Though I’ve been a few times before, enter destination to be safe.
This first part - this following the road for 15 kilometers – like autopilot. Cars and trucks and all kinds of vehicles share this wide road with lanes breaking for a range of speed appetites.
An announced exit to a slower country road, a curious path for a destination so well visited. Cruise control is worthless here; this is a road you must drive.
I remember this road. The first time, I was sure it wasn’t the most direct way. I checked it, and yes it is the fastest way from A to B. Not every two lane road is a road less traveled, especially the ones that cross bridges and hug rivers and insist on allowing nature to show herself off.
Surely it is slower here, but the views less a blur. There is lush landscape surrounded by steep vineyards, half-timbered townhouses in every color of the pastel rainbow. There are signs you can read and smiles you can make out. With so much to see, you can’t possibly catch it all the first time through.
This is better. Motorways get us most of the way there, but we want our last miles to have a story with a few twists and turns. The story would be entirely different if I were on this road tomorrow, or behind a tractor.
Listening for directions becomes important here, lest you land yourself in a deserted narrow valley where your cellular lifelines become useless or you can’t make a U-turn.
Taillight to taillight, the temptation to pass swelling but the steady stream of oncoming traffic forces you to sit back and wait for an opening. Wait. Those budding vineyards on the hillside. That car in front with a license plate from a different country.
Finally an open road ahead, the chance to accelerate – if even for a moment – where everything outside blends together into a swirl of color and texture and wonder. Turn up the music.
Then, another small town. Each new town like a relationship, with their smiling radar speed sign, demands that you slow down and take notice. A frown saved for those who insist on blowing through, racing to their destination without remembering their own village.
Roundabouts where forks used to be, so many more choices with a scarcely a yield before entering. Some circling the inside, unsure where to let themselves out.
Unexpected heavy rain dumps like Russian soldiers stampeding in, attention focuses ahead where road delineations become less visible and peripheral vision squeezed. The beautiful tapestry of only minutes ago veiled to the elements outside your control.
Drive defensively and reflect on the feast you’ve just had, knowing the skies will clear and your destination – if not in sight – promises to be only a few roundabouts ahead.