The Road To Somewhere
Recently my husband wrote a blog about taking a drive, but here is the rest of the story.
I was to attend a meeting for my job. The location of the meeting was Young Life Ranch located in Central Oregon. Due to prior commitments, I was unable to travel to the destination with my co-workers on Monday. I was a little apprehensive about traveling to the middle of nowhere, but I figured if I asked my husband he would be willing to take a Sunday drive and I could become familiar with where I will be traveling alone in the days to come. Unfortunately, he was not willing.
His unwillingness was not a problem. My friend and co-worker had given me a book with the phone number to the ranch and had written out specific directions; and my deferred departure would benefit the group, as I would be responsible for purchasing and delivering lunch for Tuesday.
Late Monday evening before my departure, I was browsing through Facebook and received a few messages from my boss. The first message said the road was very muddy and I should probably drive a company car instead of my own. I had already decided to use the company car as I thought it would have a radio. Later, I would realize it did not. The second message said there was no cell phone service.
Tuesday morning came. The lunchmeat was purchased. I made my way to my place of work and transferred the lunchmeat and my personal items to the company car. I started the car and noticed the low tire indicator was illuminated. My first stop was the tire shop. After all tires were aired to the recommended psi, I hit the road.
After driving a little over two hours, I reached the small town of Shaniko, Oregon. I pulled out the directions and followed them exactly. Except I misread a preposition. I read the word “to” instead of “through.” I was supposed to go through the town of Antelope; instead, I started tracking miles when the sign indicated to Antelope. This is where things began to go south.
The sign on Highway 218 says Antelope/Fossil. My directions said go 3.7 miles and turn right. Go 4 miles, and then turn left. So, I drove 3.7 miles and saw a muddy road to the right. I thought this couldn’t be the correct road. There was no road sign. So, I went past the road. I reached mile marker six and thought, “I have missed my turn.” I waved down a car headed in the opposite direction and asked them where Young Life was. They were new to the area and did not know. But they informed me there was another turn-off a ways down the road. Since I thought I was already past my turn, I turned around and headed back to the muddy road.
There were fresh tire tracks in the mud, so I assumed others had recently traveled this road. The road was horrible. I was unfamiliar with the vehicle and could not find how to engage the four-wheel drive but basically, I was four wheeling. I am not a fan! One puddle completely covered my car in mud. The windshield wipers smeared mud, making it hard to see. After four miles, I saw what appeared to be a marker ahead to the left. However, the road between the marker and me was in worse condition than what I had already driven. I realized there was no way I was going to make it any further down this road. I needed to turn around. My conundrum was how to turn around. If I went off either side of this narrow ranch road, I would be stuck. I backed down the road, but realized I could not see and did not have control of the vehicle. I succeeded in getting the vehicle facing the right way, but then I was stuck—in the middle of nowhere.
I did not know where I was going, but I did know where I was. Remembering the message my boss sent to me regarding no cell phone service, I didn’t even look at my phone. I just threw it, my purse, and notebook in my backpack and grabbed the lunchmeat. I knew I was four miles out this muddy road and 3.7 miles out of Shaniko on Hwy 218. I could walk back to Shaniko, make a call and someone could come to get me and lunch would still be delivered.
I began my trek in the mud. As I walked I was thankful that it was not raining, it was not too cold, I was wearing boots and not shoes, I was not hurt, etc. Then I saw what appeared to be dog-doo. I realized at my location this excrement was more likely from coyotes than dogs. Oh, the places one’s mind can wander.
After walking awhile, I finally decided to stop and check my phone to see if perhaps I did have service. Amazing! I had five bars of service. I made a phone call to the ranch and asked for my friend. They did not recognize the name. Eventually, they understood which group I was with. I told them I was out of Shaniko stuck on a muddy road. They assured me it happened all the time, and they would send someone to rescue me.
After 10 minutes, someone called me back. During the course of the conversation, they realized I was not where they sent people to look for me. I was on a totally different road, at least 40 minutes drive time from them. But, someone was on their way.
I walked around a corner of Hwy 218 and saw the sagebrush mountainside and the long road ahead of me. I was carrying six pounds of lunchmeat and could smell it. My mind wandered to cougars. I was walking unarmed in their natural habitat and carrying meat!
Fifty minutes passed and still I had seen no one in my “nature walk.” Finally, a car drove by. Once the driver assessed I was not a threat, he backed up to where I was. He offered me a ride. It was a kind gesture, but I was taught not to take ride from strangers. And my mind was thinking if Search and Rescue had to come looking for me, at least if I stayed on the road they will have a reference point. If I got in a car, they would have no way to track me. I declined, but asked if he could tell me how far I was from Antelope. I was about three miles. As I neared this town carrying meat, my mind began to imagine guard dogs at residences in this community. This did not look promising.
After about ten minutes, another vehicle slowed down as it came toward me. I could see there were two men occupying the vehicle. I was apprehensive as it pulled to the side. The occupants were from Young Life Ranch and they had arrived to help me. Side note... the customer service of the Young Life staff is phenomenal!
My task was to deliver the lunchmeat for lunch that day. I wanted to make that happen. They assured me that lunch was covered and they were going to take me back to my vehicle to see if they could help pull it out. So, we returned to the muddy road.
These two individuals were two young men. One was twenty-three and the other was in his late twenties. They wanted to drive down the muddy road; I did not want another vehicle stuck in the mud. Eventually, we decided to walk the four miles down the muddy road to where the vehicle was located to see if we could get it out. They appeared to be delighted with the adventure of traipsing through the mud. One even found a wild boar’s skull. We finally reached the Durango and they tried various ways to remove the vehicle from the predicament of being high entered. We were unsuccessful. You guessed it. We had to walk the four miles back to Hwy 218 where we had parked their truck.
The young men were confident they could pull my rig out with their four-wheel drive. It was decided once they got it pulled out they would drive it back to the ranch and should be there around 3:00 pm. Things do not go as planned.
My boss came to give me a ride while they tried what they could. Around 3:00 pm, I inquired as to whether or not the vehicle had arrived at the ranch. I learned the young men were not successful in their endeavor and a tow truck was called. The vehicle was towed to Maupin, Oregon, which is not near Antelope.
Hmmm... my suitcase was in the vehicle. The only clothes I had were the ones I had worn all day. I made a comment to my friend that I would just wash my clothes out in the sink and let them dry overnight. She let me know we had access to a laundry facility and she had an extra pair of pajamas that I could borrow. Great, but I am not comfortable walking in front of a dozen or more people in pajamas. She understood and graciously offered to wash my clothes and return them before morning.
Early the next morning, 4:30 to be exact, I was wide awake. I noticed my backpack sitting right inside the door. Might as well get ready for the day. Took the clothes out and noticed the underwear were missing! I guess I was going commando for the day. This was going to be one long, uncomfortable day for me. My prior supervisor would have said, “pull up your big girl panties, and move on.” Unfortunately for me, they were missing!
I made my way downstairs and waited for my friend as I didn’t know where the laundry facility was. When she came out of her room, I thanked her for her kindness in doing my laundry, but asked if she realized the bare essentials were missing. We made our way to the laundry room to locate the missing drawers in the washing machine—still wet.
At the end of the meeting, one of my co-workers kindly gave me a ride back to Maupin to pick up the company car. My bosses stopped at the tow company to thank them and to view first hand how filthy the car was. One told me to take it to the car wash in the morning. When I got back to town that evening the car wash was still open, but I was told I could not go through it, as the rig was too muddy. But, if I sprayed the vehicle down thoroughly I could receive a $2.00 discount, which I did. And after that adventure, I am completely washed-out.
Bruce A. Borders is the author of more than a dozen books, including: Inside Room 913, Over My Dead Body, The Journey, Miscarriage Of Justice, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook and paperback on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. Amazon Profile - www.amazon.com/Bruce-A.-Borders/e/B006SOLWQS. Bruce A. Borders is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.