The humidity finally brought rain to Gatlinburg. It was one of those quintessentially southern summer storm days where the rain ebbs and flows like waves crashing on the shore. A light drizzle. A clearing of the rain clouds. The sun thrusting itself back to the forefront. Heavy downpours. A light drizzle. A clearing of the rain clouds. Sunny skies. Heavy downpours. Over and over.
After being repeatedly snookered by the southern sun beckoning us back outdoors only to drop buckets of rain on us, we acquiesced and retreated indoors.
After the boys’ first showers in a couple days (unless you count the pool as a shower), we had breakfast at the campsite.
We then threw on our rain gear in the car and headed to Arcadia to use our remaining digital game tokens. A big disappointment for the boys was that the Ghostbusters game remained inoperable. They had to make do with Mario Cart, Space Invaders, a Snowboarding game, a modern version of frogger where a chick and mallard try to cross the street.
Arcadia issues digital prize tickets to the account associated with the swipe card rather than the long strings of paper tickets that are spit out by the game itself. A godsend. The kids had no idea that there were prize tickets. And they never will. Thereby an endless dialogue ultimately only leading to disappointment was avoided.
No, you can’t afford the life-size Stay Puft Marshmallow statue that is 354,000 tickets.
Nor the Spider Man t-shirt that is 18,000 tickets.
Nor even the small stuffed animal that is 500 tickets.
What can we afford?
A pencil, two plastic army men, and 6 Tootsie Rolls.
We don’t want that.
No whining. No crying. No endless deliberation about the merits of equally shoddy toys that will break or be lost before we get back to the campground. Leading to more crying and whining.
A win for Dad.
Will and I went full Keto for lunch at Howard’s Steakhouse. Strip steak strips and a mixed veggies for Will. Sixteen ounce strip steak, mushrooms, and broccoli for me.
Lucas went full “King of Junk Food” insisting he only wanted a side of fries. Tired of throwing out 90% of everything he orders, I yield. I reserve my argue-with-Lucey energy for dinner time. He will eat real food tonight.
The first heavy rainstorms.
We ran four blocks in the pouring rain to The World of Illusions. Since the moment he first saw it, the World of Illusions had become Will’s personal Mecca in Gatlinburg. He spoke at length about our upcoming pilgrimage to the World of Illusions each morning and night.
Entering the World of Illusions is like stepping back in time. The admission window is one of those old theater ticket booths with a small, partly open glass window. It is about the size of a phone booth from the 1970s. The booth was occupied by an older woman who could easily play Aunt B in an Andy Griffith Show reboot. The small room was filled with smoke. A full ash tray sat on the ticket counter. She was smoking.
$14 for the three of us. As she took our admission fee, the elderly cashier apologetically volunteered “Be sure you look at the stuff on the walls. There is lots of stuff on the walls.” This was definitely a tell.
We looked at all the stuff on the walls. Illustrations with lines that are the same size but look to be different because the lines adjoining them are angled differently. Drawings that look like either two beautiful women or a vase depending on your perspective. There were a few larger exhibits. A Dracula that turned into a bat before your eyes. A vampire that turned in a werewolf. A Chinese man making another man levitate. There were explanations of standard magic tricks. The hidden ball trick. The broken rope trick.
We were done in 12 minutes. And, we lingered a bit.
Fortune or Inc. will never run a profile of the entrepreneur who created World of Illusions but they should. I would be shocked if the owner put $10K into this place to start it. He has been collecting $8 Adults $6 Kids (over 4) ever since.
For agreeing to run through the rain to the World of Illusions, Lucas extracted a promise of ice cream. During a break in the rain the boys got Ben and Jerry’s. The benches were still wet. Lucas insisted on eating from the sidewalk.
The skies opened up again as Lucey was finishing up. We headed for the car.
Next stop Toy Story 4.
The boys loved the movie. Will sat on the edge of his chair. They laughed. Will shrieked.
On the way home, I fumbled my way through our usual post-movie discussion and analysis. I kept my answers vague and evasive, a skill I learned from my less motivated undergraduates.
What was your favorite part of the movie, dad?
The parts with the dummies.
Which scene with the dummies did you like best?
When they scared the other toys.
They pressed me for more details.
I copped to my crime.
They laughed and said they knew because I was — as Lucas said — napping loudly.
At camp, I finally defeated the “King of Junk Food.” Risotto with Chicken from a pouch.
After dinner, we headed to the pool. I tossed the boys around for a couple of hours. Lucas and I practiced swimming without a float again. He is getting close to being able to doggie paddle the width of the pool.
We read a couple of chapters from The Creep from the Deep.
The boys fell asleep quickly.