A Memory

Devil’s Tower National Monument

Life Is simply a series of moments captured in the memory banks of our minds. The memory I have of the Devil’s Tower National Monument is one such moment.

The powerful Wyoming sun made the day quite warm. Having just finished hiking the Tower Trail around the Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming, I was in need of water. Finding a nice resting bench outside the visitor center, I slowly drank from my water bottle while watching several brave souls who were precariously scaling their way to the top of the majestic rock formation. Sending out a silent prayer, I hoped each of them would have a safe climb.

While enjoying the peace and serenity of the Tower, I came to witness an unexpected event. A car carrying an elderly couple pulled up in front of me and flipped on their blinker indicating they were going to take the handicap parking spot that was being vacated by another car about to leave. The people in the vacating car were taking quite awhile, but the couple waiting didn’t seem to mind. They were here to enjoy the day and the beauty of the Tower. In the mean time, another elderly couple pulled alongside the couple waiting for the handicap parking space and the two couples exchanged pleasantries. It was fantastic. Travel allows you to meet the greatest people. Finally ready, the vacating car pulls out leaving the parking space empty. Suddenly, the second couple whips their car around the first car stealing the handicap parking space.

Shocked, I couldn’t quite believe what I’d just seen. Instantly, my mind conjured several scenarios of these two elderly people brawling in the parking lot over this premium parking space. It would be an afternoon of angry curses, thrown punches, and broken hips. Like a bad train wreck, I couldn’t stop from watching the scene playing out in front of me. However, much to my surprise there was no carnage.

The first couple simply pulled away, driving on to find another spot. The parking spot thieves, as I’d quickly come to think of them, parked and got out of their car. Standing by their car they admired the Tower for a minute or two, took a photo, and then got back in their car left.

Are you kidding me? Unbelievable. Instantly, I’m angry. This couple literally stole a parking space from someone else to spend less than five minutes viewing this National Monument beside their car. Now what? Would they go home and boast to their friends and family about visiting the Devil’s Tower, America’s first National Monument when they hadn’t even experienced it. They didn’t visit the visitor center and learn about the Tower. They didn’t look around. They didn’t even sit on a bench and just take in the sheer raw beauty of the Tower.

Drinking the last of my water, I glanced over to see the first elderly couple walking hand in hand as they slowly make their way to the Tower’s information board. I’m relieved to see they were able to find another parking spot, so they could still enjoy their day. Watching them smile and talk as they look around, I was struck by their grace and positive energy. Many people would have allowed the parking space debacle to dampen their day, but this couple seemed to take it in stride. Instead of allowing that moment to define their day, they had already let it go. Unlike the other couple, they were living life to the fullest.

Life is a series of moments captured in the memory banks of our minds.

Devil’s Tower was made America’s first National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. A one of a kind rock formation, it rises 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River.

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