Get lost. That can be hard to do on an island, unless you do it right.
Getting lost is getting harder to do anywhere, thanks to GPS and cheap, accurate receivers. It is easier to get rid of maps by trusting the computer in your car or phone. Directions to a party are no longer long strings of lefts and rights. Instead, listen to Siri, Alexa, or Cortana take you there turn by turn.
And yet, it’s possible to feel lost if navigating through dense downtowns and neighborhoods on the mainland. Get on the wrong road and there may not be a turnaround for longer than you’re comfortable. Sure, the computer ‘should’ be able to get you back home, but you may have an adventure first.
Welcome to life on an island. Yes, maps and GPS have their place finding a place; but islands have a fundamental feature. They’re surrounded by water. Drive far enough and you’ll run out of land. Unless your car is amphibious, when you get to the shore you’ll either have to stop or turn. Islands have limits that limit getting lost.
Moving to a new city can kick off anxiety attacks: too many roads, too many one-way streets, too many strangers.
Moving to an island means a lot fewer strangers, and they won’t be strangers for long; far fewer roads, so you’ll start learning them sooner because you’ll inevitably use some of them repeatedly; and as for one-way streets, well…
Check back and read “Living The Two Lane Life“, a lifestyle that embraces a slower pace thanks to slower traffic and fewer passing lanes. There’s also the one lane life, and there’s the opportunity to at least feel lost. Stay on the asphalt and concrete with painted stripes and the computers will help you out. But, Whidbey Island provides plenty of opportunities to accidentally drive down gravel instead.
Long driveways, service roads, utility access, and old abandoned arterials branch off the two lane roads, frequently without a street sign or any hint of an exit. Some are so narrow that there truly is only one way because there’s no way to turn around. Then, you hope the road connects to something more civilized before you find another vehicle headed your way. In that case, there’s a negotiation about who moves which way and first. You see, every one way road actually does have two ways to travel it: forward and reverse. If you’re lucky, some wider patch will provide a place for the two of you to squeeze past each other. If you’re unlucky, you may find that for every foot you drove forward you have to drive a foot backward.
Some of those dead-ends also hint at one way to truly get lost on the island.
Gravel roads frequently end at artist retreats, personal enclaves, minimalistic housing, or grand estates. While some people move to the island to be in the middle of intentional communities, others move here to get away from there, wherever there may be. They’re not lost geographically. They’re purposely losing connection to convention, getting lost in their thoughts or passions, or trying to get lost from the troubles of the world. Staying on the paved roads helps you keep from getting lost, and it respects the privacy of those who put themselves at a distance from the rest so they can rest.
Don’t take those paved roads or your car’s navigation for granted. There’s at least one story of a Subaru that tried to drive over a washed-out bridge in the middle of the night, and ferry landings and boat launches can look appealing to computers that think it’s possible to drive across the blue part of the map. That’s one way to get lost that ends up getting very embarrassing when you’re finally found.