19 November 2009

Thursday Thanks-giving: mountain roads and answered prayer

Yes, I know this isn't Thursday, but yesterday as a friend and I were traveling over some mountain roads, I was thinking how grateful I am for them... but it hasn't always been that way.

Those who know me, know that I've loved mountains for a very long time. When I look at them (or better yet are on them) they elicit a deep emotional response within my soul - as if God placed this deep love for them within my DNA-and I know that it is on them that I often feel closest to the Creator. But mountain roads are another thing. Dread and outright fear would be the term I used to describe them -- for a very long time.

It wasn't always that way though-nope! Earlier in my life you would have found me on places like the top of Pike's Peak (CO), traveling up a gondola at Grouse Mt (BC, Canada), on a chair lift in the Cascades--in summer-and on the countless mountain roads my parents and others took me on in the NW, Canada, the Rockies and the SW. You also might have seen me on cliffside trails in Hawaii and the Pacific NW, on the side of the Grand Canyon, at the top of the Space Needle and other 'high' places. No problems until THAT night...the beginning of the change.

It was a cold and VERY snowy night about 25 years ago. We were traveling in our small convertible when we hit ice and slid straight towards the other (lake) side of the road. Now I don’t know if I cried out to God for help; knowing me I probably did, but a miracle occurred--we came to a stop on the only embankment in the area. A little bit to the left or right and the ending might have been very different. Did I say my infant son and young daughter were in the back seat at this time (my daughter still remembers the incident)?

Over time I developed a rather pronounced reaction to mountain roads, especially those that ran by water or had drop offs or cliffs and it got worse as the years passed. It limited travel, at times, and caused conflict; it changed travel plans and it hurt me deeply as I loved to be in the mountains more then any other place. My PCP ordered meds to take during trips but these, at times, were not sufficiently strong enough to help-most noticeably on one trip to the Canadian Rockies, a place I really love, where we had to change our itinerary completely when. after miles along cliffside and other roads, I ended up with a severe anxiety reaction that couldn't be controlled.

At work, a suggestion by a fellow employee to look only at the road ahead of me, instead of to the side, helped--and I still do that at times but this was not enough and I could not truly enjoy the journey upwards. Years later, another friend said something about taking baby steps and attacking the problem by not avoiding it (actually the fellow employee had mentioned something like this too, but I wasn’t ready for it then). And so the process began--slowly but deliberately and with a friend driving that I had total trust in.

Now I can truly say that I am doing better; still on fairly non dramatic roads--no outright cliffs like some roads in the Gorge, mountains and coast have, but high enough so that there are definite panoramic views. I am also trying to travel upwards often enough so that fear does not have a chance to build up again.

As for the original site of THAT incident--the one we believe precipitated this fear of mountain roads and heights--I have yet to return there and feel at ease and yet, the idea of doing so at some point in the future does not fill me with the same trepidation it once did. However, it would not be on a snowy, dark night and would certainly not be in a convertible!
So on this third Thursday Friday of November, I can truly say that I am thankful for the mountains, mountain roads AND most of all--answered prayers.
NW Oregon
Alaska (4 photos)
Canada (2 photos)
NW Oregon
Central Oregon--Cascades

An apology for the quality of some photos. The prints themselves are beautiful but I was
a) too lazy to scan them
b) the house is still caught deep in the throes of chaos--albeit not as deep as previously so it would not be an easy process to scan them:)

Photo Credit:
Credit for Alaska and Canadian photos goes to my dad (yea, dad) and thanks to both of my parents for permission to post them here. They were taken during a trip on the Inner Passage to Alaska--a place I have never been but which I would love to go as it reminds me of some photos I've seen in Norway--another place I have never been but would love to go! The Canadian photos were taken in the Rockies--near Banff and Jasper from what I can remember. I have been there before but not for some time. Incredible place:)

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