Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Road Less Traveled

"Ha ha- look there are no center lines on this highway,”  I laughed, easily amused by this.  It felt good to get off the beaten path a little.  I had pushed for the decision based upon the GPS declaring it had 3 magical choices for us. 

Choice # 1:  The quickest route via freeway.  I’m very tired of freeways.   
Choice #2:  A four-lane highway, veering slightly off the freeway for a small distance. 
Choice #3:  Only ten more miles- but an intricate path through hidden and forgotten about cities full of no doubt surprises and new sights to see.

I of course voted the road less traveled.  My better half-although the most logical man in the world, but also wanting nothing more than to make me happy, drove the truck down Choice #3, though I’m sure against all practical reasoning.
As much as I openly hated GPS’s, for some reason on this trip I just decided to throw caution to the wind and just trust in it this time- as opposed to my usual insistence of verifying its calls with my maps.  I love maps.  They never lie.  They could be outdated, but they never lie.  If one gets lost with a map, it’s 99% of the time their own fault.  If one gets lost with the GPS, well, for some reason that just seems to happen to me 99% of the time anyways.  Though my family and friends are always swearing by them and will make fun of me in jest because of my inability to trust in them.

We turned down the near single-car lane, then weaved around either side of an open southern Virginia tobacco field.  Gone were the road numbers and in their place were roads named after their inhabitants for the past 200 years or so.  Miller’s Way.  Jone's Drive.  Big John’s Road.  Possum's Path.  I could definitely see where this had once probably been the trail of horse-drawn wagons, or even perhaps a pack mule. 

Quaint farm houses with pillars over their wrap-around porches and withered red barns that looked like they had seen better days were littered periodically through the field.  I was secretly reassured because I had a cell phone on me.  Just in case. 

Growing up in MN I would have been subconsciously calculating if it would be closer to go to the house I had just passed, or would it be best to keep going in the direction I was traveling in the case of a breakdown, (or more likely getting stuck in several feet of snow.)  This all depended on how long ago I had passed the house.  I looked down at my phone in which I had come to rely on so much.  (I think I may have  even forgotten how to change a flat tire due to my fanatical dependence on this tiny piece of electronic genius- a lesson I was required to pass before I was allowed to take the car as a teenager.)  The reception bars had disappeared from my phone.

As the road continued to narrow, we came to a stop sign.  The GPS insisted we turn right, though the blatantly orange DETOUR sign told us that was no longer an option.   We soon found ourselves driving down scenic roads that the map was not even aware existed, and the GPS, clearly expressing it’s distaste for our lack of obedience- refused to speak to us any longer.  We were beginning to realize we were, in fact, in a bit of a pickle.

I did my best to remain optimistic, pointing out the fact that we would have missed the beautiful little rock-lined pond and brook had we taken the freeway.  And Lord knows I’m a better person for having seen all of the refreshing farmlands and woods.  I was doing my best to keep the faith for my family, though I knew we only had so many, “Are we there yet?”’s left in us before something inside of us threatened to snap.

I secretly began to pray for a road sign.  Any road sign would due.  Just to prove that we were somewhere that was documented.  Instead, what came into our view as we rounded the corner was something that made me do a quick, silent confession of my sins in my head.

There up ahead were probably about ten to twenty men, lined along side of the ‘highway’.  Propped over their shoulders or hanging down to their side was a rifle.  We continued towards them, not wanting to attempt to turn around and draw attention to ourselves.  Because there was no shoulder, the men were standing about as close as they could to the road without getting smacked in the head by a passenger side mirror.

We traveled past them, with the feeling like we were the singular show in a parade.  “This…is…creepy,”  was all I could muster to say.

“They must be just doing a drive.  I think it’s the last day of deer season down here.”

I was sitting at eye level and could feel there glares looking into my passenger window.  They were not happy to see us and made no attempt to hide that fact.  We were disturbing their hunt.  Or worse.  Their heads followed us one at a time as we passed.

“This couldn’t be any more awkward…” I muttered the obvious.

Suddenly free of the hunters' glares, we rounded another bend only to be greeted by a ‘ROAD CLOSED’ sign.  At this point, I would have insisted on driving through the broken road (there is something about owning 4-wheel drive that causes one to make decisions like these that are less than thought out.)  However, due to the fact there was a ginormous crane that occupied the entire width of the road- there was no driving through this broken road.  Instead, we turned around and reluctantly had to creep past the deeply annoyed and impatient hunters for a second time.  We tried our best to look invisible, but alas, we were not.

“You know, I can see how people could get away with things out here.  All this land and swamps.  No one would ever know anything, because they’d never see or hear anything AND they’d never find a body."  I was lost in deep thought.

He looked at me, slightly worried now.  “I’m glad I’m on your good side.  Well, most days anyways!”

Sometimes I am just as shocked as others are by the things my mouth says without first running them past my head.

After an hour more or so of wandering through the Virginia forests and swamplands, we eventually found our way to an actual road with numbers.  I sought relief in the little things- such as other cars, or gas stations, or center lines in the road.  

An “I told you so” wasn’t even necessary.  As appeasing as he would continue to be, he knew that I had learned.  Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

Virginia Counties Map

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