Somewhere in Dixie County, Florida , there is a road that goes nowhere.
It starts as a perfectly respectable two-lane paved road, complete with double yellow lines in the middle. There is no hint as you sit at the blinking yellow light near Jena that you are on the edge of ...nowhere.
At that light, a left turn will carry you safely back to highway 19/98 and somewhere, but ...if you turn right ...if you do this thing, you will travel into a place about as remote as it gets inside Florida.
Oh sure, there is a small bent "dead end" sign right after the light, but it seems to be out of place as the two-lane asphalt road in front of you stretches on around a distant bend. How could this fine road be a "dead end"?
The kids with you are already asleep after a day spent exploring. There's no one to debate this decision.
You turn right.
(the ponytail is asleep)
You decide the sign must have been for one of the little limerock sideroads, surely not for this fine road, so you push on. The road snakes through woods and for awhile a few new houses. As the miles roll by, you feel reassured in your choice. Who puts a dead end sign miles before a dead end? This road must go somewhere..
Then, after awhile you notice there aren't any more houses, just trees. Is it your imagination or are they closer to the road now and is the pavement a little rougher ... the line paint less distinct?
You breathe a sigh of relief as you cross a bridge over a tidal creek. A truck or two is parked by the wayside and a handfull of canoeists are returning from a day on the marsh. When you stop on the bridge ( there's no traffic) to take a picture ...they don't smile and wave as boat people usually do. The concrete railing of the bridge is covered with spray paint testimonials of love and teen territoriality. It feels odd.
You get back in and go on. It would be a simple thing to turn around here, but the need to know where this road goes is too strong.
The forest is long gone. It quietly faded into endless grass. The road now carries you through a high brown marsh that stretches literally as far as the eye can see. You know the Gulf is out there ... at the edge, but the only real evidence of that are the tidal creeks the road slips over.
Suddenly the pavement ends, but the road continues and so do you ... because, well ...this thing needs to be done. Turning back without knowing is no longer an option. As suddenly as it ended , the pavement is back again, but only for a while, and then it's gone for good, but the road keeps stretching out, a dusty white ribbon through a brown marsh.
Finally it ends.
In front of you, a vast sea of marsh grass stretches to the horizon, unbroken except for a few islands of high ground. The scene beckons you out of the vehicle. There is no sound, but wind in grass.
This side trip wasn't in your plans .No one on earth knows where you are ...no one ...and you can't tell them. Your cell phone lies useless, inert, no bars showing.
The road has taken you to a dead end on the edge of nowhere.
So why do you feel so alive?