Published in the Rains County Leader on November 17, 2015:
David and I spent almost the entire month of October on the road. We left home on October 2 and returned over six thousand miles later on October 29. The main destination as far as I was concerned was Beaverton, Oregon, a suburb of Portland where my two amazing grandchildren live. Their parents live there, too, but the grands were the main attraction.
When we were planning the trip, we decided to drive and do some visiting and sight-seeing along the way. We thought about taking the motor home, but since it needs some work, we opted for the car. My intention was to chronicle our adventures along the way, but the editors at the Leader pointed out that it’s not wise to advertise the fact that one’s home is vacant. With that in mind, and since I was too busy having fun to spend much time writing, I shared caregiving humor instead.
However, when I sat down to write this week’s column, I flipped through the steno pad where I jot down grocery lists, to do lists, and an occasional inspiration. I came across a note I had scribbled early in the trip. It said: You miss a lot of the good stuff when you stay on the Interstate. Taking the narrow road and choosing the road less traveled are not new ideas, but sometimes life hands you an example that is too good not to share.
When we left Emory, we made a stop in Denver to visit a cousin I hadn’t seen in ten years. Then, we headed into Wyoming to see the Tetons, Beartooth, and Yellowstone. After two days of marveling at the wonders of creation, we continued west. We usually stopped for the night at five o’clock, give or take an hour, so I checked the map and guessed that we’d be near Twin Falls, Idaho around that time. I used my phone to check for motels in the area, and let’s just say that the motel owners in Twin Falls are very proud of their rooms, so I expanded my search area. I found a room at the Oregon Trail Inn in Buhl, Idaho, about twenty miles south and west of the Interstate. It looked like it would work, so I booked a room, entered the address into the GPS, and crossed my fingers.
The motel was small but well maintained; the room was large, comfortable, and very clean; and the staff was friendly and helpful. The best part of the experience came the next morning, though. We checked the map to see if there was a way to get back on the Interstate other than back-tracking the way we had come. State Highway 30 ran northwest out of Buhl and intersected with Interstate 84 in Bliss, Idaho. When David returned our key cards to the office, the motel manager assured us that, although Hwy 30 was mostly two lane, it was a nice, scenic drive, so we chose the narrower road.
The first few miles of the thirty mile trek took us through a very picturesque farming area. We could smell the onions as large tractor-like vehicles moved through the fields. I am, after all, a city girl, but it looked to me as if the onions were being topped in preparation for harvest. After about ten miles, the landscape began to change. We could see the Snake River on the east side of the road, and sheer rock cliffs rose vertically out of the flat land beyond the river. In several places, waterfalls gushed out of the flat rock faces. True to its name, the river wound around until it was on the west side of the road, and the land began to fall away. The road was eventually at a high enough elevation that we couldn’t see what was below, so we pulled over to a scenic overlook to check it out. Stretched out in either direction was a river valley filled with farms green and idyllic enough to inspire poems, songs, and endless other artistic expressions.
A few minutes after our stop, we merged into the Interstate, and the scenery became flat and boring, with no hint of the beauty that lay just a few miles away. We were grateful for the circumstances that took us out of our way and into what turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. Since we were not on a rigid schedule, we had several other opportunities to explore and several more chances to remember that life is a journey and not a destination.