“Success means having the courage, the determination and the will
to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”
George A. Sheehan
On one of our many Model A trips, we went to Monument Valley in Arizona, as described previously in the post, The Leap. Goulding’s Lodge is perched fairly high on the western slope, with a stunning view of all of Monument Valley.
The best feature of Goulding’s is that each room opens onto a common balcony overlooking the valley, a great place to sit and gaze at one of the most beautiful sights on earth and reminisce about the day’s events.
So my cousins, friends and I, all in our late teens, were sitting out on that balcony taking in the view, while our parents were in the lodge having dinner. The sun was down, but there was still enough light to see well. We noticed a very small airport about a mile down the hill, with a single dirt runway and a small square terminal building.
My cousin Mike and friend Scott were trying to guess how long it would take to run down to the airport and back up the hill to where we were sitting on the balcony. Yes, this is the same Mike and Scott from Snipe Hunting and The Haunted House.
Compared to Scott’s estimate, Mike thought the airport was farther away, and with very few other structures in sight, it was hard to tell. Mike bet Scott twenty bucks that he couldn’t run down to the airport and back in fifteen minutes. Scott, always up for a challenge, agreed. But as it was getting dark, they began to wonder how Scott would prove that he had actually reached the airport. The solution: Scott would carry a flashlight with him and shine it on the building to prove he was there.
So twenty or so of us, including some total strangers we had gathered, adjourned to the top of the long, straight road down the hill to the airport. By the time Mike yelled go, it was long past sunset and off went Scott at a fast lope into the darkness.
We resumed our position on the balcony to wait and observe, but to no avail, as even the airport had disappeared. Mike kept his eye on his watch.
Suddenly, there was a short burst of frantic light all over the small terminal building and a lot of laughter from the balcony.
Then we waited some more, and again there was no sight or sound of Scott in his mad dash with destiny. Mike was hoping the fifteen minutes would pass more quickly.
We read journed with our growing pack of enthusiastic strangers to the top of the road. Soon, we heard Scott, gasping his way back up the steep hill in the dark.
When he began to come into view, still a hundred yards or so down the hill, Mike began to call out, “Fourteen minutes and thirty-two seconds, fourteen minutes and thirty-three seconds, thirty-four,” and so on, which caused Scott to yell out in distress, as there was no chance he could cover the ground in twenty-six more uphill seconds.
Actually, Scott had plenty of time, as it was only twelve minutes and ten seconds at the time of Mike’s first announcement. Nobody told Scott, and I guess Mike figured, if he was going to lose twenty bucks, he was going to have a little extra fun doing it.
To his credit, Scott kept coming full force even though he knew, or at least thought he knew, that all was lost. He crossed the line to great cheering from the crowd, as he found out he had actually won!
Mike paid him the twenty bucks alright, thought it took him a few days to actually cough it up.
I’m sure Scott’s record still stands–or who knows, maybe it’s broken each year by young men who love hardly anything more than to compete with each other and shout joyfully into the night.