Spending time with family before leaving the country in a short five and a half months is important to both Kenny and I. The fact we live over 2,000 miles from either of our parents makes accomplishing that need more difficult than average. As a celebration of my father’s official retirement, we were fortunate to have them choose to come out to Las Vegas to see us. We had planned in advance to camp a few nights in Death Valley National Park. With their tent and sleeping rolls in tow, they elected to drive their own vehicle cross-country to have access to a 4×4 on the park’s back roads.
As it turned out, the 4WD wasn’t necessary to get around the majority of the park though, admittedly, the passenger tires on our car would not have survived against the heavy ruts in the roads. As we drove out to the Racetrack – a dry, cracked lakebed famous for the mysterious trails the sailing stones had left on the surface – we came across a particularly enticing side road. By enticing, of course, I mean a terrifyingly steep, narrow, boulder strewn road that switchbacked about 2,000 feet off the desert floor. As we started up the road, I remember muttering something along the lines of, “please no,” but off we went anyhow, bouncing along in first gear.
Midway up, I recall us stopping as Kenny had indicated to my parents that perhaps I wasn’t doing so well. I had a death grip on the driver’s seat head rest with my face buried in my dad’s jacket which was draped over the back. My bottom lip was quivering and tears would have been in my eyes if I weren’t too scared to cry.
My dad turned and said, “Hon, this isn’t that bad. We’ve done much worse roads in Moab.” This little fact was confirmed by my mom, chipper as could be and grinning ear to ear in the passenger seat, that this road really was, “no big deal.” Shamed by their clear lack of concern for what I assumed were our certain deaths, I agreed we could continue up the road.
As we reached the peak and stared off the back side of the mountain, my terror won out and everyone conceded we could turn back the way we had come. However, not before allowing me to tumble out of the jeep and assure myself we were, in fact, on stable ground. Admittedly the view at the top was quite spectacular and the road was not so scary from outside of the vehicle. All the same, I think I can pretty well guarantee that ‘jeeping’ is not my thing.
If for no other reason than to learn my parents routinely amuse themselves with an activity that could make me lose my lunch, I am glad to have been along for the ride. Hats off to you Mom and Dad who clearly have a thing or two left to show me.