ASHEVILLE- The Henderson family vacation at Smokemont Campground inside Smokey National Park near Cherokee was cut short after park rangers closed Smokemont and all surrounding campgrounds yesterday due to the federal government shutdown.
However, a federal government shutdown was not about to stop George Henderson from showing his family a glimpse of wildlife on their annual family vacation to Western North Carolina.
Upon closure, George gathered up his wife Nancy and their two children Sarah and Ernie, and headed to the next biggest wildlife attraction in Western North Carolina he could think of, the Asheville Walmart on Bleachery Boulevard.
“It was Walmart or the WNC Nature Center,” said George.
“The animals at the WNC Nature Center are a little too predictable for my taste. At Walmart you just never know what type of creatures you are going to find. Nothing like going on an African Safari in the middle of a cereal aisle and it is free to boot.”
The Hendersons saw all kinds of species during their visit to the Asheville Walmart.
“We saw Bill the hippo on his scooter,” said little 4-year-old Sarah.
“And Martha the wildebeest, her mullet main was so thick. She was grazing for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the freezer aisle. She looked so gentle, but daddy said not to get too close or Martha might think we are after her ice cream and might charge at us.”
The Hendersons did seem to notice that the zookeepers were not very attentive of their animals.
“George the leopard asked one of the zookepers in a blue shirt whether they had size 10’s in some type of shoe made in India and the zookeeper just pretended like George wasn’t there and continued to stock baby food,” said 13-year-old Ernie.
“Daddy says that was a good example of why we are losing to China in an economic race.”
The Henderson family ended its trip to Walmart with pony rides.
“We couldn’t find ponies,” said Sarah.
“So daddy offered Bill the hippo $10 to take us a ride on his scooter. The scooter didn’t go very fast and seemed to slow down around the chip aisle, but we had a good time anyway.”