Friday, April 5, 2013

Flat Stanley & Flat Paige at Noccalula Falls, Gadsden, AL

My cousin Michael, whom I've not seen in about nine or ten years, is coming through Gadsden with his family this weekend.  I have not met his family before, and am very much looking forward to this visit.

Now, Michael's youngest daughter Alyssa has been assigned a Flat Stanley project at school, and we were lucky enough to get to help her with her project.  About a week ago, my parents received an envelope at their house with not only Flat Stanley, but his female traveling companion Flat Paige.  I picked the Flat kids up and took them home with me, planning an excursion that, when Alyssa reported back to her school mates, would appeal to both girls and boys.

Here is an account of that excursion:

Flat Stanley & Flat Paige at Noccalula Falls, Gadsden, AL

Although it was cold and rainy, Stanley and Paige decided to visit the beautiful Noccalula Falls Park, located in Gadsden, AL.  They played on the playground (and got very wet!), fed the ducks at the foot bridge (they sure were hungry!), walked through the botanical gardens (which are coming into bloom from the warm spring weather the days before our visit!), and stopped at the statue of Noccalula.

Noccalula Falls Park takes its name from the local legend of the Cherokee Indian maiden Noccalula, who, when commanded by her father to marry an Indian warrior from a neighboring tribe whom she didn’t love, chose to jump from the Falls to her death on the day of her wedding. A statue of the beautiful maiden Noccalula was erected in the late 1960s in her honor.  The bronze used for the 9 foot-tall statue reportedly came from pennies donated by local children. 

The park itself is rather large, comprised of 250 acres of wooded area, campgrounds, and walking trails.  For a fee of $4 per child, $6 per adult, visitors may  enter the park proper which will allow access to many attractions such as a petting zoo, a pioneer village, the gorge trail (which takes visitors down to the bottom of the falls), and a covered bridge.  Visitors may also hop on the replica train to see the park from a different perspective!  And if you enjoy overnight trips, for an additional cost you may stay the night at Noccalula Falls in one of their beautiful cabins, or at their campsite!

For extreme sports fans:  In November of 2011, three kayakers took on the rain-swollen waters of the Black Creek and managed the monstrous 90-foot descent in their kayaks.  All three kayakers survived the drop.  As far as we know, it was the first time ever that a kayaker successfully made the descent.   A videographer captured everything on camera.  Police were waiting for the three drenched athletes when they arrived back at their vehicles.  Luckily, no one was arrested, but only because there were no signs posted at the park prohibiting kayaking over the Falls.  Since this incident, the City of Gadsden has passed an ordinance against such activities.


Some general information about Noccalula Falls, should you ever want to visit (hours and seasons).

As ill luck would have it, the day that Eric and I took Flat Stanley and Flat Paige to Noccalula Falls (just yesterday) proved to be pretty dreary with rain and wind.  Not spring-like at all.  While posing at the statue of Noccalula, the wind and spray from the falls was so intense, it almost whipped my constructed friends from my hands.  Luckily, I was able to keep a hold on Stanley and Paige, who came dangerously close to meeting the same fate as the Indian maiden...

After our photo shoot, we put Stanley and Paige to rest in their traveling envelope and went across the street from the Falls to warm up and dine at one of our favorite restaurants, Kati Thai. Kati Thai is one of the few restaurants in town that is relatively safe for an individual like me, with lots of choices that are naturally free of gluten.  From my Thai dining experience in cities such as NY, Denver, and elsewhere, it holds its own with authentic Thai cuisine.  Eric and I shared an order of Thai Basil Rolls and then each had a plate of the Drunken Noodles. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day Care

When I first walked up to the day care, I noticed a large black pickup truck in the pull-through with an older gentleman opening up the passenger door of his truck to, presumably, remove a child from a car seat for drop-off.  From inside the truck came the voice of a child, chattering at his adult handler.  I assumed by the later hour (8:30AM) and the lack of other cars that they were probably late for normal drop-off.   I walked past them on my way into the building to drop off a bag of easy reader books and some information about our upcoming Summer Reading Program.  I stayed inside for a bit, talking with the director of the facility, then headed back to my car. 

Through the windows of the building, I could see the black pickup truck still parked in the bend of the pull-through, the old man gently but firmly holding the hand of a disheveled, crying toddler.  And when I opened the door to walk out, I could hear the sobbing and hiccupping words of the child as he bargained with his adult, “But. I. Don’t. Really. Want. To. Go. In. There…  I. Think. I’ll.  Stay.  Home.  Today…”

That poor sweet child looked as if he had cried himself slick, what with all the snot and tears running down his front.  And the old man was bargaining back as best he could with, “Now, you know you’re going to have a good time when you get in there…and, well, now don’t you try to run away from me like that…” 

I pitied both of them, ‘cause I feel certain that the old man felt just as bad as the child about the whole situation.  So I just put my head down and kept walking, minding my own business.  I don’t know what I would’ve done had I looked back, but I’m pretty sure it would have involved me tossing the keys to my car to the child so that he could make a clean get away…