Saturday, January 7, 2012

A GPS Serendipity

Do you have a GPS?  I seriously cannot live without mine.  When I turned 16, my grandpa called my mom and told her that we was worried about me driving. 

"But Siobhan's really responsible," mom said.  "She'll be safe."

"I know she'll be safe," replied my grandpa.  "But she is so bad at directions.  She's going to go somewhere and not be able to find he way home."

Sadly, there is still some truth to this.  Before the GPS, I drove around with a stack of MapQuest maps in the car.  One one side were directions from home to places where I frequented (grocery store, mall, movie theatre), and on the other side were directions on how to get home again.  But now all that is over, because I do have a GPS, and it tells me, in a nice, soothing voice, exactly where I should go.  And if I get lost, it recalculates and tells me again.  (And if necessary, again.)

Laugh all you want, but finding my way around is just not a skill that I have.  I'm hopeful that I make up for it in other areas.  In fact, one of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis' Prince Caspian, when Edmond is grumbling that his sisters don't know where they're going. 

"That's the worst of girls," said Edmund to Peter and the Dwarf. "They can never carry a map in their heads." 

"That's because our heads have something inside them," said Lucy.


Well, this morning, we decided to take a family drive.  We needed a Saturday morning outing, but one that was very low-key, after a late Friday night.  After rejecting several scenic destinations that were too far away, we settled on a short trip: to nearby Norris Dam.  We figured that we'd drive for about 40 minutes, get out and look at the dam from the paved overlook, then drive back again before lunch. 

As we left our neighborhood, Jonathan wondered if there was a more scenic way to get there than the highway.  We typed "Norris Dam State Park" into the GPS, then started off along a road Jonathan knew about that went in that general direction (but was not the highway.)  After several miles of meandering through residential neighborhoods, we ended up driving down a steep mountain road.  We had obviously left civilization behind us.  Then the pavement ended.

"Turn around!" I cried.  "The stupid GPS always does this.  It takes us down the most obscure roads.  I am not going to go on this dirt road!"

"It might be obscure," Jonathan pointed out, "but the GPS never gets us lost.  We always get there."

I pouted for a few minutes while Jonathan, the Chicago suburbanite, went on about how he didn't even know there were dirt roads in America until I took him down a "shortcut" in my hometown.  And then we saw that there was a stream running along the road.  It was beautiful.  We passed an especially architectural water tower, that Hannah thought was a lighthouse.

And then we came to the end of the dirt road, the place where the pavement started again.  We were just off the "real" road that we knew.  But what we could see from our vantage point, and what is hidden from the pavement, is a really beautiful old grist mill.  We happily piled out of the car to check it out.

The stream was so clear, we could see to the bottom.

The mill house was an intriguing mix of stone and weathered wood. 

I look at those stair-steps.  I wonder why it was constructed like that?

The wheel was huge.  (No water, obviously.)

In spite of it being the dead of winter, we found lots of plant life.  This was growing in the cracks of the rock wall.

And here is yet another picture of "we did something, and Lydia slept through it."  I tried to park the stroller in front of a cool wagon wheel...see?  She didn't open her eyes until we walked through the door of our house.  At least we have one kid who sleeps in the car, right?

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