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I associate family vacations with Mariah Carey. When I was eleven years old, my well-intentioned parents dragged me away from my familiar suburban summer, onto an airplane, and all the way across the country to attend a family reunion. The reunion, though, in Park City, Utah, was just one destination on the itinerary. We flew into Las Vegas first, where I spent a week watching my parents gamble before they rented a car and drove my sister and me all around Nevada and Utah.

I saw all the famous casinos and hotels of Vegas, all the glory of Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon, and, of course, a lot of relatives I had never met before and http://slotoff.com/ - http://slotoff.com/ - have never seen again since then. But most of this is just what my mother tells me. All I really remember is Mariah Carey. This vacation happened to come right after my aunt gave me a Discman along with Mariah Carey's new album "Daydream" for my birthday. This album became, for me, the soundtrack of the trip.

Everywhere I went, Mariah followed. A waterfall? "You'll always be a part of me/ I'm part of you indefinitely…." Elk? "Boy don't you know you can't escape me/ Ooh darling 'cause you'll always be my baby…." A hotel much nicer than ours? "And we'll linger on/ Time can't erase a feeling this strong…." Mariah offered constant refuge from my older sister's pestering and my own boredom in places I had never heard of. From Las Vegas, we packed up and set out to drive all the way to Zion National Park in southern Utah.

About two hours in, the car began to make new, mysterious noises, and the dashboard lit up. Something was wrong. My dad's foot soon proved futile on the accelerator, as the car refused to go above forty miles per hour. My dad flicked on the hazards and pulled to the shoulder of that near-empty interstate, where we continued to creep along, desperately searching for civilization in the distance. (Cell phones, at that time, had yet to take over the world.) Then, the unthinkable happened: the Air Conditioning stopped.

In the desert. Midday. During the summer. And Mariah sang my anthem: "When I close my eyes/ you come and take me/ on and on and on…." Eventually, we spotted a large sign in the distance, and squinted our eyes to make out the lettering: "PLAYER'S PARADISE. A Merv Griffin resort." Was it a mirage? "Sweet, sweet fantasy, baby…." No, this place was real. We inched into the parking lot and broke loose to explore paradise. After hours of eating and sitting by the pool, with the clanging of slot machines in the background (accompanying Mariah, of course), the rental company brought us a replacement car, and we were finally on our way again-at normal speeds.

By the time we arrived at Zion National Park, it was late, and pitched black. We walked to our room in the darkness and immediately collapsed into our beds. The next morning came the only part of the trip that did not require a soundtrack. When I woke up, while my family still slept, I looked out the sliding glass door to face an endless wall of rock-beautiful rock. Our room sat at the bottom of a cliff. I walked outside, looked up, and felt small.

I had slept the entire night in complete ignorance of this menacing and stunning formation less than two hundred yards away, and yet, now, in the quiet morning light, I physically felt its presence in the pit of my stomach. I felt the immensity of that wall of rock, and, in that moment, heard nothing but Mother Nature.