Little Mountain Drive

Last week, I drove in the mountains for the first time ever.  My minivan was loaded to the brim with furniture and linens as I trekked through the Allegheny Mountains to visit our newly purchased condo.  The first half of the drive was easy: full of flat land, straight lines, old farms and quaint little towns.  The dog, riding shotgun, and I settled easily into a nice rhythm.

But the terrain on the second half of the drive changed quickly. The roads started winding through dense foliage, and the sunlight disappeared through the canopy of leaves.  My ears popped as we zigzagged back and forth, going up and down the mountain.  There were narrow lanes, signs for fallen rock, and steep cliffs without guardrails.

As I slowly continued on, my heartrate rose from a normal pitter-patter to more of a thunder.  I noticed my hands were clutching the steering wheel so fiercely that my fingers were aching.  Beads of sweat were forming on my forehead and I felt as though I had sandpaper in my throat, but I didn’t dare reach for my water.

At one point, we passed a section of the road that had crumbled like a big cement cookie, guardrail and all, into the valley below.

“Holy Shit, Roxy,” I said out loud to the dog.  “We’re going to die out here.”  Roxy whimpered in response.

Only a few orange barrels separated us from our probable demise.  My head almost convinced my body to throw on my emergency brake right there in the middle of nowhere. I was ready to give in because I honestly didn’t believe I could make one more treacherous turn.

But I kept going.

I gritted my teeth, removed my sunglasses, turned up the music and pushed through.  Then my dog vomited.  Of course.

But still I kept going.

When I was finally at the end of the most dangerous stretch of the drive, a butterfly swooped past my windshield, almost stopping as it entered my line of vision.  The loveliness of the creature captivated me just long enough for my nervousness to dissipate.  The tension in my back and hands eased and I suddenly noticed the beauty I was immersed in.  Nature was all around me.  Gorgeous tree-covered mountains, rocky streams, wild flowers, jutting boulders, and all kinds of wildlife.

The fear clutching my throat faded and I began to enjoy myself.

Life, in general, is very much like my drive in the Allegheny Mountains.  Some days are undoubtedly harder than others with unexpected twists and sharp turns.  Occasionally there might be unforeseen road blocks and detours, but we just find another way to continue on.  Life always has its fair share of ups and downs, and highs and lows, but we still move forward on our steady path, trying to stay in our lane.

Through it all, we try to find the beauty.

Once we reached our destination, the view from the top was absolutely breathtaking.  Green mountain peaks went all the way to the edge of the horizon where they gracefully, but also jaggedly, met blue skies.  The soft breeze smelled cleaner and softer than air I was used to.  The land felt untouched and innocent.  My dog stood beside me, her tail wagging wildly.

I smiled at what I accomplished.

Standing there on the top of that mountain, I was reminded that that even though it’s important to keep our eyes ahead, pass with care and pay attention, we also need to breathe deep, take in the beauty, and simply enjoy the ride.  Most importantly, we have to remember to push through tough situations and stay strong, no matter what.

Because, undoubtedly, the most breathtaking views come after the hardest drive.

Photo courtesy of Jakob Owens of Unsplash

One Little Birdie

It was an ordinary spring day; full of sunshine, puffy clouds, and a light breeze that smelled faintly of flowers. My window was down and my short, dark hair was snapping back and forth, lightly stinging my freckled cheeks. Tortoise colored sunglasses covered half my face and kept the sun’s rays from reaching my blue eyes and the smile on my face touched my ears; a sign that all was right and beautiful in the world.

The black leather on my minivan’s seat was getting just enough sun to be warm to the touch, radiating heat onto my bare shoulders. It reminded me of the sticky humidity that comes with summer. My girls, one and five, were giggling happily as I sang along to the 90’s hip-hop song drifting from the speakers.

I knew each word with precision, of course.

I signaled to switch lanes, cautious that I was clear, and checked my blind spot. As I turned my head back to facing front, a small, shiny Civic darted across three lanes like a silver bullet and cut my black swagger wagon off.

On instinct, I gasped, whaled on my horn, and slammed on my brakes sending freshly bought produce sailing through my vehicle, now coming to an abrupt stop. A bottle of delicious red wine rolled all the way to the console, still wearing the white plastic bag and somehow brand new baby wipes ended up in my lap.

My eye’s rushed up to the rear-view and thankfully my girls were still smiling. “Are you alright?” I asked Reagan.

“Yep,” Reagan answered. They barely even noticed. Knowing we were fine and dandy with all limbs in tact, the New-York-angry-driver in me took over.

I cautiously pulled my black-on-black Dodge next to the Civic and offered my biggest grin to the driver, a girl wearing obnoxiously massive hoop earrings. This woman and her stupid choice could have easily turned my good day sideways, but thankfully she didn’t.

I passed her and, still providing a full smile, I gave that idiot the bird.

Reagan saw my finger and asked, “was that the sign language for ‘no’, Momma?”  Her voice pure and sweet with innocence.

I laughed and responded, “it was something like that.”

It was still an ordinary Spring day; full of sunshine, puffy clouds, and a light breeze that smelled faintly of flowers.

By the grace of something greater, all was still right in the world.

Photo courtesy of Lily Lvnatikk on