I just drove to Ohio and back twice in a week. That’s roughly 40 total hours on the road, 2,500 miles, eight tanks of gas, half a dozen stops at fast food joints, a bag of bacon jerky (delicious!) and a bag of Sour Patch Kids Xploders (disgusting). The first round trip was to drop the kids off at their aunt and uncle’s house. The second was to pick them up.
After so many hours on interstates, I get bored. The Sagittarius in me longs for the adventure that can be found taking country roads instead of the humdrum highway. Ohio offers plenty of alternative routes to your destination, especially when that destination is a tiny town named Roseville, population 1,852. I tried embarking on a few of these side roads on the first trip up the states but was advised against it by my stowaway mother-in-law (more on that next week). Despite the allure of getting lost on back country roads with the possibility of my mother-in-law pleasantly and repeatedly informing me that we’re lost, I decided it’d probably be best if we stayed on course.
The second trip to the Midwest, however, was a different story.
This time it was just me and the wife enjoying some time together in the car on the way to pick up the rug rats. When we cross the Ohio border I’m already on my GPS mapping out a back-road course that I was sure would provide us with beautiful Americana scenery. I could already hear the John Cougar Mellencamp songs playing in my head.
It didn’t faze me that we had already been detoured for roughly an hour and a half through the mountains of Virginia because of a friggin’ 18-wheeler blowing up inside a mountain tunnel. The wife, on the other hand, was quite obviously ready to get out of the car.
Against her better judgment and oh-so-subtle urging, I take an early exit to Roseville by way of Belle Valley Road, the village of Cumberland, Ohio (population 367), and what appeared to be the set of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies.
The man in me won’t listen to the vocal GPS directions, so I just pull up the map on my phone and follow it to the best of my ability, all the while emphatically enjoying the scenery and hoping the wife will join me in my excitement. I did get a “looks like the rest of Ohio” from her. So that’s close, right?
A couple of things happened on our passage from interstate to small-town Ohio: there was a torrential downpour and I lost my phone signal. Bye-bye map! I didn’t lose my cool, though. Well, at least I didn’t let her know. Some of the roads we were on resembled those leading to the Merry Brothers Brick Ponds. But the stubborn male in me never let on that I feared we might end up in the wrong state… or in the obituaries, courtesy of some chainsaw-wielding mid-Ohio citizen.
Luckily, we made our way to a highway that she recognized. She said, “Oh, turn right here.” I quickly answer, “I knooooow!” In my head: “thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!”
Do I regret taking the detour? Not at all. Even though it didn’t play out as planned, the end result was a success. As I always say: Life is an adventure. Live it up and enjoy it. Stop to smell the roses. And take the small country roads that make you happy to be alive at the end. It’s all worth it. And you never, ever hear fun stories about the interstate.