(this one’s a bit long… but I’m hoping you can persevere)
I should have known early on that the trip was destined for disaster. It was jinxed from the beginning. But sometimes it’s more important to push on through. And while there were several moments that could have ruined even the happy memories of our time together, it didn’t. I wouldn’t let it. And instead, my memories are littered with many smiles. I suppose it is all in the perspective we bring to the table.
It was a new trail for us. An unknown entryway into an isolated section of coast. Sure we could have gone to one of our favorite familiar spots, but I was craving something new (hey, there’s that change thingy I’ve talked about before). And so, with some trepidation in our minds, we packed and were off (like a herd of turtles by the way – one does not move as quickly as one would like when with ones young children).
Half way down the driveway our eldest realized he left a critical item at home that we needed to retrieve. Backing up the driveway, getting out of the car, unlocking the door, finding said item, returning to the car, and on our way again! Finally headed out of town, nearly 10 minutes on the road, we stopped for gas and realized our backpacking permit was not with us. Turning back to the house, up the driveway, getting out of the car, unlocking the door, finding the permit, returning to the car, and on our way again! This is the point in which I turned to my dear husband and said, “This may be an ill-fated trip.”
Without another word, we were on our way… again. A bit less steam, but still determined. And then, just at the peak of the lake we were to drive around, traffic was backed up and stopped on the highway. We waited. And waited. And then we watched as a blaring ambulance came in the wrong lane past us. We chose to give up our spot in line (remembering the last accident we were behind around the lake that took several hours to clean up) and took a lunch break. We had already been “on the road” for an hour and had come to our lunch stop at a place typically 20 minutes drive out of town.
This may be an ill-fated trip was the mantra in my mind and I wondered when it would be appropriate to call a spade a spade. We ate, we stretched, we peed, and we got back in the car. Traffic had begun again around the lake and we were ready to give it another go. And, as it happened, we moved quickly for the remainder of the drive, and GPS (thank the stars for GPS) did not fail us!
We found the trail head – bright and sunny and promising looking – and began our hike glad for our perseverance. After all, 1.5 miles seemed like an easy number. One even our youngest could do. But we didn’t think that it was 1.5 miles of upturned roots, stumps in the middle of the trail, fallen trees, wobbly log-bridges, steep waterfall-bed-like sections, and more. It was one of the longest 1.5 miles ever. Add to this the ever retreating sun, and the ever looming fog, and you have yourself a recipe for some low morale! At least we will be on a beautiful beach when we get there is what I told myself. Is what I had to believe to motivate myself.
And then we arrived. I could hear the waves crashing. But I couldn’t even see the water’s edge. The fog was so thick that my sight of the beach ended about 5 meters from wherever I stood. Seriously?! I busted my hump for this?!!! I sunk into a damp beach log and looked up at my lovely husband with an expression of horror, utter defeat, and minor outrage. After all that we did to get here, how could this be where we ended up?!
We grumbled through dinner (I had forgotten to pack dishes). We rumbled through setting up camp. We tried to make the best of walking down the beach (and “discovered” the sea stack that was just 50 meters away but completely hidden under the fog). We looked through tide pools, and did nature treasure hunts. We did some creative work in the tent after dark. And my husband and I vowed to leave early the next morning (instead of sticking it out for another night as planned).
But when we awoke, our mood was different. Some of the fog had lifted. We could see the sea stack just down the way. There were baby sand pipers to watch. We met some people and shared a morning beach fire with them. We laughed, we told stories, and (dare I say) had a good time.
And then we smiled at our new-found friends. Asked them to snap a quick family shot of us, and packed up. We may have learned a lesson about appreciating the little things, and changing our perspective on a seemingly negative situation to gain the most out of an experience. But we weren’t stupid. 1.5 miles away were sunshine and warmth. And we weren’t about to let a “plan” get between us and beautiful summer weather.
Even now, looking back just a day after we’ve cleaned up from our adventure, I smile. I smile at the ridiculousness of us adults in the family and our need to continue as planned. I smile at the childish pouts that came from us adults as we discovered that the destination wasn’t what we had though it would be. And I smile at the fact that despite the cold wet cloudy weather. Despite the grumpy adults. Despite the lack of dishes to eat from. Our boys had a great time. Sometimes it takes distance to realize that what you have is priceless. And then it’s as if the fog lifts and you can see for miles.