Day -3: Following The Road Less Traveled
Which Way to The Road Less Traveled?
Those of us eager for adventure, yet virtuous in our own minds to forge our own paths, almost always choose the road less traveled. But if we look closer, sometimes we mistake the road less traveled with the road last traveled. We began our journey this morning excited to put the first mile behind us.
In fact, we were eager for the first fifteen miles to pass because we had seen these miles before. These were the miles of our former years. The miles of coming and going through a town in which we both were raised.
We looked forward to the next miles, the new miles, as they led us toward the road less traveled. Those miles would come at the expense of time and convenience. But we were not in the market for convenience. Nor were we trying to save ourselves time in getting anywhere in particular.
Rules of the Road
As a rule – call it Rule of the Road #1 – we decided that we would avoid driving the interstate at every instance possible.
Interstates are the roads most traveled. They are the ones that get you from one place to another in the least amount of time. Intentionally, they are designed to be a blur, the least amount of inconvenience in an otherwise fast-paced life. They are the arteries and veins of America, carrying just about everyone and everything we know throughout the country.
The Road Last Traveled
We were not in a hurry. So we set a course for US1, a dated four-lane highway that runs up the eastern part of the state of Georgia. As a whole, US1 is the longest highway in the US. But for us this portion was just that – a little here and a little there. Sometimes the road narrowed to two lanes. At one point it came to a halt at one lane where we sat idly for fifteen minutes waiting permission to drive through construction.
US1 is the road last traveled because at one point in time it was the primary route connecting the north and south along the east coast. And as we drove further north we could see the signs of yesteryear wearing on the passing scenes. Hope seemed lost, among the living and the landscape.
Barns stood slanted against broken trees.
Grain silos were dilapidated and falling down.
A mighty columned house half-burned years ago still waited to collapse.
Package stores, grocery and post offices were boarded and covered with spray paint.
Yet there was life among the road last traveled. It was spring, after all, and the season brought optimism, if only forced optimism.
The dogwoods were scattered across the dead and fallen leaves of seasons past. Yet in full bloom they stood in contrast to the dull brown ground.
Old pecan trees stood like towering ghosts lined up over the cemetery of a weary winter. Yet looking closer one could see green sprouts dabbling their sullen bark.
An old man stood on a rusty ladder and painted a fresh coat on an old hotel sign.
A grand opening was scheduled for a new store on Main Street.
A new highway was being constructed to increase traffic to Any-Small-Town, America.
And in us, too, optimism took hold as we were headed toward our new life. These monuments to the glory days gone by were like memories to us. We left a good life behind today to pursue a better one.
We took the road last traveled out of respect for the golden age that forged our own existence. For the road less traveled seemed desirable to those romantics who see the world the way they want to see it. The truth is, most paths are beaten now and even the road less traveled could be seen almost always as the road not taken.
But a stroll through time on US1 reconnects us to our roots. Our mothers were both born in small towns off US1. Their fathers once drove back and forth to work upon the highway. Our destiny was made from those tiny towns now lost and crumbling. We owe it to the road to pay our respects. Were it not for the dogwoods and the pecan trees, the empty hotels and the brick laid main streets, we would have missed it all upon the interstate.