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On the morning I've been waiting for all year!

Oct 15, 2006   #1
This is the first esssay of the year and i need some feedback and constructive citicism before i hand it in. Thanks.

On the morning I've been waiting for all year, I wake up before everyone else just to savor the pre-vacation excitement just a little bit longer. I've always wondered why the most exciting part of a vacation is the anticipation leading up to that day. I spend longer than ever trying to decide what to wear and another half hour checking and rechecking my bags, praying I didn't forget anything. Then I dart noisily downstairs to eat a quick snack, saving my appetite for the annual meal that only my family can comprehend the significance of. Finally, everyone else is awake and repeating the same process I did, just as excited as I am to begin our trip. My father fastens the bike rack onto the back of the car, which takes almost as long as the rest of my family trying to decide who rides in whose car with who. After everything is ready to go, we gather our bags and leap into the multiple cars it requires to bring all of us to our destination. Resting on the pillows we crammed into the backseat with us, my sisters and I try to fall asleep in my dad's small gold car, but we can't seem to stop rambling on about how we can't wait to experience the abundant wildlife, relaxed atmosphere, and rare sense of family togetherness that is only complete at Highpoint State Park.

As we travel slowly along the winding roads, we look up at the strange objects that were placed atop the telephone poles, which we look at every year on the way up to the highest point in New Jersey, where our cabin is located. We don't know how they got there, and somehow I don't want to know, because a little bit of mystery is good for everyone, and is what makes this aspect of our trip exciting, and gives me something to think about as I watch the lush green mountains slowly coming into view. After the last object, a small Fisher-Price bicycle, passes us by, the Arby's restaurant comes into view. We have eaten here every year on our way to the cabin for as long as I can remember, and is what makes the trip to Highpoint complete, because it signifies that we have almost arrived at our destination. It isn't a very extravagant restaurant, so people find it hard to understand why we look forward to it all year, but it is tradition, and tradition is what makes this trip what it is for us today. After my usual mozzarella sticks and curly fries lunch, we creep along the pot-hole covered road to the cabin at the far end of the lake, the family favorite among only one other on the road, which is great because if there aren't any other people around it makes you feel for a week as if you are the only family in the world, and enjoy each other's company even more. As we drive, a family of deer crosses the road, hooves clicking softly on the gravel, consisting of a mother and her three adorable fawns, much like my own loving family. Careful to let them cross, my father slows down as I snap a picture with my new digital camera. This is only the first of many other creatures we will see during our stay. I have always been envious of the numerous bears, reptiles, and birds that have made their home in this forest because they live completely without any limitations, and are free to do whatever they please all day, taking advantage of the freedom and beauty Mother Nature provides. One of my favorite activities and a tradition that is very special to my family and me is hunting for red efts, small, wriggly salamander-like creatures with red spots, after it rains. We collect the red efts and take care of them for a few days, then set them free, as much as we would love to keep them as a living memento of our vacation. Although it is a rare occasion, bears can be spotted in the woods near the cabin. They are not as fierce as many people believe, because every time we have seen bears in Highpoint, they have run away from us before we can even consider running from them. It always makes me laugh when either I or one of my sisters brings a friend with us on our trip and they panic if we are on a bike ride and see a chocolate covered bear strolling lazily towards the lake to get a drink of the cool, clear water. I stand still for a moment just to take in the sweet, grassy aroma of the forest, and enjoy the sounds of the wildlife, a lullaby made up of chirping crickets, fluttering birds, and the occasional rustle of an unknown animal scurrying through the leaves and shrubbery lining the forest floor.

As soon as the hectic part of our vacation, unpacking the cars and stocking the cabin for the week, occasionally pausing to enjoy the familiar smell of fresh wood the cabin is made out of, is completed, we each go for the usual bike ride signifying the beginning of our week up the winding road we just traveled to the cabin on. This bike ride is nothing like the bike rides people enjoy back home in the suburbs, because it is protected by the dense wall of trees and water surrounding the road that has come to be the center of all the activities we enjoy during our stay, and which gives off a wonderful sense of shelter and safety. There is nothing more comforting than the soothing hug the forest seems to give whenever we are in Highpoint, encircling us with its emerald, leafy arms and the soft blue ripples of Sawmill Lake. Along the way, my sisters, dad, and I will each point out things as we see them, such as a small red eft or camouflaged tree frog that has lost its way and is wandering aimlessly in the middle of the road, and then move them carefully out of harms way deeper into the forest. As we race down the steep slope of the gravely road, my hands grip the rubber of my bike's handlebars, and I breathe in the fresh, damp air of the park, along with the smells of lake water and dewy leaves, which enable me to forget even the worst problems, and rids me of the worries and responsibilities that have left behind during my visit to Highpoint State Park.

After everyone has baptized the week with a bike ride we sit in the cabin and discuss what we will have for dinner, what we will do tomorrow, what we think the weather will be throughout the week, and play the traditional Myers family cabin card game, casino. The first night is always very relaxed, but is also when the family gets together and talks over a long game of casino, which my grandfather usually wins. We lay our cushiony sleeping bags down on the floor in front of the fire and get comfortable, even though we have no intention of falling asleep. Instead we stay up late talking, laughing, and getting to know each other a little bit better as the night goes on. There are three small bedrooms in the cabin, but aside from my grandparents everyone has always slept on the floor because it seems more like a family when we are together, not to mention much more fun. Every night we listen as one by one people begin to fall asleep, laugh at their loud snoring, and sometimes we even play a game where we try to match the snore to the person. After a few hours my grandmother will tiredly shuffle out of her room and try to get us all to fall asleep, insisting that my sisters and I will get along better if we get more rest, but she knows it isn't worth the try because we have way to much bottled up energy to even attempt to close our eyes. Every night, without fail, there is a noise that scares someone, and the designated noise hunter, my father, must search the dark cabin and the area around it to help confirm the fact that there is no foreign creature trying to attack us. After a good laugh at how jumpy the mountain air seems to make all of us, we slowly begin to fall asleep. In the morning we awaken to the sound of bacon frying and footsteps resonating across the wooden floorboards, along with the delicious smell of cinnamon raisin bread toasting. We lazily enjoy a filling breakfast before getting ready for the long day ahead of us. After a long, strenuous hike up to the monument, a tall building consisting of 291 steps, and built in memory of the man who donated his land to the state, the youngest of the group spends some soothing recovery time on the hot beach. We splash around in the cold water, playing games like Marco Polo with other kids we meet on the beach, and dry off on the scorching hot, grainy sand. Finally, after calming showers, it is time for the bonfire, where everyone can join around a warming fire and recall all of the activities we had crammed into the day. After a few minutes my grandma arrives with sticky marshmallows, crunchy graham crackers, and decadent chocolate pieces. We eagerly create our oozing S'more masterpieces, eat until all the chocolate is gone, and laugh as everyone loses at least one marshmallow to the warm orange and blue depths of the fire. I sit back on one of the hard, wooden chairs we had dragged over to the fire, watching the shadows flicker over my family's faces and enjoying the scent of burning leaves and dry wood logs we had gathered earlier that day. After the fire dies, we lazily set up the sleeping bags as we had last night and fall into a deep slumber after our long, exhausting day, dreaming of the other adventures and experiences to come.

As my family and I slowly get lost in all the excitement of the vacation, we lose track of time and before we know it, it is time to go. The last morning of our week in the mountains, we get up early so we can calmly enjoy the little time remaining in our vacation, before we must gather our things and pack the cars, wondering how we got all of it to fit the first time, an activity even more hectic than unpacking the cars earlier in the week. My sisters and I check the rooms for any of our possessions that we might have left behind, even though something always seems to get left behind anyway, and then the packing is complete. Everyone gathers in the cabin, staring sadly at the cabin's now vacant rooms, and enjoying the scent of what had been our home for the last seven days one more time, hoping it will last until next year. Now everyone is ready to leave, and as we hug our grandparents goodbye we think of all the time spent here over the years. The ride home from the cabin is bittersweet because it makes us realize that all we'll have left of the laughter and great times spent here during the week will be the memories, although the trip home from my family's vacation is a lot easier to handle than others', knowing that we will be coming back the next year. Everyone remembers the great times we had this year, and a common phrase heard during the car ride home is "remember when...", followed by a story of something we had done over the week. Multiple times during the week, my father or uncle will bring up something they remember doing here when they were younger and coming here with their parents. I can't wait until I am older, and bringing my children up to the mountains every year, and my parents shuffling tiredly out the bedroom, asking them to fall asleep. Then I'll be able to share all of my memories with them, and tell them about how my grandparents used to do all of the same things my parents are doing now. I can only imagine what my family will do during our stay at Highpoint next year.

My main priority is eliminating any run on sentences i may have. Even if they arent run on sentences, they may still be too long to comprehend.
EF_Team2 1 / 1708  
Oct 19, 2006   #2

Technically a "run-on sentence" is actually two complete sentences with no punctuation dividing them. I don't see any sentences that I would define as "run-on" under that definition; however, I believe you are correct when you suggest some may be too long to comprehend. You seem to have more of them toward the end of your essay than the first. Perhaps you were rushing a little toward the end. I would suggest going through the entire essay and every time you find a sentence you think might be too long, assume that it is; cut it in two, or shorten it. Here is an example, probably the worst offender of the bunch:

"As soon as the hectic part of our vacation, unpacking the cars and stocking the cabin for the week, occasionally pausing to enjoy the familiar smell of fresh wood the cabin is made out of, is completed, we each go for the usual bike ride signifying the beginning of our week up the winding road we just traveled to the cabin on."

I think that one might even qualify as holding enough for three sentences! For instance:

"Unpacking the cars and stocking the cabin for the week is the hectic part of our vacation. As we unpack, we occasionally pause to enjoy the familiar fresh-wood smell of the cabin. After we're finished, we officially begin our week with the annual bike ride up the road we just traveled."

Notice I left out a few words that really weren't necessary. Trust your reader to understand the obvious, such as the road you just traveled being the one the cabin is on.

A few other corrections you might consider:

who rides in whose car with who > who rides in whose car with whom
chocolate covered bear > chocolate-colored bear
harms way > harm's way
gravely road > gravelly road
way to much bottled up energy > way too much bottled-up energy
shuffling tiredly out the bedroom > shuffling tiredly out of the bedroom

Your essay certainly paints a picture of a vacation anyone would be glad to take!

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.


Sarah, EssayForum.com

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