Roadside attractions may be one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. There’s nothing better than going off the beaten path to see something that is weird, giant, a little frightening or absolutely breathtaking. You just never know what’s in store until you veer off your designated path and take a look.
We did that many moons ago. Living in the western part of Oregon, we are blessed to be only a few hours from either a snow-covered mountain, forests, rivers, and lakes galore, the high desert or an impressive, albeit cold, coast. We regularly enjoy these varied climates and environments and have a particular fondness for our coast.
Along the coastal highway on the way to a little touristy town called Seaside, there used to be a sign directing travelers to the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce. For years as we’d drive past I suggest that one of these times we ought to stop. But we never did. We’d drive past and I’d imagine the glory of what I was missing.
Finally, I was tired of imagining and made a sudden turn onto the road. It wasn’t too far into the forest, but it was impossible to miss. At roughly 700 years old, it was hands-down the largest tree I’d ever personally seen. To say it was impressive is an understatement. It was jaw-dropping. At least for me. I actually hugged it.
What once stood a proud 200 feet high, was cut down by a fierce windstorm in 2006 taking advantage of an old lightening scar from years ago. It’s 17-foot diameter stump still stands as a reminder of what was once the oldest living thing in Oregon.
And we almost missed it. Just think, all those trips we made back and forth to the coast, passing by the little dirt road that led to this ancient beauty. We were always so focused on our destination that we couldn’t be bothered to slow down and explore along the way.
Sometimes life is like that, too. We get really zeroed in on what we think is the goal and fail to notice the little things that pop up in life. We forget to go down the back roads and see what lurks behind the next turn. Maybe it’s a new friend or a hobby. Maybe it’s the beginning of a new career or ministry. Maybe it’s love. It might also be something scary. Let’s be honest, there are monsters in the forest. But maybe we need to face a few of them in order for our dependence on God to grow.
Not all the paths we go down are going to be good ones. But let’s not stay so safely on the path we’ve set before ourselves that we miss the best part of the journey. You never know what you just might find.
Photo by Milan Sietler on Unsplash
[I was unable to find any photos of the Sitka Spruce in question, either from my own collection or on the interwebs that were royalty free. Hence, you get this pretty little photo instead!]