Sunday, March 01, 2009

Shoulda Known Better…

It got to the point today where Sunny and I both just had to get out of the house for a while to save us from going stir-crazy. So, totally ignoring previous experience, we decided to go on another of our little road-trips to nowhere in particular. You know…to relax.

The idea was that we'd just drive wherever the road took us for a couple of hours, and we'd take the GPS with us to find our way home.

At this point I really should explain our previous experience with these little trips:

The first one we ever went on we ended up with us at a national park, following a 'nature trail' on foot. This nature trail quickly turned into one of the most terrifying and exhausting experiences of my life when we found ourselves halfway up a mountain, alone, on a trail so steep that it would have taken a complete set of climbing gear and a team of highly trained Sherpas to make me feel safe.

During our most recent trip, we ended up lost in the middle of 'Bumfuck, Nowhere' in a rainstorm so bad that we literally couldn't see more than six feet ahead of us, with nowhere to pull off a road that seemed to be populated with suicidal semi-trucks

There have only been a few times in my life when I've thought that dying was a real possibility, and four of these times have happened during our last five 'trips to nowhere'.

Of course, this time it was going to be different. After all, what could go wrong? We weren't going all that far, we had the GPS in case we got lost, we'd had the car's tires rotated, aligned and balanced that morning, we had a full tank of gas…What could possibly go wrong?

It started to go bad after about two hours on the road when we crossed the Georgia state line and Sunny pointed out that we were about halfway to Gatlinburg, Tennesee.

I should point out here that she was dead wrong. We weren't halfway to Gatlinburg, we weren't even a quarter of the way there. Gatlinburg was to our north and we'd driven almost exactly due west.

Unfortunately, I didn't know this at the time and said "Hell, let's just drive the rest of the way." (Gatlinburg is one of Sunny's favorite places, somewhere she talks about a lot, and a place I've never been.) It was going to be an adventure.

It was only when I put it in the GPS that we realized just how big a trip it was. I pointed out that it was about four in the afternoon, and Gatlinburg and back was almost an eight hour round trip. So Sunny suggested Pidgeon Forge, a place that was closer than Gatlinburg that she said would knock about two hours off the trip. Taking her word for it, I changed our destination to Pidgeon Forge city center and pressed 'go' without checking the route or the distance.

Here's something I learned from this trip:

GPS units are stupid.

You see, while they can calculate the shortest route to your destination and routes that are, in theory, the fastest…they don't have the brains to think "Hey, maybe they'd like to go five miles out of their way to take the interstate all the way to their destination instead of taking a route through the mountains on the world's most remote and twisty roads."

They also don't realize that the rain that's currently a drizzle is getting heavier, and North Carolina's Smoky Mountains are called 'Smoky' Mountains for a reason.

It also turns out that Sunny and I are actually quite a bit dumber than the GPS. You see, while we were approaching the mountains, we were looking at the fog rising from them and lamenting the fact we didn't bring a camera. Words like 'stunning' and 'beautiful' were bandied about. However, among the many words that weren't bandied about where: "Hey, that's really thick fog up in the mountains, right? Aren't we heading directly towards them? Won't that be an absolute bitch to drive through?"

About forty-five minutes later the sun had set, the sky was rapidly darkening and we were up in the mountains. At this point, the fog was still barely a mist, and looking at it through the trees, it had stopped being stunning and beautiful and had instead gone deep into 'spooky' territory. I looked out at the trees and the twisting mountain roads and turned to Sunny:

"We're gonna get raped, you know." I said. "By those inbred mutants from 'Wrong Turn'."

Seriously, between the gnarled trees, the remote country road and the tendrils of fog pooling like dry ice around the bases of the trees, it really looked like the opening sequence to every horror movie ever…with a little 'Deliverance' thrown in for good measure.

Sunny took this moment to point out that while there probably weren't any bloodthirsty hillbillies in the woods, there were in fact, a shit-load of black bears.


A minute ago we were on a fun road trip. Suddenly we were just a slutty cheerleader and a smartass guy with a bad haircut, leather jacket and a cigarette hanging from his lips away from a Halloween blockbuster.

Then, we turned a corner and visibility instantly dropped almost to zero. We drove slap bang into a fog bank that was as thick as a submarine door.

We ended up driving for almost thirty miles at less than 10mph, Sunny with her forehead pressed against the windshield while I watched the GPS to give her a little advanced warning about what was coming up.

Remember how I said earlier that I honestly believed death was a possibility during four of our last five road-trips? Make that five for six.


After a terrifying couple of hours in the mountains, encountering almost as many suicidal drivers as we did on our North Carolina rainstorm road-trip, the fog finally lifted, the trees cleared and we found ourselves in…



No, I hadn't mis-programmed the GPS. The route had decided to take us to Pidgeon Forge via Gatlinburg for no apparent reason…adding about fifty miles to our journey.

I may post more about our little trip tomorrow, but I think this sums it up pretty well:

We set off from home at 4pm, originally planning on driving for a couple of hours for something to do. Instead, we ended up arriving home at 1am after covering over 300 miles, many of which where drizzle-soaked, fog covered backwoods, country mountain-miles, driven surrounded by suicidal rednecks.

But you know what?

It was fun as hell.


1 comment:

Sunny said...

Yeah it was....and you left out most of the GOOD bits so you'll HAVE to do another post about it......Or else next time we go out for.....groceries, shall we say.....I'll head STRAIGHT back up there and we'll re-live that trip again.........

speaking of which...we need a few items from the grocery store tommorrow.....are you up for a trip for some chicken and milk???'s supposed to snow tomorrow night, you know.
*Cackles Gleefully as she dances around the room*.......