The Road Less Traveled



The trip to Durango was a quick one. No time for a sit-down breakfast, we picked up lattes and croissants at the french bakery on Main Street. We can recommend the pastries, but not the coffee. Durango Main Street reminded me a lot of several towns in Oregon. Lots of western shops nestled up next to the hippie stores. A fella could pick up a cowboy hat and a tie-dye shirt in the same block.

If a fella was wanting that sort of thing.

Tim wasn’t. He simply wanted a good cup of coffee.

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There have been loads of tourists in every town we’ve been to so far. We are traveling on the 4th of July weekend, afterall. I may not have given that as much consideration as I should have when planning.  Hotels are busy. Roadways are busy. Restaurants are busy. But then again, what better time to appreciate this beautiful land of ours?

Tim has grown used to me yelling “Slow Down!” as I try to capture the scenery rushing by.

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Aren’t you glad I do?

We were planning on an easy drive today, knowing that we will push all the way through Texas tomorrow. That was the plan. But then about 30 miles from our destination, Tim saw a sign for a historic site on the Jemez Reservation.

No road trip is worthwhile without the occasional detour. Siri assured us our destination was only half-an-hour away. That half-hour turned into another 2.5 hours as we ended up in a totally different place than the pre-historic sites we had planned to visit. As we pushed along a narrow road just outside the town of Jemez, I told Tim that we were headed into a Pubelo Holler.

We were indeed.

It is mind-boggling to think of how people scrap out a living from such rugged country today. Trying to imagine indigenous people creating community among the Pubelo hollers in the 17th century just leaves me completely gobsmacked.

I was thinking all that when we were meandering our way along a canyon road that turned into one lane and two tunnels.

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We didn’t know until we got to the other side of the second tunnel that the paved road would turn to dirt road and that the dirt road didn’t lead to where we had planned to go, but come to find out where we really wanted to go was exactly where we ended up anyway, which I think is often the case with life, don’t you?

They say New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment and I’ve been to these parts so many times I have plum lost count. I don’t know how I keep ending up back here but I do and I am forever mystified and yes, enchanted by this landscape and these people, who have seriously carved a life out of bedrock.

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Like the fellow who created these tunnels so he could log the woods beyond Old Peggy Mill Road. If I hadn’t been so caught up in the wonder of the canyon walls towering high above my head, and the water rushing through the canyon floor between those walls, I might have worried more about making our way clear through those tunnels. Sometimes, though, you just have to let yourself get caught up in the wonder of the world and not worry about all the potential dangers of living.

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I learned a long time ago that not being able to see around the bend didn’t mean that you ought not make your way around it anyway. Some folks call that living by faith. I just call it living. We all get it in our heads where we think we are headed and how we think things are going to turn out.

Most of the time things never turn out the way we planned on.


I’ve lived long enough now to know God loves to surprise us.

He really does.

People reach a certain age and talk about how disillusioned they are that their lives didn’t turn out the way they planned.

Well, I tell you what, I am so glad my life didn’t turn out the way I planned. I have been completely enchanted with the meandering journey God has taken me on.

You ever feel like that?

Grateful that things didn’t turn out the way you planned on, but better than you ever imagined?

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Karen Spears Zacharias is author of BURDY (Mercer University Press).






Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

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