Why Every Parent Should Take the Road Less Traveled at Least Once

As adults and parents, we often get caught up in our responsibilities and obligations but, sometimes its okay to take the road less traveled, literally…

Over the weekend, my family and I were on our way to visit some friends in a neighboring town. We weren’t very familiar with the area so we put the address into the GPS. Everything started out alright, cruising down the highway, took the exit and headed on down the road. Then Siri told us to turn right, normally this wouldn’t strike me as odd,  but this particular right happened to be onto a gravel road.

My husband and I looked at each other, “hmm, this is different…” we thought. But we were up for learning a new way to town, so we powered on up the mountain right through a state forest. Up and down, across a creek and then another, we wound through the forest. Okay, 4 miles down. Then, Siri chimed in again “turn left”. We should have known better when this new road, affectionately called a “driveable trail” by the Forestry Service, was not a gravel road, nor was it a dirt road, but rather a narrow strip devoid of trees with matching tire tracks on either side.

At first we weren’t sure what we were getting ourselves into but with my daughter happily sitting in the backseat, my husband and I decided to be adventurous and trek on down the trail. Siri must know what she’s talking about, right?

WRONG. The trail was fun and exciting at first with small mud puddles and the occasional divot in the road. Then we hit a downhill slope. Lucky for us, it had a  boulder filled trench on one side and a dirt path on the other. Our anxiety level rising, we realized that we had no choice but to attempt to navigate down the rocky slope in our 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe.

I was impressed by my husband’s navigational skills (despite my being scared that the car was going to roll over at least a couple of times), as he expertly drove over the rocks, and safely got us to the bottom of the hill. With a sigh of relief we looked ahead only to realize that our next obstacle was a massive puddle that encompassed the entire trail and the treeline on both sides. It was longer and wider than our car and we sadly resigned ourselves to the fact that there was NO WAY we would make it through, even with 4WD.

Luckily, there was a little clearing where we could turn around but we now had to climb the rocky trail that we had just come down.

With a pat on the leg and an encouraging gaze, I looked at my husband and said, “You can do this! You got this!” Even now I’m not exactly sure how we got back up that hill, and there was more than one hairy moment (I will even admit that I was quietly trying to decide what our plan should be when we inevitably got stuck) but, it didn’t happen.

Awash with relief and excited by the adrenaline rush from our accidental adventure, we celebrated conquering that hill with exuberant high-fives and delighted exclamations! My daughter looked up at us curiously, not sure why we were so excited and completely unaware that there was ever the slightest chance of danger.

We made it out of the state forest unscathed with an absolutely renewed appreciation for our car and I for my husband’s calm determination.

Later, on our way back home, I realized that it had been a long time since I had done anything adventurous, most often I find myself more concerned with protecting my daughter or continuously planning every step. But I realized that sometimes its okay to let go of the reigns, take the road less traveled, throw the plan out the window and experience some real wonder and awe! Life should be fun! If we keep an open mind and say “yes!” once in a while, not only is it a good thing, but it will ensure that adventure will find us.

Happy trails!


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