The Rocky Mountain National Park is in our backyard. Through it runs Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest continuous motorway in the US. It is our quick and beautiful access into western Colorado, unless we travel east to the valley, and then north or south for an hour until other highways link us back up into and over the mountains.
We were excited about possibly taking Trail Ridge Road to our friend's wedding in Craig, CO this past weekend, but it was rainy at our home at 8500 ft... and snowy at Trail Ridge's top elevation of 11k+ ft. Erik called the Park to confirm, and sure enough, the road was closed due to snow.
So we went the long way around, reading, singing, talking, listening to books on CD, eating some road-trip food. It was fun.
By Saturday night, our friend was happily wedded to his bride, and our kids were happily "wetted" in our hotel's swimming pool.
Sunday morning, Erik and I decided to leave earlier than planned because the kids had a late night, Jude was still unwell, and we were pretty bagged ourselves. It would be good for everyone to get home.
We looked outside our hotel curtains to discover that Sunday was beautiful. Warm. Skies brilliantly blue. The trip home already seemed shorter.
We wondered if Trail Ridge Road was open. It would cut down our driving time significantly. And when you travel with four little kids, even an hour can make a big difference.
Not one to be irresponsible, Erik wanted to confirm that TR Road was open. He always does his due diligence to care for his family in any situation, and this was no different. Because we don't have a cell phone, Erik called the front desk of our hotel to get information on Trail Ridge Road. They checked for us and confirmed it was clear. But Erik wasn't sure of their source. He asked them to check more specifically, and again they confirmed.
So we took the more direct way. The weather and the idea of taking Trail Ridge Road home made the journey seem so much quicker. A good thing, because after three nights of bad sleep with Jude, nothing was funny any more and I needed all the help I could get.
Hours in to our trip home, we saw the peaks we had to cross. Our home was just on the other side!! And then we noticed raindrops on our windshield... and clouds above the peaks. Rain in the valley can mean snow on the pass, even in May. We stopped in Kremmling, a tiny mountain town, and asked a police man what report he had. He said even if it's open, it could close at anytime.
At this point in the trip, our options were to either get to the park and be home in under an hour, or we would have to go a super-long way around from that point. Like three more hours long around. It's like being in an alley at the back-gate to your house, finding out the gate's locked, and you have to go all the way down the alley and back up again to get into your front door.
I wanted to get home. But my personal desire was only 1%, compared to the 99% of me as a Mom wanting to get my tired children home.
We scurried to the south entrance of the Park, only to discover that sure enough... it was closed.
My heart sunk. How to break the news to the kids, who had already been so patient and resourceful during the car ride?
We have always wanted to be honest with our kids - not to misguide them or mislead them with our words just to give them false assurance. We feel that it is crucial to be trust-worthy and honest with our children, even when the news is tough. We acknowledged the situation, encouraged them in how they had been doing, and told them the game plan for getting home.
I don't know about you, but it's hard to encourage someone when I'm discouraged. As a mom, that's what I find myself up against sometimes. How do we continue to encourage our children even when we're tired, discouraged, and have already used up all the travel tricks we had packed away? Again, I was honest with them. I asked them if they could relate. That almost seemed to band us together. Then we looked forward.
After telling stories, reading books, games, coloring, books on CD, kid's music on CD for a few hours already, we felt a lolly pop and a DVD were next up on the menu. We would stop in Denver for dinner, and then carry on home.
Erik and I talked about the trip after we got home and the kids were passed out in their beds. What do you do when things don't go as planned or as hoped for as parents? What about accidents? Mistakes? What about things beyond our control?
We feel that our responsibility is to do our due diligence to care for our family, make the best decision we can with the information we have, and leave the results to God. It's not always easy, I sure as heck wasn't laughing like I was on Friday. I don't know why we took the long road home. Maybe God was keeping us from something or giving us to someone. As believers, we can trust that God's heart is not ever to steal, kill, or destroy. He might take away, but He won't waste. He might remove, but He doesn't tease or trick us. His heart is for us. He is the gentle catcher of all that seems lost in our lives. He is the known of our unknowns. Maybe eternity will tell these secrets. In the meantime, as parents, may we all hold on to His promise -
He works all things together for good to those who love Him
and are called according to His purpose.