When I crank up my truck, Juanita is ready. Wherever I go, she goes. She is full of information. But unless I ask a question, she says nothing. I’ll tell you about my know-it-all traveling companion in a minute. But first, there was this man last Thursday.
Wearing a florescent vest, he was standing in the right lane of U.S. 1, north of Louisville. His white pickup was blocking my path, and he was pointing to the paved road on the left. I did what the car in front of me had done. I turned.
Road work and wrecks create detours, so I thought nothing of it. As I drove through rural Jefferson County, a stream of big rigs streamed south. I kept looking for a sign or flagman to direct me back to U.S. 1. After about five miles, the southbound traffic evaporated.
It was time to talk to my dashboard buddy, Juanita. That’s what I call the GPS lady, a.k.a. Ms. Know-It-All. I gave her my destination address, and she said, “Turn right on Moore Road.” I did and, oops, the asphalt disappeared. “Stay on Moore Road for the next five miles,” she advised.
OK, Juanita, I like dirt roads. My truck needed a bath anyhow. And then the orange clay turned to slick, deep-rutted mud. My tires spun. I knew to keep moving. The one-lane road’s shoulders were high. I was lucky that I didn’t meet another vehicle. Moving over or turning around wasn’t an option.
With my windshield spattered with orange globs, I congratulated myself on getting through that obstacle course. And then, the road turned to sand. The ruts were even deeper. Juanita advised, “Stay on this road for three more miles.”
The tires started spinning, again. This time, I gambled and stopped. I pushed another button that I had never used—four-wheel drive. (I could hear our children laughing because I had told them the only reason you needed four-wheel drive was to back out of where you shouldn’t have gone in the first place.)
I forgot to tell you that I was pulling a boat. Four-wheel drive or not, I wasn’t about to back a couple of miles.
The V-8 engine growled and the four tires got us to a paved road. And then Juanita chirped, in her friendly voice, “Take a right onto Omaha Road.” I slowed and turned on the blinker. She was about to take me on another dirt-road adventure.
I trusted my sense of direction more than her voice in the sky. I found quaint Gibson, a relic of previous prosperity. And from there, I skirted Warrenton and Crawfordville. I didn’t stop at Heavy’s Barbecue on Highway 22, but I slowed in Philomath. I do every time.
Sitting back from the road is a two-storied, never-been-painted mansion. Its front-porch columns are giant, knobby cedar trees. I’d like to know more of the stories behind that Oglethorpe County house.
But I wasn’t about to ask Ms. Know-It-All, Juanita.