(Photos by Tanner Latham)
I’m not a food writer. I’m not a golf writer. I’m not an adventure writer. I like all these things and write about them generally, but I’m not an authority on any. There’s one thing I know I can do. I can read a map.
Sometimes I have to pull over and turn off the radio to focus. North and South. East and West. Street numbers ascending. U.S. state-named avenues descending. Beltlines. Tiny exit numbers. Green-inked state parks.
I get it.
Until I didn’t have to get it. The first day of research last year on our interstate stops story (in the May 2008 issue), I pulled out of the rental car parking lot with a mini-LCD screen and robotic voice telling me where to go. “Get ready to turn in 2/10ths of a mile.” I was on and off I-95 from 8:33 that morning until 6:44 that evening. The map stayed folded the whole time. I saw all the things I wanted to see, but I have no idea how I got to them. The efficiency was wonderful. The sense of comfort was comforting.
But being lost reaps its own rewards. You can’t learn, know, or enjoy a city until you have to pull over and really look around. That’s the only way to travel.
*Photo notes: I snapped the GPS device pic of my car’s location while parked on a small peninsula in the Santee National Wildlife Refuge near Summerton, SC (I-95 exit 102). I hopped out of the car and followed a trail to the edge of Lake Marion. The robotic voice failed to mention I would find such a serene scene.