Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The road less travelled

The scene: Atlanta, about 10 p.m.-ish. We've been on the road all day and are cruising the last few miles to a waiting downtown hotel. The brilliantly lit skyline peeks in and out as we carefully navigate the twisting interstate highway. The GPS unit is helping a bit, which is a good thing, because the road has a dozen lanes and countless intersecting ramps threatening to take us to Alabama if we're not careful.

Alas, technology isn't infallible. I mis-hear Lola's* soothing voice as I approach one particularly complex web of offramps. I take the wrong one and am quickly curving in a direction that I think, coincidentally enough, will ultimately take us to Alabama.

At that moment, things begin to happen. Our daughter's keen ear picks up on the change in tone coming from the front seats. Our youngest stirs, thinking that because we're off the highway, we're already there. The GPS quickly recalculates our route just as it occurs to me that we're somewhere near the end of the runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. How do I know this? I spot a descending aircraft's landing lights as they rapidly fill the windshield. I open the sunroof and the windows as we excitedly explain what's about to happen to the kids. Wows and oohs and aahs fill the car. No one's stressed and no one's afraid. We can drive around all night as far as they care: this is fun!

Not 15 seconds later, the GPS is correctly pointing me to an alternate offramp and I finally get it right. We slow down and stop at a red light, facing a big blue sign pointing right back to the familiar, correct highway. It's a long signal, and as we sit there, gigantic lights from above once again descend on us from the heavens. This time, we can practically see rivets on the plane's skin as it roars overhead on its way to reconnecting with the planet. We smile as the light turns green, the jet wash slowly recedes behind us and we continue on our way.

As I merge back onto I-75, I wonder if perhaps we were meant to take that wrong turn. Maybe it wasn't wrong after all.

Your turn: Missed directions that took you somewhere different or surprising. Please discuss.

*Lola = the name we have assigned the voice on our GPS navigation device. Bad family habit: we personify appliances.

6 comments:

R. Sherman said...

Some years ago, we were in Jackson, WY and my wife wanted to check out the Targhee Ski Area. We drove to Driggs, ID to get there, but took a wrong turn and would up at a trail head into the Jedediah Smith Wilderness on the west side of the Tetons. We said, "what the heck" and decided to spend the day hiking. Very cool.

Cheers.

Carletta said...

Carmi: Thanks for coming by my blog and leaving such nice comments. I love your Blog name and the way were words soothe as they tell us your story.
Naming your GPS Lola ~ priceless!
I'll be back.

Linda said...

Ah, you've brought back many memories for me. I lived in the Atlanta area for almost 4 years...the first 4 of my marriage. I used to take the MARTA (Metro Atlanta Regional Transit Authority) subway to work every day, from the College Park station...and that was at the end of a runway, just across the highway. I used to see the underbellies of planes all the time...smell the burning jet fuel...feel the heat. It really was awesome. With very little exception, I think I could still navigate the complex mass of roads that comprise the Metro Atlanta area...the commute was HELL (after I took a new job that wasn't on the MARTA line), traffic snarls were common....but it was a beautiful city to drive into and out of...and the city lights were always breath-taking to me.

LceeL said...

We were in Phoenix, in a Hertz car, driving to Prescott. We had entered the destination in the GPS unit in the car. Apparently the GPS didn't know that the Northeast corner of the 202 loop around Phoenix was, in fact, finished. We followed the 202 instead of following the GPS directions which made the GPS crazy!!! If it could swear I think it would have. It kept saying "Please return to the indicated route" over and over. We turned it off until our route intersected the proposed GPS route, after which time it was a happy camper.

Heidi said...

This is a fun and enjoyable post, Carmi.

I won't get into details here... but I think my family's life has had some twists and turns the past two months that are leading us to a new life in South Carolina this summer. I just know it's going to be great!

kenju said...

There are only 2 instances I can remember and they were both bad. In DC, mr. kenju took a wrong turn and we got lost in an area of town where the cops patrol on bicycles even at 7am. The other one was in NYC, where we got shuffled out of our way due to a footrace we encountered as we approached Manhattan. Both were very scary areas to be in - and I wonder if we were meant to do it - why?