The Difference

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A few summers ago my family had to opportunity to travel on a long-abandoned stretch of historic Route 66 over the mountains between Kingman, Arizona and Needles, California.

The further we got from the Interstate the further back in time we went. I could easily imagine what it must have been like for the Okies who left the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression in hopes of a better life in California.

We didn't have to travel that route to get where we were going that day. In fact, it was somewhat of a detour for us to go that way, but we wanted to just for the experience of it. And it was, indeed, an experience we will never forget.

The old highway is narrow and twisty. It follows the contour of the land winding up and around the mountains. There are sharp drop-offs and blind curves. It is not an easy road to drive. It is fascinating, though, with interesting things to see and intriguing intersections leading off to who-knows-where. We especially enjoyed watching for the wild burros. And we speculated about the travelers who had been this way before, generations ago.

The Interstate we had left behind by-passed the mountains and rough places. It was wide and smooth, and easy to travel. We would have reached our destination sooner if we had stayed on the (boring) Interstate. But that wasn't the point that day.

Contrasting the two routes reminds me a little bit of homeschooling. Sending my kids off for someone else to educate would certainly be the easiest route (at least for me), but choosing "the road less traveled by" has been so much more rewarding over the years. I'm convinced our family is closer as a result of the extra time we've had to spend together. We've been able to customize our learning plan to specifically meet the needs of each of my children in ways that a classroom school never could. And we've had time to explore side-roads and admire the scenery along the way.

Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I, I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
--Robert Frost

Enjoying the adventure,
~Karla Cook
Lifelong Learner

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