Because sometimes you need to make a wrong turn.

berthoud pass

This is one side of the pass. And this pic was taken while it was dry. During the white-out that I drove in, you wouldn’t be able to see the road from this vantage point because of the blowing snow.

I sat up in my seat as straight as I could, like there was an ironing board strapped to my back.  I barely spoke a word as my friend tried to ease the tension with idle conversation.  My eyes were peeled as wide open as I could get them and staring straight ahead as my hands gripped that steering wheel for life. The snow was blowing so hard that I could barely see the car in front of me as we traversed hair pin turn after hair pin turn.  I knew I had to keep up with that white suburban in front of me because his tail lights were helping me see where the road was.

This treacherous trek was the result of my friend and I missing a turn during the four hour trip home from the horse clinic in the mountains a couple weeks ago (What I learned from Babe).  We got to talking so much that once we realized that we missed the turn, we were far enough into the other route home that the gal at the convenience store said we should stay on course and probably end up saving time taking this route home from Steamboat anyway.

I knew this route home involved Berthoud Pass which terrifies me in snowy conditions and I usually let my husband drive it while I close my eyes and breathe deeply or look at my phone to distract myself until we get through it. I’m convinced the reason that mountain real estate is cheaper on the other side of Berthoud is because so many people like me dread this pass in the snow.


Photo from The Colorado Highways Site.

But it was bright, sunny and warm as I got back into the car after asking the store clerk. If I had known about the snow storm that would be hitting just as we climbed the pass – just over 30 minutes ahead – I would have turned my car around at the convenience store lickety-split and paid no mind to the time we would lose in doing so.

Needless to say, it was a white- knuckle drive all the way up and back down this pass that terrifies me (all 24 miles of it).  Once we began our upward climb and the snow started to make it hard to see, there was no turning back.  We were committed.  All I could hear in my mind over and over was ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming.’  (This seems to be my latest life motto.)

And we did it.  MacGyver gave me a huge high-five upon my return home because he knew what an accomplishment it was for me to get over my fears and JUST DO IT on that damn pass, and in a white-out no less.  Now when I drive it this summer I won’t even think twice about being afraid of it.  And that, my friends, ROCKS.

Once again — just as the trusty universe knows exactly when I need to take The Long Way Home — the universe  knew that I needed to make that wrong turn.  And for that I am grateful.

What’s the best wrong turn you’ve ever taken?

35 thoughts on “Because sometimes you need to make a wrong turn.

  1. I’ve taken some wrong turns that I seriously regretted, and have been on some roads like the one you describe without it being the result of a wrong turn. Life isn’t at all like a Disneyland ride, and sometimes it’s almost a miracle that we manage to come through all right, but I suppose knowing that not everything goes as planned is part of coming to terms with life itself. I enjoyed your post.

  2. Great story, as always! I always make what I feel at the time to be wrong turns (or less-than-perfect turns) and in the end they usually turn out to have been the perfect one for me. 🙂

  3. Wow! What a story! Best wrong turn? That’s quite a question. For me it was to choose fear instead of trust. Over the years it’s pushed me into the worry pit and it’s made me sick. But it’s been such a learning and growth experience that I cannot say it was completely wrong for me to go there. I’m coming out at the other end as a much better person. At least, I hope so.

  4. As a non-car owning New Yorker, how I define a wrong turn is getting on the subway going in the wrong direction. That’s much more bone-headed than white knuckle harrowing like you driving in white-out conditions down a treacherous mountain road. If I was in your place, all I’d have been thinking was, “Where’s a taxi when I need one?” Glad you crossed the finish line.

  5. Congrats on facing your fear. Best wrong turn I ever took was getting on the wrong highway to get to upstate New York. It was a longer route with no rest areas, so I had to take a guess at which exit had a decent place to eat. Find a great diner after being lost for two hours. I’ve never been able to find it again though, but I’m okay with that.

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  7. My sister used to live in Steamboat… I have heard more than one Berthoud Pass story!

    I’ve taken my fair share of “wrong turns”. What a great topic for a post, though. I’ll think on it!

    • LOVED your post today about smiling. So right on and such a great reminder for me since I am the queen of asking my moody teen “Everything okay?” Drives him NUTS. I’m a techno dork when it comes to replying on my phone and all the WP log in stuff. Will go back and try again.

  8. I’ve taken several wrong turns in life. Most of the didn’t involve a car or highway. But getting over the scary part, I find that I’m always stronger, wiser, or better of for having taken (what seemed at the time) a wrong turn.

  9. I’m glad you survived, literally! Don’t they close those mountain passes during storms? They should! Life in the Rockies definitely still has hazards…I’m not sure what my best wrong turn might have been, but there have been two times I agreed to be involved with a project, and somehow that was translated as “I agree to coordinate and be responsible for the entire affair.”! I’m not exactly a workaholic, but those experiences taught me that I could dig up a lot of ability that I didn’t know I had. Maybe that’s the same lesson, eh?

  10. I’ve been on a road just like that – not in snow, but in heavy fog at night where lights don’t make any difference and you pray that the person in front doesn’t drive their car off the edge. I know that saucer-eyed, white knuckle feeling. Just thinking about it gives me cold shivers up and down my spine. Well done on conquering it!

  11. I would have been just as terrified as you were and I am glad for you that you made it safely. Here we don’t have snow but when it rains I don’t like to be in any car or on the road. Congrats on conquering your fears. I can’t think of any wrong turns I’ve taken just now as it’s still early in the morning here and I haven’t had my second cup of coffee, so I am still actually asleep and only one braincell is working, but I loved reading your post. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  12. I have made a couple wasn’t too happy about like when I was supposed to go North on I-90 to Wisconsin and drove straight into Chicago! Glad you made is home safely!

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