- Never leave the house without a map - a real map - if your route is not as familiar as the back of your hand. Looking at a MapQuest map minutes before you leave doesn't count because even if it looks like a straight shot that any fool could find blindfolded, chances are once the journey begins the Highway 49s and 59s will get confusing, bypasses will become available that look similar to the roads you actually need to use, and the food and bathroom needs of your 8 year old passenger will require you to get off the path.
- Your vision of what things should look like and how things appear in the dark are two different things. Road signs seem to fly by in head-lighted, heavy traffic of metropolitan areas. Chances are you will miss the turn and not recognize landmarks that would guide you in daylight. Bring a map so you will know for sure.
- Even if you think your sisters will be available for a directional consult since the route is their usual, don't count on it. It is possible that they have a life separate from yours in which they have school conferences, meetings, and other activities. They may not answer their phone, bring your own map.
- Sometimes logic doesn't rule road size. Any reasonable person would assume that as you draw nearer to a major city the number of lanes would increase rather than decrease. Yet they don't. When the lane number decreases and the only signs are for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a map would be handy to avoid that chest tightening, forward leaning panic that arises when you've already been on one too many wrong roads and the clock is moving closer and closer to a new day.
- Finally, if you don't have a map, don't be tempted to cut through on rural roads to make it back to the major highway for which you missed the exit 10 miles back. It's just not worth it. Unfamiliar backroads dimmed by darkness may not go all the way through making it necessary to get on other backroads, and then other backroads. While this exploration may be a fun-filled adventure during the daylight hours, when driving at night with a child who is rightfully worried that you don't know where you're going, it's not a good idea. Lose the 10 miles and backtrack.
Monday, September 10, 2007
A Few More Days of Summer
I drove south to capture a few more days of Summer at the beach. We left after ballet on Thursday night from the city, which is not my usual path and I learned so many useful travel lessons on the way.