Jerry Garcia Says Turn in One-half Mile


On my son's 19th birthday he and I took one of those lost-on-purpose summer drives that a GPS or smartphone would have ruined.

We knew that not too far south of us was another route back across the mountains to North Carolina, so we turned off the main road and followed Roan Creek more or less toward the afternoon sun. After a while we ran into the big lake on the Watauga River. Elijah and the dog went swimming. We found 321 right about where we expected to find it, outside of Elizabethown, and headed for home.

Our contempt for digital navigation did not make us luddites. We just chose our technology carefully. The soundtrack through much of East Tennessee was a pair of Phish concerts Elijah had just attended in Raleigh and Charlotte. My old car still plays CDs, so he burned a couple from the net. I guess that counts as a family tradition -- he and his sister grew up listening to Europe '72 and my favorite Grateful Dead bootleg cassettes on long car rides.

(Yes, I still have the cassettes, although I don't play them anymore and am running out of tape-players anyway. They were a wedding present, so there's sentimental value, although I'm not sure my wife sees it that way.)

Next week Elijah and I take a much more purposeful drive when he moves out of the house to begin college. I just burned the legendary Cornell '77 show for the trip.

The GPS we can still do without, and I think he knows the way home.