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A Tale of Two Hikes

So we’ve finally reached the last week of the year.


You know the one—that awkward space between Christmas and New Year’s that seems to be a combination of, “take it easy—lots of people are off work…” and “but I need to get this done by the end of the year!” Okay, that second bit might’ve been more common when I worked at the bank… But you get where I’m coming from, right?


With my new job, I’m actually off for this entire week (plus Friday of last week and Monday of next week). I don’t think I’ve taken this many consecutive days off since 2003 when Kirk and I got married. As a result, all of us are out of sorts. Any semblance of a routine is all off-kilter since the wrong people are home at the wrong times.


I think we all head into vacations/ time off with ideas of doing things we’ve been looking forward to… Maybe some relaxing or self-care. Maybe even enjoying a hobby or even getting some things done around the homestead. But as with anything around here, we all know things don’t always go that smoothly.


It’s a bit like the hike I planned with the boys a few years ago… We headed a bit upriver to Perrot State Park (our closest state park). One of the features this park is best known for is Brady’s Bluff, which has several trails that lead to the top and a beautiful lookout over the Mississippi River as a reward when you reach the top.


When we got to the park, I parked in a lot on the north side of the bluff. I’d been to this park before, but it had been several years. So I checked the maps online and decided this was likely the trail for us… It was a shorter trail than another I’d looked at, and if Nolan ran out of steam, we would have a shorter distance back to the car.


What I had failed to account for was that the shorter distance to the top meant that this trail was much steeper than the other. Honestly, a good portion of this trail was wooden stairs that had been added because they were safer than navigating the rocky terrain on such a steep slope.


Clearly, I was unprepared for this kind of hike. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t exactly have the build of an elite athlete (or the lung power of a mediocre athlete)… As a result, we didn’t make it all the way to the top. I didn’t accomplish what I’d set out to do (though Kirk and Nolan likely would have had I not been along).

My all-time favorite photo of Kirk & Nolan was taken on this hike...


A couple of weeks later, Nolan and I returned to Perrot Park to try a different trail. This trail was the hike I had been looking for when we’d taken Kirk with us. It had a much gentler slope and several areas where the trail went through wooded areas that provided us with shade (unlike the super-sunny slope we’d attempted that first time). There were even benches scattered along the way where we could rest if we needed.


Although there were several spots along the trail where the slope grew steeper and we had to push ourselves to get through, this was exactly the hike I’d hoped for. We got to enjoy time out in nature together enjoying the fresh air on an unseasonably warm day. It was everything I’d wanted that the first hike couldn’t deliver.


This week (at least so far) is a little bit more like that first hike than the second… It’s not gone nearly as smoothly, it hasn’t been as relaxing and rejuvenating as I might’ve hoped, and we may fall short of the goals we have for our house this week.


But just because we fell short on that first hike doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the endeavor—we still enjoyed ourselves. And just because this week off has been a bit more “uphill” than I might’ve hoped, it doesn’t mean it isn’t also nice to spend time with Kirk and Nolan.


And just like with the hike, even if we don’t reach our goal, it will still be there for us when we’re ready for it. We might just need to take a different approach.

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