My adventure began on July 26th in Omaha, Nebraska. The drive there was three long, gruesome hours in a non air-conditioned van with the scalding humid heat of the Midwest compressing down on me, but I knew that that drive was going to be a little jaunt compared to what was coming next.
I boarded the airplane in Omaha that was set to fly to Phoenix, Arizona — all by myself at age 15! It had to be one of the most frightening things that I have ever done. It took a lot for me to step out of my comfy, non-adventurous life, wave goodbye to the tear-stained face of my mom and walk onto the plane without turning around and running straight out of the airport back into the hot van (aka my comfort zone).
Not only do you have to be a brave person to fly alone, but you also really have to be looking forward to your final destination and mine was a pretty good one! You see, I was boarding that airplane to see my one and only, super sweet, sister, April, whom I had not seen for months. She was in the Air Force, stationed in Tucson, and she didn’t get to come home very often. Therefore, I hardly ever got to bond with her in those four years apart, not to mention we had a 10 year age difference.
I was flying there to help her pack up the boxes of ‘junk’ that she had accumulated in the four years that she lived there. Then, we could drive all the way back to Iowa with her stuff so she could move back home. It was a great plan built up in theory and worked out even better than hoped.
After landing in Phoenix, I got off the plane to meet my sister and 104 degree weather — boy, and I thought Iowa was hot. Seeing April after all those months was a dream come true. Even my traumatic flying experience and knowing we were going to be driving over 1,600 miles in a little, hot car with the air-conditioner blasting, her scared cat, Milo, in the backseat and the boxes of ‘treasures’ shoved in so tight that I couldn’t begin to recline my seat a half inch, couldn’t damper the tremendous feeling of seeing April again.
So, our trip together began. The first hour together was awkward, but then it was like we were never separated. Our first stop was at the beautiful White Horse Lake in Williams, Arizona. I can still smell the fresh sent of pine needles as we drove up. The lake was mesmerizing as it glistened in the sun with its hundreds of pine trees, a quaint little town, and mountains surrounding it, I was speechless. I couldn’t believe that I was witnessing this with my sister.
In that instant, I knew that it wasn’t going to be a trip that made my sister and me bond, it was going to be the experience that would make us closer. I didn’t realize at the time that it didn’t matter that we had spent four years apart, all that mattered was that we were there with each other, nature, and the road. It was the trip of a lifetime and that alone was enough to make anyone bond.
Day after day we got to see some of the best sights in the world including one of the world’s seven greatest wonders, the Grand Canyon, where we took pictures of chipmunks; Route 66; New Mexico, where the scariest hotel I have ever stayed at was located with its moldy shower curtain and bugs on the floor; Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs and the extremely narrow roads up to the peak where you wouldn’t want to look down over the edge or you might be sick because of the severe drop off into air (brakes don’t fail us now!) and the Seven Falls.
Every day there were new things to laugh about like when we had to tie Milo in the bushes of a parking lot so she would not get too hot and sneaking her into motels hoping she wouldn’t meow and blow our cover. Day in and out we learned things about each other that were long forgotten or that we never knew. We were really seeing each other for the first time in four years, and we both knew that that trip wasn’t going to be the end of our bond.
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