This past week we took an overnight trip that involved several stops around Georgia, a night spent in Chattanooga, Tennessee, then back to Georgia the next morning. The trip had a purpose which we fulfilled, but along the way, we discovered an interesting irony.
Whenever we are on a road trip and whenever time allows we take a Robert Frost approach and try to find those roads less traveled. Speeding down an interstate might get you where you’re going a little faster, but besides the pure stress of interstate driving, think of all the things you miss as you go zooming by at 70 mph.
It hasn’t been that long ago that a road trip involved big, cumbersome paper maps that I could never refold correctly. Then we’d have to write down or remember which exits to take and which roads to follow. Today, it’s so much easier, providing you have the right app for that. We happened to load Map Quest on our iPad because it was free, but it’s proven to be the perfect traveling companion. Two years ago we took a round trip drive from Brevard, to St. Louis, to Chicago, to St. Paul and back again and the program got us every where we wanted to go without a single hiccup.
So again we put our faith in our iPad and turned the fate of our trip over to Map Quest as we headed south on SR 281. The early part of the trip, leaving North Carolina and getting into Georgia, is something we’ve done a number of times, but once we started getting further and further into Georgia, the more we relied on that pleasant voice to tell us when and where to turn. We got to Chattanooga just fine and when we prepared to leave the next morning, we popped the address of our next destination in Georgia into Map Quest and headed out. We had some idea of where we were going, but not exactly so we surrendered ourselves to our iPad and crossed our fingers that we would end up where we needed to be…eventually.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions we made on this trip. As we left Chattanooga it wasn’t long before we looked at each other and acknowledged that we had no idea where we were but it sure was pretty. We traveled for several hours on two-lane country roads that took us past old family farms, along a ridge with mountain views so stunning we pulled over and stopped to admire the sight, and through small towns that were no bigger than a blink. There were roads named for people we had never heard of, others that were designated historic and scenic, and some that barely had any name at all. There were tree lined roads with lush canopies and dappled light and rolling pasture land with bales of fresh cut hay. We saw century old gas stations with a neon “Open” sign that seemed to contradict the weathered gray wooden building, but reminded me of childhood summers spent in rural Louisiana. I wanted to stop just to see if any of them had an old chest cooler filled with Upper 10 and RC Cola.
We didn’t say much as we drove along. The songs of Allison Krauss and Trisha Yearwood provided the soundtrack of the day, interrupted only by the woman’s voice of Map Quest instructing us to turn here or there. The afternoon was as if we had been swooped up and transplanted back to a time when things were more simple. A time when a man’s word was as good as his handshake and families still gathered at the end of the day to share a supper with non-GMO vegetables and meat from animals who never saw a growth hormone. It was a time before anyone could conceive of evil anything like what we see today in ISIS. Preppers were just folks who knew how to put up food from the growing season and how to be self sustaining on the land. Kids played outside on swings, had dirt ball fights, played king of the hill, and knew to be home when the porch light came on. There was no such thing as being politically correct. It was a time when people talked to each other and they did it in more than 140 characters. There was no Twitter, no Facebook, no text messaging but there was community.
We arrived at our destination and our dreamy day’s drive came to an end. There was no way we could have routed our trip any better on our own. We could have poured over a crumpled up road map and tried to make heads or tails of the roads, but in the end it was technology that took us on this journey. How ironic that it took a free app and an electronic voice to remind us of life’s simple pleasures and the world as it is when you take the time to travel along a two lane road.