Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
- Robert Frost
It is just a tick or two after one am, its cold, I have Slipknot’s Vermillion playing, and I’m alone. The curve is an easy one: a long slightly cambered, right hander that could easily be taken about fifteen or twenty miles an hour faster, but I’m taking it easy. My focus is on keeping the car on the same line through the bend. It starts to ease out into a straight, and I’m presented with an open flat length. I pick up my pace, driving more in tempo with the music and the speedo slides past sixty five. I’m coming up on a hard left hander, but I don’t know it.
Suddenly, my headlights alert me to the turn I’m going way too fast for. On the brakes, blip the throttle as I take it from sixth to third, harder on the brakes, and then to second. No guard rail, no brake down lane, no ditch or even some bushes, if I screw this up I’m going into a tree. By the time I hit the turn, I’ve bled off thirty miles an hour, and I’m still coming in hot for the flat left hander, but I turn in early enough to use the entire turn and get a nice adrenaline dump. I floor it out of the turn, the rear end gets squirrely for a second, and I’m off again. The shakes wouldn’t show up for at least another hour, and right then and there, I was God’s gift to performance driving.
I’m no professional, and it was quite a bit of luck, but it was one of those moments you stick in the back of your head for the next time you feel like thinking “eat it Schuey.” Sure, if it had been daylight I would have seen the turn in plenty of time. But at night, on a road I don’t know all that well, that turn gets added to my list of “woah shit” moments. It is a turn I want to master, and eventually get added to the list of “turns I love”. There is only one problem with that. I have no clue where it, or I, was. I was lost, had no idea where I was, and not really quite sure how I got there. So of course, I’m not sure of how to get back there.
We spend a lot of time these days trying to figure out where we are going. Where do we go, how do we get there, what do we do when we get there. Spontaneity is gone, and not for all the right reasons or any of the right reasons for that matter. We spend so much time looking for directions. Stars, then maps, then GPS, and now we just need an address and we follow a little robot voice on what to do. Oh no, don’t miss that turn, or she’ll be mad at you. It’s a societal issue that has become something we car lovers have fallen trap too. It used to be that navigation was the ability to just know where the hell you were going. Now, if a car doesn’t come equipped from the factory without navigation we rush off to some big box store and grab a Tomtom or Jilljill or Nancy Northstar Navigator so we don’t get lost. The days of knowing your surroundings and your locale are over. I chalk it up to our changing look at driving. Getting in the car used to be something to look forward. We used to want to go for drives, to see the USA in our Chevrolets and all that. Today, driving is a chore, something that we are doing everything we can to isolate ourselves from. If you don’t believe me, why do you think Mercedes Benz drags people in front of cameras to flat out admit they are horrible, reckless drivers with one unfit to raise a child? But that is another rant for another time.
It is this sudden need to know where we are and where we are going at all times that has destroyed the fine art of getting lost. I know that I, having a relatively acute sense of knowing which direction I am facing, have it easier than most, but no longer do we consider getting lost a good thing. Nope, now a days we have to know exactly which way to turn at the tee intersection or else our lives will come to a screeching halt and we may just die. As car people, we should LOVE to get lost. Why wouldn’t we? Primarily, it gives us more time to spend in our cars, to enjoy the pleasure of driving and learning our vehicles. Further, it awakens our sense of adventure. Being a car person is all about adventure. What did you think Mrs. Bertha Benz was thinking when she hopped into her husband’s Benz Patent-Motorwagen? That it would be a safe an easy trip? Hell no. It was risk taking at its god damned finest. Finally, there is the sense of victory. I’ll never get tired of some of my all time favorite twisty roads or highways that I keep in my mental and physical driver’s notebook, but I love hitting that road I’ve never seen before and mastering new turns, new twists, new blind hills and flat outs. Why settle for what you always have. Go find something new, and learn how to beat it. Conquer that road. Be like me. Well, don’t be like me and damn near end up in the tree line, but find a road you don’t know, and beat it up.
I don’t remember exactly the point the road I was on intersected the farm road that would take me to the highway to take me home. There was a tee intersection, and I looked at the four pack of Red Bull and DVD that had picked up from the big box store an hour back sitting on the floor board of my passenger foot well, having slid off the seat from the hard slow down at least an hour back. A quarter tank of gas was gone, so was an hour of my life that I wouldn’t want back even if you paid me for it. The adrenaline was starting to fade away, and I was feeling tired. I forced myself to turn right, which led me back to the highway, and home I went.
But next time you have a chance, take the road less traveled. Be adventurous, be the conqueror, and don’t rely on some sissy navigation robot to direct your life. Next time someone tells you to get lost, tell them you’d want nothing more.