Monday, September 13, 2010

Road Trip

Last Wednesday I left before dawn and drove to Portland, where I met up with my oldest daughter, and together we headed over to the coast for a couple of days of exploring from northern Oregon to the Olympic Peninsula, before driving to her home in the Seattle area.

I love road trips so much. I always have. For me there is nothing quite like getting in a car and heading out to explore new roads and places. The mystery and wonder of where each turn, each junction, each day, will lead. The pleasant surprises, the disappointments, the sudden, spontaneous change of plans. The unexpected mountain as the road curves, wildlife, the river tumbling toward its destination, the untamed beauty of ocean against land, storm clouds, sunsets.

Sometimes I hate the creative process as much as I love it. Rereading what I just wrote—that of course I didn’t know I was going to write until I did—I see what a metaphor a road trip is for life. Heading straight into the unknown, the adventure and excitement, with its twists and turns, delays, detours, weather changes. Road work, drawbridges, vistas, turnouts. The thrill of the open road, the anxiety on a difficult patch of highway, the wondering where the next bathroom or gas station or food might be found. Regrouping after the intentional or unintentional change of plans, the good days, the not so good, all an integral part of what I love about hitting the road.

Last year when I was here, she and I drove over two hours to find a bridge unexpectedly closed for construction which meant we had to backtrack over an hour then take a different road way around and many more hours to our destination—which ultimately we didn’t make it to because we ran out of time and had to turn and head home. But along the way, we encountered some absolutely gorgeous scenery. Up the west side of the Hood Canal, where I saw five bald eagles, the first I’ve ever seen in the wild in my life, beautiful waterways, grand forested and fog-shrouded mountains, sleepy little towns. Our day ended with two ferry rides we hadn’t anticipated needing to take, and it was beautiful and adventurous and a wonderful day. And with the totally added bonus of along the way bonding anew; talking, sharing, regrouping, appreciating, our intimacy growing as we faced and experienced all the day had to offer together.

I really hate it when I am wowed by the “duh” factor. Road trip as metaphor for life: duh. We might get to our destination, we might not. It might be as planned, it might not. It might be great, it might be full of challenges, it might be smooth, it could be bumpy. We might get along, we might fight. We might get lost, we might, in our lostness, come upon something of extraordinary beauty we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

It’s all about the journey. A cliché I’ve heard ad nauseum and yet I see its truthfulness when applied to a road trip. It’s funny that on a road trip I expect the best, yet in life, I so often expect it to throw me curves; and it strikes me that I trust a road trip in a way that I haven’t yet learned to trust life. I’m not really sure what to say about that except that maybe seeing, maybe opening my eyes to this particular vista, is a start.

Here are some pics of the incredibly beautiful vistas we encountered on our trip. The wild beauty of nature… with so much gray and overcast it was a serious challenge for this photographer who doesn't really know how to shoot in those conditions. At any rate, here they are. It was, amazingly beautiful.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment, Oregon

La Push, Washington

La Push, Washington

Wild and beautiful: Cape Flattery, Washington. Northern most point in the western US

Cape Flattery, Washington

Cape Flattery, Washington

Cresent Lake, Olympic National Forest

On the Bainbridge Island Ferry to Seattle

Tip of Bainbridge Island

Seattle skyline from ferry

Getting ready to depart


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