Just returned from my eighth winter roadtrip to the mountains… crazy I know. Everyone looks at me a bit odd when I try to explain that I like to drive in the mountains in the middle of the winter, especially in places I’ve never been to before. It’s a tradition that I have been fortunate to share with my dearest friend Brian Hardin over the past decade. We’ve been to almost every state in the lower 48 in search of the next un-discovered road with beauty.
It’s more than just an exercise in male machismo or an addiction to adrenaline, it’s rooted in our deep awareness that each January we need to slow down to sense and hear God’s voice for the year ahead. For our families, our ministries and our work it’s become clear that each new season of life has its own unique circumstances and challenges as well as rewards. To enter the new year without taking a few days to clear our heads and re-set, recenter ourselves with God is no longer an option for us. We’ve learned painfully of the risk we take when we just venture into the next year without a sense of direction or purpose. Brian and his wife are expecting their fifth child this summer and my oldest goes off to college in the fall… we knew that 2012 would be a pivotal year for us and our families and we were determined to not proceed very far without taking some “time-out” with God.
So, we packed our gear and loaded up for a 4:30am drive to the Nashville airport to catch our flight to Spokane WA. (Thank you Cristian) Landed in Denver and then caught an immediate connection to our destination (thank you Southwest) where we landed to an unusual snowstorm in progress. After picking up a rental AWD Ford Edge, we took off for the Northland of Canada. We had decided to explore the Canadian Rockies in the winter, our favorite summer destination for several years now…but new to us to explore in the winter season.
Our first day was spent navigating a two lane highway north to the Canadian border in a blowing snowstorm with five or six inches of fresh snow already on the ground. It was beautiful, but it was grey. Shades of grey in fact, lighter grey for the sky and darker grey for the landscape and the mountains remained hidden behind a veil of cotton and cold. But we pushed on, believing that the skies would clear and make their appearance to us in time. So with digital cameras ready and our cornuts and licorice nearby, we drove into the darkening horizon, full of expectation and hope and excitement.
Expectation for a great time together and in discovering the winter beauty of some of the most magnificent scenery in the world, hope for a brand new experience to discover roads yet to be driven and excitement to learn what 2012 might be all about. We were not to be disappointed. Brian soon made it clear that since last year (2011) he had to make all the decisions for our roads, course and specific destinations…that it was my turn to be the pilot for 2012. He said somewhat jokingly… you’re going to have to “feel your way along”. Neither of us had any idea how prophetic that statement would turn out to be…
O.K… need to review a couple of rules for RoadTripping before we go any further…
1- No four lane or interstate roads can be used, if a two lane highway or back road is available
2- No previously driven road is acceptable unless no other reasonable travel options exist
3- Schedules are loose, no previous reservations at hotels for arrivals at specific times or places. We want to keep the freedom of making decisions as we go.
4- Pictures are necessary, stopping at random times and places are allowed and encouraged, for prime pics and fresh air.
5- Meals out are optional, we eat when we want to… snack constantly and drink copious amounts of caffeine.
For specific details on travel – check out the bottom of this blog. For more information on the next six days and 3500 miles of travel adventure, humor, inspiration and excitement we shared in the mountains and lakes of Canada and the Pacific Northwest, (British Columbia and Alberta, Washington, Idaho and Montana) stay tuned to our next blog tomorrow…
– Day One: Nashville to Spokane – Southwest Airlines (much cheaper to fly into Washington than Calgary Alberta) Drove from Spokane International via Hwy 95 North via the Eastport border crossing to Radium Springs in British Columbia… approx 300 miles and eight hours to drive in the winter with US/Canada crossing delays, picture stops and potty breaks. (Mapquest) Don’t miss Sandpoint Idaho on the way north, great town to visit, shop or sightsee, ski etc… very friendly and fun place to hangout.