Nature and the great outdoors go fairly unnoticed by much of society. It is the underdog of today’s entertainment. Exploring our world offers us all an exciting and thrilling adventure.
To take advantage of this adventure is something that every person should experience at least once in their life. My family and I have decided to take advantage of the great outdoors many times and in one of our recent trips, we decided to tour the western frontier of the great United States. We had it all planned out, from each freeway and highway, to each campground we stayed the night at.
We started off the trip at 8:30 a.m., our minivan full of necessities, and our camper hitched up fully stocked with all of our camping supplies. It was a long drive going through Iowa and Nebraska, but once we were getting towards the heart of Colorado, the mountains created a whole new mood. I have lived in the Great Plains my whole life, so having seen these landforms rise far above sea level brought on a fresh perspective to reality.
Our first night’s stay was at the worst campground I’ve ever been to. It was like a desert with no grass whatsoever. I found that each time I traveled in sandals, I ended up with large amounts of sand and dust covering my exposed feet.
It was 96 degrees out that day and the heat made setting up the camper a whole lot more fun. Then, day turned into night and everyone’s temper was soothed by the cool desert breeze. Night turned into day and we had an exciting adventure planned out. I couldn’t wait.
We drove to the depot and everyone loaded on the bus. As soon as we all arrived at the Arkansas River (still located in Colorado), we unloaded the rafts, went over the simple guidelines, and loaded in. Four hours of level 4 white water rafting was intense on our minds and muscles.
Even with three paddlers on either side, it was still a tough workout, but all totally worth it. We stopped about halfway down the course to get out and swim the stream. I took up the adventure of climbing the rock wall with some other rafters to jump over the 30 foot drop off into the river.
It was a twenty second mental rush, but a two second reality. This was soon followed by one of the most literally awesome sights to be seen — the Royal Gorge suspended 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. As soon as we passed underneath the engineering marvel, a tour helicopter swept about 100 feet above our heads.
We all looked back on it to see its next move, to go over or under the bridge. The chopper started gaining altitude at an amazing rate only to go over the top of the bridge and dive bomb down the other side. It pulled up at the very last second this time about 50 feet from the river and we all laughed at how daring the pilot was.
Soon after that, our two and a half hour rafting trip was complete. Our next stop on our tour of the West Coast was Zion Nation Park in southern Utah. The first adventure we decided to embark upon was a hike. It was a hike, which after completing its two hour long trail, elevated us over 1,700 feet. We were on top of one of Zion’s greatest peaks, Angel’s Landing.
It was such a view — we could see everything. Over a mile below us, cars were as insignificant as an ant near my shoe. A hawk soared over the open canyon at eye level. It gave me a better perception as to how high the bird really flies. We had our family Christmas card taken on that peak that day.
Our next day was yet another hike but not nearly as grueling as the day before. On this day we made a simple walk to a place called Weeping Rock. As I sat underneath an overhead ledge of limestone, I was able to drink droplets of 2,000 year old water. The water has been slowly ‘weeping’ through the rock because it can not seep down so it slowly penetrates through the layers of impermeable shale.
Rising over 300 feet and living up to 3,200 years old, the mighty sequoia tree was one of the most majestic sights to see. Yosemite National Park in California contains the first, second, third, and sixth largest trees in the world. There were many normal looking sized trees in the forest, but only a few here and there were abnormally large.
Some had fallen on down to the forest floor. I crawled on one that had fallen, and it wasn’t easy climbing up the side of an eight foot in diameter tree. Another one of the trees had fallen over but the trunk remained in the ground. The trunk was so thick that an archway was carved into it so that about 20 people could be inside of the behemoth.
All of our destinations had been checked off and our trip was almost complete, but just as a ball comes down after thrown in the air, we had to make the enduring 38 hour ride home. Everyone was good and ready for home, but not ready for the heat. The most memorable part of the ride was crossing the desserts in Nevada. It was 1:15 PM when my mom exclaimed, ‘Look! Its 1:15 and its also 115 degrees!’ It was 115 blistering degrees. Having to pass by cattle farms and endure the stench made it worse.
But what was interesting is that the greatness of the mountain life contrasting to the low riding rapids to the extreme temperatures of the desert, it is all a part of nature. Every part of our trip was a blast and we owe it all to the Earth we take for granted every day.
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