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    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Heights, Trains, and Water Goblets

    I’ve decided that you really get to know a person when you’re on vacation. Since we don’t go on vacation in our family, we’re all practically strangers. A couple weeks ago we had a mini holiday. Kory took a record TWO days off from work, and on Thursday we drove to the Royal Gorge with the kids.

    I admit to being afraid of heights but my cowardice blossomed when it was time to cross the bridge. We'd already ridden over it once on the trolley, which wasn't so bad. The trouble came when it was time to go back and the trolley didn’t arrive at the designated waiting area.

    And didn’t arrive. And didn’t arrive.

    We decided to walk, stepping out onto the boards and heading for the other side. I walked along confidently for a bit, and then my eyes darted to the side as the boys ran up to the railing to look over the edge. I figured out quickly that looking over the edge was not an option for me. I glanced behind me, debated going back to wait for the trolley. I decided against it and started walking faster. Then I made the mistake of looking down at the boards beneath my feet. There are gaps. They aren’t huge gaps, but a sliver of space is all you need to see the deathly drop below. Indiana Jones clips played in my head. I walked faster.

    I’d established that I couldn’t look to the side, I couldn’t look down, and looking back didn't help, so I kept my focus in front. Oh my gosh, is that bridge long! I walked faster. In fact, I was now doing that ridiculous wiggle walk you often see paired with unwise spandex use. I wanted to run but held on to a smidgeon of my remaining dignity.

    Meanwhile, Kory and the boys were falling farther and farther behind. Not that I looked back. But I occasionally heard a faint “Mom?” coming from behind. I got to the other side, dizzy and out-of-breath, and as I recovered I realized something about myself. When it comes to heights, I will leave my husband and children to the rickety boards and inevitable crocodiles and save myself. I’m not proud, but at least this is useful information to know should we ever find ourselves on another ludicrously high bridge.

    The next highlight of our little trip was a train ride on the scenic Rio Grande railway. We spent Thursday night in the town of Alamosa in the San Luis Valley. I’m a little familiar with the valley because I lived in the area from around age 11 to 13 when I threatened to start my own business fermenting potato alcohol if we didn’t move someplace with a mall.

    Anyway, we were all excited to ride the train. We stood in the open-air observation car as the train clickety-clacked over the valley toward the mountains. There’s not a whole lot to see on that first stretch of the trip, but Kory and the boys pointed out small, skittering animals, cars broken down in the middle of nowhere and strange dwellings that seemed part trailer, part barn, mostly dust.

    But my husband caught me completely off-guard when he sighed and said, “Why can’t I have a junk yard?”

    Astounded, I blathered the first thing that came to my mind. “Because you have a wife!”

    “I know, I know,” he said, “And I like our nice house. But I want a junk yard, too. A place where I could build cool stuff.”

    I had no idea my husband was so keen on scrap metal. The weird thing is, he’s anti lawn art. I mean REALLY anti lawn art. Not that junk is lawn art. But sometimes—a lot of the time—lawn art is junk. I digress.

    Perhaps the most startling realization came in the dining car on the train. We hadn’t intended to eat on board, but our original plans fell through and we found ourselves on a restored New York dining car. Monkey, being 10 and male, has never been to a fancy restaurant. I bit my lip as he made his way down the narrow aisle between elegant but cramped tables. Monkey, being 10 and male, has had so many growth spurts in the last year that he literally can’t keep track of his own appendages. We settled in at a vacant table. Kory and I cringed at the overpriced, underwhelming menu, and Chunky complained of a stomach ache. But Monkey grinned and pointed to the intricately folded napkins and elaborate place settings. When the waitress filled our water goblets he picked his up, stuck his pinky out and said, “You’re supposed to drink it like this, right Mom?”

    I muttered an incoherent response. Have I mentioned that Monkey is 10 and male? I’m not sure what possessed him to behave like such a gentleman at the table. I can assure you it’s not a regular occurrence despite my constant nagging. Maybe we need to eat gourmet dinners in moving vehicles more often.

    So there you have it. I am a gutless coward. My husband is a closet redneck. And my ten-year-old is capable of table manners! Who knew?

    So what did you discover this summer?

    1 comment:

    Niki said...

    Hilarious. You have plenty of moments of bravery, so no worries. ;)