It is no secret that the Frontierland bridge on the West side of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of our favorite places to shoot photos and to relax. It’s one of the places in Disneyland that immerses you, unable to see outside it to another land that might give cause for disbelief.
For me personally, part of the reason I am so fond of Big Thunder Mountain in general is that it taps into some of my favorite childhood memories. Not memories of Disneyland, however. Memories of Utah.
My grandpa lived in St. George for several years when I was in grade school and my family would visit when we could. The rich red soil stained my white tennis shoes beyond repair. The brilliant blue sky made me wonder if I’d ever really seen the sky before. It was there that I learned to ride a bike (after crashing into a cactus patch).
We always made sure to take in some of the incredible geologic wonders to be found nearby. Zion National Park wasn’t far and Bryce Canyon National Park wasn’t much farther than that. That state and those places were the beginning of a lifelong love affair with our National Parks and as John Muir might put it, anywhere that is wild.
Bryce Canyon, of course, with its amazing hoodoos is a primary inspiration for Big Thunder Mountain (National Geographic has a great article on it featuring Tony Baxter). The first time I saw a sweeping vista of the Bryce Amphitheater, I was floored. There really aren’t words to describe it. Big Thunder, while certainly not as grand, is much the same.
I’m eternally grateful for that time I spent with my parents and my grandpa. You don’t always realize how formative some experiences and the people you share them with can be until you reflect on them. A trip to Utah with Michaela might be in order.