With over fifty-five million miles of roads in America, there should be a road for anywhere a guy wants to go, right? Well, you’d think so, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes a guy has to make his own road.
Several years ago, my wife and I were in Nashville, where I was trying to get onto Interstate 24. Normally, that’s an easy thing to do but this day they had construction at the interchange with barrels set up blocking the on-ramp. I followed the detour signs for I-24 south – and ended up going north. Figuring I’d misread the sign, I circled around the cloverleaf and in a couple of minutes, was back where I’d started. This time, I double checked the signs – and followed the same route – right onto I-24 north. Of course, I was complaining the whole time, while my wife seemed convinced that I’d just made a wrong turn – twice. So, we went around again. And again, ended up going the wrong direction. And we weren’t alone. The car in front of us and the pickup behind us were driving in circles too – and they had Tennessee plates!
By this time, I was a little more than frustrated. I could see the road I needed to be on but following the signs did not get me there. Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of patience – about three-times-around-a-cloverleaf’s worth as it turns out. My wife made some remark to the effect that we couldn’t get there from here, to which I responded, “Oh yeah?” Sometimes a guy has to make his own road.
Driving partway around the cloverleaf again, I chose a nice level grassy area and turned. Traveling across the median, the other side of the freeway (which was closed), and then crossing some more ground, I angled the car up the hill, merging onto the on-ramp for I-24 SOUTH! There were none of those pesky police officers around so I didn’t get a ticket. And while my wife thought I was a little nuts, the guy behind me in the pickup must have thought I had a good idea because he followed.
A few years later, I was driving a semi in a major metropolitan area just blocks from where I needed to deliver. All I had to do, I thought, was make a left turn at the next light and go a short distance. But, due to construction (again!), I was forced to make a right turn instead. The flagger assured me that I could go a couple of blocks down and then go around the block to get back on the road in the right direction. “Just follow the signs,” he said.
I did find the signs and the detour like he’d told me – the only problem was, the road went under a bridge marked 9’ 4” and my trailer was 13’ 6”. So, I continued down the road, watching both sides of every crossroad. Low clearance signs were posted on every single one. And then ahead of me, I saw another low clearance sign – I was trapped. But, I didn’t panic. I knew what to do.
On the left, was an empty parking lot – just wide enough to turn a semi around. And with several people from the nearby apartment complex watching, I drove the truck up over the curb, making a circle to get back on the street. Unfortunately, a semi weighs considerably more than a car and I left deep tracks across the grass – trenches would be more accurate.
Arriving back to where the flagger was, just in case any more trucks came by, I stopped and told him about the problems with his detour. He was surprised and apologetic, and then wanted to know how I’d gotten turned back around. I shrugged and said, “Sometimes a guy has to make his own road.”