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I went wild in the American West

October 24, 2006|by HANNAH TUSSING

Ever wondered what the American West is like? In September, I found out for myself.

I went on a two-and-a-half-week trip to see four western states. It was our family vacation and we pulled a pop-up camper the whole time. This proved to be one very interesting trip.

We did so many things that I could write a whole book about our adventures. However, after much thought, I have finally managed to pick a few of my favorite events.

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

A few miles outside of Santa Fe is a national park called Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier is a site of Indian cliff dwellings. When we arrived, there was no one in sight. The place was totally deserted. We could climb around, in and on top of these four-story dwellings.

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The Indians carved small caves out of the soft, volcanic rock. It's an unexcavated site, so broken pottery and bits from obsidian arrowheads can be found all around the path. There are even petroglyphs (rock carvings) on rock walls.

The scenery was really breathtaking. Old tree-cut ladders took us to higher levels of dwellings. We explored for more than two hours and felt like real archeologists.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Grand Canyon was more awesome than any picture I have ever seen. I just stood there and stared and stared. My jaw dropped down to my knees in pure shock of how wide, huge, gaping, beautiful and expansive it is. There are no pictures in the world that can compare to seeing the Grand Canyon in person.

And then, there's the wildlife. Tons and tons of wildlife - ravens soaring on wind currents, squirrels nibbling on acorns, and lizards darting across the path. Then we saw elk, towering elk, grazing without the slightest care in the world. There were even deer that chose to have breakfast right outside our camper. And of course, there were various birds bombing our camper in the middle of the night with acorns.

That little thief

The Grand Canyon's Bright Angel Trail is the best, full-family, easy, enjoyable trail to hike. And just a mile and a half down this path, there's a water pump and restrooms.

The funniest thing that happened to us was at mile marker 1.5, when we stopped to picnic. A big, fat squirrel showed up. A park ranger warned us not to feed him anything. We promised the ranger that we wouldn't.

We sat down on some rocks to eat our picnic lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The squirrel promptly tried to grab the sandwich out of my mom's hand. My mom was too quick for him. The squirrel was not happy about not receiving the sandwich, so he jumped on my mom's lap, placed his paws on her raised hand and jerked a piece of sandwich off with his teeth.

Then, that thieving little squirrel had the nerve to sit down on my mom's lap and eat the piece of sandwich! I couldn't help laughing. The sight was hilarious. Dad and I took lots of pictures. My mom is probably in scrapbooks or photo albums across the U.S. because people who were passing by stopped to take pictures of the lady with a squirrel in her lap.

There were so many other sights, I could go on and on, but I hope I have given you at least a taste of the wonderful western states.

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