I have a growing collection of photos of signs for the road, for the trail, and for tourists. Sometimes they make me laugh. Sometimes they make me think. A bright blue one posted in the sage along the road to the Tetons, optimistically encouraging travelers to “expect delays and great scenery” did both.
Road construction where I live usually means decreased speed limits and short delays. In the mountains of Wyoming, thirty minute delays are typical and patience is not just a virtue; it is a survival skill. Pilot cars set the pace as they shuttle vehicles from one stopping point to the next. When the sign says to expect delays, it means to expect delays.
Of course, it also means mountain scenery. It’s hard to beat the Tetons.
They are beautiful. It is easy to see why people would be in a hurry to arrive. Even so, there is beauty in the delay, if only we will slow down long enough to see it.
Once, when we had driven up into Yellowstone from the Tetons, we met a long line of cars going nowhere. This didn’t look like a bear jam but we couldn’t see far enough ahead to determine the cause of the holdup. I got antsy. There were things I wanted to do yet that day, an important one being to procure our campsite.
When it became obvious that no one was going anywhere, we decided to head back to a picnic area that we had passed and use the time for something we needed to do anyway: make dinner. My husband climbed. Emergency vehicles passed. We prepared and lingered over a lovely dinner. Traffic began to flow by in both directions. We ignored them. We sat and absorbed this stunning view. Our priorities for the evening had shifted. Something good had been born from the delay.
Delays, on vacation, are not a big deal. Unless, of course, I am under time pressure; as in the road closes at 9:00 p.m. for the remainder of the night or at 10:00 a.m. for the rest of the season. That is some early morning pressure, best dealt with by looking at it through the lens of adventure or by finding another road.
At home, it seems that I am always under time pressure and I don’t leave room for delays. Unfortunately, there are always delays. They bring their own kind of scenery. I don’t expect them. I don’t seize their opportunity. I miss the beautiful scenery.
Perhaps I should post this sign at home because it is at home where I least want to miss the scenery. Good stuff happens in the delay, stuff that could be called life. If I miss it, I miss the beauty of my own life.
This March, as part of retraining myself to look beyond the next step, I am reminding myself to have great expectations, expectations for delays and great scenery, for therein lies the beauty of my life, if only I will slow down long enough to see it.
The snows falls and delays will follow. So will the scenery.