When the Boy was around 11 years old, we lived in Illinois, spitting distance from St. Louis, Missouri. It was perfect; we were close enough to see the sights--the Arch, the killer park complete with incredible zoo, awesome art museum, and a wonderful kids' science museum--but far enough away that we didn't have to put up with the traffic, congestion, and crime of St. Louis.
We didn't live in the sticks, but we might as well have. The mall was just far enough away that I didn't go on a whim, and the shorter the drive, the better. So on one blustery fall day (all right, it could have been spring, maybe even summer...I don't remember exactly but for the sake of your imagination, it was fall and it was blustery...) the Boy and I headed out, destination Mall, and I opted for a shortcut.
Yes. A shortcut.
It took, oh, two hours to get through this magical shortcut. Normally the drive took about 20 minutes, but somewhere along the way I turned left at Albequerque, and we wound up driving through this quaint little town called Shiloh.
He has never let me forget.
Every time he's in the car with me and it looks like I'm the least bit lost I hear, "We're going to Shiloh, aren't we?"
Over time, I've decided that's not a bad place to be looking for. Shiloh was a sleepy little town, painted in shades of Old Towne; the houses still had expansive front porches, some with lazy swings hanging by room-width windows. There were real yards for kids to play in, and massive trees overlooked lawns that were not-too-manicured, but neatly trimmed and well cared for.
Today the Spouse Thingy and I headed out on our bikes with no particular destination in mind. I started out in the lead position and followed familiar roads until reaching an intersection I normally turn at; on a whim I went straight, and we rolled on for several miles, until it occured to me that we could get far enough out that the Spouse Thingy's bike could run out of gas before we could get back, so we turned around.
This time he was in the lead, and again we bypassed the turnoff, heading towards more unfamiliar territory. Over a hill, the road began to twist and turn, winding through neighborhoods that have been there for decades; some houses were dots in the middle of vast fields, others were street side with pastures behind them. We rode until it seemed like a good time to turn around again, just in case.
We headed for the familiar; after a quick stop at the Factory Store Outlet's restroom, we wandered the back roads of Vacaville, zooming past the landfill (never again, holy crap that smelled like...crap), turning around and heading back...where the Spouse Thingy missed the turnoff and headed straight for Shiloh.
He says it was intentional and he was pretty sure the road would connect with where we wanted to be sooner or later; I didn't care. This time I knew where I was and knew how much time we were adding to the ride, but on the off chance we might find Shiloh here, I went with it. We rode a little over 70 miles all in all, then stopped for food and gas.
Somewhere in the back roads of Solano County, there's a Shiloh to be found. I'm just hoping we don't stumble across it too soon.