Monday, January 16, 2012

Road Trip

Toward the end of summer, I wanted to go somewhere so badly.  It had been such a busy summer that I really wanted and needed to get away.
My son's birthday is at the end of July and I decided that I would to take him to Jackson, Wyoming for a birthday trip.  I love it there.  I love the Tetons, the wildlife, and the town.  I asked my husband if he could get off work on a Friday for a trip and he said he was just too busy and couldn’t.  So, I said, “Well, then, our son and I are going on a road trip without you." 
But, then I couldn’t find a place to stay anywhere in Jackson.  I was sad because I had gotten my hopes up and now we weren’t going to be able to take this trip.  My husband had a great idea.  He asked me, “Why don’t you go to Bryce Canyon?"
I do love Bryce Canyon.  I have been there many times and spent a lot of summer trips there as a kid.  I began checking for places to stay down there and found a little motel in Tropic, Utah that was cheap and within 7 miles of the National Monument.
On Thursday evening, the day before my son’s 15th birthday we set off on our adventure.  He was actually very excited about this trip and at the prospect of hiking around and taking a lot of pictures.  We had been going hiking on weekends throughout the summer and were surprised to find that he really enjoyed hiking and climbing.  Who knew?
The drive to Tropic was unbelievable.  The radio in my truck was having issues.  It would just randomly stop working and the only way to get it to play again was to "Fonzie" the dashboard by hitting it just right.  That was going to be my son’s job while we were driving.  But, the first time that it stopped working, he said he wasn’t going to turn it back on.
Then, we talked the entire time we were driving.  Seriously, the entire time!  He did not sleep.  He did not listen to his I-Pod.  He did not ask how much longer the drive was, or complain about how long this was taking.  He came up with random topics and then we just talked and laughed together--for 5 hours!  I was amazed that we were having this experience.  It was another one of those that I will always cherish.
We didn’t get to our motel until about 11:00 p.m.  We slept in the next morning and then went to one of the few restaurants in town for breakfast.  But, we got there at around 11:00 and they had just stopped serving breakfast—with no exceptions.  Neither one of us felt like eating lunch yet, so my son had cake and ice cream and I had pie and ice cream.  Of course, having cake and ice cream for breakfast on your birthday is perfectly acceptable!
We had a great day in Bryce Canyon, taking a lot of pictures and going on some hikes that made me wonder if I was going to die from exertion, heat stroke, or a heart attack.  He loved the hiking!  I kept trying to go on the shortest trails and he kept trying to get me to go on the longest ones, partly because he was having fun and partly because he enjoyed torturing me!
We had dinner at Ruby’s Inn, right outside of Bryce Canyon, so that he could have steak for his birthday dinner.  As hungry as I was, I think I was more tired, so it sure felt nice to get back to the motel and relax. 
But, then when it was time to go to sleep, he wouldn’t.  He wanted to talk.  He wouldn’t stop trying to get me to talk no matter how hard I tried to convince him that I was exhausted.  So, I gave up and we talked until at least 2:00 in the morning.  It was a really good talk, though. 
We talked about him staying clean and sober.  We talked about how he could sell his photography, then, set aside some of the profits to start a foundation that would help other kids stay off drugs and help kids who have become clean to stay clean.  He thought he would help others learn how seeing the world through photography was a lot better than seeing the world high on drugs.  We talked about him going to the DARE officer at the elementary school and asking him if he could talk to the kids in the DARE program about what he has gone through and what he has learned to try to help them understand what they are really being taught in DARE. 
We talked about how he would like to travel around the world taking photos and how he would like me to go with him on all of these trips since we were having such a good time on this one.  We talked about him setting up a website to sell his photography and to promote his foundation.  We brainstormed about ways he could make money from his photography for his foundation.  It was so wonderful to make positive plans for the future with him.  It was inspiring to hear him talk about wanting to help other kids.  It made me feel so good to know that he wanted to stay clean and sober.  I was glad that we had come on this trip and felt that the long drive, money spent, sore muscles, and exhaustion, were all worth it. 
The next day, even though we didn’t get that much sleep the previous night, we did a lot more hiking and sight-seeing.  We went to Kodachrome Basin and the Petrified Forest.  If I had to do it again, I would skip the Petrified Forest and I know my son would, too.  But, I had it in my mind that I really wanted to see this forest of petrified trees.  I pictured a scenic drive, but the reality was that we had to hike really steep trails just to see huge colorful rocks on the ground. 
But, Kodachrome Basin was fun.  We hiked around on some trails and my son found that since it was a state park, not a National Monument, he could get off the trails and climb up and down rock formations.  That was a lot more exciting to him.   He scared me to death many times when he climbed a lot higher that I wanted him to.  Of course, he really enjoyed my increasing fear for his life and safety.    
He had just as much fun hiking as he did taking pictures.  The enjoyment he seemed to be finding by seeing the world through the lens of the camera or climbing to new heights was amazing to me.  It was a great day, finished off with pizza and thankfully, more sleep than the night before!
The plan for the last day was to go to back to Bryce Canyon to take some pictures with the new tri-pod that he just had to have from Ruby’s Inn General Store, then to go to Red Canyon, hike around, and  drive back home whenever we got around to it. 
We didn’t have as much time as we thought we would in Red Canyon.  We had just started hiking and my son had just started climbing around in dangerous places, doing dangerous things, when it started to rain.  Maybe it was a good thing.  Right before the rain started, he climbed up a steep, slick, shale covered hill while I waited at the bottom.  He just needed to see what was on the other side!  He had been up there for a long time, when I heard the sound of something or someone falling.  Then, I didn't hear anything else.  I called and called to him, but he did not answer.  So, then I had to climb up that hill to find out if he was okay. I was calling his name the whole time I was climbing and still didn’t get any answer.  I had this horrible feeling of terror about what I was going to see when I got up there.  Just as I got to the top, I called his name again.  Right at that second, he jumped from one hoo-doo to another and I startled him so much that he almost fell.  So much for my rescue mission.  I almost caused the thing that I feared had happened.  He had not heard me shouting his name—because of course, he chose this one time on the trip to listen to his I-Pod! 
And, he really had fallen while I was at the bottom of the hill!  His arm was scraped and bloody.  To him, it was not a big deal that he had fallen and he laughed at me for climbing up a hill that I definitely did not want to climb just to make sure that he was all right.
And then it rained.
We got back in the truck.  He went to sleep.  I drove in silence in the pouring rain. 
Vacation over.
But, it was good while it lasted.
I wish it could have lasted longer.
I really wish that.

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