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Do you remember the 1983 movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation” staring Chevy Chase? It’s a successful comedy that lead to a whole series of sequels. There is a scene in the movie that I actually lived in about 1978, and I’m puzzled as to how they heard about it. Might I actually be entitled to some royalties?

If you want to see the clip go to YouTube and search “National Lampoon’s Vacation Car Scene”. Clark Griswold (Chase) takes his family on a vacation in a brand new, “metallic peat Family Truckster”. Envision the ugliest green station wagon you’ve ever seen.

In the scene, the family misses a detour sign. Clark ignores his daughter’s warnings that they are off the road, they come to a point where the road ends, and they become airborne. The car lands hard in the middle of nowhere, and is in pretty tough shape.

My real life story happened five years earlier in a similarly colored green station wagon. I was an underclassman on the way to the Industrial Arts Fair at UNI in Cedar Falls. I was riding with my instructor and three upperclassman. Already decided on a career path to being an architect, the model home I had constructed was packed in the back with the other student’s projects. We were driving on a dark and very rainy night.

We came across several detours. After following the first several, the conversation between the instructor and the senior in the front seat was that “there is always a way around these things”. Emboldened by this discussion the instructor was challenged to take a construction path around one of those bright orange and white road closed barriers. After a short way the path lead back up to a new road. The front seat occupants were feeling pretty good about their decision as we drove a long ways on a brand new road with absolutely no traffic, until…… We crested at the top of a hill and there was no road in front of us. It was a drop of several feet to the dirt path below where the pavement had not yet been placed. Let me just say, that heavy cars with big V8’s in the front don’t sail majestically like they do in the movies. They hit hard. You will recall I said it was pouring rain right? After the initialimpulse to hit the brakes the instructor hit the gas and by some miracle we were able to get out of the deep mud. After some time we found pavement, made it to our destination, and made whatever repairs we could to our damaged projects.

I have another story about missing a detour, and being chased by an angry construction worker in a bulldozer. I’ll save that one for another day. Just ask me about it some time.

What did I learn through these detours? Pay attention to signs, stay on the road, don’t look for shortcuts.

Exodus 13:21

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.

Proverbs 4:14-15

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it, turn from it and go on your way.

Matthew 7:14

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

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