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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Park (10/25/12)

TITLE: A Special Vacation
By Grace Merkey


Yellowstone Park, the worldís first National Park, was set aside by the Act of Dedication, which Congress approved and which President Ulysses S Grant signed, on March 1, 1872. The roads are well marked and should not be traveled in a hurry.
From July 9-14, 2000, it was my privilege and blessing to visit this amazing park. Nineteen family members, our children and grandchildren and my husbandís sister, enjoyed this wonderful experience together. We missed the three who were unable to join us.
Upon entering the park we were excited to see a grizzly bear not far from the road. He didnít seem excited to see us. We greatly appreciated the campers for sleeping and food preparation. Menus were well planned and all made a contribution to bringing the food needed. Something about eating in the open air in a scenic spot makes things taste better. My husbandís birthday was celebrated on the 12th of July and his special favorite, homemade ice cream, made with an old fashioned crank ice cream freezer. Its possible some of the rest of us might claim this as our favorite food also. In fact, it was decided to make more the next day.
Old Faithful was viewed several times. Though it is not the largest, highest or most regular geyser in the park, it is certainly consistent. It has varied very little in the last 100 years. It erupts 18 to 21 times a day but not necessarily on the hour. It has two patterns of eruptions. Short ones last 1 Ĺ -2 minutes and long ones 3-5 minutes. The height varies from 106 to 184 feet. The wind sometimes blows the top off. Seven-thousand five hundred gallons of water are discharged each eruption.
Some people were near enough other geysers to have a shower. Their age seemed to be a factor in the enjoyment of this. The smell of sulphur was not so pleasant. We had to pay for taking a normal shower but decided it was well worth it. We saw some beautiful waterfalls, some of which required a rather long hike which not everyone chose to do. We were thrilled to see wildlife from time to time. This included a glimpse of a black bear. Watching a herd of elk playing in the water was a special treat. My husband wondered how long it would take for others to stop along the road if you did. Once when we thought we saw a moose and stopped, very soon others stopped also. Unfortunately, it was just a dark spot. Later, we did see a moose and her calf. Not far from camp we saw a herd of buffalo. Once we saw a beaver. Other sightings, although from a distance, were a joy. One day one of our granddaughters found a perfect arrowhead. It was hard to turn in, but she did, of course.
What a great blessing to spend time in this beautiful part of Godís creation, especially with people you love.

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This article has been read 181 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/03/12
I think this is a delightful essay. It's a special memory for you and your family and I'm glad it is written down so you can enjoy it for many years.

One way to help draw the reader in is to do more showing and less telling. This is a concept that every writer deals with. You use some passive sentences and just by switching it around a bit you can turn them into active ones. For example this: it was decided to make more the next day.
could become: We decided to make more the next day. If you want to take it even further you could add things like While we made the ice cream my husband licked his lips and I thought I even detected a tiny bit of drool dripping down his chin.
These little details are ways to do the showing even with nonfiction stories.

This was a delightful journey that you took me on. I'd love to see the wildlife you described. You covered the topic by telling a story that was important to you and the ending had a nice message that we all need to remember from time to time. Good job.
Beth LaBuff 11/04/12
As a lover of the national and state parks here in Arizona (and the fact that I've never been to Yellowstone) made this fascinating for me to read. I loved that this was a family vacation for so many of your family together. You made me want to go see this spectacular park.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/08/12
Congratulations for ranking 6th in level one!