The journey is as important as the destination

During a recent road trip through West Virginia, I thought I would use the opportunity to do a little exploring and check out a few state parks along my planned route.

A few years back I enrolled in the Very Important Parks Person program, which encourages people to visit the state parks and forests, and I really had not had much opportunity to do so.

I was using my sister’s GPS device, as I was on my own and wasn’t as familiar with the area of the state I was in, relying on its technological mapping information to guide me.

I opted against a larger side trip to Blackwater Falls, as much as I enjoy the area, wanting to get home before it was too late. I also decided against going to Coopers Rock. That was pure luck as I later was informed it was move-in weekend at WVU, and I probably never would have gotten close.

Instead, I decided to try out Valley Falls State Park, near Fairmont. I had only heard of the park within the last year, and wasn’t sure what to expect, so I programmed in my digital partner and listened to its directions.

I made it, and had a nice little visit — eventually.

The GPS directed me off an exit, at which time I decided to fill my gas tank, and then proceeded to follow directions down a road. It told me to turn off the road and follow a smaller route, before directing me onto an even smaller road.

Some may call this road a lane, but that would be generous. To me, it was a graveled-over cow path along which people decided to build their homes. The GPS insisted it was much longer than it was, as I found out as I reached the dead end.

Eventually, after following a few more country roads that didn’t take me home, I found the park. It was nice, with several hiking trails and the focal point being a set of small waterfalls on the Tygart Valley River. There was a car show taking place that day and a small pavilion with a great view of the falls.

With better directions I wouldn’t mind visiting again.

While it was frustrating taking these wrong turns, it also became a story — a bit of an adventure, if you will.

It was an experience and I hope to learn from it.

That’s really the key to much of life isn’t it?

Depending on your philosophy, we may be destined to go down a particular path, or our life is determined by our free will.

Either way, we follow a path, some of it may be a well-paved highway while other portions are parts of backwoods paths — worn down and difficult to follow.

In life, there are going to be moments where we take steps down the wrong path. Sometimes, we get pretty far before realizing the direction we’re heading.

We have the option of continuing down that wrong path, and then we must deal with the consequences.

We also could realize our mistake, take the necessary steps to turn around, get on the correct road and find our way to our destination.

The destination is the goal. Whether it is exploring a part of your home state, earning a college degree, getting a job promotion or something else you find important.

We want to be able to reach those goals, and hopefully we don’t get turned around too much during our journey and can reach that endpoint.

It’s important we learn from all of those experiences, though, so we don’t repeat them in the future.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)