‘How I (Finally) Learned To Let Go on a Weekend Adventure—And the Vehicle that Made It Possible’
Letting go is not easy, especially when there’s a line of people behind you begging (with their eyes) for you to please hurry up and just release already.
High above the tree canopy, I adjusted my hardhat and eyed the clamp in my hand with skepticism. But unless I—and the growing bottleneck behind me—wanted to stand on a wire suspended between two trees for the rest of the day, I had to make a move.
Sure, we were protected by a safety harness and a backup clamp, as well as the knowledge that the ropes course was a sanctioned leisure activity at Skamania Lodge, a highly-rated eco resort on the Columbia River in Stevenson, Washington. Yet unbuckling myself in order to move from one line to the next felt like scaling a mental fortress.
Had I read the website beforehand, I would have known the activity required you to “Test your balance, strength, and agility while you traverse obstacles such as tight ropes, wobbly bridges, cargo nets, hanging logs, and even a canoe suspended in the trees!” What it didn’t mention: The course requires surprising reserves of upper body strength and a total reevaluation of your life’s priorities.
Climbing 50 feet above ground felt like entering a new stratosphere, with nary a laptop or smartphone in sight. The soothing palette of Pacific Northwest greenery, narrated by the region’s omnipresent birdsong, offered to deliver me from my daily stressors. But something within me didn’t want to let go.
Why did the idea of relinquishing control seem near-impossible?
That was when I realized that I needed this weekend escape more than I knew. A quick round of 4-7-8 breathing, and I was unshackled, metaphorically.
This was not a zipline but a lifeline.
For overworked millennials tethered to laptops, the simple thought of taking time to find yourself can be enough to provoke guilt and anxiety. For city dwellers, and the ranks of young adults who have opted out of car ownership, the surplus challenge of finding the vehicle to help you find yourself can pump the brakes on any notions of leaving town.
Unless you have a car, a plan, and an empty calendar (and ahem, a valid driver’s license), going on a weekend adventure, whether into the wilderness or to the nearest city break, seems daunting. It’s easy to generate a zillion excuses as Memorial Day gives way to Labor Day, especially when fear of navigating tricky terrain gives pause to those contemplating greener pastures.
But finding the ideal car for a quick escape is easier than you may imagine. For me, it was Honda’s brand-new SUV that handily eliminated worries.
That morning, before suiting up for the ropes course, I found the 2023 Honda HR-V well-matched to the ethereal jaunt from Skamania Lodge to Oldman Pass via the verdant tree-scape of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. (Bonus: No cell service.) Despite its relatively small stature as Honda’s entry-level SUV, the car clung to the double-yellow lines leading up the dewy mountain pass with control. It handled switchbacks more capably than SUVs two or three times its price, allowing me to focus on what really mattered: rest and relaxation.
That was an even easier task on the way down, thanks to the Hill Descent Control feature that automatically applies the brakes to keep speed between 2 and 12 mph on steep, slippery declines.
Starting in the mid-$20,000s, the HR-V is not a luxury car, but it displays just enough frill to keep it interesting. It’s sleek enough to fit in anywhere a weekend might take you, but not so precious that a splash of mud spoils the mood. The latest model adds a large touch screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, an imperative for any road trip longer than a couple of highway exits and when you’d rather travel with an audiobook instead of four other people.
The Honda HR-V was the throughline of my 48-hour West Coast adventure. Though it’s ideal for the escapist activities offered at Skamania Lodge–like hiking, axe-throwing, and forest bathing–it’s versatile enough to handle any trip, from snowfall to sand storm. Slap a surfboard onto the roof for a drive up California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Got skis, bikes, or golf clubs? The HR-V can handle those, too.
From my perch on the ropes course, I started climbing higher and eventually made it to the pinnacle that few people reach, a 75-foot high wooden platform called Eagles Nest.
For the first time, I forgot about the work awaiting me later that evening.
A deep sense of satisfaction supplanted my anxiety over missed emails, as I lowered myself off the wooden aerie to dangle high above the ant-sized cruise ships coming down the river. With a smile stretching ear-to-ear, I closed my eyes and swayed in the wind. I earned this view, and this strange sense of calm, too. Perhaps all it took to stumble upon that elusive state known as “peace of mind” was a safety tether.
Even after returning home and settling back into my desk, this newfound sense of serenity outlasted my expectations. That’s when I knew it was time to begin planning the next weekend away. After all, Skamania made me into a new person, someone hooked on letting go.
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