When it comes to planning a road trip, our family has always called my husband the “Map Man.”
Once we pick out a destination of any type, Pat digs out his atlases. He pores over them, compares and takes notes and likes to discuss it with anyone who will listen.
Oftentimes his audience is limited to the dog.
Yet, while we are on our trip, we appreciate all that he learned during the previous months.
Even GPS and Google Maps don’t compare to the knowledge of the Map Man. Especially in the middle of nowhere.
Where the Map Man’s wisdom is not appreciated is on the shorter trips where he likes to take his little “shortcuts.”
The second he mentions a shortcut, the whole family moans — some throw their heads back and call out, “Ah, c’mon!” while some say, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” and sometimes grown women are known to cry.
“What’s wrong with a shortcut?” you might ask. I’ll tell you this — Pat’s shortcuts are never short.
With the promise of quickening the trip, Pat has led us to remote trails, private barn yards and once in the middle of nowhere to a sign that simply said, “Should you decide to proceed from this point, you better best have been invited!”
Well, you don’t have to tell me twice.
Often times the Map Man doesn’t announce the shortcut, he just takes a turn left when the rest of us anticipated going straight.
Take this last Sunday, for instance.
We were in a small town in the Sandhills, with our path clearly laid out before us. Suddenly and for no reason, Pat took that left.
“What are you doing?” I asked as I prayed he wouldn’t answer the way I knew he was going to answer.
“I don’t want to take a shortcut, Pat!” I whined. “I just want to go and visit these nice people and then get home before the sun sets.”
“This will save time,” he said as if I would still believe him when he says his shortcuts save time. Then as if he was presenting evidence to an attentive audience he suggested, “Look at the map.”
“I don’t want to look at the map,” I retorted. “I want to look at a nice highway with shoulders on it, farm life and an occasional babbling brook.”
Within minutes Pat had us there, the middle of nowhere, and it was big as day. He had us so far out there even cattle were nowhere to be found. There was no oncoming traffic, no men in tractors and wildlife ceased to exist.
All wildlife, that is, except for the turkey vultures, and I was quite certain they were hanging out in anticipation of picking our bones clean if given the opportunity.
Everyone and anyone who knows me knows this: I am not a silent sufferer. No, sir.
“Why would you do this to us?” I asked as I took in our surroundings.
I am a Nebraska girl through and through and I love the beauty of our state. I love the trees and the rivers and, yes, I love the Sandhills and their remarkable beauty.
But the Map Man had us in the middle of nowhere with the promise of taking time off of our trip when all it did was shave hours off of my life.
After what seemed like days, we rounded a corner and there it was, the prettiest thing I had seen since that fateful left turn — a stop sign.
“Look Pat!” I exclaimed as I wiped away fake tears. “A symbol of humanity. Do you think this new road might even exhibit signs of life?”
We made our destination unscathed and then we took the highway home.
Pat said that way was longer but at least the hour-long trip didn’t feel like four days.
I believe our next road trip will only be an hour down the road and it should be a straight shot.