Yearning to Head Off The Beaten Path

Image courtesy of 63025.com

I found a kindred spirit via Medium last week. (Not A medium fortune teller type, but Medium “A better place to read and write things that matter” per their tagline.)  For years I’ve been too lazy and cheap to book travel for my vacations, so instead I turn to my battered Hiking Iowa book, gear up the dog(s), and hit the road to hike somewhere I’ve never been.  During the whole drive, since I’m headed somewhere I don’t know, I’m on the lookout for brown public area signs.  As soon as they start to appear on the side of the road I smile, knowing I’m close to my destination and I’m not lost after all.

When I’m not on an actual hiking vacation I take note of the brown signs too.  Oh!  There’s a public area that’s marked for hunting, would that be a good place for a hike?  (I’ve found that these spaces often are great to explore – outside hunting season of course.)  I’ll be cruising down the highway on my way to some appointment or family gathering and see a sign for a park I’ve never visited and try to make a mental note because there’s no time to stop right now but I fully intend to come back when there is time. (My completion rate there is pretty low.)

I’ve also learned that maintenance of the brown signs isn’t always spot on.  Neither is consistency from sign to sign along the path.  I’ve been mislead into thinking I was finding a nature center that either never existed or was closed down and razed.  I’ve also started towards a monument that never appeared, only to stumble across it two right turns later with no guidance from the signs at all.  I take these challenges in stride as a part of the overall game.

Apparently brown signs are international.  The kindred spirit I found follows them across the English countryside as she writes in The Joys of Randomly Following Brown Tourist Signs.  She’s so into it that she created a web site about it Followthebrownsigns.com.  If I ever make it to the UK I’m going to want to use her site as a reference for exploring.

Since reading her story I’ve found myself even more aware of brown signs along the road and yearning to ignore my final destination to see just where they might lead.   Do you look for brown signs too?

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