We headed west the other day to celebrate the Fourth of July with family in West Virginia.
Thousands of people were heading the same direction. The roads were jammed. Rt. 70—all brake lights. Rt. 340 into Charles Town was stop and go. Mostly stop.
We came up to Rt. 67, heading off to the right toward Boonsboro, Md.
“Can we take that?” my husband asked.
I wasn’t sure I could figure it out in the one minute we had before creeping past the exit. I pulled out the road atlas. Luckily, it was a long minute.
I could see that Rt. 67 went up to alternate route 40 West, then left to Rt. 34 and a few other back roads on to our destination.
My father used to do this, take back roads and alternate routes.
“You are never lost if you have a map,” he would say. (And no GPS scolding you).
We rolled along through colonial-era cross-road towns—Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, Shepherdstown. The main streets were lined with brick town homes graced by white front porches and American flags. Towns once traversed by troops. In Sharpsburg, we passed Antietam, the bloodiest battlefield of the Civil War.
We had a great Fourth—all fireworks and fun—and then decided to stop in Antietam on our way home, something we would never have done if we hadn’t been sidetracked by the traffic.
In front of the ‘60s era visitors ‘center—with its requisite cannon and welcome sign noting the $6 Family Admission price—my husband shot a photo of me and our two children, each holding one of my hands.
My father used to take the same photo in front of roadside attractions and historical sights when I was growing up. My mom, my brother, and I, small and squinting in the sun.
I wanted a snapshot to remember.