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Soaring above and beyond


October 02, 2017

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Over Labor Day weekend, I went to Epcot with my human and a good friend, for the International Food & Wine festival. Before we went, we sat down with the menu of food truck items and filled out sports brackets to determine which countries were must-visits for each of us. Some of them (Hawaii, Africa) were on all of our lists, and others suited only one of us. The brackets helped us decide upon where to spend our time, where to head at what time of day, how to create full and sensible meals out of tiny plates from around the world.

 

I went in wanting mostly meat. I have eaten raw, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free in my life, and at this point I eat primarily vegetarian, but I love and continue to eat meat. Working on the cattle farm in Colorado solidified my outlook on the food chain, and I am reverent in my consumption of animals, but I feel passionately about their place in my diet. I have watched slaughters for food and have killed animals myself. I understand that certain domesticated species wouldn’t exist at all anymore were it not for centuries of animal husbandry.

 

We ate a lot at the festival, and I did get my meats: curry chicken, spicy African beef stew, spam and home fries, tuna tartare, Jamaican beef patties. In the end, though, those were my least favorite of the dishes. In fact, my number one choice, Spain, fell out of favor as I grew more and more disappointed in the meat dishes and no longer wanted charcuterie. The winner, hands down, according to all three of us, was a roasted beet salad with feta, green beans, candied pecans and balsamic vinaigrette. For me, second place went to a cheese plate.

 

The best ride was Soarin’, of which I had no memory. Nikki remembered it from a trip she’d taken 10 years before and insisted during the early planning stages that we ride it, and do so more than once. It took precedence over every food on our bracket. Our trip was essentially a Soarin’ pilgrimage.

 

It was like the running of the bulls each morning, when we got in line 20 minutes before opening, and rushed, along with countless others from other entrances, toward the ride. People came from all corners, some actually sprinting, us power walking like mall walkers. It was the only ride anyone clapped after, and they did so both times we rode it.

 

In Soarin’, you sit tight on a seat with a chest restraint, legs dangling much like modern roller coasters. On a concave screen before you, a video is projected wherein you are touring the world from the sky. Your row of seats tilts to look down at magnificent heights, and trembles or shakes when the landscape suggests it. You watch elephants run and smell the dirt and grass of their feet trampling the plains. You pass lush palm-dense islands and smell a coconut and the sea breeze. You visit Sydney, Australia and San Francisco, and fly over frozen landscapes where polar bears roamed, lumbering along the snow drifts like ghosts.

 

Both times we rode Soarin’, there were goosebumps and tears. I cried on Mission Space, too, thinking about my father and gawking in awe at the believable solar system before me. There is something very different about visiting a theme park as an adult, among adults: the schedule we kept to, the patience and cooperation, and the [anti-] gravity of certain sights, simulated but utterly convincing, affording us views we cannot, as earth-bound humans, properly imagine on our own. We went for food, and we ate. We went for flight, and we flew. 


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