When my parents first proposed a twenty two day road trip from our native Arizona to Florida I was skeptical. We have never vacationed together for that long and I feared the jammed packed car and constant conversation would make the trip a miserable mess. However, it proved to be a life changing journey that brought us closer together as a family.
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
It was day fifteen and we were just starting the trip back to Arizona and one of our stops along the way home was a visit to my Great Aunt and Uncle’s house in Pensacola, Florida. Before we embarked on this trip, I envisioned the South as a desolate land with few wonders, but I could not be more wrong. We have driven through the swamps of the Everglades, the sprawling forests of Mississippi, and have finally reached banks of the Gulf of Mexico.
It was late when we finally arrived at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, but even the dark of night could not hide the beauty of Pensacola. We all tiptoed into the quaint house, and quietly proceeded to our guest rooms. My Aunt and Uncle had a surprise for us in the morning, but forewarned us that we would have to leave no later than six. With that warning, we all went to bed exhausted from our travels. I was jolted awake with the enticing smell of bacon and homemade flapjacks. After we had all stuffed our stomachs full of the one of a kind southern cooking, we jammed all six of us into our worn minivan. The only words that were uttered about our destination were “be prepared to be amazed.”
Soon, the deep forest disappeared and was replaced by sand and waves. The breeze became stronger and the waves grew louder. The cramped car was parked and I was enveloped by the sanctuary of the crystal clear waves and pure white sand. It was only seven in the morning and yet the air stuck to me like a wet blanket. My hair was a tangled mess, my makeup was melting off my face and yet my attention was captivated by the mesmerizing waves in front of me.
The ocean was a blend of emerald and turquoise, a color I thought was only native to the Caribbean Islands. The sun shone through the transparent waves and the ocean floor came to life. Grinning at my sister, I crashed into the waves and dived below the surface. I was transcended to another dimension, a home of vibrant and radiant fish of all colors of the rainbow and effervescent sea creatures. I felt like a mermaid returning to my undersea lair.
Soon, I could no longer hold my breath and I had no choice but to face my above water reality. Returning to the surface, I spot my sister and mother basking in the blinding sun on the powdered, sugar like sand and off to my right I see my father and uncle boogie boarding on the opportune waves. The waves continue to wash over me and seem to extract every ounce of stress and tension from my body and carry them away to the wide, expansive ocean. At this moment, the world stops and I am at peace.
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