We just got back from a trip to Grapevine, Texas. My wife had a conference to attend there. I tagged along. I'd like to consider myself "arm-candy," but "arm-moss" is probably more appropriate.
Anyway, we stayed at an incredibly luxurious and excessive resort called the "Gaylord." At first it was awe-inspiring, mind-blowing. That didn't last long. After our initial night, a certain disconnect settled in. I felt removed from reality and the outside world.
The building was huge, a sprawling "biosphere" complete with man-made ponds, gardens, the whole nine yards. Hotel rooms surrounded the fake outdoors beneath the elaborately structured dome. Buildings sat within the Mother of all buildings, a sort of adult Disney World. At times I was actually fooled into believing I was outside. But I soon realized I was trapped. I felt as squirrelly as one of those characters on the TV show, "Under the Dome."
And the Gaylord resort seemed designed to trap people, a nefarious ploy to make prisoners spend money. It's set within a giant compound, two miles from the nearest road. Walking anywhere in Texas heat was out of the question. And parking was seventeen bucks a day (unless you wanted valet parking, then you're looking at 25 dollars). So you're stuck with the Gaylord's restaurants. You want a burger? Twenty bucks. A Coke (excuse me, only Pepsi products)? Five bucks. How about a lame cold-cut sandwich? Nine dollars (toss in an extra five for chips). You want fast internet? It'll cost you. And if you dare to venture outside of the prison, the exclusive Gaylord shuttle service is gonna' set you back.
The worst part? The constant country music piped in wherever you go, no doubt subliminal messages ("SPEND, SPEND, SPEND") slipped in between honky-tonk refrains. Yee-Haw! Strap on your boots, open your wallets and live in artificial decadence! Ugh.
When my wife and I finally escaped for downtown Grapevine, it was a welcome respite. I felt like Patrick McGoohan in "The Prisoner," having finally broken away. But downtown encapsulated Texas at its finest: friendly folks, a shrine dedicated to a funeral home, antique stores, brick buildings, dry winds, and pick-'em up trucks. Not to mention the best dog-gone seafood dive in the world. Regretfully, we trudged back for one final evening at the prison compound.
I have seen the future and it is the Gaylord. A totally self-contained world full of survivalists surviving on Pepsi products and room service. The future scares me.