Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grizzly Adams; The Early Years

So we are headed home in a few hours. We arrived in Cherokee yesterday. Our trip through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park took several hours after the boys climbed Clingman’s Dome and we checked out a few streams. The boys were “starving” of course. So to avoid a second Donner Party Incident, we stopped at the first place we could find, a great little local dive called Granny’s. Good chow, letmetellya.

All in all it has been a great week. With a few notable exceptions and some anecdotes.

I left my razor at home so I look like Grizzly Adams; The Early Years. While we were walking around Cherokee, I had Indians trying to pay to have their kid's picture taken with me.

The s’mores and hot dogs over the fire were great, but the mosquitoes had just as much fun. I have at least thirty mountain mosquito bites. This is not your average mosquito, they’re hillbilly mosquitoes. There are so big that when they light on your body, they break out an alcohol swab and sterilize before they sting you. These bites are no pin-head sized reddish bumps. They average the size of a dime and a few are whelped up as big as a quarter. I look like I have leprosy. I tried dunking myself in the creek seven times, but I just got waterlogged and a few of the Pentecostal brethren though I was baptizing myself as an apostle. When we were at Burger King I heard some girl say, “awwww. Look at the diseased hillbilly.”

Cherokee, North Carolina has not grown much. If you’ve never been here, it’s just a mile long wide spot in the road with Cherokee Baptist Church at one end and Harrah’s Casino at the other, with a smattering of little souvenir shops in the middle. We came here because we wanted to see Unto These Hills, an outdoor drama about the Cherokee people. I hadn't seen the play in about thirty years. It made more of an impact on me as a teen. The boys renamed the play, "Why It Sucks To Be A White Man." We were surrounded by a Cherokee Choir of the Western Band Cherokee from Oklahoma, and a group of kids from a Jewish Summer Camp. There were times when I could relate to Custer. Shortly after the Army executed Tsali I was thankful that Will was the only one in our party with blond hair and blue eyes. My Great-grandfather was a full-blooded Seminole. That means my grandmother was 1/2, mom is 1/8, I'm like 1/32 or something. Luke would be like 1/132. That fact didn't deter him from asking Will on the way out, "What are you looking at, paleface?"

On our way to the play we saw a theater and I thought it would be neat to see the Green Lantern premiere at midnight. I stopped and asked the guy at the counter if they had any tickets? He told me they did and I ordered five. I asked him if they were expecting a big crowd and he says to me, “Oh yes sir! We’re going to have a big crowd. We’ve already sold seventeen advanced tickets!”  (Like I said, not a big town.) There were twenty-two of us in the theater. Nice to know the Cherokee crowd plans ahead. On the way to the movie we decided to get a midnight snack, albeit eleven o'clock. Everything was closed except the casino. We had to turn around to head back to the theater, and I turned into this Bates Motel looking place. The kids were not thrilled. Then someone turned in behind me so I had to go into the depths of what the kids have now dubbed, "Murder Inn." The farther in I drove, the creepier this place got. So, naturally, I rolled down the back windows feigning that I would ask for directions. Again, the kids were less than thrilled. I told them that there were only old people around. "Yes," said Will from the back seat. "This place is where the retired serial killers live."

Now. Back home to the bustling, cosmopolitan Cassatt, South Carolina…USA.

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