The Corolla is a driving MACHINE. It has capabilities well beyond those of any other compact, entry level car. And aside from those nasty acceleration rumors, it makes a mean off-roading machine.
The Corolla pushed its limits last week. Frankly, we pushed each other’s limits much further than I would ever hope to become comfortable with.
It started with the word “DETOUR” somewhere between the Peach Place and Columbia, TN. (The happiest place on earth is Peach Place, near Farmer’s Exchange, TN. Don’t Google it because it won’t show up…it’s small and remote, and definitely unincorporated. But glow worms live there. You know you want to go.)
I take the DETOUR, hoping for frequent arrows pointing me back towards that highway that leads to I 65. 5 + miles later, there are no arrows, no traffic to follow, and Garmin has directed me to “Turn Left in 0.5 miles”. I turn left onto a dirt road (not uncommon in this area), with instructions to follow it for 1.6 miles. I then turn onto another dirt road. At this point, I’m concerned, but reassured when Garmin says I will be back on a highway in roughly 7 miles. But the road grows narrower, increasingly remote, and starts to resemble a hiking trail more than a road.
Incidentally, the Nashville area flooded—severely— recently. There were landslides (the reason for the detour) and bridges and roads were washed away. I could see huge ruts in the road from water gushing over it. I thought about turning around, but I didn’t know another way to get back to the highway, so I decided to keep going unless I was forced to turn around.
As a raccoon ran across the road, Garmin reminded me to turn on Leatherwood in 0.3 miles. Leatherwood?! Isn’t that the guy from Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Eff. Just keep going…6 miles. Not that far. You can do it.
As the road became narrower and more remote I was really regretting my decision. I came upon a house, pleased I was nearing civilization, and hoping I would live to see Guntersville again. The house was part of a pig farm. The road ran directly between 2 pig pastures. I panic at this point, realizing that no one wants to live near a pig farm, I actually eat these things, and I am so lost it hurts. I have no cell phone service, my car is roughly 95% likely to get stuck, and I am going to have to jog back to the pig farm on Leatherwood Rd to use their phone. If they even have one. I seriously doubt they even have electricity, seeing as the last telephone pole I saw was forever ago. I pray, beg actually, for some pavement. Or my mountain bike. Or my Jeep…why did I get rid of that thing?
I need a pep talk…Just 5 more miles. 5 more miles of the steepest hills, on the worst “road” in history, surrounded by the thickest woods in the Continental US. I drive fast, narrowly avoiding the 18 inch water ruts, attempting to keep some momentum to climb these hills. Otherwise, it would be game over. My tires would spin and rut out that “road” in an instant. Gravel smacks my pretty black car. 1.8 miles from the Holy Highway Grail, I have to stop and drag a limb out of the road.
I thought about taking pictures, but I couldn’t beg God for pavement, avoid a nervous breakdown, dodge ruts and limbs, and snap pictures. I’m just not that good. Plus, this was quickly becoming a situation I might really want to block out for the rest of my life. If I even made it out of here.
If you ever need to dump a body, I know the place. It’s remote, travelled rarely (at the most), and surrounded by pig farms and hunting land. I would suggest using a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get there.
Anyways, about the time I’m really about to lose it, I suddenly see pavement and look at my phone to see 3G. I squeal into a BP and slam it into park. I consider chugging a 40, but stress binge on Combos and Coke instead. It was a completely anticlimactic finish to the detour from hell. I’m getting my car serviced next week, and I’m pretty sure the Toyota man will be wondering why there are huge clumps of gravel and dirt under my car. Let’s just hope I didn’t bust anything on my off road adventure. I'm pretty sure that fix won't come so cheap.