It’s a great time to sort out my thoughts, and enjoy time to myself. There is something calming for me about a seemingly never-ending road that leads somewhere I have never been.
Vast expanses of fields, forests, mountains and streams I see on these roads leave me with a sense of wonder at the beauty of God’s creation. Bradley County has many roads fitting this description.
Having officially been a resident of Bradley County for nearly three years, there are many such roads in this and surrounding counties that I am yet to explore.
I am originally from Maryland. There are parts of Maryland where one can find farms and fields. This, however, is not the Maryland I grew up in. Within walking distance of the Baltimore city line, yet far enough away from its crime to feel safe, was home most of my childhood. Townhouses stretched for row upon row in neighborhoods where many neighbors knew each other.
Even a single acre was a hard concept to grasp growing up. It seemed an acre would be a piece of land I could run on forever. When my family moved to a house with one-third of an acre of land, we felt like we had a huge yard. I came to appreciate the difference between where I was from and where I am now, when I had friends who owned 10 acres.
Being a “transplant from the North” as some would call me, my first trip to the Valley View community left me gawking at the stretches of wide open fields. I have since been back many times for work and pleasure.
As I have gotten accustomed to Bradley County roads, I have enjoyed “getting lost” to experience new areas. I never actually worry about getting lost because I have a GPS with me. My most recent venture was in the Black Fox community. I came to a road that was designated as a dead end. I headed down it. What better way to determine it’s time to end an aimless drive than by literally have it determined by the road? It was the longest dead-end road I have ever driven. I began to wonder if I was actually driving on someone’s driveway. The road ended at a gate to a field with just enough room to turn around. On my way back, I wondered if the road actually had enough room for oncoming traffic and hoped I wouldn’t see any.
My favorite aspect of Bradley County scenery is the mountains. I like to tell my family I can drive in any direction and eventually come to a mountain. One day while I was driving from APD 40 to Exit 20, I experienced a new mountain scene. I looked up to see a snow-covered mountain, although the ground around me was dry. It was beautiful!
Not all my stress-relieving drives are to nowhere. Many actually have a purpose and destination. I am very fond of road trips. Even with gas prices rising as they did a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t resist the urge for a short road trip to see friends, which meant two hours of just me, my thoughts and the radio.
When I was in college, long road trips home gave me plenty of time to untangle my thoughts and relax after a crazy semester. Some might find the idea of an 11- to 12-hour drive alone boring. At most times toward the end it was, but early on I discovered that there was a certain peacefulness to the trip. Besides getting to see amazing beauty and drive through mountains, the trips provided a time when I let myself put aside the stress of the school year and simply enjoy the moment. This mood was aided by an ample supply of CDs.
I haven’t driven the stretch since graduation. I find myself missing it. I find myself willing to sacrifice a day to take the long way home, rather than throwing myself once again into the unpredictable patterns of flying.
Road trips were always a favorite activity growing up. With all of my grandparents living out of state, there were plenty of opportunities. There was a period of time when I was almost banned from uttering the word “road trip” before a trip since we always seemed to get lost when I said it.
Although drives and road trips are my “escape” from the everyday, eventually I have to come back. I turn around and head in the general direction of where I started. The ride back from a journey to nowhere always seems shorter as I drive along, discovering where the path takes me.
But many times I am left with a renewed sense of calm, and ready to face whatever lies ahead.