My mother was a history teacher, so we took long road trips in the summers often hitting national parks, monuments and historic sites along with museums and state parks. She adored the Western United States (still does), and many of our trips took us through the mountains, deserts and canyons prevalent in those areas of the country.
In 1986, my mother, my niece and I went to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
We arrived at our campsite, set up our tent and unloaded the van -- except for the food because of bears. After that was all done, my niece and I just wanted to stay in the tent and play with our Barbies. What can I say? We were nine.
Mom, however, wanted to go look for wildlife, so she found a nearby trail to follow.
My niece and I happily played in the tent until Mom returned and insisted we come with her.
Reluctantly, we followed her down the trail until we came upon a herd of elk grazing in the distance. Mom oohed and ahhed. We used the binoculars to get a closer look. Soon enough, my niece and I grew bored, and Mom told us we could go back to the campsite.
That's when things went south.
Walking back to our tent, we turned left when we should have turned right. In no time at all, we were thoroughly lost.
But we were in the campground of the park. Surely we could wander around and find our spot, right?
We trudged all through that campground, waving at cars that drove past, and completely unconcerned for ourselves. We could not find our tent.
We walked up a small hill and looked from on high. We could not spot our tent.
We even ended up walking past the ranger station, but did we ask one of the helpful rangers to point us in the right direction? Of course not! We were nine. We weren't supposed to talk to strangers!
We kept walking. It seemed as though hours passed, but it was probably more like forty-five minutes.
Eventually, among the trees and tents, our beautiful cream and blue van came slowly around a curve in the road. Hooray! We found Mom!
We ran and climbed inside while Mom wondered where we had been. She said she had been looking everywhere. We were right here in this campground the whole time.
Guess who then got told what to do when one is lost? That's right. Two nine-year-old girls who quickly learned to stay in one place to be more easily found.
But what we really learned was to always go hiking with Mom.