What’s a trip without a misadventure? Or two?

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By Carolyn Risner

My father had a saying for when he drove extensively.

“I’ve been all over hell and half of Georgia,” he’d lament to my mother.

We thought it was funny considering we were in Kentucky and he really hadn’t been to Georgia.

However it stuck and over the years it has become my mantra too.

Thanksgiving weekend it became true.

Best friend Denise and her family rent a cabin in the North Georgia mountains every Thanksgiving.

This year she asked me to come for a visit and so with time to spare, Tom and I set out for Blue Ridge.

Denise knew I was coming but had failed to give me specifics on how to locate her.

After a quick lunch at Wendy’s, in the valley, we started calling. No answer. Only voice mail. So we called her husband. All three of her children. Our mutual friend Kendall. Same thing all around. No answer. Voice mail only.

I reasoned that the cellular signal was horrific in the mountains and eventually someone would walk into a hot area and get our numerous messages.

And so we continued to sit in the parking lot playing games on our phones.

Finally Guy, her husband, called. Just as I suspected, he had to be in a specific corner of the deck.

Finally with directions in hand, we started on the first of our three adventures that day as we wound ourselves up a mountain–14 miles and then turning twice more up other mountains before hitting a dirt road that was the entrance to dozens of roads all named “bear” something.

As the car became bogged down in a mound of huge gravel, and Iee^peered over a 200-foot embankment, I warned Tom that this couldn’t be right and maybe we should stop.

“We can’t,” he said. “If I stop now, we are stuck.”

Bile rose in my throat as we came to what appeared to be the apex. A 400-foot drop was to my right; another road–not meant for a car–was up a steep angle to my left. Iee^knew we would die and no one would know it, or miss us for quite some time.

“This isn’t right,” I said, all the while calling Guy. Thankfully he answered and said we needed to come back down the mountain and make a sharp left turn onto Baby Bear Path. Tom managed to turn in a wide spot behind the last house on the mountain and we started back down. We made the turn (the sign was obstructed by an evergreen tree) and inched our way up yet another mountain. At last! There they were.

After a lovely visit, complete with food, drink and laughter, we prepared to leave with Guy’s directions getting back to Tom’s daughter’s house.

But Iee^had the bright idea to use the GPS to look for a shortcut. Sure enough, it gave me one and then before you could say “Uh, oh!” the road deadended at a monstrous processing plant with only a Plant Entrance sign to greet us. And yet the GPS said to go straight.

“Turn right,” I told Tom. As a good obedient husband, he did and within a quarter mile there was Apple Pie Ridge–the road the GPS said we should be on.

Five miles later we were at last on a familiar road, but again I trusted a GPS to find a shortcut and what ensued was traveling down a pig trail, crossing I-85 on a narrow dirt bridge. Ruts, foliage and wild animals were


As we creeped over the dirt bridge, I said to Tom, “Goodness, Iee^have been all over . . .”

And he stopped me.

“Yes,” he said, “you’ve said it three times.”

But it wouldn’t be the last.

We were less than a mile from the daughter’s when the road came to an abrupt end in the middle of someone’s driveway.

We stopped. We looked. Something was amiss.

“This isn’t right,” I said, not for the first time that day.

Fortunately though, I added, I knew the people whose driveway we were now parked in. Nice people who probably wouldn’t wave an AK-47 at us.

I whipped out the GPS, did a quick look and affirmed that indeed, the driveway should somehow be connected to the daughter’s road. The map said so. The blue dot that was me said so.

Only Tom didn’t say so. He backed out of the driveway/road, turned and took us back yet again on roads we’d already traversed–twice.

When we pulled into Pearl’s driveway, three minutes later, I had to say it one more time as she and Brett came to greet us.

“We have been all over hell and half of Georgia today,” I said.

And at least when I said it–unlike my father– the latter half was true.