Bookends and Serendipities

Monday was quite a day. In addition to visiting the National Corvette Museum (see my earlier post on that), I had breakfast with my best friend (and best man at my wedding to Toni), Chuck Moore. He currently lives in the Cincinnati, OH, area, and has been there for probably 40 or more years – basically, ever since he got a job with Procter & Gamble after graduating from college (Harvard, if you *must* know…). But he and I go back to when we were young children spending our summers on a small lake in New Hampshire.

I *ended* the day staying overnight with another friend from those summers on the lake, Janet Bacon (now Janet Garrison). She has lived in Lexington, KY, for about 20 years, but she and I go back almost as far as Chuck and I do. Interestingly, although they also know each other from childhood, neither knew the other lived relatively nearby.

I spent time reminiscing about the past and catching up about the present with both of them. Because I started and ended the day with New Hampshire friends, that “bookended” the day. Oh, and I wore a New Hampshire souvenir t-shirt on Monday, too.

The serendipity happened today, while I was driving from Lexington to Pittsburgh. I was tooling east on I-64 through Charleston, WV and looking for I-77 / I-79. I *thought* I was supposed to get on 77 and then find 79 a few miles along, whereas in actuality I was supposed to ignore the 77 sign from 64 and go 3/4 mile farther and get on 79 directly.

I discovered all this at about Mile 110 on 77, when I finally read my MapQuest directions and they said take Exit 104. Oops. So I took Exit 114 and turned around to start back. I stopped while off the highway to check my road atlas and decided to take a “gray-line” road from Exit 110 over to 79. It turned out to be a (barely) two-lane paved road with a double-yellow line (a good thing), and it headed up into the hills. I managed not to hit any of the oncoming vehicles; I didn’t hit any of the guardrails; and I didn’t go off into the ditch anywhere – although I had plenty of opportunities. And by following the yellow painted line, I eventually found my way to I-79.

What I *did* do was see a small slice of the most authentic West Virginia I have ever seen. Some of the homes along this road were old trailers and some were nice-looking brick houses, but they were all “up close and personal.” The road twisted and turned; I went past churches, farms and yards; I saw new cars, old cars, and things that I think used to be cars; and in general I saw a side of West Virginia that I never would have seen if I had taken the correct route to begin with (or stayed on 77 to get back to 79, or had GPS, or any one of a number of other possibilities). Thus today’s serendipity was that I took a wrong turn and then invented a way to fix that error that resulted in my seeing something I never would have otherwise seen.

On the other hand, driving along I-79 (once I got on it) gave me an opportunity to see views I would never have seen on any of the older roads in WV. The older roads all snake along the valley bottoms, whereas the Interstate was built, in large part, along the sides or across the tops of the hills. So there are many places along the Interstate where you can physically see farther than you can from any other road in the area. That, too, is a serendipity. The Interstate wasn’t planned for the views; they just came about as a consequence of the location of the road and the manner in which it was built (multiple lanes with wide medians and edges, with cuts through the hills and bridges or infill to get across the lower parts, all leading to large deforested paths and/or high vantage points).

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