Picture worth a million words...

The other day I had a choice.  I was heading home, but a detour changed my course and this new way home was longer and out of the way.

The detour was caused by an unexpected mud slide, which wiped the road and everything on it into a river below. No one was hurt but that would have been one poor soul that got swept away without warning.

I knew well before hand that I needed to take the long way, so in my mind I was prepared.  As I began to think about this unusual route it came to me that there was more than one way home.  I could go north and take a route which would split into two possibilities.  The first of those routes home included most of my normal drive once I got to a certain spot, then the trip home was mostly normal. I could also choose to take the other northern route, further north and take the unfamiliar road.  I could also go south, but I hate that drive.

I began my detour and as the fork in the road came close, I realized the weather further up north was nicer and so I went with the most unfamiliar drive.

On this northern route I would have the opportunity at times to drive faster, but it also included literally driving around, then up and over and back down a major mountain range.  Would this be a problem? "No," I thought, "as long as I don't get lost."

The truth is, with modern technology such as GPS and a great system of road signs, it would be hard to get lost.

Would the weather affect me on this strange route?  Nah, the weather radar says that the better weather is this way.  If I did hit weather, I was ready.  My car was just fitted with brand new all weather tires.

Was I scared?  Get real, why be scared?  I've been driving cars and following directions my entire life.

I had familiar mp3's playing on the stereo.  I had plenty to think about.  I was cruising along with life and heading home, ... a home where I treasured peace and quiet when I could get it....  Where I was near my children....  Where all my stuff was....  I guess you can call that home....  Either way its the best I have at the moment.

The drive home was no different than expected, until I saw it.  Being the only car on the road I had the assurance that I could just stop right then, so I did.  The road was clear but the shoulder was covered in a thick layer of snow.  Knowing I needed to keep at least one drive tire on the cement, my car was only half off the road.  The speed limit was 65, but at this moment I just didn't care.  I had to take it in.  While staring off into the distance... reality, mixed with a little spiritual understanding, hit me as if a snow plow sped by at 65 and thrust snow in my face.

         I'm alone.
         I'm on a well maintained road, but I'm alone.

My goal is to get home, but I'm taking an alternate way.  Despite the unfamiliar road and directions I know where I'm headed.

If I ever feel lost there are maps, road signs, GPS, and if I get desperate enough I can ask someone for directions.

This road is a lot more lonely, but you do see people every once in a while.  I'm sure that they would help, even if they didn't know me.

In order to travel this road you must be prepared with fuel, proper tires, and an emergency kit in case something happened to my car.

If you get distracted on this road you might just find yourself off the road, hitting wildlife, or at the bottom of a cliff.

There is always a chance that something unexpected would happen.  If that were the case and I didn't come home, would someone look for me?

What if I got stuck?  With freezing temperatures tonight, how long would I last?

Look at this view!  The trees with an enormous amount of snow on them, but a wind storm that happens just right can bury me with that snow.

See those clouds?  They are swarming around that mountain top just daring me to try it and not get stuck in the storm.

The road moves and turns left and I can't see around that corner.  Since I'm safe here, in this moment, should I just stay here?

I got caught up in the beauty of it all and I stopped my progression home.  Is this pause in my journey allowing the storms to catch up?

While I have been unable to take my eyes off of this sight have I forgotten my surroundings?  Is there a mountain lion stalking me while I stand in the middle of the road?  Are my senses aware enough to jump out of the way of a speeding car?

I've got to start moving!  Perhaps I can drive faster to make up for lost time.  Thank goodness someone has taken the time to clear the roads.  Here I go!

I'm driving, but I continue to marvel at the scenery.  I'm fortunate that I haven't lost track of the road and run off the side, because I'm pretty sure I'm out of cell phone range.

I'm still thinking of the meaning of these things when a law enforcement officer appears in front of me, and by the looks of it he is going well below the speed limit.

As I slow down and continually wash the dirty water off of my wind shield that he kicks up, I'm mumbling under my breath that he should pull over.

From one side of the mountain to the other I'm lucky if I went half the speed limit.  At first I had no clue why, but as we hit the blizzard the roads weren't so nice.

After quite some time I began to see that I was better off taking it safe.  When the blizzard was behind me the clouds parted and I could see home.

I thought that the route I was taking had the better weather, but nothing looked so fine than my home from 7,000 feet and the direction I would have come had I chosen that other route.

My descent off of the mountain went smooth, the roads again cleared.  As soon as my tires hit dry pavement, the officer ahead of me pulled over.  I could then proceed to go fast, but here I was far behind the time I thought it would take.

There are mudslides in life, and sometimes they devastate.  Mudslides affect more people than just the ones that might have been swept away.  From the mudslides that directly impact some people's lives, we can use the knowledge gained from those slides, and the diversions created to enhance our experience.  That day I planned to drive home as normal but I was forced to change my way.  If I had gone the familiar way perhaps I wouldn't have seen what I saw.  I wouldn't have thought what I thought, and I wouldn't have been impressed to take the picture and tell the story.

See,.. the road is clear, but bending off in the distance.  Even though you can assume it is clear there is no way of knowing what lies ahead beyond what the eye can see.  I can look above the road and notice the storm, so maybe it is safe to say that there is a challenge ahead.  There is also the possibility that I could ignore the clouds or just not notice them, then I go in completely blind.  If the cruise control is on and it has been so far so good, who is to say that it won't be like that the entire way.

We are fortunate that roads are paved, people have left behind maps, and technology can make things easier, but we still have to make the journey.  The more convenient the way, the more devastating it is when something breaks down. If I had been distracted enough to wreck or if my car's parts failed, I may have been stuck somewhere where I wasn't prepared to be.  On a wintry evening like this it can get below 0 degrees and, if I'm wearing my shorts and a t-shirt that provide a comfortable drive, it can be a challenging night.  Imagine if my GPS fails or my phone is out of range, then I will be in a sorry situation.

While coasting may seem like a great way to go, the roads could quickly change.  My impatience could be a deadly mix on those roads.  The only thing that slowed me down was a police officer ahead of me.  There is no way I would have passed him.  Isn't it nice in life when someone can slow you down, help keep you safe?  Sometimes you don't want that help, sometimes you do.  Either way, you always appreciate it after the fact.

I looked at the forecast and it said that this route was the best as far as weather goes, but when I came up over the mountain I saw better weather over my home.  The faster, less crowded, and unfamiliar way can be fun but you really have to stay vigilante.  No matter what the weather or forecast is, sometimes home just looks better.  Home sweet home.

I'm glad I'm safe. I'm glad I saw some of God's beauty. I learned something today.