As soon as I feel the kerplunk of my wheels leaving the blacktop, peace settles over my spirit. I swear, nothing beats a dirt road. The dustier, the bumpier, the better.
I spent a lot of time on dirt roads growing up. It seemed like they always led to the best places; fishing trips on the lake, camping by the river, hiking back on the mountain, or down to Myrtle Grove Sound.
Daddy lived on a few over the years. So did Mama. The melody of tires crunching on gravel plays in my mind after all these years. It sounds like home.
A few of those dirt roads were so washed out and riddled with holes that they’d jar you right down to your bones. The road to Ebie’s was that way. It was a ride worth taking, though. At the end was a weekend full of Nintendo games, scary movies, and stargazing from the tree house.
Others were sandy and led to isolated areas. We sought out those spots for bonfires and parties in high school. Our parties never did get busted up.
I haven’t spent much time on dirt roads since then. As time marches on, fewer and fewer of them crisscross the North Carolina landscape. The good roads campaign of the early 1900s and Gov. Martin’s promises to pave all the state-maintained roads have kept the asphalt trucks rolling.
It makes me sad. I hate to see the dusty lanes I grew up on being tarred and shouldered. It feels like each new road paves over a bit of North Carolina’s heritage.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all our roads should be dirt, but I sure hope they leave some alone – if for no other reason than gravel under the tires is good for the soul.