...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Sometimes it Floods: day 8

I thought I had seen the wildest of roads, living in Alaska for 16 years.  Some of those were pretty bad, and indeed impassable, but I must admit that overall, country roads in Alaska have nothing on the craziness of those in East Tennessee.

The back roads here in East Tennessee twist and turn and curve and rise and fall continually.  They are also narrow--so incredibly narrow, and the further you drive out, the more tapered they become.  These back roads sometimes turn into new roads without any indication.  It's a crazy maze, and one that I would not want to navigate without gps.  Sometimes, it's even worse with gps, because gps assumes that "roads" are roads, but that's another story.
There is absolutely no shoulder on most of these back roads, which are many times labeled as highways.  Simply put, you better get in your lane, or "lane", whichever is the case, and then stay in your lane, and pay attention, all the while fighting the carsickness which inevitably accompanies such roads.  If you don't do this, you'll be over the center line in a heartbeat, or ramming into the next 200-year-old tree which is literally right.  next.  to.  you.
Oh but they are gorgeous!  Tree branches hang overhead, creating a living canopy.
All those twists and curves add delightful beauty to the landscape.
It sometimes reminds me of driving through a Charles Wysocki countryside painting, especially when horses are grazing beside the lane on either side and you run into road signs like this:
We live down such a series of roads.  Driving home for us at present, means driving down a twisting, paved road, and turning onto another narrower, curvy, paved "road" with no markings. From there, after dodging the immense tree pictured above and navigating a blind, 90-degree turn, we turn onto an even narrower, gravel road.  This turns at a "t" onto a threadlike, non-level "road" made up of loose gravel and grass growing in the center.  Dizzy yet?  This ends at our garage door, and appears to be the only way to or from our home.

According to gps, we should be able to take the "t" going the other direction and come out onto some other obscure, winding road.  We actually tried it....once.....upon going to our first visit to what's now become our home church.  Thinking how lovely it was that we could take the back roads to church, we confidently headed out that Sunday morning with our trusty gps navigation app, feeling quite spunky that we were driving a van instead of a 30 foot motor home.  (Insert much praise to the Holy Lord.)  True to East Tennessee fashion, the road looped and swooped and became narrower, narrower.  Suddenly there was a locked gate across the road.  We pulled over and double-checked the map.  Our options were to continue on and bust through a fence, or turn onto the "road" going the other direction, which quite literally, turned into a grassy path with some tire tracks worn in the mud, which went up a grassy hill and then disappeared around a hairpin turn.  Mapquest resounded in our ears like a clanging gong, "Continue 1.2 miles.  Continue 1.2 miles.  Come on, dummy!  Continue 1.2 miles!" Not impressed with either option, ready to smash Mapquest under our front tire, and irritated that we were going to be late despite leaving so early, we turned around.
So with that background information, here's another little fun fact we recently found out about this little country road of ours.  A couple times per year, it floods over.  Oh East Tennessee, you are a trickster!  Luckily you also are filled with good people, wonderful neighbors who give us a heads-up before the dastardly event actually occurs.

Upon walking one morning, I met a neighbor walking her little dogs.  We stopped to chat and introduce ourselves.  We got to talking about the roads and their upkeep, and then she mentioned casually, "You know it floods, right?"

"Um, no, we weren't made aware that it floods."  This good neighbor went on to give me the 411 on the road flooding situation.  She then explained that when the road floods, we "just need to take the alternate route" to get in and out of the property.  At this I became puzzled, recollecting our one experience with the "alternate route".

"Have you ever gone the alternate route?" she asked.

"Once," I replied, "and we ran into a locked gate."  She chuckled and then explained that the gate actually has an electric eye, and will open when you drive close enough to it.  Of course.

"Coming back, there's a key pad, and you enter the code to get back through."  She kindly explained that the gate belongs to another neighbor, as does that road.  He installed the gate for privacy, but equipped it with an electric eye and key pad for the safety and convenience of neighbors during the flooding.  She gave me the code for future use.  Good to know.  Thank you neighbor.
Sometimes it floods.  But because of good neighbors, it only adds to the charm of this property, in this neighborhood, in the South.  It's something to love.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lannie Hamilton: When I was a kid we lived in rural Delaware for a while (think Tennessee, Kentucky). My Dad used to take us for drives in a convertible on what we called tree roads. I remember lying back against the convertible top (folded down) arms stretched to the air, as we drove slowly under canopies of trees on single winding roads. The shade was complete. The trees were huge. There was no traffic. We have wide open spaces in the West. This does not mean the East lacks beauty or adventure.