Road less traveled

The Morgantown bridge is out. This is a bit of a problem for a traveler wanting to use State Road 135 to go south to, say, Nashville in Brown County. My wife and I drive to Nashville often, and because we live just north of the bridge, we have had to puzzle out a different route.

The Indiana Department of Transportation decided on a detour that reroutes drivers heading south on 135 to turn east at Trafalgar towards U.S 31 then turn back south to Interstate 65 and then head west on State Road 46 at Columbus to Nashville. For us this semi-circular drive is at least 50 minutes and 45 miles out of our way, which is much longer than the 25 minutes and 17 miles it normally takes. We knew there must be a shorter way.

The problem is compounded by southern Indiana topography, which becomes very hilly starting around Martinsville. The backroads in those southern counties often are not straight and are not laid out in a grid pattern as are the roads in the flatter northern part of the state. Lots of hilly twists and turns; lots of rough, pitted country roads; lots of creeks and heavily wooded areas which limit the driver’s line of sight.

We hit upon a couple of routes to Nashville that would be hard for me to explain but involve roads with names like Horseshoe, Hornettown, Clay Lick and Bear Wallow, among others.

On Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend, Becky and I along with granddaughter Adelaide were ready to go to church in Nashville. We tried to leave a little earlier than normal, but you know how that goes.

I was feeling pressure to get there early and practice. It would be the last time the choir would sing until September, and I, at least, felt a bit iffy on my part. We were not far when we saw up ahead a box turtle attempting to cross the road. I had to stop, didn’t I? Mr. Turtle pulled his legs and head inside his shell for safety as I walked up.

Withdrawing into your shell is probably not the wisest move when you are in the middle of the road, but don’t we all do things like that sometimes?

I picked him up, showed Adelaide, then deposited him in the weeds on the side of the road.

Very soon after, we stop at a crossroads as a vehicle drives by. Now we are behind someone who is clearly unsure of his route to wherever he is headed. At each opportunity to turn, we both choose the same direction. Frustration plus impatience is not a good equation for driving. Coming up I know there is a fork in the road and both directions will lead to where we are going. The slow car takes one way and I take the other. We’re back in business, I think.

I drive cautiously but deliberately along, taking the curves, slowing and watching with wary eye around the blind corners, when we spot up ahead–another turtle. OK, now I am beginning to feel like I am getting a message. Turtles, for goodness sake.

Can the voice be more clear? “Relax. You’ll make it. Enjoy the drive. Slow and steady wins the race, right?” Once again I stop. Once again the turtle goes inside his protective army helmet as I carry him to safety. Once again Adelaide looks, and once again we are off.

Of course, the slow driver winds up in front of me when we come to where 135 continues to Nashville, but it is OK. It is a beautiful morning, and we have plenty of time. The road is smooth, and the driver ahead seems more confident now. The turtles were beautiful and Adelaide enjoyed seeing them. I am rehearsing in my mind the choir’s song, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” It’s all good.

Message received.