There I was, almost to the top of Hyner State Park viewing area when I noticed a gravel road leading off to the left. Of course there’s a sign with an arrow pointing that direction with only Route 44 printed below it. But I continue on out to the viewing area and take in the beautiful panoramic view it has to offer.

But the whole time I’m still contemplating where on Route 44 that road will come out. I know it’s not Crossfork as I’m way south of that. So I figure it must lead over toward either Germania or the Waterville area. The idea of venturing onto it crosses my mind as I come back past the turn but it’s already late afternoon so I pass on it for today.

On the way home, my mind is swirling as I replay the many memories from the ‘70s when my father took us kids on many a back road adventure. It seemed that, if there was a back road in sight, my father would turn onto it and follow it just to see where it lead to while we enjoyed the view from our seat in the truck’s bed. Oh my gosh, that’s not safe you say. Well my father never drove like people do nowadays, going 60 or 70 miles per hour up back roads.

Nope, we just cruised along slowly, enjoying the scenery while asking our father where we were going. Of course he answered with, “We’ll find out when we get there.” That made it even more interesting as if there was a mystery to it. Especially when dad said we were heading out into the “sticks or the boondocks.”

I guess you could say it was a place where one felt lost, or out in the middle of nowhere. Out there, you were lucky to maybe see a farm once in awhile.

But we did spot pear and plum trees, and the occasional gooseberry bush on field edges that we’d stop and enjoyed eating. Then, we’d continue on and catch sight of woodchucks, raccoons and, if lucky, a black bear along the road or a snapping turtle or a beaver in a road side beaver pond.

The best part of it all is that out on those dirt roads, you’ll never see a Walmart, McDonalds or Sheetz store that will ruin the scenery. It’s just good old wilderness that may seem monotonous one moment, then suddenly breathtaking the next. It’s what’s around the next bend that we can’t see that draws us onward in our travels.

If it sounds exciting to you, turn off that cell phone, turn onto an unpaved road and begin a new adventure. Let your mind venture into new territory, start imagining or dreaming of what you may discover. You may be surprised by how quickly your mind becomes spontaneous to the task of wayfinding if you give it a chance. Here in northcentral Pennsylvania, especially Potter and Tioga counties, there are thousands of miles of dirt roads beckoning your arrival.

I’m sure once you give it a try, you’ll be back for more. As for myself, I’ll be out there on some unknown back road with and unconstrained, half occupied mind wandering back and forth between past and present, recalling forgotten events.

David Orlowski is a writer, hunter, fisherman and outdoor enthusiast from Potter County. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.