Backroads in the Modern Era

I love driving the backroads of North Carolina, even if they’re not entirely compatible with technology. Saturday gave me a chance to revisit the experience.

I don’t need a GPS to drive from New Bern to Lumberton via NC Hwy 41. However, I do need to pay better attention to the fuel gauge. Realizing it’s 20 miles to the next town when the dashboard tells you to fill up in the next 25 miles is a bit unnerving. I could use my smart phone to tell me where the next gas station is, but that’s impractical for a few reasons.

1. I do trust my car to accurately report my vehicle’s remaining fuel level.
2. I know the upcoming town has at least one working gas station, even when passing the rusted remains of gas pumps in various abandoned businesses along my path to potential petrol.
3. Cell phone coverage sucks in rural North Carolina, so Google won’t save me out here.

I could probably make a phone call if necessary, but forget any useful data coverage. Smart phone coverage here is made for apps like TwLater and EventualGram. Pictures of this area look old and grainy because they’re actually using film to take pictures of old rusty things.

Of course, I dare not stop to take pictures for fear of losing momentum. My car gets 30-35mpg at highway speeds, so I become the efficient driver on cruise control through the backroads of Eastern North Carolina. It’s beautiful and reminds me of growing up in Rosewood, with farms and trees flying past my window. I won’t see a billboard or mega-sized truck stop for at least 60 miles. The interstates will get me home faster, but they won’t be as interesting to drive.

Don’t worry, I’m not lacking for technology. This has been a great trip to catch up on podcasts and test out the GoPro HERO2. Long roads with little traffic should look fantastic as time-lapse shots … unless I run out of gas.

Fortunately I avoid a petroleum version of the fiscal cliff. Speedy Mart in Beaulaville, NC provides the fuel I need to continue moving south. I’ll switch to interstate highways in Lumberton, trading cows for campers and slow-moving farm equipment for idiots who can’t merge on I-95. I’ll still have plenty of pine trees and another fuel stop to look forward to, hopefully before the annoying yellow light comes on.

Now back to the MP3 playlist already in progress …





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