Finally after three days of driving they reached their destination and settled in the beautiful mountains of Colorado in walking distance of a town called Southfork. Their camp was set up now for two weeks of fun and relaxation. Nothing to do but enjoy the peace and quiet of the wilderness.
Walker was sitting on a lawn chair soaking in the sun when Jessica and Avery began to run around him.
"It's mine!" Avery screamed. "I found it!"
"No! I saw it first!" Jessie cried out with anger.
Walker grabbed them both and stopped them wondering what all the fighting was about.
"What are you guys fighting about?"
"I saw the pretty stone in the river first and pointed at it and Avie grabbed it and wouldn't give it to me!" Jessica moaned.
"I didn't know she wanted it! And I picked it up! So it's mine!" Avery moaned who was starting to cry. Jessie rolled her eyes while Walker shook his head.
"This is a silly thing to be fighting over... isn't it?" Their dad said looking from one to the other. They both put their heads down.
"Well I guess so." Jessie agreed. "Okay Avie keep the stone and I will find another one even prettier then that one."
"Bet you won't!"
"Bet I will!"
"Now both of you stop it!" Walker scolded with a stern look on his face.
"Okay.....sorry Dad." They said in unison as Walker smiled.
"Anyways where are your older brothers?"
"I think I saw Ike and Taylor go and take a walk in the woods. And Zac and Makie went in town with Mom." Jessica informed him.
"Oh. Well you two stay and play where I can see you. Play around the camper and don't wander off."
They nodded and skipped away to look for more of natures wonders.
"Man it is beautiful here Mom!" Zac exclaimed excitedly.
"I agree. I am glad your father had this idea to go on a camping trip. At first I thought it was silly, but I am enjoying the peace." Diana smiled looking up at the clear blue sky above them.
Makie pulled on Diana's pants as she looked down at him. "What Mac?"
"Are we almost there yet?"
"Not to much further."
"There it is!" Zac pointed at the town ahead in the distance.
"I guess the park ranger was right when he said it was in walking distance."
Finally they got to town and found the store called; Old Ben's Groceries. Diana wanted to pick up a few things to supply the camper with. They walked into the store and Zac went off to the frozen food section to look for some ice cream bars. Makie followed behind his mom. Zac found them and reached in the freezer and grabbed two boxes and strode up to the counter where Diana and Makie were standing. His mother was in a conversation with the owner, Ben Johnson.
"Yes we are camping about a mile away from here. We love it! The scenery is breath taking." Diana smiled.
"Oh most people who come here say that." Old Ben chuckled. "You came though when most people aren't thinking of vacations yet. We have been having unusually warm weather for this time of year."
"I guess we just lucked out." Diana said smiling. The old man smiled back and looked at Zac. Zac smiled and put the ice cream bars down on the counter. Diana slid them over to the goods she was going to buy.
"Your son?" Ben asked.
"Yes this is Zac and the little one here is called Mackie." Diana informed him.
"Hi!" Zac said smiling shyly casting his eyes up and down.
"Hi young man. Enjoying your vacation too?" Ben asked as Zac nodded. It was nice not having someone recognize him for once and treat him like everyone else.
"Yeah it's nice to get away from it all." Zac answered.
"Yeah nice!" Piped in Makie.
"Well did you guys spot the mountain man yet?" Ben asked grinning looking from one boy to the other.
"What? What mountain man?" Makie asked wide eyed with excitement.
"Well there is a legend in this area that a mountain man, named Monroe, lives and roams these mountains and lives with the wild animals. But one thing about him he has a horribly disfigured face!" Ben exclaimed with emphasis on his last words. Makie stared at Ben hanging on every word.
"Wow!" Makie exclaimed with excitement.
"Is he dangerous?" Diana asked with concern and wishing that the man wasn't telling this story to Makie. She was worried it might scare him.
"Oh NO! He is afraid to be seen by people and will run when someone spots him." Ben chuckled feeling amused at the little boy's wide eyed innocence.
"Cool." Zac said thinking he couldn't wait to tell Taylor and Ike about this one. A legend. A mountain man. Mysterious on top of that.
"He was burned in a fire years ago and his wife and child died in it. It is a very sad story. But because everyone was afraid of him, he became a loner and decided to live in these mountains where he was the happiest. He stands six feet seven inches at least. He is huge!" Ben bellowed throwing out his arms as he went on further with his story.
"Wow!" Mackie exclaimed in awe. "He is a giant! I hope I spot him!"
"Aren't you making that up... about his height, I mean?" Zac asked squinting his eyes wondering if the man was just pulling their leg.
"No! It's true! Years ago he came into my store. Scared the dickiens out of me." Ben added.
Zac gave him a unsure look giving him a side glance. Diana was getting a little annoyed wishing the old man would stop telling his story. She hurried up and paid for the goods and said her goodbyes to Old Ben. She almost had to drag Mackie out of the store. He wanted to hear more.
"Come on Mackie, enough!" Diana yelled feeling frustrated.
"Okay, mama." Makie mumbled sadly while Diana shook her head.
"Mom? Don't worry. It is just a legend about a man. It was a cool story though. Bet half of it isn't true anyway." Zac asserted trying to reassure his Mom. She gave him a weak smile. They walked a distance back to their camp site in silence.
"Do you think he was just trying to pull our leg, mama?" Makie asked breaking the silence.
"Of course Mackie. It's just a story. Probably not true at all." Zac assured.
Diana was in deep thought. She remembered years ago something about a famous doctor who lost his wife and child in a terrible fire in Colorado. He survived trying to save them, but was badly burned and injured too. She wondered if Old Ben was talking about the same man. She shook it off thinking it couldn't be the same person.
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