Saturday, March 6, 2010

Calamity Christine

Very often when I travel, chaos ensues. I’m not sure why this is. But I have been stuck in an airport line for 25 minutes behind a concert cellist trying to carry-on her 7 ft. tall cello, have been stuck in an elevator in the basement of Termini Train Station in Rome, and have gotten lost on a drive to an airport I had been to no less than 10 times. My recent drive to Ohio was no different. I’m spending my Spring Break in Ohio visiting my boyfriend. I’ve driven up here once before and I remember it being a long grueling drive. So, I decided that this time I was going to outsmart my GPS (you know, that thing that has no less than 6 satellites to talk to in order to figure out where we’re going) and shorten this drive. So I got on Google Maps and planned my own route. I typed in my start and finish locations and then zoomed in and started moving that little purple line all over the place in order to ensure the “quickest” route. Then once in the car I told my GPS that I wanted to travel via US 441 and to keep me on that road as long as possible, as this was the route I had planned with Google Maps.

The first part of the trip went according to plan. My Google directions and GPS both set me on a course North via US 441 through Commerce, GA and headed towards North Carolina. I stopped for some Wendy’s in north Georgia and was going to soon, or so I thought, continue cruising straight North through North Carolina then Tennessee, outsmarting my silly GPS who wanted me to veer either East or West. At some point in North Carolina, US 441 splits and the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway (the suggested route) takes you around the brunt of the Great Smoky Mountains. However, as you may have guessed, when my GPS pleaded with me to take the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway (the word Expressway should have been my clue)...I said “Hell no, I’m staying on US 441 which has a nearly straight course North.”

As I’m sure you have now guessed, there was a slight flaw in my logic, if by slight you mean mountain sized flaw. US 441, after it splits, takes you directly North alright, going up and over what was certainly one of the greatest of the Great Smoky Mountains in the process. This may not seem like much of a problem at first glance. And to be truthful, the first 20 or so minutes up the mountain were lovely. It was very pretty and I even stopped to ta

ke a couple pictures (see below). However, after about 45 minutes I was just barely at the top of the mountain. Then came the hard part...getting back down the mountain. Just in case anyone was wondering, the tops of mountains are icy...very icy. For most of the trek down I went no more than 5 miles an hour and even then slipped and slid a couple times. I did not enjoy. Just as I was cursing everything from the mountain to my own hard-headedness...I was at the bottom of the mountain! I was so happy to finally get off that mountain and eager get back to something that somewhat resembled a main road. None such luck. I was happy to finally be in Tennessee but see there’s another thing about this little US 441...it goes straight through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, tourist hotspots of the grand ol’ state of Tennessee. Well let’s just say that on this lovely Friday afternoon, half of Tennessee was in Gatlinburg and the other half were in Pigeon Forge, effectively making traffic an absolute nightmare. A very frustrating 35 minutes later, I was finally at Interstate 40 and on my way to Dayton at a respectable speed. Moral of the story?...Just listen to the damn GPS.




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