Archive for the ‘ Nostalgia ’ Category

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Land Park

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

On the 2nd half of your monster truck road trip in the Toyota Tundra to celebrate your 3rd birthday, we stopped by an old abandoned amusement park, called Canyon Land Park, right outside my hometime in Fort Payne, AL. Here’s an old vintage postcard of the place in its prime:

In the likeness of the Dharma Initiative on Lost, this random amusement park thrived from around 1973 to circa 1983; until the place shut down. It even had a skylift that went over the canyon as well as a mini zoo featuring exotic animals!

Canyon Land Park has remained virtually untouched for 30 years.

The only exception I know of was exactly 20 years ago in October 1993, when my church’s youth group rented out the old (creepy) facility for a Halloween, for something called Hell House. (A Christian version of a spook house.)

One of the reasons I wanted to stop by the place is because exactly 40 years ago, Nonna and Papa (my parents) went on one of their first dates there.

It made sense to include what’s left of Canyon Land Park as part of this monster truck road trip, as it obviously had something to do with you and me even being here in the first place.

Turns out, there wasn’t a whole lot to see, as we parked the truck outside the rusted barb wire fence. I was able to make out what used to be a putt-putt golf course, but that was about it.

For all I know, there are black bears and wild hogs living in those old brick buildings that at one time brought in thousands of tourists. Maybe one day someone will purchase the land and make it the seemingly awesome and unique amusement park it once was.

I wish there would have been more to show you there, but at least the event served its purpose: to go off the beaten path in a “monster truck” and make an adventure of some things in life that most people don’t get to see every day.

We still had one more final stop on our monster truck road trip, though.

To be continued…

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.

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3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Mountain Driving

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

So the whole idea behind “getting you a monster truck” (a Toyota Tundra) for the week of your 3rd birthday was for you to actually get to go for a worthy ride in it. For your monster truck road trip, it was important to me that we didn’t just see cool stuff, like Little River Falls, but that we also got to take full advantage of driving an awesome truck in between in each stop on our tour.

I remember the last time I took this trip, it was challenging and a bit scary to drive up and down some of the roads along the canyon. I mean, incredibly steep and narrow passages.

However, being in our monster truck changed that.

There was one point where I had planned for Mommy to hop out and run down to the hill to take a picture of us driving down the ridiculously steep (and dangerous) road.

It wasn’t until the end of the road trip that I realized we had already crossed that point a ways back; I just didn’t realize it because of how well our truck handled it.

So, sorry Son. I meant for the trip to be a bit more… scary. I’m sure in a regular car it would have been. But I could tell you didn’t mind.

The whole thing was a dream for you.

By the way, it was so cold that morning. It started out at 32 degrees and ended at 36. This was the first time for me to get to experience dual control heat for the seats. As you can see from these pictures, I kept mine on 68, while Mommy’s remained at 75. Not to mention, the seats had their own heat controls as well. Classy!

Our next stop was the old abandoned theme park, called Canyon Land, then Canyon Mouth Park.

I kept peeking back at you during our ride. You didn’t say much, but you didn’t have to. I could tell this trip meant the world to you.

To be continued…

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.

 

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3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Little River Falls, AL

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

After leaving the Build-A-Bear Workshop in Chattanooga, TN, we drove an hour across Lookout Mountain to my hometown of Fort Payne, AL for the next stop of your monster truck road trip for your 3rd birthday in the Toyota Tundra, which served as your “monster truck.”

We visited Little River Falls, which is just a few miles from the house I was raised. Growing up basically on the Alabama/Georgia/Tennessee border, in the tale end of the Appalachian Mountains, I identify myself more with all three states as opposed to exclusively Alabama.

The truth is, I don’t know much about the rest of my homestate of Alabama; pretty much just the part that is included in the tri-state area around Chattanooga, TN, which was the biggest city I was familiar until I moved away after high school.

I took you there because I wanted to introduce you to the version of being a boy that I knew from the 1980s and ’90s. I was a Cub Scout, so anything to do with the great outdoors, including forests, waterfalls, and huge rocks, I was there.

The reason I chose Little River Falls for your 3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip was ultimately to introduce you to that part of me; a part of me that very much illustrates who I am.

I want you to grow up truly knowing me, in real time. To know me, I knew you had to experience seeing that strong yet reserved beauty of not only the waterfall and canyon, but also the therapeutic drive through it.

You were able to see where they paved a two lane road around a big tall rock. How cool is that?

This is the version of the South that I grew up in… exploring nature and making a simple, yet memorable adventure out of it.

Speaking of, I want to tell you more about the drive through the mountains.

To be continued…

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.

 

P.S. You were here. By that, I mean, the red star on this map.

 

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Nashville Dad Introduces 3 Year-Old Son To Country Music

Monday, November 25th, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

When the Toyota Tundra was delivered to me last week to test drive for 7 days, as part of your 3rd birthday gift from me, the SiriusXM radio was set to a jazz station.

In theory, jazz is technically my favorite kind of music.

However, considering the vehicle I was driving, it just felt wrong while going the quarter of a mile from my office to your school.

In fact, I almost think that any new Toyota Tundra should automatically come with a cowboy hat…

So, I changed the station to Country music.

After your intial ecstatic reaction to seeing the truck for the first time and I got you buckled in, you asked me, “Daddy, what’s that music playing right now?”

“That’s Country music, son.” I explained.

It was about that time that we discovered the entire back window behind you rolled all the way down with the simple flip of a switch.

That, combined with the moonroof being up, created the ultimate “pick-up truck convertible” situation as we cruised through the constant red light stops of Cool Springs, TN as Willie Nelson played through the stereo.

The next morning, and every day I didn’t automatically set the station to Country, you simply requested/mumbled:

“Country music, Daddy.”

It wasn’t until this past week that I even realized you had no idea what Country music even was.

Growing up in the same small town as the band, Alabama, it was a given that the first (and main) kind of music I heard when I was a boy was Country music.

Granted, our family lives in Nashville, so it’s about time you know what Country music is about.

You were born in this city.

So maybe I need to do a better job of introducing you to more Southern culture.

I’d say getting to ride around in a huge pick-up truck while listening to Country music the week following your 3rd birthday is a good start.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.

 

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Remote Control Truck (With Optional Remote Control)

Monday, November 18th, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

Your 3rd birthday, this past Saturday, marked the first birthday of yours where you’ve been old enough to truly decide for yourself what you wanted to buy with a gift card.

And you instantly knew what you wanted to buy: a remote control truck.

The proud smile on your face in this picture says it all.

As Mommy and I took our time looking for Christmas gifts for your cousin Calla, you so patiently (!) followed us around; never saying a word or begging to leave.

Instead, you toted around that remote control monster truck; the box was as nearly as big as you are.

You were so happy to be getting a “big boy toy.”

Honestly, I was a bit surprised you wanted such a complicated toy.

Or maybe you actually are old enough to want a remote control toy?

Once we got home, we wasted no time whatsoever tearing the box apart.

While you definitely wanted me to teach you right away how to use the remote control to make it go, about ten minutes later you were on the ground, pushing the thing across the carpet.

Sure, it was fun for you getting to drive your new remote control monster truck across your parking lot of Hot Wheels, but I suppose you missed the hands on experience of pushing a toy and making the motor sounds yourself.

The most fun part of it for me was hiding the remote control behind my back while you played with your truck on the carpet, then making it suddenly drive away from you, then having it come back charging at you.

I cracked up at your response the first time I did that:

“Daddy, it moves by itself!”

Your innocent answer made me so happy. Plus, I loved helping you suspend your belief that this toy truck really does have a mind of its own.

The remote control, as far as you’re concerned, is optional.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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