It was Spring Break. Since my family, like almost all families in the States, didn't have to do the traditional seeding and farm work that Spring Break was originally meant for, we went on vacation. A nice drive over to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for nice church-approved fun like visiting big old statues of Jesus or going to twice-nightly Passion Plays where the actors only had to lip-sync to prerecorded dialogue and they just looked really bored on stage. Of course, I didn't enjoy any of this at my age (12); what I remembered most was sitting alone, in the motel room, watching boobies on Cinemax. But I won't get into that right now.

My family diligently hit tourist traps whenever possible. We knew they'd suck; we didn't care. Compared to the good clean antiseptic 'fun' of Eureka Springs, the prospect of seeing small, dingy museums of Barbie dolls or stalactites with horrible punny names in tiny, overrated caves and always, always hitting the lushly appointed gift shops afterward, well, they were a joy. There was something incredibly cool about a place that was frank and honest about its goal of parting a fool from his money in a very cost-effective manner - the unsophistication of it all made it very sophisticated. The best place we went to was a little place called Pivot Rock.

On the drive into Eureka Springs, I started seeing billboards for Pivot Rock. It was supposedly a massive boulder, balanced precariously on a small mound of rock. A natural formation that was anything but natural. 'As Seen In Ripley's Believe It... Or Not!' crowed the advertisement. At the time, I was reading a Ripley's Believe It... Or Not! compendium. That book was a hand-me-down from my father's youth, and it was very, very used. Needless to say, with the invocation of the great Mr. Ripley, my dad and I were sold on this particular tourist trap. We dragged the rest of the family there.

This was a great tourist trap. Probably the best gift shop I've ever seen - wonderful wood paneling with an incredible selection of shotglasses and cheesy executive toys. A real scrunchy carpet, great for bare feet. Best of all, there were about five hummingbird feeders out back, and the place was mobbed. Hummingbirds were queuing up 50-deep for a taste of sweet red nectar. The air vibrated with the blurry-quick beating of wings - a calming sound, oddly. We spent about an hour watching the hummingbirds.

After a while, the proprietor of the establishment wanted to get us on the road to the trap itself, so we paid the fee ($5 for adults, $3 for kids) and went off on the trail to Pivot Rock. The trail was well-kept, and it went through the most user-friendly selection of wildlife I'd ever seen. Lots of small furry creatures bounding about happily, burying nuts and chasing each other and looking really cute. The trail was about a mile long, and we finally reached the Rock itself.

Of course, it was a disappointment, but what a disappointment it was! It looked fairly close to the Ripley intaglio print, with the exception of the pivot itself; while it may have been an actual natural occurence in the past, it was hastily patched over with huge gobs of concrete and painted carelessly to match the rest of the rock. Better yet, metal bars imbedded in the rock were clearly visible from the backside. They didn't even try to hide the fact that it was a fake. Instead, they made it gloriously fake. We had a good laugh, took some pictures, and went on down the trail.

We spent the next half-hour with the hummingbirds, bought some candy sticks (unbent candy canes, basically; ubiquitous; I've never seen a tourist trap gift shop without these) and went along our merry way.

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