We packed our lives in boxes and left Arkansas in the rear-view mirror. This would be the first of many new beginnings on which our family would embark. Our destination was a small mining town near the San Juan Mountains.
After endless hours of driving across Texas, Colorado slowly crept toward us. No longer were we a mere speck in the clean-shaven vastness of the Texas terrain. Militant mountains stood boldly and embraced us.
As we began our descent between the omnipotent canyon walls, it felt as though the mountains would swallow us. The San Miguel River twisted through the canyon busily carving the canyon walls. My ears denied the pressure change and muffled the exalted cries from my mom and sister. My dad, sensing that we were overwhelmed, calmly and soothingly introduced us to our new home, “Well kids, this is Uravan.”
My one-and-a-half-year-old brother perked up and exclaimed, “My-a-van!” His humorous innocence shattered the tension like a plate glass. Excitement filled the spaces the tension had freed.
We turned down H block and located house number H12, our home for the next five years. The car breathed a sigh of relief as it completed its last labor of the long journey.
As the sun struggled to peek over the canyon wall to deliver its last light, vibrant colors and stretching shadows intertwined on the surviving canyon wall. I was awestruck at the brilliant tapestry the sun and landscape had created.
After a night of hard earned sleep, my sister, Renee, shook me gently and whispered, “Let’s go climb up the canyon wall.” Adrenaline dissolved the remains of my dream world and I jumped up ready to explore. Renee and I bolted out the back door, exchanged nervous glances and started toward the majestic canyon wall which stood less than fifty yards away. Mom called behind us, “Don’t climb too far up!” The canyon walls volleyed her words back and forth before they faded.
We gathered burnt-orange sandstone that crumbled like sugar cubes. We collected two-toned pinion seeds dropped carelessly by the stunted pinion trees. Finally, we reached the first plateau. We looked up at the enormous boulder, which would later be affectionately known as the ‘76 rock, and respectfully mounted the large chunk of sandstone. We sat on the boulder and recorded the awesome beauty that enveloped us.
My brother, Todd, still fresh on his feet, shrieked with excitement as he lumbered toward us with Mom and Dad on either side. This would be the first of numerous family hikes. We were going to climb this mountain, and all to follow, as a family.
Five years later, we left Uravan and three hundred friends and acquaintances behind. South Texas and the Gulf of Mexico were to be our next adventure.
Twenty years later, Mom, Dad, and Todd, returned to Uravan, the mine had closed, and all of the houses were gone. The town was wiped from the map. Uravan is no more. Only the memories remain, and echoes from the past.