A few years ago, my dad and I finally got the opportunity to take the vacation we had always wanted to take: to drive across the country. While he had lived everywhere from Washington to Florida, I had never been west of the Mississippi. That summer we finally had the time and ability to take the trip I had waited for and it became the most rewarding experience of my life.The drive itself was amazing.
We stayed in Nashville the first night with a couple of Dad’s old college friends. They told stories about their college days that I had never heard, stories that made me realize that my parents were actually my age once and we were more similar than I had previously imagined.
Eventually we arrived in Denver. I remember seeing the Rocky Mountains in all of their splendor and thinking the Smokies were really nothing compared to the Rockies. We went to see the Colorado Rockies play at Coors Field and were promptly treated to a 3 hour rain delay. The next day, we hit the trail. My dad and I backpacked through the Rockies for a full week and a half, catching trout for dinner and eating Easy Mac for every other meal.
What I remember most, however, are the people we met on the trail. One couple was on their first trip just like I was and another was returning to do the same hike they had done 20 years ago. We helped one fisherman who had never fished before just because we had been in that situation once and had been graciously helped by strangers as well.
The last night was my favorite of the trip. My dad and I lay on the ground looking at one of the most beautiful sights I had seen — the stars, miles away from any other light, with no clouds. We then embarked on the long journey home. What I learned most on my trip was how people really were not that bad after all. It seems like all I ever heard from my Grandma as a kid was that ‘people are so horrible these days,’ and ‘it isn’t the good ol’ days anymore,’ but I found the exact opposite. I saw my dad’s lifelong friends cherishing how great their friendship was and still is.
I met people during our rain delayed baseball game that were not much different than ourselves, even thought they lived half a continent away. I saw a young couple making memories and an old couple spending time together just like they used to. I saw a new fisherman that needed a little help just as my father and I had once needed a little help.
All in all, I saw the value of enjoying relationships, whether it is friendship, marriage, or father-son. I think I could contribute some of this appreciation to the University of Florida, making friendships that last a lifetime and learning other life and scholastic lessons as well.
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