"Watch out. There's a lot of mud over here," I called.
A side step here, a quick hop there.
"Be careful! It's really starting to come down!" my father called out.
On went the goofy yellow raincoats.
In we went — Manfriend, my father and I — huddled under the eave of what could only be described as a creepy-ass mining tunnel, watching the storm that had snuck up on us during our hike.
In front of us, the rain picked up. Then the hail began in earnest, thudding into the bushes nearby. Lightning flashed overhead, followed by bone-rattling thunder. Behind us, the tunnel loomed, too dark to see through to the end.
"If these aren't the makings of a horror movie ..." I thought to myself. But aloud, I kept things more positive.
"Well," I said, shivering. "This is a first."
Not hiking, of course. But to be so blindsided by a storm that I had to hide out in a murky, hundred-year-old tunnel? This was new.
"It's all new to me," Manfriend replied. And for him, it wasn't just the storm, or even the tunnel. This sort of hike with this kind of forest and trail was certainly a new adventure. One of many, as this was his first time in America.
It got me thinking, as the rain poured on. While I found these sort of trails — and this state as a whole — completely normal, it was all new in his eyes. The outdated buildings or quirky tourist traps were his first glimpses of America. As we visited other sites later that week — the roads to Mount Rushmore, the jagged beauty of the Badlands National Park — I saw the awe I'd long forgotten shine bright from his smile. And soon I was smiling, too, re-experiencing it through his eyes.
While I'm "coming home," Manfriend's traveling. He's visiting a whole new country. And his excitement has renewed my own, especially as we set out for a week in Colorado. I've always found so much love and happiness when I came back home before, yet it has meant all the more sharing it with someone.
Seeing another's eyes widen at something you've deemed commonplace makes you re-examine things. You'll start to love it more, all over again.
After the rains ebbed, we sloshed our way over the tunnel. Manfriend tucked away his umbrella, remarking how nice a cup of tea sounded right about then. ("Be more British," I teased, as we stumbled along the flooded trail.) Overall, we agreed it had been a grand adventure, as soaked and startled as we had been.
"So I guess this was a new experience for all of us," Manfriend said.
It sure was. Just one of what I expect will be many firsts on this America tour of ours.