There she was, smiling back at me, bright blue eyes shining happily. An image of years ago when I had no worries, no cares, no problems greater than not getting what I wanted for lunch or having to go to the dentist. I sat perched in a large replica of a wooden clog; small as I was, the shoe engulfed me. And the joy, the excitement, the wonder of Solvang shone on my face.
There was always so much to do, so much to look at. My mom and I would sing together as I gazed out the side window at the scenery rushing by. Rows and rows of apple trees lined the sides of the road for miles. With every tree we passed, my excitement would grow. With childish amazement I would peer at Ostrichland, with its barren dirt fields and freely roaming ostriches. I would cry out as I glimpsed ponies grazing in the lush green grass of their pastures. I would marvel at the mountains and the flowers and the clear blue sky. Then we were in Solvang.
Each time, we would pull up to the King Frederick’s Inn and groaningly free ourselves from the small confinements of our Nissan Altima. I skipped ahead, eager to receive our room and head out to the shops. My mom always handled the arrangements as I would wander about the room, collecting free travel brochures and coupons from the displays. Then, after taking our bags to our room, we set out.
A quiet serenity seems to envelop Solvang. It’s as if someone turned the volume down to a silent whisper. It’s not very crowded, but not uncomfortably empty. The buildings look as if we drove across the country, across the ocean, across Europe, and suddenly entered Denmark. Along the streets, quaint little stores beckon for passers-by to enter their humble abode. Vibrant flowers fill each flower box. Expensive cars zoom down the main street, racing toward the Chumash Casino on the outskirts of town.
My mom and I have our favorites. Our favorite hotel to stay at, our favorite bakery to eat at, and our favorite store to shop at. We head straight to Edelweiss, a store of unimaginable treasures filling every millimeter of space in the long rectangular room. We stand there captivated, examining every individual, sparkly item on the shelves. It’s a girly-girl’s fantasy. When we leave the store, often times it is already getting dark, for hours have passed. We then walk down to Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery and load up on scrumptious pastries of epic proportions. Chocolate éclairs, napoleons, cherry Danish, custards, cakes, the selection is endless. We always end the evening with desserts in our hotel room. A girls’ night in.
Every year I beg my mom to take me back to Solvang. For a while, I thought that it was a vacation that I was seeking. An escape. Different scenery from my everyday life. But then one day my friend proposed a trip to me. A road trip to Solvang with a few friends to shop and hang out. As I sat there, visions of our trips whirring around in my head, I realized something. It wasn’t the place that was so special, it was the company. It just wouldn’t be the same without my mom. I may be alone in the picture, sitting by myself in an enormous shoe, but there was someone else there as well. My mom, standing behind the camera, recording every moment with me.
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