Many years ago I enjoyed reading Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Even before I had read that book, the idea of traveling on the back roads of America had seemed to me a romantic and wistful way of travel. Today our destination was less than 200 miles down the road, and we didn’t have any rush to get there, so it seemed a perfect time to try the “blue highways” approach to things. The journey is the destination, and all that. I set GoogleMaps to the “avoid highways” setting, and off we went.
Almost immediately she was telling me that she had found a faster route, and I would have to press “no thanks” to avoid having her re-route me to it. Indeed. The default is to a faster pace. I get that. But not today.
“Drive ¾ mile, then turn left on McAdam Road.”
“Drive 2 miles, then turn right on Shelly Lane.”
The scenery was pretty nice, and E really enjoyed the ride. (She hates interstates.) It seemed a bit round-about to me, but it was OK. I had asked for it. At one point we were told to turn left, while just ahead I could see signs for a numbered North Carolina road. We made our turn and traveled about a half mile, and then she turned us onto that numbered road. We had managed to avoid about a half mile of a “major? highway.” It was at that point that I began to wonder about the wisdom of my selection. Maybe GoogleMaps wasn’t smart enough to figure out a reasonable way to avoid major highways.
“Drive 10 miles, then turn right on North 32.”
Wait a minute! Our destination is south, southwest. She wants me to go north??
After two hours in which we had only registered 75 miles, I began to talk with E about bailing out on this blue highways plan. What would have been nice would have been non-interstate, or even non-divided highways that actually take you in more-or-less the direction you want to go. Back in the day, when we plotted our own course using actual maps, we did this sort of thing. I guess if we want to travel that way we’ll have to do it that way again. We re-programmed the device, got ourselves to I95 S, and finished up the last 80 miles in fairly short order.
Our destination was a farm in Gable, SC. We had had hopes of getting some fresh strawberries. When I called ahead, Jay Willard, the farmer, told me that they wouldn’t be selling strawberries over the weekend, because they were just getting started, and they had sold out of what they had. However, he told us today that we could pick some. Awesome! He told us that he had a new variety that were large, firm and great-tasting. We picked a four-quart basket in no time.
We enjoyed talking with Jay and his family and learning a little about farming in South Carolina.