by Catherine Lamb., ShaoXing, China, for Viewzone

"Get out of bed, we're going to the Great Wall!" I excitedly prodded my children to wake up. Today was going to be the day we visited The Great Wall of China.

"Oh! Today?" whined Trey, "I wanted to go swimming!"
"Not today..." panicked Tristan, "today is cartoon countdown! Can't I stay here?"

I couldn't believe it! My children were being offered a great opportunity that so few people have ever had and they wanted to stay home! "Get up!" I snapped, "You are going to the Wall, and you are going to appreciate it!" And with this reluctant attitude I dragged my children to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

They got over their grumps a little when we joined our new friends that we had met via e-mail. Together, we drove to the wall. The Bouchells had just moved to China. We had been here for six months and relished the company of other Americans. We all piled into a huge van and settled in for the two hour, scenic ride to the Wall.

We caught glimpses of the Wall long before had even arrived at the Mutianyu Tourist area. Miles ahead we could see it's fortress like walls standing strong and tall and brown against the blue sky. Seeing such a magnificent structure even from a distance converted my little grumpy children to excitement for their new adventure. We couldn't wait to arrive!

As we pulled into the parking lot of Mutianyu, we were amazed to see that the wall was built at the very pinnacle of the mountain. We became even more impressed with the height as we began to climb it! It didn't take long for our tired, soft muscles to start aching and tightening.

One thought became obvious to us -- building a huge stone wall clear up here was near to impossible! Yet, there it was, the evidence stretched out like some special effect in a Speilberg movie. Thankfully we only had to climb as far up as a tram station, conveniently located just where we ran out of breath. We had all gained a very realistic appreciation for the tremendous physical efforts made to haul rocks and sand and other supplies in this steep terrain in such high altitude, low oxygenated air.

The ride in the tram was beautiful and a welcome rest. Lush green vegetation and endless mountain peaks stretched from horizon to horizon. As we looked out of the tram at the scenery, we could occasionally see a small mountain path leading up to one of these peaks, and sometimes even a donkey. We knew there were villages and people in there, hidden by the thick vegetation. But our thoughts were set on our destination, at the top of one of these mountain peaks where the Wall meets the sky.