This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

A Little Bit Out of the Way

            Earlier this week I forgot two things wise men of my acquaintance have told me. One is that expectations are resentments waiting to happen, and the other is that people who write columns should never make predictions. This is what happens when you ignore good advice.
            My prediction was that Linda and I would drive up Highway 1 in California to Mendocino and the drive would be virtually the same as it was on our honeymoon 35 years ago. What’s that old saying: When men make plans, God laughs?
            At the time I posted Tuesday’s blog, containing that prediction, the biggest storm of the winter was bearing down on California — had, indeed, already hit farther north in the state. We caught it late afternoon and Tuesday night. When we stopped for gas just south of San Francisco, the car was as far under the gas station cover as could be and I got soaked in the few minutes it took to fill the tank. Rain was coming down in sheets and a high wind was blowing it sideways, right through the so-called protected area.
            We stayed overnight in Petaluma, about 40 miles north of San Francisco. The next morning the rain had pretty much stopped. We cut over to Bodega Bay on the coast and were looking forward to a leisurely hundred-mile drive north to Mendocino.
            Seventy miles later, just north of Point Arena, there was a sign saying the road was closed a mile ahead. It was the first indication that anything was wrong, and we assumed the closure was temporary. Not so. There was a roadblock and a sheriff’s deputy was turning people back. It seems the road had flooded, the water was several feet deep, and no one knew when it would be passable again.
            Highway 1 north of San Francisco runs along the coast, with a major mountain range blocking it from the rest of the state. Aside from a couple of goat-track connector roads, probably impassable after that storm, there are two state highways, 75 miles apart, that connect Highway 1 with the interior. The deputy said about our only choice was to turn around, drive 60 miles back to the first one, take it 30-some miles inland to U.S. 101, take 101 north to the other state highway, then take that road to Mendocino.
            In other words, we had to take a 150-mile loop to reach a destination that was only 30 miles away.
            Because the roads were curvy and it took only one slow vehicle ahead to create a traffic jam, we drove four and a half hours to cover that 150 miles, finally arriving in Mendocino just before dinnertime. We got there in any event, saw some scenery we otherwise wouldn’t have, and no real harm was done.
            In the course of travel, there are changes of circumstance that open up new possibilities and lead you to something exciting you otherwise would have missed. This was not one of those. There also are changes of circumstance that simply have to be endured, like a long delay at the airport. This wasn’t quite one of those, but it was close. When the grandchildren hear this story, it will be a tale of woe, not one of serendipitous discovery.
            This is being written Thursday night, following eight hours of steady rain. Friday morning, we head home again. Twelve miles south of Mendocino, State Highway 128 heads inland to U.S. 101. It’s the way we wound up coming in, and it’s definitely the way we’re going out. We hope any surprises will be of the pleasant variety.