Manas Tungare

I like to call the Blue Ridge Parkway, the road to paradise. Not because it leads to a veritable destination, but because, if there were ever such a thing as a road to paradise, it would be very much like the Parkway. 470 miles of asphalted pretzel, no exits from any interstates, and totally left to nature (so much that it's not even maintained in the winter, simply declared closed.)

Tonight was one of the first warm nights this winter. I was bored anyway, and longed for a drive -- it'd been months since our last long drive (to Orlando, no less!) Coke for the man, gas for the machine, songs for the iPod -- and off we went, the three of us.

A very Tim-Burton-esque landscape shone in the moonlight and headlights; white and pale, just escaped from the icy hands of winter. The moon, as red as in a Vidhu Vinod Chopra backdrop, setting on the western horizon. And the stars like I'd seen them only in a planetarium before. Sounds and noises that you'd expect just before the skeleton jumps up from the grave.

I was in the middle of nowhere. Well, I always knew that, (duh!) but having your suspicion confirmed by a GPS system -- it showed a little red dot in the middle of a vast blank expanse -- was double-plus-ungood. I narrowly avoided trading a radiator for venison. And at one point, had this been a horror spoof movie, I almost drove into a spot with the headstone bearing my name.

About a 100-mile-roundtrip, and it took me 3 hours ... and now I'm trying to get myself to sleep, at 4:45am! The road beckoned, I followed. I don't know why.