Vegas to Fruita

Writing Prompt: Travel and Adventure 

Write about your favorite vacation.

I had to consider this, because there have been some really good ones. I decided, however to focus on a trip that Terry and took, just the two of us, some 11-12 years ago. We hadn’t visited my mom in Fruita, CO for a very long time. Fruita is a small town not too far from where I was born, in Grand Junction. My family moved away from there, to Minnesota, when I was only two, so I don’t really have any memories of living there. Still, it always felt like coming home.

We decided to fly to Las Vegas and then rent a car to drive to Colorado. Several reasons for doing this, one of them being the low cost, way back then, of flying to Vegas. I’d never been there, and i don’t think Terry had, either.

Neither of us is a gambler, so I have to admit to being a bit surprised when the flight attendant announced that she would pass a hat, for anyone who wanted to play. I forget what the challenge was, but whoever won it won all the money in the hat. People went nuts. There was shouting, stamping, whistling–the level of excitement was amazing. I’m pretty sure whoever won the money was planning to use it in the casinos!

Driving through Las Vegas made me feel as if we were in a TV movie! All the buildings you’ve heard about, the lights, the flashing signs–it was fun to see, but I truly wouldn’t want to live there. We found a nice motel on the eastern edge of town, enjoyed a meal, slept well. The next day, we loaded up our car with emergency supplies–lots of water, extra gas, pre-packaged food, and so on.

First stop, not far away, was Hoover Dam. I’ll always call it that. Seems there was an effort to change its name a while back. It’s amazing, a magnificent structure that changed the course of a mighty river. Pictures can’t do it justice. You have to be there to get the immensity of it.

I’ve lost the order of things over the years, so I’m going to hopscotch now. The highlight, for me was the Grand Canyon. As I said, you can’t do it justice with pictures. You can’t understand how vast it is until you’re gazing at it in person. We decided on a helicopter tour, and I’m so glad we did! Our pilot was a Viet Nam vet, totally composed and in control, which did a lot to allay my fear of heights with nothing between me and disaster but a thick glass window!

We were his only passengers. As we took off, and the trees below began to look like toys, he said, “Get ready. Big drop coming up!” WHAM! He wasn’t kidding! I know I gasped as we flew over the rim and the ground below us just dropped away to a vast emptiness. Once we were settled in, though, I was amazed over and over again with the beauty, the variety, the rock formations, the tiny silver ribbon of the river running through the canyon. Our pilot asked if we’d like a little adventure. Sure we would! He said he wasn’t supposed to do it, but he began taking us lower, into the canyon, dodging in and out of the slopes to show us some things close up. It was wonderful. I wanted it to never stop.

Well. We went on, across miles of nothing. We stopped at the Painted Desert. We saw petrified wood. We visited the meteor crater in Arizona. We did all the touristy things we could find, figuring we’d probably never do it again.

Arizona Meteor Crater

After a delightful visit with family and friends, we journeyed back to Vegas on a different route, enjoying some of the most beautiful national parks–Bryce Canyon, where Terry got to see a bristlecone pine; Zion, The Arches–and picked up our flight back to green, lush Pennsylvania.

I enjoyed seeing the vastness of the West, the desert scenery that is so unimaginably different from where we live. Again, the vastness of it is beyond anything I’d ever imagined. It’s one thing to see pictures; another thing entirely to see it.

We fell in love with a town called Cortez in Colorado. It was near Mesa Verde (green flat-topped mountain) and had lots of trees, rolling hills, a river. We decided, if we ever moved to Colorado, we could live in a place like that.
It was a wonderful trip that went without a hitch. It’s a treasured memory.

The Canyon is Grand!

Moved to Tears

Describe the last time you were moved to tears by something beautiful.

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I doubt it’s the most recent time, but it’s the first thing that popped up in my mind.

About ten years ago, Terry and I flew to Las Vegas and then drove east through Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. In Arizona, we stopped at the Grand Canyon.  I’d never seen it before, even though I was born in Colorado. It was just never a priority on our trips back to Grand Junction to see my dad’s family.

We decided to see the Canyon by helicopter.  My knees weren’t very good, and I couldn’t even think about walking down into the canyon. I’d never been in a chopper before, either, so I was full of anticipation. Our pilot was a Viet Nam vet who was just as comfortable behind the controls of his chopper as I would have been at my kitchen stove. Calm, in control.  We took off and cruised just above tree level.

No big deal so far, right? Then, the pilot told us to prepare ourselves, because things were about to change.  I think he probably enjoys that moment when the chopper flies over the rim and the ground just drops out from under you. It’s such an abrupt change!

Our pilot  decided we were game for some fun.  There was no one else on board, so he didn’t have to worry about little kids hurling their breakfast or anything.  He took us across the canyon and started playing dodge ’em with the  walls of the Canyon as they undulated in and out. He would hover so we could look at the view and take pictures if we wanted to, and then he was off again. He showed us some places you wouldn’t imagine could exist down there, and it was all just breathtaking.  The Canyon is vast, colorful, and dangerous. I was amazed, and it wasn’t long before there were big fat tears rolling down my face.

Terry said it was more fun watching me than it was looking at the scenery.  He said I was like a little kid seeing a circus for the first time.  And that’s just how I felt.  You can’t really get a feel for the Canyon until you’ve been there.  It was magical, awe-inspiring, bigger than life.  I loved every minute, and I didn’t want it to be over.

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