Image credit: Sally Hughes Smith, "Lowcountry Road," www.sallysmith.com/painting_archives_2.htm
I am packing things in a duffle bag for an adventure that I will be blogging about next week. For the next two days I will be out of range of cell towers and miles from civilization. Yes, these places still exist. While doing so, I realize I am excitedly jittery. I am, by nature, a scaredy-cat, albeit a curious one. Nothing pumps my adrenaline more than finding those places where I am in solitude with nature. There are so many adventures to go on in our beloved Lowcountry, a lot of them just by turning down a road you wouldn't normally take.
It was August 01, 2011. Tires... check. Fluids... check. Gas... check. Mosquito repellent... check. I climbed into my car with an RC Cola and a Moon Pie. The radio was belting out old R & R, Journey, and Peter Frampton. Before we moved back to South Carolina from North Carolina, hubby and I would joke that we knew when we had crossed the SC line because Journey would be playing on the radio.
Destination? I had decided that I was going to take every road off of Highway 41 that called to me, just to see what it led to. Some were just dead-end streets leading to trailers on cinder blocks. Others led to ornate, iron-gated fences with "No Trespassing" signs posted. The extremes of the two societies coexisting on the roads took me aback. In the span of a few miles, I passed through the poorest sections you could imagine—telephone poles propping up leaning houses, clothes drying on porch railings, misspelled signs offering goods for sale like "sweet con" and "shcrimps"—and then shazam, there sat a mansion on expansive acreage with an oak-lined drive. This pattern repeated itself for miles.
The afternoon heat whipped up a dark cloud that threatened to end my trailblazing. I pulled down this one last road. I can sympathize with the nose of the hound as it sniffs out its object of affection or direction—I found the nose of my Taurus doing the same. I pulled through two old, vine-covered brick columns with a fleeting obligatory glance to see if the old wooden gate that was ajar had a "No Trespassing" sign on it. Nope. Okay, off we go. I stirred up a cloud of white dust behind me on the loose white gravel road. Although thunder clapped loudly, I couldn't make myself turn around. I had to see what was at the end. I realized after driving 3.4 miles on this sandy white ribbon road that I had gotten myself into an eerily exhilarating position. It looked endless. The only objects that differentiated one mile from the next were the brown signs with animal names to the right and left. I didn’t venture off onto them mainly because, like the hound, I wanted to see what was at the end of the road. I figured I could do some extra snoop dogging on the way out.
I could see a forest enclosure ahead and knew the road was coming to an end. I came to a narrow bridge with a sign reading "Alligator Pond." I got out of my car and walked to the low railings of the bridge. I heard the slaps of fish or tails hitting the water. The air was so pungent! For the first time I realized that no one knew where I was. I had not seen a car, home, or any sign of civilization since I had started on this road. I glanced down at my cell phone. Not only had the signal bars disappeared, also had the little telephone indicator, the airplane mode signal, and the 3G.
The silence was amazing, though. Chills went up my spine as I leaned over to look down at the water. It was so heavy with lily pads and pond froth that, in places, it looked more like molasses than water. The aroma was heavy and moldy, with a hint of hot pine needles. I could tell without a shadow of a doubt that I was being watched. Alligator? Bobcat? Fox? The dreaded tree frog? Thunder shook the ground around me and prompted me back on my way. I didn’t take any of the roads with animal names on the way out. Partly because of the possibility of rain and mostly because I felt I would get lost in the pine maze.
I know that adventure lies down those trails and waits for me on another day.