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The Superintendent

The Superintendent


It's funny the life lessons we learn when we least expect it. While on vacation my husband and I took a long hike up the Narrows in Zion National Park. Not realizing that the hike was going to be much more time and energy consuming then we anticipated, our plans for dinner got squashed.

The plan was to hike the Narrows for a few hours then drive the 45 minutes to an hour back to the campground and cook the chicken breasts we had waiting in the fridge.

Well, miles and miles into the Narrows with the day slipping away we realized around 5 p.m. that once we got back to the beginning of the trail, caught the shuttle, rode back all nine shuttle stops, and then walked the half mile back to the truck which was parked on a main street in the park because the shuttle parking lot was full earlier that day, that dinner was going to be anything we could grab along the way.

The town of Springdale sits just outside the south entrance to the park. Being parked so close to the south entrance when we caught the shuttle, Tyler decided he wanted to drive down to Springdale and see what they offered for a quick dinner. We drove the small strip of Springdale and he told me to pick anywhere I wanted to go. Driving by I had made up my mind that the Chinese restaurant on the right side of the road was were we were going. Upon reaching the end of the strip he turned the truck around and back to the Chinese restaurant we started heading.

Heading back we passed a small strip of bar and grills,  other restaurants, and stores. I remember looking down and thinking that might not be so bad either. We passed the strip and continued making our way back towards the Chinese restaurant. I immediately changed my mind and asked Tyler to turn the truck around. We turned around and pulled into the strip and down to Jack's Sports Grill.

When we entered, we were greeted and asked if we would mind sitting at the bar. We typically sit at the bar anyways, so this was not an issue with us at all. As we walked over, Tyler asked the gentleman sitting next to a few empty chairs of they were empty. He said of course, sit down, sit down. After sitting down Tyler struck up conversation as we waited for the bartender to become available. He asked where this gentleman and the woman with him were from. Minnesota, they proudly replied. We told them about how we had visited the University of Minnesota a few months eariler with our daughter. The woman told us her daughter had just received her Masters from the business school there. A small connection was made.

What started with a simple question of where are you from turned into almost two hours of life conversation with this couple and a few others around the bar. It really was a great dinner with complete strangers.  As we walked out together that night and thanked each other for the company like old friends, I remember thinking about the conversations and what was not talked about. He had told us he had been a Superintendent for 26 years but now retired.  Knowing what the Superintendent makes for a salary a year here, I knew this man probably made a really good living. Him and the woman had told us about all the amazings places they had been in the U.S. and internationally. They had told us about the places they really didn't care for. They had talked about jobs and how important it is to do something you enjoy. But what they didn't talk about was stuff, material things, property, all the things we sometimes think are the most important things in life.

Looking back now, I get it. My kids don't talk about what I got them for Christmas five years ago. They don't talk about the expensive shoes they had to have. They don't talk about the gaming system we rushed out and bought when it was new and hot on the market. Nope none of that!

What they do talk about it is the places we vacationed to, the things we saw, the experiences we made. It is easy to get caught up in this materialistic world. But as a parent of adult children now, I can tell you, they won't remember or talk about it. It really struck home with me meeting this couple. Here they were in their 60s and all they wanted to talk about was their vacations with us. Life experiences over material things. I remember Tyler saying everything that day happened just right so we ended up at that bar and grill sitting next to them.

So I thank that couple for the conversation but more importantly helping me realize that Tyler and I did right by making vacation such an important part of our lives. Yes we could have more money in the bank, a boat, a bigger house, newer vehicles, and money may not have been such a struggle sometimes but those memories we made with each other and our children all those years far out way anything material thing or money in the bank we could have.

When they grow older and a younger couple sits down next to them, I hope they too can have the same conversation we had with this couple.


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