By Lynn Kohler
I have been thinking a lot about how much the way we approach each day impacts our life. As my father often said, you have two choices, you can look at the glass half full or half empty. It really is that simple. We can choose to be happy. What we decide effects our perception of everything around us. Recently, my husband and I had the experience of driving our youngest child to Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. Embracing our son’s decision to be on campus during online learning, we were excited to get him settled. We had long looked forward to experiencing this rite of passage together. Soon to be empty nesters, we wanted to make this a special trip for all of us.
We planned to take our time winding home, exploring Crater Lake in Washington and rafting down the Rogue River in Oregon. Enter an alternate reality! Be it the global pandemic or dangerous air conditions from catastrophic fires, every direction we turned we encountered a setback. Our extended journey grew longer as we changed routes to avoid smoke and highways flooded with evacuees. We had to make stops in towns in Idaho where no one seemed the least bit concerned about social distancing or wearing masks. When we made it to our hotel in Pullman, we could barely see through the thick air across the road. The air quality worsened and we knew all plans for outdoor adventure were officially cancelled. We raided the best Wal-Mart ever for last minute items and focused on getting our son moved in and comfortable in his dorm. Visions of him as a little boy flashed across my mind and I cried my eyes out when we said our final goodbyes.
We forged ahead for an overnight stop in Wala Wala, only to find the air quality there was even worse. We could hardly remember the last time we had time off from our jobs and were ready to enjoy some R&R. The next morning, we were determined to drive anywhere that had clean air to breathe. We settled on Boise and jumped in the car for another four hours of driving. What we soon realized when we arrived is that we could not escape the dismal conditions. There was no clear air or bright skies to be had, anywhere. All our plans were dashed. We made a choice right then and there to be happy and enjoy our time together. Guess what? We had an amazing week. We met interesting people, saw historic buildings, enjoyed wonderful food and wine, spent a day on a lake, found vibrant wildflowers in the mountains and listened to rushing rivers. We chose to be happy, and we were.