There is something to be said for the main road, it’s well traveled and generally safe. Lots of people take it and they seem happy enough. But in my life I’ve found the road less traveled much more preferable.
I first read Robert Frost’s poem in middle school and I’ve always liked it, but I didn’t realize how true it would hold in my life until recently. This post popped into my head when Les and I took a drive last weekend, we started out on U.S. 101, but decided to take a back road to turn around. It led us through small towns, wound around a lake, became a terrifying one-lane road with dangerous drop offs, and – best of all- was completely deserted. We didn’t see a single other car until we got back to the highway. We had a great conversation, saw several really cool animals and moonlit land and water scapes, it was a fantastic drive.
I suppose the biggest literal example of the road less traveled we’ve taken is when we decided to drive the entire length of U.S. 20 when we moved to Oregon. At first I just thought it would be a fun thing to do. Something we could say say we had done like being in Times Square on New Year’s Eve or climbing to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument. But about halfway through – somewhere in Nebraska, I think – I realized it was more than that.
U.S. 20 starts in Kenmore Square in Boston and, from there to where we were living in New York, we saw quintessential small town New England and Upstate New York. But we had been living in small town New York for 3 years and it didn’t really jump out at me as being really better than the interstate. Iowa is what triggered my realization that taking the backroad was so much more interesting than the interstate; for most of Iowa U.S. 20 became a four-lane divided highway with exits. And it was boring as fuck (to be fair it’s Iowa and I’ve never seen anything that makes it not boring as fuck). Then in Nebraska it went back to being a two-lane road that went through the middle of several small towns. And the land it was passing was wild and free and open. There were farms and ranches but for the most part it was natural prairie, beautiful rolling hills covered in wildflowers and swaying grasses. From there we drove through Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, with the geysers and the elk and the buffalo and the mountains and the trees and the rivers, definitely not something we could have seen from the interstate.
But taking the road less traveled isn’t just a literal thing. My life has taken a road that isn’t exactly a roaring freeway. Most women who married a return Mormon missionary at age 20 have at least 3 kids by age 27. They own homes and minivans and go back and forth from school and soccer and dance practice. And I’m sure some of them even enjoy it. But I have 4 animals, will never buy another house and enjoy going back and forth between coasts. I think I’d probably get fewer dirty looks, passive aggressive comments, and people doubting my knowledge of my own feelings if I’d gone with the first route but …
I was 20 and living in a small town in Utah when I got married,
There were two roads in front of me
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.