Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Road of a Lifetime

August 20, 2005
By: L.A. Kohl
(published in the Wed., Aug. 31 edition of the "Bullseye")
I have one last story about our summer vacation…a story about a road.
It was about 10 pm the evening we left Mt. Rushmore, following their very impressive lighting ceremony. We decided to take this road called “Highway 16A” that headed towards Custer State Park, where we planned to pitch a tent for the night. The road immediately took us into some national forest that I forget the name of, but I’ll never forget that road!

Have you ever handed a pencil and a blank piece of paper to a toddler, and watched them fill the page with lots of curly, spinning scribbles? If so, you know what this road looked like. We began chuckling when we realized as soon as we would drive over a bridge, the road curved around and next thing we knew we were driving under it. After about the third bridge in five minutes that did that, the chuckles turned to outright laughter, and the fun speculations began coming forth:
“The highway engineer who designed this road must have been totally sauced!” was my initial observation.

“No, I think this national forest is really only about five miles square, so they curved the road all around to make it last for at least twenty miles,” was my engineer husband’s first thought.

“Oh – I think I just saw a glimpse of Mt. Rushmore out that way,” someone inserted…but the road curved around so quickly that we didn’t get a chance to verify it.

About that time the highway became one-way, with our side disappearing into the woods, and the opposite side re-appearing on the left.

“Oh no”, someone moaned. “This is a never-ending road, and we’re just going round and round in circles and we’ll never get out of this forest!”

The theories were getting sillier by the minute – as was the highway. “I bet they have forest rangers hiding by all the curve signs, turning them around after we go past so we don’t recognize it when we come back around again!”

“Oh, hey – I know I saw Mt. Rushmore that time!” someone insisted.

But they were interrupted by, “Whoa – look at that tunnel!”

It had the appearance of having been chiseled out by hand – probably decades ago, before big fifteen passenger vans existed. It was undersized, one way, and the sign in front of it advised us to “honk”. Just as Nate was about to lay on the horn, a minivan emerged – driven by Orientals. Oh, and here came another minivan, also driven by Orientals. And another, and another, and another – we lost count. This was beginning to feel like the twilight zone or something – was this the “Orient Express” tunnel?

By now some of us were near hysterics, but as we continued on, a few kept claiming that they had caught a glimpse of Mt. Rushmore. However, the crazy theories and speculations didn’t slow down until we reached the third tunnel…

“Oh wow!” we all exclaimed in unison. There, framed with perfection at the end of a surprisingly straight tunnel, was the illuminated Mt. Rushmore in all its glory.

An awed silence fell over the van, and it was then that Nate came to a more realistic conclusion about the crazy road we had been traveling. “The engineer who created this road was extremely patriotic, and he loved Mt. Rushmore so much, he designed the road to give us as many views as possible of it, even after we were miles away from it.”

I can’t help thinking that there was a lesson in that peculiar road. When the path of life seems to be getting crazier by the minute, and you just don’t get what’s going on – maybe there’s a bigger picture, an all-encompassing “view” just waiting around the corner, if you take the time to slow down and notice it.

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