In the Peanuts’ Halloween special, the poorly-disguised Charlie Brown has grumbled, “I got a rock,” which has been repeated often in my family. If my mother was Charlie Brown, she would be ecstatic to have gotten a rock.
It was the summer of 2010 when Nana and my cousin Frankie traveled to colorful Colorado while I was visiting my mom, stepdad, and two little brothers there. My mom was thrilled to have her mom, niece, and daughter with her, so she wanted to do something special with us, and for her, that meant journeying somewhere full of rocks. That vacation certainly did have a rocky start.
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I wished that the vacation had been to Denver since I enjoyed the lively atmosphere of the city and the radiant magic that shone through each lit window at night. Rocks were not part of my dream vacation at all, yet my mom and stepdad Joe booked the hotel and rental car. To where did this nightmare take place? Mesa Verde National Park. Don’t get me wrong; this would be perfect for some people, but I, being the city-loving, nature-loathing person I was, recoiled from the very idea.
Then we were off – almost. Joe, Mom, Nana, Frankie, Alex, Zac, and I stood in the driveway of our northern Colorado home, shoving suitcases into the monster-sized SUV while I complained to myself about the going-to-be long car ride; not to mention, my brother was five, and he rarely liked hearing anything but his own voice. Our trek began, so I put in my earbuds, blasted the angriest music I had, and tried to relax by letting the melodies fume for me.
It went on as seemingly endless for hours. Gazing out the window, I saw nothing but hues of brown mixed into winding roads scaling up hills and tall mountains. Finally, we made it to our destination: a sketchy hotel in Durango, Colorado. It was understandable since there were seven of us that my parents wanted to save money, but I would have preferred to not have slept on a couch with a questionable stench. There was no cell service, so I felt stranded in a dusty desert filled with the horrid rocks that will forever cause my lip to curl in disgust.
While trying to keep an open mind during the adventure through the historic cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park, I had difficulty believing that these “buildings” were once homes. They amazed me at first, and I still find myself wondering how people lived there centuries ago. Here I was, griping about talkative siblings and a dearth of cell reception, when previous dwellers posessed nothing but rocks – which my mom would love.
That evening when the sun began to fall from the sky and the bright blues faded to soft pinks, yellows, and oranges, light glinted off the stone-filled sand to create a glowing landscape throughout the expanse of the horizon. My complaints were awed into silence as the sunset reminded me of the magic of the city in its rawest, most natural form.
Even though this trip radiated nothing as deep or charitable as helping kids in Africa or soul searching through France, it was something smaller and closer to the heart. My mom constantly, near annoyingly, voices,"It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we’re together." It’s true. I loved spending time with my family and I have memories, from locking Frankie in a telephone booth at South Park to stopping in Denver, that I will carry with me for my whole life.
Lesson learned: Rocks aren’t that bad.
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