No Wrong Turns
Last week, I drove up to Virginia from Savannah. It’s around 575 miles and on a good day, you can make it in under nine hours. Without kids in the car, I was planning on seven. But, of course July 4th traffic on I-95 foiled my plans. I was just north of Richmond when I hit a wall of cars. I was sort of prepared for it, but I had remained hopeful that perhaps I would hit a window just before the wall – I guess about 600,000 other drivers had that same hope.
Our friends Jeff and Michelle Solsby were about two hours behind me. They were driving up from Charleston with three kids in tow. I called to warn them about the traffic. But, Jeff was way ahead of me. He’d mapped out an alternate strategy – a plan to get around 95.
“What’s your exit?”
“Uhm – I don’t know. I’m outside of Richmond. There are cars all around me. I’m in a parking lot.”
“Are you at Parham Road yet?”
“Oh, actually – yes. It’s right here!”
“Take it! Take 301 north. You’re home free. I’m looking at Google maps – it’s green baby. Green all the way. 95 is red – fire engine red. Get off 95. Take 301. Better to go 45 miles out of your way and drive 55 then to sit on 95 at 2 mph.”
I was nervous. The truth is I don’t really know my home state of Virginia that well. We rarely venture outside of northern Virginia and the 95 corridor that carries us south. I didn’t recognize the cities or the roads I was passing. And I was going to have cut back down through Maryland. We Virginian’s can’t stand Maryland. They’d probably tax me just for crossing the border.
While I was unsure of Jeff’s plan, my GPS was adamantly opposed. Initially starting out with the cautious, “please take the next exit” or “Make a legal u-turn if possible.” To screaming, “Where are you going? Forget legal, just turn the car around!”
In my fear, I had punched in our location on google maps on my phone too, so I was being yelled at by two different devices to get off of 301.
I ignored the electronic pleas and stayed on 301. For about 20 miles, it was fabulous. Not only was I moving, but I was clicking along at 55, sometimes 60! The surrounding area was beautiful. There were a few traffic lights here and there, but it was a small price to pay. I was just beginning to feel delighted about my decision, when my phone blared out “Traffic warning ahead. There is significant congestion, delays are extensive.” I ignored it. I figured it was probably still thinking about I-95. And look how smart I had been?
But, the phone was right. Suddenly, in front of me I was once again met by a wall of cars. They weren’t crawling, they weren’t moving at all. I called Michelle. What should I do?
“Stay the course, Jeff says it’s just a few miles to the bridge – once you cross the bridge, it’s clear again.”
Jeff was correct. It was only a few miles to the bridge. But, two hours later, I still hadn’t reached the bridge.
As we inched along, I started seeing signs that said, “For bridge escort, please call one hour in advance.” When I stopped at McDonalds to use the bathroom, someone ominously called out to a friend, “Be careful crossing that bridge.” A little trepidation started to set in. What kind of bridge was this that we were all so anxious to cross? Was it a swinging bridge? Perhaps a grumpy old troll was involved?
The Governor Harry Nice Memorial bridge is not as nice as the name implies. It’s two lanes with on-coming traffic in the other direction. As you approach, there’s a steep assent that sort of makes you feel like your car might fall backward if you’re not going fast enough. But, you don’t want to go too fast…because it’s narrow.
My heart was racing and I have to tell you that I didn’t come close to going the speed limit of 50 miles an hour. There was a bit of a gap (about seventeen car lengths, give or take a few) between me and the car in front of me.
But, I made it. And I felt a bit euphoric afterward.
Jeff was once again correct, the traffic was clear after you crossed the bridge. Looming thunderstorms were approaching as I made the curve through Maryland back down to Virginia. But, I didn’t mind. I went slow when the rain was heavy and sped up when the skies cleared a bit.
Twelve hours after leaving Savannah I arrived home. Jeff and Michelle apologized profusely. “If we had known, we wouldn’t have told you take 301. We’re so sorry!” But I waived them away. Who knows how long I would have been on 95? I picked a path and stuck with it. It brought me home and it felt a bit like an adventure on the way.
Sometimes, you just can’t know the right path to choose and so you pick one and you don’t look back.
This past week, Chris decided not try the immunotherapy drug Ipilimumab (Ipi). It was sort of our last treatment option. It is not approved for kidney cancer and was in fact canceled in trials for kidney cancer patients because of its level of toxicity. The chances of success hover around seven percent, and Chris’ quality of life would be compromised due to the drug’s toxicity. Like I95, we know what it looks like. We’ve decided to stick with Cabo and see where it takes us. Even though Cabo is not stopping the disease like it was, perhaps it will slow its growth some.
We’ve also decided to stay on Tybee Island for awhile. We’ve strung together a few beach rentals that will carry us to August. Think of it as a clinical trial of saltwater and sand. Big eyed kisses from Josie, thoughtful conversations with Kate. Family, laughter, too much food, crabbing in the tidal marshes. Big porches and cool breezes.
There will be traffic and storms and maybe some scary bridges ahead. But, this is God’s path and we’re on it. There are no wrong turns.