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Vermont Road Trips: GPS, Class 4 Roads and Paper Maps

June 19th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh

 

Vt-road-trip-advice

Today's Vermont travel advice: Steer clear of Class 4 roads unless you're into building bridges like the one this desperate traveler made.

Sometimes I really long for the days of old-fashioned paper maps.  But I've gotten lazy and instead of properly preparing for a trip now, I just jump in the car and expect my GPS to get me where I want to go.

Well, that backfired on me last week when I went to Woodstock for a VWMA meeting.  We got out a few minutes early and it was a beautiful day so I decided to take "the scenic route" home.  

I'll share the embarrassing nightmare that ensued in hopes of helping you avoid a similar fate.

Just so you know the moral of this story up front, even though Class 4 roads in Vermont are on your GPS, unless you're ride is a horse you want to avoid them like the plague.  By definition, a Class 4 road means TURN BACK NOW. 

So… at first the road didn't seem too bad.  And after all it WAS on my GPS.  Unfortunately it slowly went from partially paved to stone to dirt to mud to a sink-hole. And it was all downhill so by the time I got to the sink-hole, there was no turning back.  It was bad enough slipping down through the mud.  There would be no way to turn around and get through it again going uphill.

But there was no way I would get through the muddy pool ahead of me either.  And there was no one around and no cell signal. And the weather was changing from beautiful to a thunderstorm.  Great.

There was one good thing though.  We had just been talking about forest stewardship at the VWMA meeting earlier in the day and the forester explained that sustainable logging means leaving a good amount of tree debris (branches, stumps and such) on the landscape for eventual composting and animal habitat (sustainable logging isn't really as tidy as we might think it should be).  Anyway, lucky for me the sink-hole in the middle of the road was surrounded by freshly logged forest and there were plenty of branches nearby– enough to build a bridge with.  It was pretty nerve-wracking making my way over (through) it but somehow, miraculously it worked.  And immediately afterwards – a downpour.

So, fellow Vermont travelers there you have it– my mud-wrestling escapades. 

Making a road trip this weekend?  My suggestion would be to enjoy our rural highways and byways with an old time paper map or atlas.  And if you see a sign that says "Class 4 road" (translation: cow path) spin your car around and head in the opposite direction.

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