Unlike a man, I know how to ask for directions. Also, unlike a man, I follow the directions even if they get me lost. I needed to go to Fall Creek Falls, a Tennessee State Park. I’d never been there before so I wanted to be sure I knew where I was going. I got directions off the State Park’s website. Then I went to one of those Internet mapping sites for really specific directions. What I didn’t think of is that the closest way is not always the best way. Women who are great navigators don’t worry about things like that.
I slung my suitcase into the trunk and off I went, two sets of directions and a map right beside me. I watched the odometer carefully. Mileage was exactly right to the tenth of a mile at the first cutoff. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I congratulated myself on being so clever.
It was easy as long as I was on the Interstate. Unfortunately, Interstates don’t run through State Parks. I left the Interstate at Exit 288, just like the instructions said. Highway 111 was a four-lane road. How lucky could I get? Being a navigator who follows instructions sure pays off. What I didn’t know was my luck was running out.
According to the Internet instructions, I was to turn left onto Highway 30. There was sign at the cutoff, “Fall Creek Falls.” But the park’s instructions said to go straight. What to do when instructions conflict? I did what any great navigator would do. I followed the signs.
I soon had a hunch that something was wrong. The road became narrow, winding, and steep. “Funny how there is no one on this road except me. Where are all the other cars?” But I followed the road and the instructions. This had to be right.
I wound around curves, S curves, U curves, reverse curves, hair pin curves and curves for which no descriptive name had previously been invented. I finally came to a curve that was so sharp I could see my own tailpipe. “This just can’t be right. But I’ve come too far to turn back now. Nothing to do now but go on.” I was grateful for one thing. At least it was daylight. I’d sure hate to do this road at night. Even great navigators have their limits.
“I’m surprised they do any business at all with a road this bad to travel.” I was starting to feel a bit nauseous from all the swinging and swaying around the curves. By the time I saw the entrance sign, “Fall Creek Falls North Entrance,” I was so dizzy that I really didn’t much care any more.
I continued on for what seemed like miles and miles. “There has to be a lodge in here somewhere.” The signs were rustic, but I thought I was reading them correctly. Finally, at long last, I saw the lodge on the other side of the lake. “How do I get over there?” Drive around it, of course. Good thing I knew how to navigate.
I arrived at last, my nerves rattled and my car nearly twisted in half. I didn’t get lost after all. I only thought I was lost. I found out later that what I used was the “old road.” There is now a new entrance on the other side of the park, and a nice wide road to get there. You don’t need to go over the mountain at all — you can go around it.
I wonder if other great navigators have the problem of following directions too well?