We had four suitcases, five backpacks, CDs, and plenty of food. My family had decided to embark on a road trip from Eugene, Oregon to Las Vegas, Nevada, and though I did not like the idea of spending spring break with my parents, there seemed no other option.
Kenny G’s saxophone flowed through my earphones and my eyelids grew heavy. I slept until my mother’s scream squelched the saxophone.
“This is supposed to be a memorable trip!” she yelled, disappointed at my lack of attention to the scenery. So, I put on my best “Let’s all spend some quality time together” face and battled mental stupor.
Then, it happened. As we passed the “Good-bye, Oregon” sign, my almond eyes rounded. I had never seen such beauty! A pure blue lake lay tranquilly amid a forest of oak trees. The mountains were painted kelly green and the sky was covered with white cotton candy. My fingers machine-gunned the camera shutter, attempting to soak up every morsel of northern California’s stunning beauty.
In San Francisco, cookie-cutter houses and the Golden Gate Bridge sparkled under the setting sun. The next day, the journey continued and after hours of driving, we stopped in Los Angeles to spend a few nights. There, the Hollywood sign, palm trees, sand-colored buildings and houses, Disneyland and limousines, made me feel like I was in a movie.
We left L.A. and at the tip of southern California, a desert filled with enormous cacti welcomed us. Their needles were as long as my fingers. Finally, we arrived at our destination: Las Vegas. Its ambience was unlike any city I’d ever experienced. Colorful lights promising exciting shows graced the streets. Nights were fun and days were peaceful. The water park introduced me to Dip-n-Dot ice cream and I met the North Pole Bear as I toured the Coca-Cola building.
The long drive and the time spent in so many places seemed too brief. This experience taught me more about America than any textbook. The history, anecdotes, sights, and beauty of each spot confirmed that this is a land of possibilities, filled with more than I could ever imagine in my tiny country of origin, Korea. The only limitation I face in achieving great heights is the scope of my vision. My road trip has yielded a portrait of potential discovery not realized. Wherever my college sojourn leads, I know I will soak up all its insights.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.