California Dream This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   Wewere finally returning home to Salt Lake City, which was all we'd wanted to dofrom the moment we'd begun our trip four days before. This had been the familytrip from hell.

My mother had remarried and this was the first trip withmy stepdad and stepsister, Bria, who was very used to being an only child. Mymother and stepdad had never taken all of us on a vacation before, and it didn'tgo nearly as smoothly as they had hoped.

We rose with the sun to get anearly start on our two-day drive to Leo Carillo, California. My parents had hadthe brilliant idea of buying a station wagon so we could all fit in the same car,but the six-year-old Oldsmobile didn't turn out to be as wonderful as they hoped.We loaded up the luggage rack, since Bria and I would be stuck in the back of thecar where the luggage normally goes. The sun pounded through that window until itseemed we'd suffocate.

An hour and a half into our adventure, my motherrealized she had forgotten her money. Pouting and grunting, we turned around. Ifwe had been smarter, we would have taken that as an omen, but wedidn't.

As we entered Nevada, the car's temperature gauge told us theengine was overheating. We turned off the air-conditioning and had to deal withthe excruciating August heat. With sweat dripping, we found the car engine wasstill too hot. Finally, we stopped for the night.

That first night westayed at my grandparents' vacation trailer in Boulder, Nevada. Swimming seemedlike the perfect way to end the day, so we excitedly headed to the pool to cooloff. The elderly people who lived in the surrounding trailers, however, werefurious to see children dirtying their pool, and asked my stepdad when we hadlast showered. Without even cooling off, we wearily headed back to the trailerfor the night.

When we left my grandparents at 8 a.m, the heat was alreadyexcruciating, and the temperature became even more miserable throughout the day.Did I mention we were still having car trouble?

When we finally arrivedin Leo Carillo, it looked as if our trip might improve. We were staying at acampsite a short walk from the beach. Before we had a chance to get toocomfortable, we saw storm clouds approaching. We had no time to prepare, the rainhit us hard. Expecting warm weather and sun, we hadn't packed for cold and rainyweather. Our hair never dried the entire time. In fact, when I touched my hair itfelt crispy because the wind and rain froze it. My clothes quickly became coldand damp, and once they were, they never returned to be-ing warm. It was alwaystoo chilly for anything to dry.

Taking a shower at the end of each endlessday seemed like heaven, and the two dollars for five minutes of hot water seemedmore than worth it to warm up, put on dry clothes, and be alone. One night, myshower wasn't quite as relaxing. Glancing up, I saw a snake above the shower,glaring and hissing at me. Anyone who knows me knows that I quiver at the sightof snakes. There was no way I would stay in the shower with that monster, even ifI had to forfeit my five minutes of heaven. I grabbed my towel and, tortured bythe cold, ran back to our campsite, praying the next shower would bebetter.

After three miserable days of sitting in our cold, wet tent, wefinally packed up and headed home, anticipating free warm showers and home-cookedmeals.

Remember the car trouble we had on the way to California? Well, wewere ready to leave, but our car wouldn't start. It had finally broken down forgood. But we weren't staying at that campsite one more day. Exhausted from therain, the campsite, and each other, all we asked for was a way back to ourheavenly home. Finally, my aunt came up with an idea. She would lend us her vanto get home, but someone would need to return it to California and then fly home.We didn't even think twice - all we cared about was getting home again as quicklyas possible. So we accepted her offer and headed out on our "adventure"home. The air conditioning in the van blew out halfway home, just adding to ourtroubles.

Incredibly, that vacation to California didn't make my parentseven hesitate before heading to Leo Carillo again the next summer for anothermemorable year. Our second attempt went much better, and now I know that whensomething doesn't run so smoothly the first time, it's probably worth tryingagain.

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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Bethani said...
Jun. 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm
A valuable life lesson. Good story. keep up the good work! please check out my work. :)
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