An Unexpected Beauty - My Family Travels


Have you ever heard of the advice to arrive two hours before your flight is scheduled to leave? Well, that is exactly what my family and I did not do for our flight to Phoenix, Arizona last summer. We tend to live on the “wild side” when it comes to the little things like spices on our food, the names of our pets, and those pesky take-off times. Let me cut that story short and tell you it is never a good thing when your plane is boarding just as your run up to the gate, sweating and out of breath. Despite the unexpected workout, however, we made it to Phoenix on time and one hundred calories lighter.

We even managed to find our resort without getting lost or completely frazzled. The resort was beautiful, too. It was set in a low area surrounded by red mesas and plateaus. Tiny pheasants skittered around in the brush outside the door, and at night the crickets were so loud they could have woken the dead.

It was the nights I loved most, out in Arizona. The temperature was cool enough to make you forget about that nasty sunburn you received that day, and there were never any clouds to block the stars or moon. My parents and I settled into the habit of grilling our dinner outside every evening. That smell was one of the sweetest and most hypnotizing aromas I have yet experienced. Smoke, drifting up from the grill, teasing my hungry nose, mingled with the freshness of cactus and a small breeze. It was one of those times you wish you could vacuum up the scent and keep it with you. But, I suppose that the fact that it only lasted a week is what made it so magical.

Even though the evenings were bliss to me, I still found myself enraptured with the state during the day. My most impacting memory is of Flagstaff. The mountain there is beautiful beyond description, and the city itself is very friendly. I recall an old man sitting on a bench, his can hooked near him, selling roses to passers by. After a while, as he stood trying to unlock his car, the flowers fell over and went in all directions. Seeing the older man’s trouble, a young fellow went over and picked up all of the roses and placed them back in the vase. His gift, in return, was a single, yellow rose. The young man walked away with the flower pressed to his nose and a gentle smile on his face.

I find it surprising that I was able to see one of the most beautiful places in the world, but have the memory of those two men be the most distinct. I have come to the realization that no matter how many canyons we see, no matter how many pyramids we climb, or rivers we raft, sometimes the most beautiful thing cannot be weathered or seen by buying a ticket. Sometimes, the most impacting event, wherever you happen to be, is a simple act of generosity towards someone in need.

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