Forks in the Road. Forks of the river. Forks in my hands.
I love Forks
This profound poem, that I know it is just amazing (you’re welcome), was formed from my recent trip to the South FORK of the Payette river, in Southern Idaho. As I was driving past the sign on the side of the road that read: ‘South Fork’, I began to laugh…. in a creepy sort of way… to myself…
‘Fork’ is not only a silly word, but it is a symbol of the decisions we have to make through our journey in life. Why was this funny? I’m guessing the humor was likely brought on by the pure exhaustion of taking my kids camping without my husband, (I told you I would try to punish myself again), and making it through successfully (!).
So there I was driving home, with my three sleeping kids in the back seat, and awkwardly snickering under my breath at the fork sign; while thinking about the fork in the road that I had come to last week: the decision to take three kids camping or to stay at home in the comforts of my routine weekend (Ya, I don’t know what that even looks like)….
At that mid-week fork of decisions, the signs pointing to the Right for NOT camping said: Sanity, Restfulness, and Predictability!
The signs pointing Left for camping said: Road Not Well Traveled, Bad Choice, Glutton for Punishment, Unpredictable!
I hovered at that particular fork for a full day and then started down the right road, got bored, and then turned around and headed down the left road- toting my three children behind me.
Looking back at my choice, I can snicker because I proved the Right Road wrong- I CAN travel down the road ‘not well traveled’ and come out a bit more exhausted, but a bunch more excited about life and its wonderful possibilities of adventure. Take that, ‘Right Road’- you don’t always know what is best!
I shouldn’t act out against the hypothetical ‘Right road’ sign, but it symbolizes the other naysayers that tell you having kids ruins all forms of adventure, makes you lose yourself, and that it is impossible to take them anywhere. With kids, some forms of adventure are scaled back, but there are new adventures that are ultimately more entertaining. Catching a fish on a fly rod is a rewarding experience for me, but having my daughter give me one of her dollars at the end of the camping trip, to pay me for taking her there, is a memory that I will always carry with me. It’s worth it.
It is interesting to think about the voices we listen to when we come to those forks in life or in adventure. Most people try to talk you out of adventure, especially with kids. During our camping trip, we came across the perfect example of handling the forks in our lives and the people that influence them.
What made us camp at a camp ground in the middle of nowhere? Hot Springs!
My brave friend, (she took her son camping with me and my wild pack of 3 kiddos), and I asked around at the camp ground about where the hot springs were located and how far of a hike it was, etc. One lady in the camp ground said:
“It’s a long hike and you have to wade in the extremely swift river. I would NEVER try to take my kids to the hot springs- especially in a back pack!”- While looking at me like I was a horrible parent for even asking.
Another person said,
“The hot springs are almost impossible to get to. The water would be up over your son’s head!”
We started to wonder if we should even hike down to the river because of its dangerous, murderous, flowing waters. I’ve experienced enough naysayers in my time though, including myself- it is something I am still working on: not listening to the parts of me that tell me I can’t do it or Ill never be able to achieve what I want. So- I have to see the river for myself and wade through the waters like a pioneer traveling West, when everyone else said the world ended beyond that mountain, or in normal words: see how swift it is.
Meanwhile, there was a mini fork in the process (baby fork haha): should I carry the toddler on my back, and trust that my back and surgery laden knees would make it? Or should I let him run free range down the mountain? With help, I chose to tie him to my back (restraints were my friend on this camp trip), and I prayed that God would give my knees the strength to handle the wiggling, curious toddler:
I thought I probably couldn’t do it, but once I got him on my back I realized I probably could.
We hiked down the valley, towards the river while looking at dead snakes, barbie doll size hot springs, and repeating multiple times to our tiny hikers,
“No running down the trail”!
Since my friend and I are both fly fisher ladies, we would peer out of the corner of our eyes at the river next to us, sizing up the habitat and looking for back eddies that would hide the trout from the swift waters. My husband informed me that I was not allowed to fly fish while on single parental duty because I get locked in- he was right this time so I left my fly rod in the car (sad face).
We got down to the end of the trail, where we have to wade around the corner. I scoped it out without the toddler on my back and headed into the frigged water, while the little hikers threw rocks on the trail. About two feet away from the large rocks along the river, the water was aggressive, but I found that if I stayed near the rocks I could manage my footing just fine.
I was waiting for the drop off, where it would be ‘over my kids heads’, and it never came. I was waiting for a rogue wave to jump out and pull my hair into the water and wash me downstream, but it didn’t happen. So I turned around and went back to report that the naysayers were wrong (maybe they just didn’t want kids at the hotsprings!).
After a short time of discussion, my friend and I decide we will methodically carry each kid around the bend to the hot springs, like super heroes. [My kids better remember how cool I was in this moment- Ill probably use it on them when they are teenagers: how I carried them through wild waters…].
The toddler was screaming and kicking in his backpack and trying to climb out when it is our turn to make the journey. I had to hold onto his ankle behind me to make sure he stayed tight in his pack. Another mom on the trail came in behind us and offered to carry my 4 yr. old. And so, like the Oregon Trail travelers trying to maneuver our way to paradise on the other side of the Wild West mountains, we followed in line through the waters. Against our camp ground’s popular beliefs of our abilities, we made it!
We soaked in the hot springs and played- feeling pumped up from our victory. My daughter ran around like a curious mountain goat, making friends with old ladies who knew her name all of a sudden. She yelled from the top pool down to me,
“Mom, what is my birthday again? Betty up here wants to know”!
I told her I admired how adventurous she was being, but if she could ask me before she climbed on top of the boulders that would be peachy. My 4 yr. old son and his new friend threw rocks into the swift river almost the entire time and stood under the waterfall, laughing hysterically at the fact that it was just like a shower,
“Mom, its so funny! Its just like a shower!”
On our journey back, I decided to carry my 4yr. old on the front of me and told him to hold on to me like a little monkey- while my toddler is in the back pack again (enjoying his ride this time without a diaper on and eating a chunk of beef jerky). I feel like a pack mule and wish my husband could have seen me doing this- it was hilarious.
The hike back to camp was harder going uphill, but my knees didn’t give up on me like the naysayer in my head predicted. I sat down for a half hour for lunch and then packed up camp to head home (that sucked). I kept thinking during that horrid time of packing that if I can carry my kids in the river like a mamma monkey, I can pretty much do anything- and I did. I started to wonder what things I have not been trying because someone told me I couldn’t or I had guessed that I wasn’t capable of it…or I was scared to be uncomfortable with the uncertainty of taking the left fork in the road….Adventure has a way of making you think about life on a deeper level. I don’t think we were made to be so afraid! 🙂
Following the South Fork of the Payette River on the way home was a treat- it was reminding me that someday I will be on the adventure of floating that river and fishing it. But this adventure with kids was just as golden, and adventure can be at any phase in your life…
If you are willing to turn left at the fork in the road.
I love forks.
*Does anyone else love fishing forks of big rivers??