You know the first part of that saying. That’s what I was thinking as I was trying to follow Google Maps to a city I’d never visited to pick up my copy of Go Set a Watchman. I ordered the book months ago when Books-A-Million offered a pre-sale option and I didn’t know the Williamsburg store was going to close. Before the closing date the local staff assured me that I’d be mailed a copy of the book on the release date.
It’s several days past the release date and no book has arrived. I looked on the B-A-M website to find the nearest store, which is in Colonial Heights, one hour and nine minutes west of here. There are others about the same drive time away, but I thought this option would give me an opportunity to take a leisurely drive on scenic roads to a new city. I’d previously driven about 45 minutes of the predicted 69 minute journey, so felt confident I could find my way the other 24 minutes without a problem.
You need to know that since Virginia was the first English colony, locations have unusual names and roads were constructed on colonial wagon trails (meaning curvy) and that counties didn’t come into existence until much later. Thus, I left my home in James City County and wound my way into the countryside, crossing the Chickahominy River and enjoying the beautiful scenery and the sunshine. (Only Colonial Williamsburg is built on a grid. Governor Frances Nicholson may have been lacking in statesman skills, but he knew how to build a city a mile long and four streets wide.)
I passed through Charles City County, seeing several colonial plantations along the way. By the time I came to a road change a light rain began falling. I crossed the James River at the Prince George Bridge and headed to Hopewell. By then the rain was coming down in sheets and I was hoping I could read the signs well enough to make my turns. I made two turns correctly.
The map indicated that after 3.5 miles I was to turn left on Winston Churchill Drive which did not reveal itself by the time I’d gone almost 4 miles. I pulled into a Subway and asked the clerk how to find that street. She said that it was at the intersection just a few yards away. I turned where she indicated but the sign said 6th Street. I decided to trust her and continued driving until the end of the street. At that point a right turn put me onto Winston Churchill Drive. By this time the rain had let up and I was able to follow directions again, travelling on Oaklawn, Woodlawn and Oaklawn Drives without making a turn or even changing lanes.
Finally I reached the mall where the book store was located but couldn’t find the store. After walking into the mall and asking three men for directions, a janitor told me how to find Books-A-Million – around a curve and across the street – and in no time I was at the book store. Five minutes later I was back in my car.
I left the mall and began driving back down the road. I found an exit to I-95 South that would take me to Raleigh, NC. I knew that was the right general direction and that eventually I’d find an exit that would bring me back to Williamsburg. The rain had once again turned into a downpour, but the Interstate signs were large enough to read in the rain.
Ah, a treasure loomed – a route to the Prince George Bridge and the rain eased again. After another few miles I saw familiar territory and began to breathe normally. Soon the rain stopped. I enjoyed music while scanning the lovely plantation route, eventually reaching Williamsburg. Suddenly, the sound system came alive with the Beatles’ song “Help!” I laughed and said, “You’re a little late. I’m only a block from home now.”
I made that 2 hr, 18 min round trip plus 5 minutes in the store in only 3 hours and 11 minutes. Good time, or bad instructions?
© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 28, 2015
Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com