— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) September 13, 2018
By George Johnson
Nearing two decades on, Garnet Hathaway may have the opportunity to recreate a cameo-keepsake, before-and-after moment from his youth.
“I was seven at the time,” the rambunctious winger is reminiscing, standing in the lobby of the Shenzhen Ritz-Carlton on another hot, humid day. “I was just talking with my mom about it, actually. Getting kind of a list of things we saw and did.
“She sent me a photo of me and my siblings on the Great Wall. Great photo.
“I’m going to try and find the place that picture was taken and replicate it 20 years later, when we visit there.”
Hathaway and his Flames cohorts are scheduled to tour the Wall on Monday as a touristy sidelight of their O.R.G. NHL China Games after flying into the Chinese capital following Saturday’s pre-season opener in Shenzhen against the Boston Bruins.
“I showed OB (Director of Team Services Sean O’Brien) the photo and we’re going to try and figure it out,” says Hathaway. “There are four main spots on the Great Wall for pictures, and I’m hoping we’re going to be able to go to the one I’m looking for. Hoping, anyway.
“I am short four people, though.
“Maybe I can convince a few of the guys to act as stand-ins.”
As a kid, Hathaway’s family, dad, mom, Garnet, his brother and three sisters set out on the trip of a lifetime, from Feb. 6 to May 15, 1999. A 99-day National Geographic Traveler addict’s dream odyssey that ranged from the Colosseum in Rome to Komodo dragon watching in West Timor. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Lalungla Pass.
Being all of seven at the time, of course, that trip lives on for Hathaway in moments, unforgettable highlights, indelible sights, bits and pieces.
“We went on a 30-hour train ride to get here, to China,” he recalls. “As a seven-year-old, I do remember that. I don’t know how my parents dealt with me, to be honest. I can’t imagine being on my best behaviour for that long.
“We went through Nepal, around Mount Everest and into China from that side.
“We were down in Hong Kong and then went and saw the Terracotta Army (in Xi’an). That was amazing. Then we went up to Beijing.
“This, right now, is a bit of a different experience. We were back-packing the whole time back then, for three months. Now” – a hand sweep around the sumptuous lobby – “I’m staying at the Ritz.
“I mean, you were at the buffet this morning. How amazing is that? There are a lot of buffet options at this place.
“But then, now … they’re both great experiences in their own way.
“Being able to see a different culture, and maybe how it’s changed since I was here last, is pretty neat.
“I was really excited to hear I was coming on the trip.
“Now it starts. It’s camp, even if we’re across the world, and we’ve got to perform. It’s going to be different. We’re going to be out of our comfort zone a little bit.
“We knew there were going to be a few curve balls. Not everything’s going to go as planned. You just appreciate all the effort OB and the organization put in in setting this up.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come somewhere like this, somewhere so far away, somewhere so different, with the guys, to play hockey.”
And maybe, fingers crossed, recreate a cameo-keepsake, before-and-after moment two decades removed.