On Round Trips to Nowhere and Dusted Evergreens.

We were ready. Car packed, sweaters pulled tight, a cooler tucked in the back seat. Prime viewing windows claimed, playlists curated, sleepy eyes adjusting to the lack of morning light. We planned to chase the fog a thousand kilometers from West to East, from the Pacific to the Kootenays and arrive by early evening to a cabin in the mountains filled with family and old memories.

Sixteen hours and eleven hundred kilometers later, we returned home, defeated.

Up until the early afternoon, we were making good time. We stopped only for gas and drove through rain and snow, through mountains and valleys. The weather was rough at times, leading to squeezed hands and tight breaths as we drove on highways with no visibility and passed cars stranded in ditches but we carried on, anxious and excited to arrive. I was nodding off to Johnny Cash, head leaned up against the window, when I heard my dad and sister comment on how it had been several minutes since they had seen any Westbound traffic.

Minutes later, we ground to a halt. We kept the car running, my dad’s foot on the brake, but soon put her in park after five minutes had passed and cars began to queue behind us. Soon it became apparent that there must be an accident, and a quick twitter search revealed that the only highway in our area of BC had been closed - a terrible accident had occurred. No further updates would be posted for another ninety minutes, so we had no choice but to sit tight just three hours from our family.

Big Christmas snowflakes were falling all around, covering the evergreens with a thick blanket. With nothing else to do but make the most of the moment, my sisters, my love and I got out of the car and walked down the middle of the Trans Canada Highway. We were in a pretty remote area, about thirty minutes away on either side from even a gas station, so everything was untouched. However, the increasing number of sirens and the number of minutes passing began to cast a somber shadow across the whole experience.

Finally we received an update. The highway would not reopen for at least another nine hours. We had no choice but to turn around and start thinking about whether we would stay overnight and finish the drive the next day (which would leave us with only a day and a half to spend with family) or turn around completely. After driving Westward for forty-five minutes and realizing that all the hotels were completely booked with other stranded travelers, we realized that our only real option was to head back the way we came for another eight hours and sleep in the same beds we made that morning while our family reunited without us.

We were crushed. Phone calls were made and plans were debated, but there really was no other option. We would be traveling for 16 hours only to end up back where we started.

We spend the first hour in silence and passed another two semi-trucks in ditches while on the road. Blinding winds and snow and fog caused us to hold our breath again, even more so as details of the accident were released. A semi truck collided with a passenger vehicle and two people lost their lives.

We didn’t make it to our family, but at least we left knowing we could try again next year. Two people didn’t make it home, and never will.

If only, we kept saying. If only my sister didn’t delay us by looking for that book. If only dad didn’t set off the alarm. If only we left ten minutes earlier. At first our if onlys were said with the intention that we would have skipped the delay, but soon after realizing that the crash occurred just ten minutes before we got near the site of the crash we realized perhaps it was the little annoyances that saved our lives.

2014 was a year where I constantly thought “if only.” If only I joined that club. If only I took that class. If only I didn’t choose not to job search right away. If only I didn’t take that risk. If only I said goodbye.

some photos by the lovely juniperanne

Usually my “if onlys” were negative, causing me to think of the good things that didn’t happen. However, maybe I’ve been looking at it the wrong way. Maybe things are happening the way they should, and I just can’t see that yet. Maybe things aren’t happening according to plan because the plans I’ve made for myself ultimately wouldn’t’ve satisfied me anyways.

I’ll never know how things may have been different in 2014, just as I’ll never know if we could have been taken that day had we not been delayed. But perhaps it’s the approach and attitude that matters, not the potential results. Perhaps it’s how we see how we could be benefitted when things go wrong rather than how we dwell on the things we may or may not have lost.

May 2015 be a year of new opportunities, joy among hardship, and peace that surpasses understanding for you all.


  1. Oh my goodness, this is achingly beautiful. Very somber and very heartfelt.

  2. This is such a beautiful post! A similar thing happened to me recently. My boyfriend and I had planned a vacation away to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains over his Christmas break. A few days before we were supposed to leave, he got into a pretty bad accident while teaching his younger sister to drive (everybody was fine except his car). Even though I was terribly disappointed that we couldn't go (I'd been looking forward to it for a very very long time), we've decided that for whatever reason, it was supposed to happen like that. Who knows really, maybe if that hadn't happened, she wouldn't have learned her lesson in this relatively harmless way. I don't know. There's a wonderful short YouTube video (google Alan Watts Chinese Farmer) that relates to this, you should check it out. Anyway. Happy 2015, glad I discovered your blog and sorry for the humongo comment!

  3. very beautiful pictures, love it

  4. Thank you, Anna! Never apologize for comment length :) I'm so sorry to hear you missed out on your trip, however the Smoky Mountains are definitely worth waiting for. I hope you make it there soon! I'm so glad you posted that video - it is really good. Thank you again and have a very happy new year :)

  5. I love your words here. I'm sorry to hear you weren't able to re-unite with your family for Christmas, and as you said, there's always next year. I always ask myself 'imagine what would have happened if...' which is my kind of 'if only'. I always wonder what I'd be doing with my life now if I hadn't had my daughter so young, I'm just full of curiosity about the 'butterfly effect' as they call it. Glad you're all safe and well, the pictures are gorgeous.

  6. These photos are stunning. I love the rustic feel. Snowy accidents are scary. It never snows here, so the one time it did we had sooo many accidents.

    :] // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

  7. Thank you so much Carmen! It doesn't snow much where I grew up either, so I totally get how scary it can be when it happens in traffic.

  8. Thank you Alex! There are so many unknowns in life - the butterfly effect is indeed a really curious thing.

  9. Ahhh! Winter travelling can be so stressful! Especially when you only have a short amount of time to spend at your destination! You have some lovely photos our of it and a good story though!

  10. Thank you Shy! Yes, winter traveling is so crazy unpredictable, but little adventures can usually be had along the way.


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