Stubborn or Just Stupid?

In Experiences on September 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Cow Crossing

It’s been said, “two heads are better than one”, but after this weekend’s escapade, that’s highly debatable.

ETA was 11pm Friday, September 17th.

My friend Jake and I left at 8pm on Friday, September 17th for a retreat in central Oregon. While we were in high spirits, looking forward to spending time with our friends, the weather obviously disagreed with our general demeanor & expressed this through torrential downpours that put the windshield wipers to shame.

By 10pm it wasn’t unusual to see the silhouettes of trees made visible by strikes of lightening followed by nearly inaudible crashes of thunder (muted simply because the sound of rain on the windshield was so impressive). After stopping for sustenance, we were no longer in cell range and came to a fork in the road that was seemingly familiar, but the GPS we’d been casually relying on for 21st century reassurance was making us second-guess our whereabouts. Following brief consideration we decided it was best to trust technology and turned around, taking a turn that the purple line on our iPhones so confidently recommended.

By the time the paved road became a gravel road (which any normal person would’ve taken as the sign to turn back), and the gravel road became a dirt road we were 4 hours away from home and nearing our destination (according to the steadily decreasing space between our vehicle and the red dot denoting our the desired location).

Sharing moments like: passing a cow-crossing sign and laughing aloud about how ridiculously unnecessary the sign was and then, within the hour, slowing to a stop to politely share the already-too-narrow road with a few rogue cows, kept frustrations at bay. After multiple bucks passed through the beams of our headlights and many mice narrowly escaped death-by-tire we began a mental tally of the animals we encountered: 2 cows, 1 rabbit, 1 mouse, 1 more cow & 2 calves, 1 buck, 2 does, 1 more buck, 1 cat, more mice, 1 horse, another rabbit… Pretty soon the two of us had goals; I wanted badly to see an Elk and he had his fingers crossed for a cougar.

Around 12:30am we came around the corner to be faced with a large gated entrance. We may have been an hour-and-a-half beyond our ETA, but we were finally here!

Within minutes I discovered how devastating a small, simple thing like… a padlock can be. With cliff-like hills to the right of the gate and a marsh to the left of the gate Jake and I sat in the rain, staring past the metal barricade into the dark, in disbelief. We were on the property. We were here, but we were at the wrong entrance (perhaps one that hadn’t been used in years), and we had no idea how far past that gate our friends were (1 mile? 10 miles? 50 miles? We knew the property was huge and it wasn’t worth hiking in only to find out we were further away than the red dot suggested). It took a good five or ten minutes before we were willing to concede and turn around the way we’d come.

While we agreed the situation was depressing, we took hope in the small side road our GPS showed going around the gate about 20 minutes back the way we’d come. Five minutes down that road a second gate came into view and I began laughing, almost delirious with lack of sleep and, at this point, lack of surprise.

But this gate was different – it was unlocked. So I got out of the car, swung open the gate and watched as Jake drove cautiously through, his headlights spotlighting a tree ahead 20 yards on the right. In the rain you could just make out the wooden, hand-painted sign nailed to its trunk that read, “Beware”. I called Jake’s attention to it and stammered, “Really? Really?” I was officially scared but hopped in the car and bravely continued navigating us along the purple-line, desperate to make it to our destination. (It wasn’t until about 30 minutes later that Jake admitted there had been another sign 50 yards past the first one that simply said, “Too Late”! Sensing my discomfort, he’d wisely kept this information to himself.)

After crossing a small stream, agreeing that if we didn’t make it there before 4am we’d pull an all-nighter and watch the sun rise atop a hill, passing a “Do Not Enter” sign (because at 1am you begin to assume it can’t get much worse), and having our dirt road literally disappear out from underneath us as we realized we were driving through someone’s field, we turned around and aimed for the highway we’d abandoned earlier when we’d decided technology was our best bet and agreed neither one of us should pick up gambling!

It was 2am when we reached the highway and Jake admitted he’d been ignoring the orange light on the dash warning him we were low on gas. The decision was made, we turned back toward home and headed half an hour into the first town, where four hours earlier we’d purchased food and drinks. After driving its length, fearful of getting stranded and needing to check into a motel (that would’ve been an adventure in itself), we came upon the only open gas station – Shell (with shouts of joy we vowed to use Shell for all of our gas and convenience store needs in the future). After obtaining a full tank of gas, Starbucks, and excessive quantities of peach ring candy, we left town tired and purely optimistic.

This time we took the seemingly familiar fork in the road and after adding what was either a sheep with a long neck or a small llama to our tally we arrived.

It was late enough that we thought for sure we’d be sleeping in the hotel lobby (long before now we’d embraced Murphy’s law, so we didn’t care), but our names were thoughtfully written on the lobby doors directing us toward our rooms.

We made it to our destination at 3:30am Saturday, September 18th.

Today the sun would rise alone.


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