A Tall Tale | My Family Travels
Royal Gorge Bridge

"I'm falling! I'm falling! I'm about to die! These planks will snap like a broken bone, these ropes will fall, slithering like grass snakes. I will die in the river: alone and cold."

My knuckles were white as they gripped the side of the bridge with an emphatic will to live. I felt the wood rattle. A deafening humming noise came nearer and nearer. My heart was stuck in my throat, and I closed my eyes.

"You're overreacting just a bit," laughed my father, who was standing beside me.

â–º  Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

I said nothing and let the truck drive past.

The rest of my family began to move across the Royal Gorge's bridge again. The bridge was suspended from towers 150 ft. above the swirling, tumultuous, misty shape that was the Arkansas River. It made me dizzy, looking down. Sure, it was checked for problems every day by professionals, but I still felt queasy. The Royal Gorge Park was fun, with plenty of interesting things to do, but –

"Oh no," I breathed, as another car turned onto the creaky thing. "Hey, look at how much the bridge is shaking!" teased my brother, who was enjoying every minute of this experience.

I, on the other hand…

Colorado had been exhilarating. Skiing down Monarch Mountain had been a blast! The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was a thrilling treat. The Garden of the Gods had been awe-inspiring. But this… no, this I couldn't handle! I was swaying, swaying, swaying over air. What if the bridge collapsed? My panic rose and I began to hurry across the bridge. I had to get off! In the distance, the aerial tram was being pulled across on a cable, suspended like a star against the sky. On the other side of the Gorge, people were riding the Royal Rush Skycoaster, where they were tied to cords and flung off the side. The cords rocked back and forth above the cliff, and the people screamed as they saw the 150 ft. drop open up before them with nothing in between but a few strands of cable.

The car drove past, the creaking stopped, and I began to run. I had to get off this nightmare before it crashed over my head! I raced the wind to the other side of the bridge, where I collapsed on a bench and wiped away the cold sweat that had gathered on my forehead. My insides quivered with fear until my body caught up with my mind.

I was off. I was safe.

My family soon followed me off, and, together, we went and watched a short film about the history of the Royal Gorge Bridge. It told everything; the work involved and the great minds behind it. By the end of the movie, I had fallen in love with the great giant. Built in 1929, it had held the record for tallest bridge in the world until 2003. The cliffs, though slightly foreboding, had a beauty all their own. The river seemed poetic, romantic. Even the bridge now seemed less like an enemy. It's steel wires had held the tourists up for nearly 100 years. Surely it could hold me up just one more time?

With tons of willpower, I stepped back onto the bridge. I remembered the sweat of the men who had built it for me, the work that kept the steel giant up. I remembered the gorgeous river; I looked out at the dazzling cliffs; and I felt at peace.

I smiled at Mom and Dad as I walked over my tallest fear.

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