If we were having coffee today I think I’d have to fess up about a recent case of attempted murder. No, not by me, silly. It was Siri.
You see, Siri tried to kill me a couple of months ago.
My daughter lives about three hours north of us, very near the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had gone up for Thanksgiving with one of our grandsons and decided to try a different route south, mostly because the grandson lives west of us and I wanted to see if there was a more direct route, so I asked Siri. She is generally quite attentive to such requests.
Indeed, Siri took us a different way, down a very unfamiliar path. But we were headed south so it seemed fine until we got to our second major turnoff. She spoke up
There were in fact what looked like two rights. We took the first. Siri didn’t like that. I have often thought any GPS with a voice should use an exasperated sigh when one misses a turn. Instead, she said,
“Turn around, when possible.”
GPS programmers take note: this would be an ideal spot to program something like “No, No, No, the other right.”
There wasn’t any place to turn around. She repeated her request several times until we had gone more than half a mile.
At this point I guess I should mention a few pertinent facts:
I was in a rental.
I hadn’t purchased the extra insurance.
It was packed to the rafters.
I wasn’t inclined to do potential damage-inducing maneuvers.
I glanced at the map my phone and realized we were actually on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and a particularly narrow portion of it at that. At this point, I expected one of the famous overlooks you see about every half mile along some stretches of the Parkway. Nothing. Just narrow road framed by dense foliage.
Siri finally decided to recalculate a new route and soon instructed us to turn left.
We took a left on what we were assured was a state road, State Road 814.
I remember thinking at the time, “How could this one lane graded road be a state highway.”
Yes, indeed, I really could have turned around here and yes, I should have. It was only about five miles back to the turn-around.
But I had faith in Siri. I knew she was going to get us out of this, so we proceeded down “state road 814”. It was reasonable to assume that we would soon intersect with that other road. So I drove on and on.
The problem was, there was no place to turn around on this road.
And what a road it was … we went up and down and around, and up and down and around. We traversed a couple of mountains with long stretches of steep drop-offs with no rail. This was ear-popping, white-knuckle driving.
It was the kind of road that has periodic gates somebody closes in bad weather but it was so narrow, I don’t know how anybody could turn around if the gates were closed. I don’t know how anybody would or even could try to drive up there in a snowstorm to close those gates. Talk about “worst jobs in the world.”
My darling bride kept saying what a fun drive it was. She wasn’t driving. Thankfully we encountered no vehicles going the other way. I have no idea what we would have done if that had happened. There was literally no room for two cars to pass … not in my rental car, anyway.
Finally, after about an hour or so, the road started to level out and we began to see signs of civilization again. Eventually, we emerged onto some pavement. Yes, I saw a street sign, it WAS still state road 814 but we also found out it was called Campbell Mountain Road. We eventually hit another real, honest-to-goodness, highway, with pavement and stores and gas stations. It was salvation.
Siri kept plugging away with myriad directions and eventually got us to … the same highway we would have taken if we had gone our “normal” route. I stuck to it like glue the rest of the way home.
Okay, I guess she didn’t intentionally try to kill me.
But then again, she’s smarter than all of us and has the entire internet at her disposal. Consider this: I did some simple searches for this highway for this post and I found the following warning in some directions to a nearby campground (The phrase I boldfaced below particularly caught my attention):
“WARNING: Please use the directions we have provided below for safe and pleasant driving. If you choose to use another source for your directions, please be wary if they include Route 814; this winding, gravel mountain road is not for the faint of heart. DO NOT take 814 if you have a camper or RV.”
All pictures borrowed from Google Maps in the interest of public safety.
Yes, he’ll probably go try to find Campbell Mountain road again sometime.