I n the summer of 1989, when we were on vacation from our home in Saudi Arabia, my dad and my uncle (visiting from Pakistan) planned a trip for our two families from Denver to Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. We started with a 6a.m. breakfast in Denver and then hit the road in two rental cars. Google Maps tells me the trip should have taken about three and a half hours- maybe an hour longer if you took the scenic route. I don’t know what happened, but it felt like that trip took eight hours! When I asked my cousin Kiran (she was twelve, I was eleven) what she remembered, she said, “Primarily: taking forever to get there and feeling verrrrrryyyyy hungry while trying to get there!” She later added, “It was cold and Barey Mama [her maternal uncle/ my dad] didn’t have a jacket or a sweater so he just put another t-shirt on top of the one he was wearing.” These memories crack me up! It was summer in Colorado, warm on the front range, but still cold in the mountains. I remember the view from the first place we stopped in the park- we pulled off the road, and looked down the hill to see SNOW! SNOW! We had never experienced snow before! And there it was, right before our eyes, still persisting despite winter being long past! In fact, all that remained was patch of icy snow- grey and hard from melting and freezing. But, we were from hot climates, so we ran down to touch it! We made snow balls! When we finally arrived at the picnic site, and tried to fire up the grill, my sister Tania remembers, “As soon as the grill got going it would start raining and put out the fire in the grill. So, we had to build some ineffective aluminum foil umbrella for the grill.” I remember this. It was cold and wet, and we were starving and under-dressed. Then, Kiran reminded me, “The icing on the cake was when Cynthia Mami [my mother] locked the car keys in the trunk on our snack stop on the way back!” I had forgotten that, though mostly what I remember about this trip was that it had all the makings of a classic family trip: lots of people, rotten weather, hunger, and it took waaaaayyyy too long! So, imagine my surprise when, in 1994, after my older sister’s wedding, with 25 members of our Pakistani family visiting, my father suggested doing it again! This time, he promised, it would not take as long to get there. It still took forever, but the weather was better and we managed to make ‘smores and tea over an open fire. (On that trip, a van full of teenage boys drove by and mooned the car I was driving with five Pakistani relatives! Mortifying.)

Amber Abbas
Denver, CO
Photo Location
Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming
Medicine Bow National Forest
My parents, my younger sister Tania, my Phuppo (father's sister) and her family: Basir Phuppa, cousins Kiran and Maliha, also my eldest Phuppo Roshan (we all called her Baji) and her husband Nayyar.

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