Saturday, September 17, 2005


Who uses it: Highway planners and mapmakers
What it means: According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, a byway is a secondary road "containing aesthetic or cultural value near areas of historical, natural or recreational significance." States designate byways in order to draw traffic and tourist dollars to towns that might otherwise be neglected.
How you can use it: As a metaphor for any road less traveled.

Late posting today, because I spent the night with friends in Arlington -- thanks, John, Tara, Jack & Kate -- and drove down to Virginia Beach this morning. Dizzy did not want to get back in the car, after the eight hours we spent on the road yesterday (overturned tractor-trailer on the NJ Turnpike). I don't blame him. I'm so tired myself that my eyes are crossing, and Dizzy is currently passed out on the floor of my parents' family room, with his paws in the air.

Today's term refers to the route I took -- Highway 17 from Fredericksburg to Yorktown, also known as the Tidewater Trail and the Historyland Highway. It's my favorite drive, one I've been making for more than 20 years now. It still feels like the way home, though I haven't lived in Virginia Beach since 1982.

Route 17 passes through Port Royal, Tappahannock, Kilmarnock and Gloucester, through old forests and farmland and across the James River. I had the air conditioner blasting and Pete Townshend in the CD player, and it was a beautiful day, despite the heat. It's 92 degrees here... Dizzy isn't used to this kind of heat any more, and neither am I.

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