It's been quite a cold dark winter up here in Alaska, yet again. I feel like every winter the weatherman says that this is the coldest winter in sixty years.
Even being from Alaska, it's hard to cope with the cold and the dark. Several years ago, we as a family decided to take a winter break each and ever winter, as a health and happiness investment. Some years, we really can't afford it. Some years, we really don't have the time. But we stop and take a break to refresh and renew, stock up on vitamin D, regardless of our responsibilities.
Our favorite island is Maui for two reasons: there's a direct flight from Alaska and Maui is very family friendly.
And on all of our past trips to Hawaii - and most days of this trip - we spend our time playing freeze tag in the kiddie pool or boogie boarding and making sandcastles on the beach. We love to spend our vacation time together as a family.
But this trip, the Ram and I decided to take a day long car ride around the southern part of Maui and "take the road to Hana." We've been wanting to go to Hana for years, but haven't wanted to take kids on the winding narrow roads, in the car all day, when they could be splashing in a pool or at the beach.
We left early in the morning, spending a couple of hours driving across the island to the start of the road to Hana. I was stressed that we would not have enough time to make the journey around the island and be back in time for dinner plans.
The road is a two lane slow one, giving us ample excuses to sight see as we went along. I was content to just relax and stay on the road, focused on getting home in time to make our dinner plans.
But the Ram insisted that we pull over when he made out a barely there trail through a patch of boulders.
I was sure we were heading to a "break" area in the woods.
But was pleasantly surprised to find a waterfall flowing into a pool below.
As I watched the water flow down the waterfall into the quiet pool, restful despite the waterfall, I thought, even water takes a break once in a while.
Back in the car, we made our way to Hana, ate breakfast, and filled the car up. Then we had to make a decision. Should we turn around and go back the way we came, or should we venture on, along the one lane dirt roads, and circle the island?
We put our trust in the road ahead.
And trekked onward.
This was by far the most beautiful part of the road for me.
We have a life we love, but each little farm beckoned to me, calling me, saying, come live a simple life up here in the upcountry.
Spend your days picking fruit and selling in a roadside stand to happy travelers, hungry to not just see, but to taste the beautiful countryside.
But then the road started getting rougher,
And we started wondering if we should turn around.
They say this road is about the journey, not the destination. And I started thinking why is it that the most beautiful parts of your journey are always the toughest? Why is it always a one lane rocky cliffside road when life is at it's best, a six lane freeway when there's nothing to see?
Maybe life is telling us to slow down not just for the dangerous curve ahead.
But to slow down and see the beautiful curve ahead.
And sometimes, when you start feeling stiff and tired from riding along on this journey, life is telling you to take a break and stretch, to get out of the car.
What you may miss tomorrow because you took the time today is always a trade off.
But sometimes, stopping to take a break and be in the moment, not just passing through it, can inspire and refresh you.
This life we have is a wonderful one, and we are very thankful for each moment. But sometimes, taking a break, getting out to smell the fresh air and feel the breeze, is just what we need to appreciate our life more and face new days with fresh optimism.
Find out where that muddy road goes.
It may lead nowhere.
And it may lead here.
The closer you get, the lighter your load becomes.
And you'll appreciate the destination so much more for the journey that brought you there.
We are happy to be home and are feeling refreshed and renewed, already working hard, if not harder, again. Hope you stop and take a break on your journey as well. There's always a flower to smell or a snowflake to taste along the way.