Tourist Season: The End of the Road

All winter, we dream of summer. Then the tourists arrive: out of state plates, clogged roads, changed traffic patterns. Strangers, asking strange questions, like: “If I follow this street, where does it take me?”

We grin, tolerate, or swear at them depending as much on our own mood as on their behavior—which is, after all, quite predictable. (More on that in a moment.) We joke that “If they call it tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?” And then we go on vacation ourselves, and the flip flop is suddenly on the other foot.

If I lived here, I wouldn't appreciate the view the way I did for two days of vacation.

Slow down, drink in the view

When I get away to a different view, I laugh about our slow pace over unfamiliar twisting roads. I tell the locals who pile up behind me “sorry” (though they don’t hear it), knowing they are gritting their teeth at my 30 mph in a 40 mph zone. Forgive me, I want to tell the driver of the pickup who blasts by as soon as there’s a safe place to pass. We are just enjoying the spectacular view, the one you take for granted, the one you don’t even see anymore. We’re now the ones with the out of state plates, clogging your roads, changing your traffic patterns, and asking the strange questions—sorry.

End of the road

I was just back from my own vacation when I was asked by a tourist walking around our neighborhood: “If I follow this street, where does it take me?” What the woman really wanted to know was: “Is there anything worth my time to see ahead, or should I turn around and go somewhere more interesting?”

There were so many possible answers: “It takes you down a beautiful tree-lined street, all the way to the water.” “West.” “To my house.”

But here’s what I came out with instead, off the cuff and completely unintentional in its classic local smart-a$$ cheek:

“Where does it take you? To the end of the road.”