close for the day.
He also explained that all the actors who make the historic farm a “working living history farm” had gone to the state fair that day, so they wouldn’t be present when we went to see the cabin.
This didn’t bother me much. I didn’t want to get asked to churn butter, or whatever it is they do to make the farm come to life.
“Let me just say this right away,” the host said. “Lincoln never lived here.”
The cabin did occupy Lincoln’s father and stepmother. However, the former president “did visit them periodically.”
By this point in our host’s speech, the place was beginning to lose its charm. But then it got worse.
It turns out this wasn’t even the real cabin, but a reproduction of the cabin on the original site.
Actually, I’m not at sure it was the original site. The original site might have been at the state fair that day, too.
However, now that I’ve brought back these memories, I’m feeling a lot better about school. I think I’m ready to get those brain cells active again.
On the other hand, maybe I’ll go take a nice, long, quiet drive.
UFO: Abraham Lincoln was the first president to have a beard.
Don’t ask why.