The Detour by Rick Smith

October 14, 2017

The Detour

By Rick Smith

As detours go, it wasn’t that bad. Of course, it wasn’t really a detour at all.

What it was, was my own lack of homework – otherwise, I would have known about the section of California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) that had been washed away by a landslide from torrential winter rains.

The story had been on CNN and all over the news back in January. But I missed it. Now, it was August and merrily we rolled along near the Big Sur section of the drive when suddenly a sign appeared stating, “Road Closed Five Miles Ahead. No Detour.”

We couldn’t believe our eyes. “Really?” I said to myself, knowing that the only option to “no detour” was turning around and going back the way, we’d come. I drove onward in confusion for five more miles where the road ended with a turnaround and a barricade guard allowing trucks clearing the road to go further.

I needed human input. “How long ’til the road is cleared?” I asked, thinking if it wouldn’t be too long we’d just wait.

“About a year,” the person deadpanned.

If I’d done my homework I would have known.

So, we accepted our fate and turned around to travel the beautiful PCH in the opposite direction.
Eventually we opted for Santa Barbara and switched to highway 101 for a quicker route south.

Along the way we encountered another detour – this one a detour of thought rather than roadway. We passed one of those “Adopt A Highway” signs with Atheists United SLO as the listed organization providing clean-up. A bit further along we passed a string of neon-green-vested humans clearing litter from the side of the road.

“Look,” I said to my wife, “there they are now – the United Atheists.”

As we continued driving, my mind wandered about the flash of irony represented in the neon green. United by what they don’t believe in, Atheists United SLO enjoys fellowship in what they do believe in — like keeping a stretch of a California highway free of litter (which it needed).

But that’s not all.

As an organization, Atheists United SLO (San Louis Obispo) strives to improve the quality of its community through participation in various charitable activities and services including donating library books, supporting efforts to fight hunger and providing scholarships for high school seniors.

Big Sur, California

It was sad to learn that the highway sign for Atheists United SLO was vandalized a couple weeks after we drove by it. Apparently, not the first time. Sadly, there are those who don’t believe in those who don’t believe.

Some final thoughts rolled through the detour of my mind.

Like, that old proverb — cleanliness is next to Godliness. And, then, a reflection of the magnificent beauty of nature’s coastal highway.

I figured it coincidental that all this happened on a Sunday.

Note from the Editor.

Rick, Thank you for another interesting article.  Our landscape is very different from Big Sur’s but most of us believe that we also live in “God’s country.” I have good news. The Desert Foothills Scenic Drive (Scottsdale Scenic Drive) is open for visitor and resident traffic. It’s also open for community-minded volunteers who want to help Friends of the Scenic Drive clear litter on Saturday morning, October 28th. New volunteers are welcome regardless of religious belief or lack thereof.  Apologies for hi-jacking your article but below is our “Adopt A Highway” sign and a link for more information about the upcoming cleanup. Les


Friends of the Scenic Drive Signbelow



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Author: Rick Smith

Rick Smith is a resident of Cave Creek and a not-frequent-enough contributor to The Peak. Rick is a published author and former editor. His book, REMF, describes his behind-the-line experiences in Viet Nam. Rick story was awarded 1st place in The Peak’s 2004 Write Stuff Contest.

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