Country roads. Ah, the romantic image that comes to mind in just two little words. Songs have been written about them. People have dreamed of these roads leading them home. They have been immortalized as the epitome of beauty, peace and contentment. At least, until they have actually driven on them.
For the past two weeks, while filling in for a friend at her job, I have been traversing these country roads. Although they may be rather picturesque, the truth of the matter is that they are a bit scary. Around here, we don’t have two lanes, we have one and a half, and if you aren’t careful, you will find yourself facing an oncoming car while both of you are trying to cross over a half-lane bridge. It’s about that time you need to learn the skill of ditch driving, without tearing out the oil pan.
Driving 25 miles an hour down one feels like in reality you are doing 110 on a straight road. These roads are paved, gravel, dirt, and designed exactly like one of those old timey washboards. They have short curves, long curves, fat curves and skinny curves; sharp curves, soft curves, smooth curves and slippery curves. Add in the hills, and you feel like you are in an amusement park designed by Dr. Suess.
One of the more interesting aspects of country roads is that you really have no idea where they will lead. You can follow one, thinking you are headed North, only to find out in a few minutes that you are actually headed South. They twist. They turn. They go from blacktop, to dirt, to gravel, to barely a grassy track, and then back again. It just depends on which one you take – you could be driving in circles, or you might just actually get home again. Three hours later.
To add to the excitement, the Police Jury in Red River Parish has been laying gravel on the roads I travel every morning before 5:00 a.m. In all honesty, this is a vast improvement, and they have done a great job. However, there is nothing more ‘fun’ than having a Mama possum and ten of her babies crossing this freshly laid road, and slamming on your brakes trying to avoid a full-family massacre. Even at a slow rate of speed, the fishtailing I did is going to make somebody think some idiot decided to use the road as their canvas and drew a whole lot of whorls, circles and squiggly lines and called it Art.
And then – Bienville Parish decided it was time to fill a few holes with hot mix. Great job, guys, but, oh, the joys of hearing all that tar hitting the underside and lower portion of my car. It means I’ll be spending quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to get my car to go back to a subtle champagne color, instead of polka-dotted.
Regardless of the conditions of the road, or the direction they take, there truly is nothing like taking a leisurely drive down a country road early in the morning, and seeing the sun filter through the trees. To drive them in the early autumn with all of the colors surrounding you makes you feel more alive than any other time of the year. It truly is a thing of beauty, peace and contentment.
Country Roads. Yep. They do finally lead you home. You just need to be very careful in trying to get there, and have an exceptional sense of direction. Make sure you pack a lunch, just in case.