It was the last day of school and French class had been reduced to listing words to describe summer vacation. People started dishing out words like “fun” and “beach”, before it came to my turn and I chose “frustrating”, much to everyone’s confusion. When the turn came back to me, my word was “famille”, family. At that, my teacher immediately realizes, “So that’s why you said frustrating!” Although I didn’t intend to make that connection, it was true. Going on vacation with the family was practically synonymous with frustrating.
Fast forward three weeks and my family is crowded inside a rental car driving through the Sequoia National Park, lost, as always. And, as always, we were seated by our designated jobs: my dad as the driver, my mother in shotgun responsible for taking pictures, and me and my sister in the back as the snack distributors, armed with two large bags of assorted chips and fruits from the park’s supermarket that overshadowed the shack of a visitor center, which was the reason why we were so lost. Fortunately, no one was worried. In fact, most of us were dead asleep from the absence of phone service and the gentle rocking from the winding road as we drove through the forest.
When we awoke, the car was pulling into the Giant Forest Museum, which we discovered was located south of the supermarket after talking with the the beaming park rangers at the information desk. There were only a few hours of daylight left by the time we got there. Having spent most of my time cramped in the car watching my fill of trees pass by, I was sorely disappointed. With the ranger’s advice, we quickly caught the park’s free shuttle on the grey route and promptly disembarked at Moro Rock.
Moro Rock was essentially a tall pile of rocks with a long, practically vertical path carved into its side and supported by crooked metal railings. My sister raced up the path, with me following in her footsteps. At the top of the rock, we were greeted with the sight of a vast sky and huge stretches of mountain ranges that loomed in the distance, a view that we would’ve never seen in the confines of the car. We towered far above the winding road where we were on only a few minutes ago. Wisps of smoke rose from the sides of the narrow platform and cold wind whipped my hair away from my face. To put the feeling simply, it was like flying over the top of the world. It was a hidden gem in an area where most people like us, who were not avid hikers, only thought to admire the large Sequoia trees around them.
On the way out of the park, with nothing left to occupy our time and our hearts still pumping from the brisk hike, conversation started to pick up between the four of us. We became engrossed in a discussion of being antisocial which allowed me to confess, “I feel like everyone else has more interesting lives to talk about.” My sister immediately turns to me and says, “Other people only have interesting lives because they believe it is.” Sitting quietly with those words echoing in my mind, I realized it was true. There’s no guarantee that expectations are met, but there’s always a hidden gem, like Moro Rock, that makes everything so worthwhile. Perhaps being stuck in a car all day with my whole family and no distractions has its benefits.
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