It was just after 12:00 when I waved so long to mom, plenty of time to get there by one, after all, I was just going from This City to That City, a distance of 12 miles give or take. Of course it was unfamiliar territory to me now. Fifty years ago I knew all these roads well, but you forget a lot in that many decades.
I had the address, Skittle Road just off This City Pike. I googled it the night before and on the Google Map the place sat just where This City Pike intersected with Skittle Road on the That City side. Skittle actually split off This City Pike toward the This City side and ran parallel to the Pike for several miles. Pretty simple route, I thought.
So I'm burning up the pike and off to my right I see the street sign Skittle Road flash by. Whoa, I can travel right up that way to the door of Mushmouth. I turn into the next street and go straight on the guess it will cross Skittle in the not so distant future. I prove right and now I am heading in the direction of That City on Skittle.
The road isn't Hog heaven, but more Pig Alley. There are a few homesteads among the forest and weeds, but they are modest and in need of some paint for the most part, Picker country. It doesn't look like territory you'd find any Mushmouth Manor in, but it is Skittle Road. I go its length until it dead-ends into another road that is a hop and skip from The Pike.
I have seen nothing resembling a Retirement Home. I turn up this side road in a direction away from The Pike, just in case it is tucked back in the scrub somewhere. I go a bit and nothing like I want to see. I come back and go down Skittle in the other direction. Halfway along I see some hikers on some kind of trail. I ask them where Mushmouth Manor might be hiding. They never heard of it.
The one fellow asked, "What's the address?"
"Skittle Road at the Pike," I tell him.
"You want to go straight way you're going," he tells me gesturing that direction with his hand.
"Toward This City?" I ask.
He nods, I thank him and continue on. Maybe it is. I hadn't turned in where Skittle joined missing its sign. I'll go to the end this time, although I still felt sure the Google Map showed it more toward That City than This City.
I came to the Pike and nothing, so I turned around and went back up Skittle again. Maybe I just didn't see it.
I came to the side road and was as much without Mushmouth Manor as before. There was a parking lot across that side road, a lot with no apparent reason to be. I pulled in and parked. I saw the hikers appear and realized the lot was for that hiking trail's travelers to use. I pulled out my seldom used cell phone from the glove compartment and called Mushmouth Manor.
I could hardly hear the person who answered, but I asked, "Where are you?"
"We're right at the split of Skittle Road and This City Pike. Where are you?"
"I'm in a lot where Skittle joins The Pike, but I don't see you."
"We're on the right," she says, "you can't miss us."
I thank her and hang up. Can't miss them, eh? Well, I don't see anything to the right that looks like the place. Across the pike are a store of some kind and some houses up the side road. There is a line of trees along The Pike. I get out of the car and cross the highway. I think maybe this place is hidden by those trees. She did say they were on the right.
I walk pass the line of trees and stand in shock. There is a street running off to my right and its name is Skittle Road. The blasted thing was cut in half by The Pike. I get back to my car and start driving up this new Skittle.
I am driving and driving and time is getting away from me. I hope I am on the correct track now. I see a man walking by the edge of a lawn. I pull over and ask him if he knows Mushmouth Manor. Immediately I realize this guy is -- how am I allowed to put it in these politically correct times -- mentally challenged. But he does seem to have heard of the place and he points straight ahead.
I drive further and there is a junction back to The Pike and to my right upon a hill sits Mushmouth Manor. Sure enough, you can't miss it, as long you're on the right Skittle.