Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Rock City

We went to Rock City, today- Erin and I and the kids. I laughed so hard as we drove through random fields looking for it after Google Maps led us to an unfamiliar farm. You can’t see Rock City on the horizon- it only appears as you drive up close enough to park. We kept losing the faint two-track as we drove, Erin steering up and over hills only to suddenly overlook a steep dropoff or a lovely view of the river- but not Rock City. “Whoa, don’t drive us over a cliff,” I kept begging, holding the door tightly. Meanwhile, the boys in the back seat were having a blast making lots of noise. “Thanks for not being annoyed by my kids,” I joked, but before I had finished my sentence she had already begun to say, “Oh Maegan, you’re not annoying me,” and then we both cracked up again, because I was being truly annoying with my fear of heights. 

Ultimately we returned to the road, where our cell service became available again, and tried Apple Maps this time. Bingo. Google had taken us to the opposite side of the river. Twenty-five minutes later, we arrived. A forty-five minute trip had taken closer to an hour and a half, but you can’t complain when you’re stuck in the car with your favorite people. 

Rock City is an indescribable place. The rolling hills that you’ve been gazing at the entire drive suddenly break away into a canyon that looks like it belongs on a different planet. Sandstone pillars are a climbable maze that occasionally drops away into a freaky cliff. (My palms grow clammy when one of the kids stands peering over the edge.) Far below, the river is bright and the early autumn trees are vivid. 

Will and Barrett found fortress after fortress in which to hide Barrett’s precious “dragon egg” rock. (His obsession with reptiles follows him everywhere.) Neva searched for a dragon egg of her own; sadly, none that I found for her were “pink enough.” Mac demanded to wear the backpack, which made his balance that much worse, and he insisted on jumping off every surface. We explored until Mac and Neva began to fall apart, and I volunteered to sit with them in the car so the older boys could continue climbing with Auntie. While Neva napped and Mac quietly climbed around the benches in the Suburban, I listened to the wind howling and read more of my book (A Prayer for Owen Meany).  

On the way home, while the kids slept, Erin and I discussed important and frivolous matters, made plans, and harmonized our favorite hymns. And at one point, the mental image of us rolling over strange fields made us laugh so hard again that I cried. Deep breaths.

It was a good, good day. 

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