Josh deLacy is off for the month. Please welcome today’s guest writer, Christina Van Eck. Christina graduated from Calvin College in 2017 with a degree in writing and a minor in youth ministry. Christina spent her first year of post-grad life in southern California as an Americorps Coach for Playworks, an organization that seeks to foster healthy play in elementary schools across the U.S. In her free time, Christina enjoys hiking, playing sports, and eating ice cream.

We could smell the aroma of adventure as we drove with half cracked windows and wholehearted spirits. Each year, spring break gave us the opportunity to put the headaches of college life on hold. It was our senior year of college, and this would be our last adventure together.

There were seven of us on this trip from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Canyonlands National Park, and we had only a few hours left until we would reach southwest Utah. We planned to spend four days backpacking among rocky canyons, red dirt, and juniper trees.

I was in the car that took up the rear of our two-car caravan. We closely followed the other car until they pulled over on the interstate for a quick bathroom break. They waved us on and said they’d catch up. We failed to realize, however, that we were without a map or sufficient cell phone service.

So we continued westward. As we drove, we began to see evidence of the burnt orange rock formations that famously characterize southwest Utah. Rather than following the other car in our group, we now followed the ridges of orange in the distance. We were carefree and excited to be alive.

The three of us danced inside Jenna’s Subaru as the smooth voices of James Bay and The Lone Bellow accompanied us through the winding road. And we laughed a lot. Perhaps our laughter was made possible by the ease of our friendship, or maybe it was the inevitable sleep deprivation of cross-country travel.

I don’t remember wondering when our next turn would come or if the other car would catch up soon. All I knew was that we were driving toward adventure, and we were together.

It wasn’t until two hours of separation that we decided to return to reality. We had just regained cell phone service, and we hadn’t heard from the other vehicle. I pulled up Google Maps on my phone to see how close we were to our destination. To my shock, we were approaching Salina, Utah, which was 150 miles past Canyonlands.

At first, we were confused and tried to figure out where we had gone wrong. We couldn’t believe we had overshot our destination by so many miles. After informing our friends of our predicament, we turned around and began to make our way back. This time, though, we made sure to put our destination into Google Maps before we lost cell phone service.

Once the initial shock of our situation settled, we giggled. Those giggles turned into laughs, and those laughs turned into deep roars. I have never laughed so hard. Those moments backtracking toward Canyonlands and laughing at our own foolishness were some of the sweetest moments of my life.

We found ourselves in a situation that was not planned or expected, but we welcomed it. We welcomed the hilarity of our mistake, the unknowns of adventure, and the opportunity to give ourselves grace.

The sun set around us as we made up the miles and hours we had lost. We arrived at our campsite after dark, and our friends greeted us with understanding. My heart was warm as I lay in my sleeping bag that night, and I remembered how much we had laughed. `

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