Off the beaten path

by Todd Habiger
todd.habiger@theleaven.org

Recently, my mother and I took a road trip to Arkansas to visit my grandmother, who, at age 93, had surgery to remove a cancerous growth. At her advanced age, there were doubts as to whether she could survive the surgery.

But, Grandma’s a tough ol’ girl and came through with flying colors. Despite the circumstances, we had a great visit.

Upon heading home, I decided to take an alternate route through the Ozarks. Of course, these roads are winding and ended up making Mom a little nauseous. But I had the time of my life looking at the countryside, enjoying the mountain vista, wildlife and small towns.

Mom was more concerned about making it home in the best possible time. Let’s just say she wasn’t a fan of the route.

More recently, my family took a trip to Chicago. On the way home, I mentioned maybe taking an alternate route — at least something off the interstate. This was vetoed, quite loudly, by my wife and children. They wanted to get home and get home fast.

Too often in life we feel we are so busy that we just want to get from point A to point B. We see the same sights, travel the same roads and eat at the same places. There’s no stopping to smell the roses.

For a long time I’ve been fascinated by this sign that advertised a town called Rantoul. I see this sign every time I visit my mother. The sign never says how far it is, it just gives a direction.

So one day — while I was alone, of course — I decided to see what Rantoul had to offer. It’s a small little town, not more than 4-5 blocks wide.

But just outside this town was an airplane graveyard. It looks completely out of place in the surrounding fields, but it’s a thing of beauty. I was mesmerized when I first saw it, almost wondering if I was dreaming.

If I hadn’t taken the time to get off the beaten path, I never would have seen this wonderful sight.

My dream vacation would be a trip across the United States with no end destination — I would just go where the road leads. I like to explore small towns. There are thousands of places all across the U.S. that you’ve never heard of or thought of, where people have come, made a life, and died. I find something very beautiful in that.

We need to take time to seek out the little things in life. God’s creation is a beautiful place — we should take time to enjoy it.

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