Greetings from New Orleans, where I just finished the first leg of a +/-2000 mile "walk-about" from Dallas to New York. Several times a year, I make it a point to get out of the airplane and take a closer look at the world in which I live. In this case, together with my 26 year young daughter, Ashley, I'm transportingg a car that I bought in Dallas back to my New York home.
For those of us directionally challenged, GPS is a marvelous invention. I bought my first GPS unit a few years back. We named her Alice, since it was clear from the get-go that I was bound to be talking to it from time to time ("Alice, you ignorant fool"). I'm sure this is what everyone does. My GPS is named "Alice," as in "go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall," the lyric from Grace Slick/Jefferson Airplane's 1967 hit "White Rabbit." Those of you old enough can likely hear the song in your mind right now. Well, I don't know why this drug culture song hit me when I was coming up with a name. After all, I was but 11 and about as non-druggie as one could be when it was on the charts. But it struck me as appropriatete for a guy who's always seeking "the way" and who uses a giraffe for his logo. So, Alice it is.
Now Alice has her idiosynchrocies. Last evening, about 7pm, Ashley and I are cruising down U.S. 49 in Louisianna when we decide that we're in need of some BBQ. So what do we do? We "go ask Alice," of course. Low and behold, Alice comes up with Papa's BBQ just 8 miles away. Now, one thing you learn when you ask Alice about a particular destination such as a specific restaurant (as opposed to an address) on her list is that she measures distance "as the crow flies." So, twenty miles and thirty minutes later, we pull up on Papa's BBQ, a rramshackle hut in the middle of nowhere which hasn't seen brisket in 10 years. Oh well! We did have a pleasant ride through Louisiana back-country, though.
So we turn the car around (I'm working on a name for this vehicle) and head back towards the interstate. Just as we cross over the point at which we started, we stumble across the small town of Natchidoches, Louisianna (nack-ah-tush). WOW!
Natchitoches is Louisiana's oldest town, established in 1714.
This quaint and perky community is where they filmed the movie Steel Magnolias. Nestled on a beautiful river, the Landmark Historic District is jam-packed with shopping, dining, and attractions plus historic fort sites, museums, and year around cultural events and festivals.
Famous for their special meat pies, Natchitoches is also recognized as the Bed & Breakfast Capital of Louisiana and home to the Cane River Creole National Historical Park at Oakland & Magnolia Plantations. The National Trust named Natchitoches one of the 2005 "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" for Historic Preservation and it was recognized as one of the top 100 places to retire by Where to Retire magazine.
What a beautiful community and one worth visiting! But I'm not writing this as a public service announcement for the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce.
My message is simple. We discovered this gem of a village because I wasn't afraid to get off the beaten path. I knew that Alice would get me back to my desired destination sooner or later…and, so what if the diversion caused me to pull into New Orleans at midnight. Pulling off the highway came with little risk. But, as you can see, what great reward!
The next time you're focused on your destination, whether a physical locale or a goal, don't be afraid to "take the road less traveled." Along the way, you just might discover something magical. And likewise, the next time you have a task or project to assign, give it to someone who's not the obvious choice for the job. They'll appreciate the opportunity and you might be pleasantly surprised where they take you.