I recently took a road trip through Cascadia, the Pacific Northwest (PNW), venturing from Vancouver, down through Washington and Oregon. Amazing coastal sites with crazy rock formations, stopovers in the major cities for markets and local brews, exploring canyons and cascades, whale watching, plus hours chatting on trains with fairytale views all contributed to my fondness for the PNW.
Twists & Turns
My favorite slice of this trip was the 4 days we spent in a little town called Corbett, which is off the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway (yup, that’s a mouth full). This highway was built for one reason only, to lead visitors along a heavenly path that flaunts angelic waterfalls and breathtaking views of the 292,500 acres that is the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area.
“The one prevailing idea in the location and construction was to make this highway a great scenic boulevard surpassing all other highways in the world” John A. Elliot (Engineer, 1929). John, mission accomplished.
The road is filled with twists and turns, shaded by a massive canopy formed by large Douglas-fir trees. The atmosphere is calming, with the constant sound of splashing water, and a coolness in the air that makes you long for the outdoors. Along the highway, are several stopping points for magnificent views, hiking, and waterfalls.
Some stops require miles of walking, sweating, and determination to get to the end and bask in the reward of a stunning view of the mountains and gorge. Other stops along the highway show off their main attraction before you even step out of the car, boasting the view of a gorgeous waterfall close enough that you can feel the mist of its cascades from the parking lot.
The journey along this scenic highway reminded me quite a bit of my life. Some paths in life the highlight is easy to behold, it gleams before I even start looking for it. Then there are the more difficult paths that life presents that require many steps of faith before seeing the promise of a beautiful sight at the end.
On one particular stop off the scenic highway, I pushed through 2 miles of uphill hiking, seeing eye to eye with the birds, to meet the beauty that is Fairy Falls. She was worth every sweaty step and the views along the way made the journey enjoyable, despite every muscle in my body screaming for retirement from the path.
Embrace the Path
Similarly to my exploration along the scenic highway, when challenging paths appear on the journey of life I can choose to respond one of three ways:
- Don’t go chasing waterfalls, stick to the (you know the rest). On a real though, I get to choose not to take a difficult path. My free will could dictate that I decide not to push my limit, and not take a path I know requires risk and grit.
- Take the path and spend the journey wondering when it ends, how it ends, and make my primary focus the outcome. The cliche “are we there yet?!” Fretting with each step about whether or not I can make it, longing to get to the prize.
- Embrace the path and own every step, focused on the present, with the goal in mind but not consuming. Trust that the journey is of equal importance, if not more so than the destination. It is because of the journeying that I can truly appreciate the end of the path.
Since my exploration of the scenic highway, in a tragic incident, it became an inferno. A furious wildfire devastatingly destroyed the area shortly after my visit. I am glad I went when I did, tightening my hiking boots and embracing the path without hesitation.