Summertime; eight weeks of freedom that all teenagers anticipate all school year long. There was no better place to spend it then where the sun is always shinning and the taste of salty mist from the waves lingers in the air. We spend all year longing for our skin to glow bronze from the heavenly rays. It was understandable that when my parents told me we would be spending the break in Wyoming, I was anything but thrilled. A two-day car ride and a week in Yellowstone National Park was far from a teen’s idea of a vacation destination. Because it was my only chance to escape the heat and valley, I decided to make the best of it.
The first night of our adventure, we camped in our trailer at the Grand Canyon. It was overwhelmingly beautiful, with towering trees and millions of stars in the clearest sky I have ever seen. I was beginning to change my mind about wanting a hotel room overlooking a crowded beach, or maybe it was just the fresh air getting to me. In the morning, we made a stop to absorb the greatness of Bryce Canyon in Utah. The massive rock formations looked like castles, surrounding and hypnotizing me with their timeless beauty.
As our journey continued, our food was running low due to a chipmunk that had been traveling with us since the Grand Canyon. Too distracted to eat, we couldn’t find a hotel room anywhere. A car show was in town that weekend, and every room was booked. To make matters worse, our tire blew out. Drifting to sleep as my dad fixed the van, I started to wish for the plains to turn into sand. I woke up parked outside the Hilton, where there was finally a vacancy. At daylight, we ate breakfast at the hotel, which was surprisingly tasty.
After an eventful night, we arrived in Yellowstone, found a campsite, unloaded, then went to explore. What we found was incredible; herds of bison passed in front of our car, we got steps from elk, and we saw a bear run through a field. We knew we were in the animals’ territory when it was more common for buffalo to be in the parking lots then cars. It was breathtaking to see water shoot 184 feet when the geyser, Old Faithful, rumbled to life. My longing for the scent of sea slat was replaced by limestone, and my thought of palm trees turned to pines. As the closing of the week drew near, I dreaded leaving the glorious woods.
On the way home, we drove through the night, stopping to park in a pull off to get some rest. The next night we arrived at the final destination of our trip, which was drastically different from Yellowstone. My parents thought we would have more fun spending a couple nights in Vegas. We gaped out the window in awe as the lights of the signs glowed and the neon colors of the strip whirled around us. We bunked at the Excalibur, but we played and shopped at all the other glamorous casinos as well.
Ready to sleep in our own beds and return to our normal routines, we began the journey home. As I dosed, gazing out at the strip fading behind us, I felt a change in me. My love for the sunny, materialistic, and upbeat atmosphere of childhood was not as strong as it had been a week before. Instead, I felt the calm, mature, appreciation of nature and the momentous realization that I was growing up.
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