What if you stop planning and go where the road leads you?
The longer we travel, and the more often we head toward what calls and figure it out when we get there, the happier I am.
Logistics and planning took up an excruciating amount of time and energy—and scraped away at our ease and playfulness. Until we stopped trying to figure it out—and just went.
We were not going to visit Arches National Park in Moab, UT because the heat this week is intense (up to over 100). The campground and all the hotels in Moab were booked. After two hours of deliberation over where to go instead, or how to pass through and sleep at another destination, Carson looked at me and said, Forget about this. Let’s just go.
We went. We stopped by the Motel 6 (because we know they take dogs), which online had shown it was booked. A room was available, and we took it.
Arches is one of the most astounding places I’ve ever seen and most uplifting places I’ve ever experienced. We looked at each other: Imagine if we’d missed it?
Yesterday, we left Moab and (unexpectedly) drove all day, having planned to camp at Grand Mesa but declining after it was 50 degrees at noon and snow remained on the ground. We were not prepared for temperatures to drop below freezing at night, so we drove on to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It was predicted to thunderstorm, but now we knew we could not trust that the weather would be as predicted, or that hotels and campsites were actually sold out as professed.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison has three campgrounds: the South Rim, the East Portal (accessible at the South Rim entrance) and the North Rim. The South was cramped and crowded and without a view, so we drove the steep (16% incline) access road to the bottom of the canyon to the East Portal. It was quiet and secluded with few campers, but it was already dusk at 3:00 and did not have hiking trail access. The North Rim campground was, that’s right, on the other rim of the canyon, and not accessible from the South Rim.
We drove three hours, on endlessly winding and breathtaking roads, into a storm and out again. Where is this? We kept asking. I, personally, wondered if we should have just taken a site at the Recreation campground we’d seen upon turning up the second of three canyon roads. I had been the one who said, Press On, when we faced the decision of whether to stop for an RV-dotted campground in sight, rather than keep going.
We did not know whether there would even be a site available for us when we arrived at the North Rim. There were no towns or campgrounds as we wound on and on around the canyon. We had no cell reception. We were driving back into storm cloud cover. Honestly, we didn’t really know where we were, where our intended destination was, when we would get there, and if there would be a site for us to land for the night when we did.
I chanted silently to Ganesha: Om Gom Ganapateyei. For a campsite, for our safety, as heavy clouds and waning daylight darkened the now dirt road.
We arrived safely, about 15 minutes after I started my chanting, to find waiting for us: a campsite with the most stunning view of our entire trip.
I’m looking at it as I write this. It never changes, and somehow, it’s never the same. We (even the dog) stare into it, mesmerized. It cultivates a calmness—born of wonder—in all of us.
It only took a long and winding road.
Will you go where the road leads you?
I’ll meet you there, at the crossroads.