Falling Stars | My Family Travels
Willow River State Park Dam

My best friend, Kiana, and I first hung out when we were assigned a Spanish project. We were to take “selfies” of us experiencing different emotions and insert those pictures onto a slideshow to present to the class. She came over and we did the project, laughing and bonding for hours.

QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP

Since that day, more than a year ago, we’ve been inseparable. Kiana and I are are both artists. I write, and she draws. We both love watching movies and talking about anything that comes into our crazy heads. However, we don’t get overly excited about going outside and exploring nature. So, when her family suggested I go with them to Willow River State Park, I was hesitant to agree. In the end, I decided the park intrigued me and I hadn’t really had many experiences with her family, so I was eager to learn more about them.

I remember being amazed at how beautiful the park was. When I think of a park, I think of a few old swings hanging from rusty chains, a wane plastic slide, monkey bars, and brown platforms that echo the faded laughter of children and cry the whispers of troublesome teens. This park was nothing like that. Picnic tables were spread across the open grass, where many families played different sports and activities. A large playground was entertainment for young children as their parents watched with cautious eyes, and to my right were trees as tall as buildings, which towered over the grounds like skyscrapers. To my left was a trail leading into the woods, and straight ahead, with the sun reflecting off the water in a yellow-orange haze, was the most beautiful river I’d ever seen.

Kiana, her family and I chose a picnic bench. She then brought me to a small beach, complete with damp sand and wondrous waves crashing onto the shore. Later, after we’d finished our lunch, Kiana’s family took us for a walk down the trail leading into the woods. We talked and laughed on the walk there, dodging mosquitoes as we made our way. I even convinced Kiana to be my model, telling her where and how to stand before snapping a picture. Soon we began to hear the faint sound of water crashing on water. Her sister took off running, and I saw that the sidewalk ahead mended into a small concrete path with a protective chain link fence on either side. We stepped onto it and continued walking. I saw that it then opened up to reveal a beautiful scenery directly above the falling water of the dam. We were just above the tree line, and fisherman could be seen below, casting their lures. Her sister pointed, and I saw a couple birds flying through the air, chasing each other, apparently playing some sort of game. The waves below acted as a mirror to the sun beams, throwing the light around like falling stars. We sat by the water for a while, listening and watching in awe as it went from being so quiet and calm to being so loud and threatening. It was truly beautiful. That day really changed how I see the world. I realized that weather can be beautiful as I stood atop the falling water and felt the wind brushing the hair off my shoulders as the sun leaving kisses on my skin. Every step was worth it, because the view was astonishing. Willow River State park is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to, and it changed the way I view the world with its beauty and utter integrity.

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