Today I traveled across the state for a meeting.
Vermont is a small state, less than 90 miles across at the widest point, but getting from east to west is a challenge. North to south is easy. Even northwest to southeast is a cinch. But when you want to go from side to side, there is no simple option.
I am an interstate girl. I don’t like back roads. I understand that I probably miss some quaint small towns and pretty sights by just hopping on the highway, but I’m usually just trying to get to my destination, not sightsee.
So when I’m headed cross state, I take the main thoroughfares. There are no interstates, but there are highly traveled and well maintained routes to utilize. They are a little less direct, taking you too far South and then back North, but like I said, it’s not far across anyway.
Today for some reason I decided to be adventuresome and tried a different route.
The first sign that I was not going to be comfortable on this particular road was literally a sign. It said, “Scenic route. Not recommended for tractor trailer trucks.”
That was the first of the road signs that progressively made me more nervous. There was “entering National Forrest,” “moose crossing next ten miles,” and my personal favorite, “bear crossing.”
I don’t like moose or bear anywhere near my car and while I understand the need for national forests, I prefer to stay out of them. I saw Blair Witch Project. I know what happens in forests.
The road itself was windy. It was bordered by a river on one side, with only a precariously narrow shoulder dividing the two, and a densely wooded mountain on the other. Trees from the hillside leaned over the road, making it dark.
There were few houses and those I did see looked like they were inhabited by recluses. Cell phone coverage was spotty.
A lot of bad things could happen on a road like that.
What if I had driven off that narrow shoulder and into the river? What if a tree had fallen off that hillside and landed on my car? It would take days for someone to find me.
And what if one of those recluses was a serial killer and jumped out in front of my car. I wouldn’t be able to call for help.
Intellectually, I know that I should see the roads like these as beautiful, or at least appreciate that nature that surrounds them. But I only see isolation, desolation and danger.
To be fair, there were a couple of nice moments. I passed a small farm where an old couple stood in the driveway arm and arm watching their herd of grazing cows.
And the pine trees did smell lovely, when I got up the nerve to open my window a little.
But all in all, it was a harrowing journey.
As Vermonters, heck as Americans, we’re taught to take the road less traveled, make our own path, not just in our travels but in life.
Driving alone through a moose-infested, bear-packed national forest full of serial killers, though, I longed for the road more traveled.
And that’s exactly the road I took on my return trip.