On a breezy night in Huntington Beach, California, I stood outside the car I was going to be held captive in for the next 26 hours of my life. The sea breeze always felt nice against my face and I was already dreading leaving it behind. I climbed into the back seat of the car with my zebra pillow pet and my blanket covered with peace-signs. Not even asleep for an hour when I'm awoken with the sudden bright flashing of lights behind me. Great way to start our trip with a speeding ticket under our belts. When I opened my eyes again, I found myself in a gas station in the middle of Nevada. I opened them again and found myself in a viewing place somewhere in Utah.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
After dozing into sleep off and on for 16 hours, my father, mother, little sister and I finally arrived in Denver, Colorado, just 1,025 miles away from home, to spend our first night. We quickly settled into the cramped room of the Holiday Inn Express and made our way to a supposedly good pizza place in this area of Denver. Whoever even sought the idea that it was “good” was definitely exaggerating. The “restaurant” was a dark hole in the wall with broken chairs and wobbly tables. Our waitress disappeared, the pizza was greasy, and the people around me kept staring, as if our family were Iraqi troops invading their precious Kuwait.
The next day, we woke up early to begin driving again to our destination of Omaha, Nebraska. It was only about 540 miles, so not as nearly as long as our first drive to Colorado. Why Nebraska? My older brother, just a freshmen at the University of Utah, qualified for the 100 and 50 freestyle events at the Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha. Obviously he had no chance of actually making it onto the Olympic team, but it was good experience to prepare him for the next trials. I was excited to watch him swim, as well as actual Olympians including Michael Phelps and also swimmers from my hometown such as Tom Shields. When we arrived in Omaha, three words came to mind and stuck there the whole trip: hot and humid; or as my dad called it, “Africa”. Africa would be an understatement. The good part was that the arena was air-conditioned, and I gladly sat on a plastic chair in the nosebleed seats all day watching tiny people swim back and forth.
Even though the temperature was over 110 degrees, my parents insisted in taking a walk through the city. Downtown Omaha was what one would expect a downtown of a city to be: run-down with scary people lurking around. What I didn't know at first about the decrepit structures was that most of them were historic buildings. One sports bar restaurant we ate at, called the Mattress Company, used to be, indeed, a mattress company.
This trip was very significant, though. My brother did extremely well in his events. I traveled to 6 states: Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Iowa, Wyoming, and Nebraska. It was nice just spending time with my family and being somewhere different and unfamiliar. Overall, this experience made me appreciate where I live and not to take my wonderful weather or beautiful beaches for granite. I am so fortunate to be living where I am today. I also learned to make the best out of every situation and appreciate even being given the opportunity to have this trip, although taking an airplane would have been a much better choice.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.