In July of 2002, my parents, brother, and I embarked on a vacation to gorgeous Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. I was just five years old then, and this journey would be one of the very first I would take with my family. So naturally, I was so elated that I hardly cared about having to leave at 6:40 AM. All I cared about was venturing off for a vacation of fun, family, and adventure.
As we were driving to our destination, David and I took full advantage of all the fascinating, kid-friendly features in our brand-new vehicle. The van was enormous, silvery gray, and best of all, had a DVD player directly in the backseat where David and I were seated. We would watch one DVD in the morning, and one in the afternoon. All of the fun of DVD-watching washed over us like a wave. But that was not the only thing we did to keep ourselves occupied. Our parents also taught us the license plate game. They gave us a list of the fifty states of the USA. As the diverse set of cars passed us by, we would strain to find one we had not noticed yet. “Look! I see an Idaho license plate!” David would exclaim. “Look! I see a California license plate!” I would cry out right back. Before we knew it, we were conducting our own miniature license plate Olympics. With all the sources of fun surrounding us, David and I were having the time of our lives. Thus, it took a few moments to register our dad saying, “Here is our hotel, everyone!”
The next day, after arriving at our hotel and eating a scrumptious, mouthwatering dinner from KFC, we went to some local shops. Our first stop was a quaint country store called the Spruce. It was a store filled to the brim with Christmas ornaments of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I strolled along with my family, admiring the vast ornament collection, when my eyes fell upon one in particular. It was a tiny white mouse with black eyes, a ballet costume as pink as a freshly blossomed rosebud, and a garland of equally pink flowers stretched above her head. Instantly, I thought of Angelina Ballerina, a fictional book character I adored as a young girl. A lightning bolt urge struck me; I just had to have that ornament. I wheeled around to face my parents. “Can I get that ornament? Please, oh, please?!?” “Of course you can, Laura,” they replied. Upon hearing that, I was practically a ballerina myself, dancing around the shop in jubilation. We bought the ornament that evening, and to this day, it is still one of my favorites.
A few days later, our family took a hike near a location called Bear Lake. As we were riding there on a shuttle bus, someone saw a marmot sitting on a rock! The bus filled like a pitcher with comments like “Oh!” and “Wow!” and “Cool!” Then the shuttle bus screeched to a stop, and we all piled out. Just as we were about to begin our hike, we spotted a female deer fast asleep near the trail. We observed it for a few moments in total awe, but we eventually continued off on the hike. Despite the fact that it was only half a mile long, I was not very athletic, so it was a bit of a strain on my body. “Are we almost done?” I would continually whimper. By the time we actually were done, my feet were dragging from the strenuous effort, and I felt like I was seconds away from collapsing. Thankfully, we took the shuttle bus back to our car, which felt like a giant, feather-filled pillow after that beyond tiring hike.
Later, after returning to the hotel, we packed up to eat an appetizing picnic lunch in a quiet little nearby area. Unfortunately, the gray, dismal clouds that had dawned that morning had abruptly transformed into pouring rain, so we were forced to eat in the van. After gulping down thick ham and cheese sandwiches, salty, crisp potato chips, and bottles of thirst-quenching fruit juice, we ventured off to explore a nearby stream once the rain had stopped. I was mildly dismayed that the weather had forbidden us from having an outdoor picnic. But outdoor picnic, or no outdoor picnic, it was still a wonderful vacation day.
Unfortunately, all wonderful vacations have to end sometime. And ours did the very next day. At 7:15 AM, we bid a somber farewell to good old Colorado. I, of course, was sad to be leaving all the fun times behind. But I had done a lot of enjoyable things on that trip, and made memories that would stand the test of time. I had gotten a brand new Christmas ornament, seen a deer and a marmot, and much more. I suspect I drove my family crazy on the trip home though; I just had to point out every Colorado license plate we passed!