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Knowing When To Turn Around

Summer was slow to arrive in the Pacific Northwest this year as Mother Nature tried to squeeze out just one more drop of rain while the rest of the nation sweltered in 100 degree heat. When summer finally hit us on the 4th of July and the weatherman predicted temperatures in the 80s and 90s this weekend, my husband and I did what most people around here do and packed up the car and headed to the Oregon Coast.

We got up early and filled a large cooler with water and brought along some snacks for the drive. It was a nice drive to Cannon Beach and we got there before the swarms of people arrived. We spent a couple hours wading in the ocean (the Pacific Ocean is not warm), looking for shells and rocks and sampling olive oil and browsing for books at the local stores. We left Cannon Beach feeling refreshed and made plans to drive to the booming metropolis (joke) of Gearhart to have lunch at a new hotel and pub.


The traffic gods had other plans for us and as we as we drove toward Gearhart traffic began to slow down and stop. It was hot and our initial reaction was to turn around but we decided to wait it out and see. A couple of minutes later, an ODOT truck with a reader board drove by letting us know there was an accident. Great. We really wanted to keep going as we weren’t ready to turn around just yet so we decided to wait a half an hour and see if the accident cleared. The time passed and we were hot and sweaty and had only moved three feet. As much as we wanted to continue on, we decided the new pub just wasn’t worth baking like an egg in the sun for two hours and turned around.


The traffic gods weren’t done with us yet because we got stuck in two more accidents along the way. After waiting for 10 minutes in the second accident. we hit our breaking point and turned around and headed toward the nearest pub. We spent a nice hour in the shade drinking local micro brews and eating good food while going over the events of the day.

My husband wisely pointed out that our trip was a lot like the lessons he’s learned in Project Management. You might be barreling along down the road and everything is going well until the traffic gods decide to throw a wrench in the gears. As American’s we are trained to not admit defeat and just muddle through and “soldier on.” Now I don’t believe in quitting when things get rough and I’m a strong believer of tunneling under the wall when it’s placed along on ones path, but what do you when that wall is a traffic jam on a 90-degree day?

We assessed the situation and determined our purpose for the day: To Have Fun. Which we did do in Cannon Beach. Not going to the pub wasn’t THAT big of a deal and there were other places to stop along the way. We did do some prep work before setting out (water, snacks, towel) but our journey could have benefited from a map or a smart phone if one of us actually had one. We kept our spirits up and tried not to let our frustrations get to us. We laughed and made up scenarios for movies on the Psy Fi Channel (or whatever it’s called these days) and ended the day with jokes about barges of rabid chickens overturning in the Columbia River.

Like our frustrating trip, many of life’s experiences involve changing gears and being ready to move on and change when a project gets stuff in traffic. We can’t always commit to just one and plan and have to be prepared to decide if Plan B, C or even Plan M is the best option. Changing courses is not a failure, sometimes, you just have to learn how to turn around and find a better route.


About Anna Alexander

I get ideas. I write things. I sometimes follow through with those ideas. I also run long distances and live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband cat who lets us pay the mortgage on his house.

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