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Time tourism is indeed a thing. Since the idea of linear time really has no meaning when bringing time travel into the equation, it's been going on for a good long while.
It's quite the lucrative business. The cost for the round trip alone is $1.5 million. People also pay ridiculous amounts of money on top of that to see and talk to prominent people before they were famous, as well as see significant historical events. Depending on the event, or how much of a fan someone is of a famous person, they're willing to shell out crazy amounts of money just for the tiniest things.
A few of the popular attractions that people seem to want to see the most are the dinosaurs, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, the Civil War, World War II, and the crucifixion of Jesus. I can tell you the ideas people have romanticized about them are much more spectacular than what you actually see.
It's pretty crazy when you go back and see one of those giant dragonflies with the two foot wingspan hit the window, but the actual dinosaurs themselves are just not what you're expecting. There's not a whole lot of action like a Jurassic Park movie. It's a lot like a nature safari.
The thing about President Lincoln is that he's a bit different than how some people imagine him. I was expecting the tallest dude I had ever seen at that point in my life to have this big booming voice, but he's actually surprisingly soft spoken. He's a nice guy. Extraordinarily polite. Or maybe it just seemed like he is compared to how people act today. Seeing it as a kid, I didn't really have much interest in the speech as I thought there was much cooler places to visit. At the time, the whole thing felt like a field trip for history class and I didn't really have a grasp on the importance of it until now.
The Civil War doesn't look how you're expecting either. It's not some big action packed romp like the movies. There's not much going on, just little bits of movement and activity here and there. It wasn't like some raging war with cannons firing everywhere constantly, and the scale of the battle I saw was surprisingly smaller than you imagine. You do get to see the Confederates charging and doing their Rebel Yell though.
As for World War II, well, a few people have suspected those "Foo Fighters" have been either secret Nazi projects, aliens, or time travelers observing the war. They're right about the latter. The thing about it though is that WWII is the most dangerous out of the popular attractions, so it has to be observed up and out of the way of everything.
Basically what you really see is tanks on the ground in the distance and planes flying in formation far away. It's hard to tell what's going on without binoculars. Since you're pretty much level with the planes, you can't really make out the formation. It looks more like there's a line of them flying together.
I got a chance to look down at one of the tanks with binoculars, and it started aiming at us. It fired off a few shots, but couldn't hit us, so it looked like they just kind of gave up or didn't want to waste ammo. People in the war knew about Foo Fighters and that they weren't hurting anything, so they were probably just trying to take a couple potshots just to see what would happen if they actually hit one.
Much like the Civil War, it's not the frenzied action packed scene you're expecting with flashy explosions everywhere like the movies, but when a B-29 Superfortress does a close flyby, it's definitely a sight to behold.
The oncoming hum, then the roar of the massive engines as it flies past will rattle you to your core, guaranteed. You'll be lucky if your dental fillings are still in place after that. Being so close to such a powerful machine at work is a humbling experience, and seeing the Air Force insignia on the tail section as it flew by is burned into my memory.
Another thing people like to do is take "day trips" to different eras. Some of the most popular are the "Wild West", the "Victorian Era", the "Roaring 20's", the 50's, 60's, and the 70's. They seem to like these times because they get to play dress up to blend in.
The 60's and 70's may be nostalgic for some, but I recall it not being that great. It was back before they started using catalytic converters on their cars, so if you're in a city, the place reeks. I used to get headaches from it. They were also still using leaded gasoline back then and I felt like I lost 10 IQ points just breathing the air. People don't realize how much cleaner the air is now until you experience a sudden change of it like that.
For these kinds of trips, you basically have to go through "customs" to make sure you don't bring anything with you that doesn't belong. They check your clothes to make sure everything is plausible, and you get coaching on what to say in case anyone asks. You usually just say something is a special "one off" custom item if anything stands out.
It's very tempting for people to want to take "artifacts" from stores they visit either in the past or future that aren't made anymore or have yet to exist, and try to hide them and bring them home. Sometimes people like to visit their own personal past to find some long lost trinket that was very dear to them so they can have it again, but they can't because it creates a huge mess. One of the jobs people take is a sort of "asset protection" like you would see in stores to prevent shoplifting and make sure nobody tries to take anything.
Even worse, there are others who are tempted to run so they can escape and live in another time period, or even intend to commit crimes thinking they won't be able to get caught. Well, I can tell you that they don't ever get away.
Tours sometimes had more than one guide at a time if it was a bigger group. Usually ranking members like Captains or Lieutenants. I remember there was this one guy that was a guide on tours sometimes. He was a scary dude, and a lot of people were afraid of him. He had a reputation, but those close to him knew him as a really nice guy. At the beginning of the tour, he used to always give this talk before everyone headed out. It went something like...
"Usually this speech starts out with 'this is your Captain speaking', but I'm not a Captain. I'm a General. THE General, as in General of the Armies. The highest rank possible. You guys like Wolverine? Have you heard of him yet? He's from comic books and movies. He has this slogan, he says 'I'm the best there is at what I do'. Well I'M the best there is at what I do, and if you're seeing me here today, it's because I'm the guy they bring in to escort VIPs. Don't let that go to your heads."
There was always some really big and tall hulking guy there, with rock solid muscle. You know those types, always looking to prove how macho they are. They would always step out from the crowd and say something like "Hey, man! You don't look so tough to me! How are you a General when you look younger than the Captain?"
The General would just smile and ask the big guy to step forward and introduce himself. He would always say something like "You look familiar, what's your name?" As the big guy would introduce himself the General would offer his hand to shake, and as soon as the big guy took it he would go down on his knee and start yelling as if the General was crushing his hand.
After a little begging from the tough guy, the General would let him go and the big dude would usually start dancing around as if he was in pain and shaking his hand out to relieve it. It was that really exaggerated kind of acting as if it came from a professional wrestler or something. The General would say "Nice to meet you. Enjoy the tour.", and the big dude would slink back into the crowd. Everyone would usually laugh and think it was funny.
Then he continued, "I'm stronger, faster, smarter, and have more superpowers than everyone here. While we tour, you don't take anything, don't disturb anything, and don't steal anything. I have eyes in the back of my head, and if that wasn't enough, there's one or more among you who's a spy helping me watch. They're paid VERY well, and they get extra bonus pay to catch people trying to sneak off with things."
"Taking a souvenir might mean the world to you, but for me it's like a big headache that doesn't go away for a long time. It's a HUGE amount of extra work for me to clean that up. Its like if a dog takes a dump on a lawn while we're out there. It's not as simple as just picking it up, I would have to sanitize and remove every molecule of dog feces from each individual blade of grass until it was all gone."
"Now put yourself in my boots. You wouldn't want someone to give you a huge headache and a ton of extra work to do, would you? I would take that as disrespect, and being disrespected makes me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
That's when he would lift his hand up. He'd take the glove off and it looked like a metallic robot hand underneath. He would make the "rock and roll" sign with the index and pinky fingers extended, then an arc of electricity would go between them kind of like a Jacob's Ladder.
The eyes of the tourist group would get wide as saucers. They didn't think the handshake thing was funny anymore. "Any questions?" Usually everyone was too dumbfounded to speak at this point. "Good! Enjoy the tour." the General would say with a wry smile.
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