The first time I ever knew anything about detours was when I was in elementary school. Greenville County was connecting two parts of Interstate 385 to make traveling downtown easier. One of the main roads my family frequented, Woodruff Road, was affected in that this new strip of interstate would run under the road, making it necessary to divert traffic around the area while workers built the bridge.
For what must have been months, to go toward Greenville (because every possible store and restaurant had NOT yet made its way to that side of town), we had to make this quarter-mile loop, one end of which would become the ramp onto 385-North and the other end the exit ramp off of 385-South onto Woodruff Road.
For my brother and I, this detour provided all sorts of fun. It was the closest thing we had to a roller coaster ride — and, as I’d one day find out, not nearly as nauseating. When we approached the detour, my brother and I would scoot off the back seat and onto the floorboard — because in 1980 no one was yet concerned about strapping their kids in seat belts — and flop around as if a hurricane had tossed us about in a dinghy.
Other times, when we were driving back from my grandparents’ house in Pickens and I had fallen asleep, the gently to and fro of those turns began bringing me out of my drowsiness, as if my subconscious knew I was almost home.
These days, I’m good at finding my own detours. I have an excellent sense of direction. I’ll look for highway signs, and I make mental notes when I see them intersect, sort of a connect-the-dots in my mind. Then when I have the time to drive around, I take these routes, roads I recognize by a number. One time I drove for more than half an hour on back roads, but when I make a simple turn or come to a stop sign and see familiar territory, I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction.
I even have numerous ways to get to regular destinations around town. I like being spontaneous and taking these alternate routes at any time — a quality that drives my husband bonkers. These detours I find may not save any time — again, my husband would say that they definitely don’t — but sometimes I just want the change of scenery. Sometimes I want to take a slightly longer route that doesn’t include the stop-and-go traffic.
Usually, I like to know what’s going to happen. I don’t like being out of my element. I like to plan out my day, and I’m not very happy when something or someone tries to alter the schedule with no notice. But I think these excursions don’t bother me because I’m the one behind the wheel. I’m the one creating my own detours that I can take whenever I want.
That is, unless my husband is in the passenger’s seat.