Discoveries at the end of the Beaten Path

By | February 12, 2013

One rather okay winter day, Laura and I decided to take a two hour hike to a neighboring village to see some old churches. One of the advantages of being a “local” is getting to see sites off the wide, paved “touristy” path and instead see what’s at the end of that beaten, worn-out and neglected dirt road. I’m not exactly sure how many people go to this particular tiny little village, which was established in 398 BC, but we saw exactly two cars on the rutted snowy route the entire two hours there and additional two hours back, so I’m guessing not too many.

Okay Winter Day in Armenia

Not most peoples' definition of "beautiful," but it's safe to describe it as an "okay" winter day that Laura and I followed this road out of town.

Tiny Armenian Village in the Winter

This village is very small and spread out, and I highly doubt it sees much traffic of any kind, either coming or going.

At first sight, the churches in the village looked pretty old. It wasn’t until we got back and did a teeny bit of research that we realized how old they actually were. One, theĀ Astvatsatsin Church, is dated 1181 and, 150 meters beyond, the Katoghike S. Gevorg church is from the 13th century, according to the one Internet site I looked at.

Katoghike S. Gevorg Church

This is Katoghike S. Gevorg Church. It's around 800 years old.

Astvatsatsin Church in Armenia

This is Astvatsatsin Church. It's a little older than the other one.

The insides were dark and cold with bare dirt floors and bare stone walls. There were a few small prayer corners with blackened, melted candle wax and a few pictures of Christ, typical of what I’ve seen at other churches in Armenia. Outside the churches were the usual elaborate hand-carved stone Khatchars or Cross Stones that are also typical of what I’ve seen in Armenian graveyards.

Laura and I sat and had a light snack of mandarins and muffins. We both activated our portable, disposable hand warmers, as the wind was starting to pick up and it was chilly, just sitting there. Then we started the two hour walk back.

Girls at the old Church in Armenia

Snack time!

My hand warmers were just starting to get cold as we re-entered the town limits. Then it started to snow, huge, thick heavy flakes. It was great timing on our part, as some parts of the road we’d been walking were treacherous enough with ice. At least we didn’t have to deal with the blinding snow as well.

Laura in the Snow

It started snowing hard right when we got back.

I discovered something more than old churches at the end of the beaten path that day.

From starting out as just an “okay” winter day, it actually became much more than that, because I interacted with it. I’d gotten exercise in the fresh air, had seen a new part of the world I’d never been to before, spent time with a good friend, and could justifiably spend the rest of the day cuddled in a warm blanket in my apartment drinking hot chocolate and reading a new book.

You know, people are always telling you to “get off the beaten path.” I say just the opposite. Get on that weather-beaten, muddy, worn, decayed, bleak, wild, raw path and see what lies at the end. It’s much more interesting.

Beaten Path in Armenia

Take that beaten path and see where it leads.

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One thought on “Discoveries at the end of the Beaten Path

  1. dad

    It reminds me of the hunting camp and its worm, muddy, beaten state that only can be traversed on foot or 4 wheeler… or 3 wheeler… remember going there with me and mom and 4 of your siblings, all on my 3 wheeler crawling along through the mud? Me and mom on the seat with Gordy between us, Russ on the front fender and the other 3 of you on the back rack.

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