My family and I have a tendency to go on very long road trips, pulling our pop-up trailer behind a large van. Though we live in Virginia, we drove to Alaska and back, with many stops in between one year. Another year we went up to Maine and through eastern Canada and a few years ago we went across the country over to the West Coast of the United States. Not only does my family like to drive, but we love to run as well.
I was entering my first year of Cross Country, my older sister, her last, and my father was training for a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. What made the trip the most enjoyable was hopping around the country and running 5Ks in various states. I ran one in Lyons, Colorado, another on the fourth of July in Las Vegas, also one in San Francisco, and a two mile race in Davenport, Iowa.
My mother and my younger brother, though both will go on occasional run did not do these races, but were always there at the finish line, congratulating us on our race, no matter how slow we ran. Pulling a camper allowed us to stay someplace inexpensive in and around the national parks around the nation. It let us have the camping experience, with a fire, lying under the stars, going outside to find the camp ground’s bathrooms, but still having a stove and mattresses for your everyday comforts.
My brother, who was nine at the time, was able to play around on the playground and my mother was able to relax and read a book, while my sister, my father, and I explored the parks, went running on the trails and searched for wildlife. The thing about national parks is that there is always something special about them that make them worthy of being set aside for preservation. I’ve been through Denali, the largest national park, through Yellowstone half a dozen times, through Acadia with its rock bluffs by the ocean, and many, many more, and in every park I have been to, I have found them to be simply gorgeous.
The spikes of rock and sediment which shoot up from the ground in Brice Canyon glow golden as the sun sets and the giant sequoias of California, with the immense size, cause complete awe and fascination. Every little stream along the Columbia River, with their graceful and tiny water falls, dazzles the eyes of anyone willing to pay attention.
If we had taken a plane to all of these places, we would not have been able to see all of the sights along the way, and would have probably stopped at far fewer places. We saw wildlife inside and outside of the park, and the sights of the road, even though on a highway, were soothing to the eye.The thing that I remember most about simply driving out west was the anticipation of the mountains. After seeing so much corn, and driving on such a flat, straight road for a thousand miles, it seemed impossible that there could be anything other than fields of grass. But we knew the mountains were coming, and on the day we were driving through Colorado, we kept talking about seeing the Rockies finally, and the excitement grew.
When we finally say them through the haze of the humid afternoon, they stood tall, with their snowy peaks staring at us from a distance.In the mornings, before the sun had risen, my sister, my father, and I would get up, get our cameras and find a place to set up to take pictures of the natural setting. Then, in the evenings my whole family would go out and find someplace to do just the same. Not all the sunsets and sunrises were the most amazing, but watching the start and end of any day can be magical.Running is now a major part of my life, and being able to say I ran in all of the places I have, through the red woods, by the natural arches, and next the bluffs of the Mississippi, is amazing to me.
Not only did I do something I love for the entire summer, but I did it in the most beautiful spots in the country. I got to bond with my sister, and form happy, and beautiful memories with my family which I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life.
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