Off the Beaten Path

IMG_7311My sister has joined me this year in my summer ramblings. We are attending the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in Shepardstown, WV, literally across the Potomac River from Maryland. You could throw a rock from the festival site and hit Maryland.

We are staying in Sharpsburg – nominally that is. Sharpsburg is right there, across the river. It is the site of the bloodiest day in US history: the battle of Antietam where over 22,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in one day of fighting. Our AirBnB may have a Sharpsburg address, but it is outside of town a bit.

We drove here first during the day. It is a charming place, but the road to get here is a twisty, turny thing. There are sections that are one lane, one section that has water rushing over it, and one section that says “road narrows” but in reality it actually becomes wider than the fork of the road that we come in on and adds a lane.

We are, of course, in a rental car, a relatively new Nissan Altima. It’s comfortable, with a slightly inscrutable driver’s console (“wait, how did I mess up the display?”). At one point that CAR spoke and said, “Caution, unpaved road.” Really? As if I hadn’t noticed. Thursday night as we came back to the AirBnB after seeing our first play at the CATF, we were struggling with the lights. If ever there was a time for high beams, this was it. But the car kept turning them back to the dimmest low beam that only barely illuminated the road in front of us and not ahead of us.

Now a clever reader or a car geek would already have guessed that there was some auto function on the lights that made them keep dipping, but there was no way to read the manual in the dark, and no amount of turning the controls that made it work. The next morning we found the right setting and have been more successful with driving to our lodgings after the sun has set.

It just shows me that I can rely on past experiences and experiment as I go, but sometimes it pays to read the directions.

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