A few years ago we decided to set off on a spring break camping trip. We were excited to go to an area of North Carolina we hadn’t camped much and to find new adventures. So when the GPS in the big van asked if we wanted to try a shortcut on the BIA highway we were all in. Get there faster? Sure! To be honest we didn’t know what a BIA highway was…but we figured “highway” sounded safe. Should be no problem at all.
We were cruising along in our 12 passenger van when the GPS told us to turn off the paved road…and what stood before us was a narrow path through the woods. With a gate swung open. My husband, who is much braver than me, looked over and said “let’s try it”. And in that moment I knew this was going to be something worth remembering. A quick google search told us that BIA stood for “Bureau of Indian Affairs.” The name was last updated when the road was. If you could call it a road.
The path was no wider than our van and in some parts the trees along the side scraped down the sides of our vehicle. At this point we were about one mile of the way down what GPS said would be a 4 mile drive. There was literally no turning back. We could no more have driven in reverse in our giant van through that twisty wooded path than we could lift the van up where it was and turn it back the other direction. We were at the point of no return.
I asked my husband what we would do if another car came along (although what other idiots would have taken this path, I don’t know). He looked at me with not a bit of humor and said “let’s hope no one does.” And that was that.
Nick tends to stay more calm than I do in stressful situations. I was clinging to the door handle with white knuckles and had my feet up on the dash, I think in attempt to keep us from crashing into any of the boulders in the road. They were not rocks. These were full on boulders…and we were driving over them in my beautiful black van.
What seemed like the better part of a half hour passed and as we approached the end of the BIA Highway I felt a deep sense of relief…until we pulled up to the barricade locked down across the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a permanent barricade, not just some wimpy cones, and I looked at my husband and said “I’m not going back down that road!” And so he did what any sane person would do. He removed the pin from the hinge of the road block, swung it open, and drove through. He stopped, returned the road block and pin to their original position, and we cheered. We had done it! We made it off the BIA highway!
We began to cruise peacefully down the Blue Ridge. We drove past a crew working on the side of the road and waved. They looked confused. Huh. Oh well. There sure wasn’t much traffic. Actually…there wasn’t really ANY traffic. What a minute! Did we break ONTO the Blue Ridge Parkway??? At this point in the trip I remembered vaguely having heard people talk about how the Blue Ridge was closed at points during the winter months. There was no turning back…now we had to get off of THIS road. When we got to the exit OFF the Blue Ridge Parkway, we came to another barricade, confirming what we had already guessed. We had been driving down the closed portion of the road. At this point the lock and hinge situation didn’t faze us at all. Hubby climbed out, swung it open, drove through, closed it up and returned to civilization. But we had survived. I can’t say that the GPS saved us any time on that trip, but it sure did provide some hilarious memories, and I think our oldest son has finally stopped worrying that we were all going to be sent to jail.