It was Sunday, Valentine’s Day, when we decided to simply get out of the house to enjoy the beautiful weather. Spontaneity was the order of the afternoon and we wanted to go for a driving adventure to… somewhere!
Our first stop was a local coffee shop to pick up a couple of drinks for the road. The café was crowded on this particular sunny afternoon – it was odd how people would rather sit inside and chat when there were plenty of tables on the other side of the glass walls to enjoy the UVA/UVB rays. No matter – we were on a brief stop to get our drinks and leave for our unplanned journey.
Returning to the car, I asked my wife where she would like to go. It was already mid-afternoon so a trip down the coastline would be out of the question. She did not have an answer right away so I started the engine and proceeded to drive to a nearby gas station to fill up the car. When the tank was full, we drove aimlessly through the streets and chatting about anything that came to mind.
Then an idea emerged!
“Let’s go to the back hills for a leisurely drive through the countryside!“
In spite of the growing city landscape, the nearby hills always begged us to enjoy the many twisting roads, livestock, and serene nature. The hills were green from the recent rains and we were familiar with the winding roadways.
We were approaching the T-intersection that required our next decision – turn left or right. Then my wife said, “Let’s explore that other road you said we could visit one day – Mix Canyon.” That was a great idea as I have always heard of this road yet I have never personally driven into that other side of the canyon.
So off to our next little adventure into the beckoning green mountains. I turned left and drove for about a couple of miles until we saw the street sign – Mix Canyon. Here we go!
Initially, the drive was normal though we were quickly enveloped by the many trees that seemed to transport us into a new existence. The winding roads seemed to become more narrow the further we drove. There were occasional private driveways to secluded properties but no place to turn around. Oh well, we wanted a driving adventure and now we were forced into that desire with no direction but up!
Soon, I noticed the private driveways became less frequent. To my left was the carved wall of the forest and to my right was a drop-off into the abyss of trees below. Suddenly headlights slowly approached us as a top-down car emerged – our first encounter in this mysterious forest!
There was no room to pull over to let him by – he approached slowly as he did not have any room to his right as well. Our cars inched slowly towards each other and then we stopped. I rolled down my window and asked him how much further up the road we had to go before we could turn around. The nice elderly gentlemen was with his wife and lap dog. She seemed nervous and then I heard my own wife gasp as I soon realized that she shared the same emotion. He answered my question and said it would be another 15 minutes before it turns to a gravel road. I thanked him and we departed in opposite directions (note: our door handles were less than a few inches apart).
I remained in first gear as I proceeded up the narrowing road. Passing a parked car on the other side of the road (near the mountainside), we wondered aloud where the owner(s) could be. Within a couple of minutes, we saw a couple walking their dogs. They were coming down the hill but since there was no sidewalk to speak of, we shared the road and waved as we passed by. Oh well, onward to the top!
Sensing the increasing nervousness displayed by my wife’s posture, we finally crested to what seemed to be our first welcomed patch of ground that allowed us to turn around. At this point, we both agreed to do so even though the road beckoned us to continue. Carefully, I pulled into the gravel turnabout while being mindful of the ditches.
Then we saw the beautiful view!
Fortunately, I brought my camera as I did not know what sights we might capture from our open-ended adventure. I decided to park in this unfinished opening to snap a few pictures. My wife got out of the car to take in the scenery though she remained near the car. I was more adventurous and decided to walk closer to the edge of this empty “lover’s point”. I snapped photos of the surrounding area and had her take one of me. (I needed proof that I was there)
Then I realized something. To my left (in the picture), there was an unfinished guard railing. Graffiti decorated the dull silver surface and behind me was a downhill forest of trees. If this road were to ever be finished one day, where would it go? My guess is “off the cliff” but then again, I am not an engineer.
The small area was private and so peaceful. It was a shame that some people used it to get rid of their trash. After a few minutes of enjoying the serenity, we were reminded about the time of day as a truck drove past us and continued further up the mountain. As for us, we decided it was time to go back down the mountain.
Our journey back down was fast and I had to apply the brakes often (I am sure my wife appreciated that). We narrowly passed a couple of cars but I felt safer this time since we had the forest wall to rub against should the circumstances required it. Oh, did I mention that there was a natural ditch (on the passenger side no less) to carry the water runoff down the mountain? I tried to encourage my wife to keep her eyes open as we proceeded down the narrow road. The couple with their dogs were still on the road as we passed them one last time. I shouted, “Nice day for a walk” to which he replied with shallow breathing – “Yes it is!” Hopefully that parked car we saw earlier would be their destination; otherwise, it would be a very long walk back down the mountain.
Eventually, the road widened as I quipped, “See, that was not so bad of a drive.” No, I did not get slapped by my wife but I was happy to see the relief on her face as we approached the main road.
The adventure had ended for today but we will always remember that drive into the Mix Canyon mountainside. I do not believe we will ever ask again – “what is really up there?“
Hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day too!