The late entertainer Art Linkletter was known for his "Kids Say the Darndest Things" interviews, but a recent trip to a park reminded me that grown-ups aren't immune from that tendency either—especially when they're on vacation.
My wife Velma and I made a stop at Clingmans Dome during a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and in the brief span of less than five minutes were involved in one conversation and overheard a second that fell into the "Did I really hear that?" category.
At 6,643 feet above sea level, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park and in the State of Tennessee. A half-mile paved walkway from the parking area leads to an observation tower near the summit. The tower rises about fifty vertical feet above the ground, but is easily "climbed" via a wide, sloping ramp.
During our visit, Velma overheard a shouted conversation between a woman standing on the concrete walk beneath the tower and a man who was leaning over the waist-high wall and waving from the top of the observation deck to his friends on the ground.
Woman: "Hey, do you want me to take your picture?"
Man (about five stories above her): "Yeah!"
Woman: "Okay, just drop your camera down to me!"
(The good news is he concluded he really didn't need a photo after all.)
Shortly after this near-miss, my wife overheard another conversation between a group of four twenty-something gals who had started to stroll off the paved walkway onto a gravel path. They stopped and looked a bit confused, and one of them asked her companions, "Is this the Appalachian Trail?"
During our own trek up to the summit a few minutes earlier we'd spotted a sign marking the spot where that famous trail crossed the paved walkway, so Velma knew the answer, and decided to help out.
"No," she volunteered. "The connection to the Appalachian Trail is back down the paved path, between here and the parking lot."
The would-be hikers pondered that information briefly, and then one of them asked, "Is it a very long trail?"
Velma managed to hide a smile, and replied, "Well, it runs from Georgia to Maine."
Just more confirmation that real life offers a lot more entertainment than television!