I traveled to West Virginia this week with my sister, Madeline, to meet up with another sister, Maureen. Somehow along the way when looking at Google Maps on my phone, we must have dropped a new destination pin. As the car climbed up over Cheat Mountain, we lost our cell signals but the map still had us moving forward, so on we went, not realizing how far off course we were.
Madeline saw it first, rising over the trees. It looked like a space ship, its elliptical shape looming large. Then we rounded a bend and we were in Green Bank, West Virginia, home of one of the world's largest radio telescopes. Of course I drove into the laboratory property... I mean, why not? Turns out they actually have a visitor center, but it was a photo op of the telescope that we wanted and when we were unable to get a good shot of it from that vantage point, we headed out.
Leaving the visitor center behind, we drove further and pulled into a pizza shop and general store to ask for directions. A wonderful young man named Wes helped us, laughing gently as I told him we didn't have a signal.
Wes gave us a sense of which direction we had to head, though he didn't know exactly how to get to where we needed to be, but he assured us that once we got to the other side of the mountain, we'd pick up a signal again. Off we went and we did, indeed, regain a cell signal on the other side of the mountain. We joked that the reason we had no cell signals in Green Bank was because they didn't want us broadcasting any sort of secrets from that valley.
Come to find out, our accidental discovery is a very cool place that is purposely devoid of cell signals. They even have a guy who drives around in a pickup truck, looking for errant signals.
Here's a link for a YouTube post about Greenbank: https://tinyurl.com/ya6zdxwc
My lesson of the week? Don't be afraid of the wrong turns in life. Step off the beaten path. There are wonders around the bend.