Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dark, desolate gravel roads - reliable GPS + Great friends = Good Times

It started out simply enough, innocently enough...just a couple moms (J and I) going to a jewelry party at another moms house on a Friday night.  We met at the bar in town at 615pm, kissed our kiddos goodbye, and left.  Im pretty sure we both said bye to our hubbies also.....yes, Im sure we did.  Maybe.  I do know that as we left J said "lets roadtrip it!" Which turned out to be famous last words.

Anyway...we headed to the party and I had only been to "K's" house once before, in the daylight.  That alone is very imporant and kinda sad as she is a running buddy AND mother to one of my daughters BFF's.   

We made it to the party ok, even going a different way then I had gone the one and only time I had been there before, because J knew a back way.  She grew up here, she lived out that way once....of course she knew where we were going. 

Party was fun!  Crossed a few Christmas presents off the list, drank some beer, tasted some of K's really good but extrememly potent fall beverage, caught up with friends I see alot but havent talked to in awhile and at 930pm, we left.

Now, let me start with where K lives.  In the middle of nowhere.  Yes, according to friends and family who live within 20 minutes of 2 Wally-worlds and 3 malls, I live in the middle of nowhere but let me tell you....K really is in the middle of nowhere.  Ok, not "nowhere"...middle of a beautiful ranch in the Sandhills but for purposes of this story, its nowhere. 

Upon leaving of the party.....I may or may not have taken the wrong direction out of her drive.  Alright, I did, I totally did.  Straight up, went the wrong way.  To bad for us, we had been driving for 15 minutes or so before J said "did we go the right way...I dont remember these bales being here".

Hmmm....neither did I....was my reply.

"Did you see the school house?" 

"Nope, sure didnt" but it was crazy dark. 

At this time was my first major mistake (no, going the wrong direction was not my first major mistake, that was my first minor mistake...big difference).  At this time I should have turned around and went back to K's, and then gone the correct direction.....

Alas, I did not.  For some reason, I just kept on going.  Down desolate gravel roads, without any light aside from the headlights on my vehicle, on a very dark, windy night.

J and I just kept on chatting away about hunting (she just got her first whitetail buck!) and sledding (both love to snowmobile) and whatever else we could besides what direction we were going. 

Till we stopped seeing bales.  And we realized the fences were gone.  And no cows.  Houses, windmills or cattle guards.

Around this time J's 8 year old daughter (who is also a BFF to my daughter) started asking if we were lost.  At first it was "No, P, we are not lost, we know where we are going...just taking a different way to get there."

P is a smart cookie and didnt buy it for a second. 

So now, we are wandering aimlessly around dark, windy, desolate gravel roads with less then 1/4 of a take of gas (smart P, she informed me of this as she was looking over my shoulder from the back seat...told ya, she doesnt miss anything) WITH and 8 year old girl who knows exactly whats up.

No worries, right....we have cell phones...J has a brand new iPhone that apparently P knew alot she informed us "why dont you use the GPS on the iPhone?'

Child is brilliant (and without wine flowing through her system).

Rule #1 in the Sandhills....never rely on a cell phone tower you can will never be the one you need.  And indeed, wrong tower.

Again, P caught on way to fast and asked if we "seriously" were lost without a cell phone signal.  And were we going to run out of gas? 

Yes and No....followed by "P, lay down and go to sleep."  Good try J, she was way to amped up to do that. 

By this time, we were really lost.  I mean, no clue what road we were one or even what direction we were driving (yes, still driving cause why would I stop obviously, that wouldnt help us out....eventually we would hit a main road, right?  right??)

We did come across a street sign and if it hadnt been so dark out (or trying to avoid the panic that could possible set it in at any moment) I would have stopped to take a picture of it...because it was a true Sandhills street sign.  Set on the shoulder of the road, it told us we were on Road 213!  The best part was the cross road listed was Road 66.

We looked.  We stopped and turned around.  There we no other road.  Not even a driveway that could possibly be listed as a road.  Just a random street sign showing a cross road that didnt exist.  That would only happen to us.

We kept going and J announced "I GOT 2 BARS!!!"

Slammed on the breaks and did what any woman lost in the middle of nowhere would do.

We called our husbands. 

While J's hubby was going with the supportive line of questioning like "your what, how did you manage that, whats wrong with you two" and a few more colorful words (you have to know J's husband to know if there werent any colorful words, we would really be in deep do-do) I called Shawn who, after I told him about the cross road street sign without a cross road informed me "your in Lewellen, turn around and go back to K's."  He went with the more annoyed that we got lost approach, which wasnt good when I just started laughing.  That only made him more annoyed at us me.
Ummm, ok, I dont know how to get there....."just turn around and go back the way you came, its not that hard."  Sure....easy to say when your sitting at home with the roaring fire, beer and sleeping children. 

Like J said, sometimes you just gotta laugh.......

Ok, well, that confirmed our suspicion.  We (I) did take a wrong turn, and we were no longer in the correct area.  We were in Garden County. 

UNFORTUNATELY....I didnt know how to get back to K's.  So we (I) kept driving.  Again, down dark, desolate, seriously in the middle of nowhere even for where we live, gravels roads. 

Well, sitting and doing nothing wasnt going to help us out ....and apparently neither were the men on the phone.  However our friend the iPhone (which now ranked way higher then my husband did) was able to pull up a enough of a signal to tell us we were indeed on road 216 and to "keep driving". 

OK, so we did...and we came upon the most wonderful thing EVER....a HOUSE!!

We were convinced we knew whose house it was, we were chattering away enough that I almost hit the deer as they jumped out of the trees and scared the crap you-know-what out of us. 

Then we pulled in. 

We did not know that house.  We didnt want to know that house.  Not gonna lie, it was a little scary.  A little bad start to a Lifetime movie-ish.

And they had cows in the front yard.  Not cows like WE have in our front yard...but cows IN their front in on the wrong side of the thick, plastic fencing.  And the fence wasnt tore down so the consensus in the car was that those cows were supposed to be on the front porch, which was a little different for us (except J, who has an issue with a goat who thinks he needs to be on the porch but still...a goat versus a cow....totally different situation).  Oh, and according to P, spider webs on their windows.

Safe to say, we turned and drove (quickly) out of there without even attempting to ask where the hell are we.  I mean, why ask, we knew where we were....Lewellen.....just didnt know how to get back to Arthur and thankfully, we had an iPhone!

P started to panic a little here....she was nervous and worried so we tried to reassure her that she would be fine, we would get home and we were just on a great adventure.  She was worried someone would come and hurt us, to which I informed her we would protect her.....J and I both shot deer, we can handle a gun so she was very safe.

"Do you have a gun with you?"  Damn, that kid really doesnt miss anything.....

So we drove a little more, the GPS telling us to "follow highlighted route" which was RD 216 (or 215, I dont really remember).  We were doing just fine....till the road forked.  I "followed the highlighted route" until the GPS said "off route, return to highlighted route".  Ok, turned around and went the other direction on the forked road.

It only took a few seconds before "off route, return to highlighted route".  AHHHHHH!!!!

How exactly were we going to do that when both routes on the dark, desolate, gravel road in Garden County are "off route"?  Your guess was a good as mine so I picked, committed and off we went. 

Possibly North..but idea as we had lost direction on the iPhone.

But there was a light!!  A beautiful light that we were sure was a cell phone tower so we drove to the light.  Then we got to the light, and went past the light...which was a tower, however it was not the tower we wanted (no signal, imagine that) ANNNNND, it was not located on a main road.  Not even a side road or oil strip....a dark, desolate, gravel road in Garden flippin' County.

P was keeping us entertained with her one liners, such as "Im never getting in the car with you two alone, again.  If Im at someones house, Im just staying there, Im never doing this again."  And my personal favorite "yep, we are really lost."  Its my favorite because she used "we" alot....she was in it with us.  Not that she had a choice but still....its the same child who informed us she would never drive with us alone, again.  I took the "we" as maybe, someday she would see the humor in all of this that her mom and I did.  Trust me, at that moment, P saw NO humor in the situation. 

We kept driving.  And driving and driving.  Then we drove some more.  Occasionally we would pick up a signal on the GPS, but of course it was always going down a hill or lasted for .5 seconds so it was gone before J would say "I GOT 1 BAR!!!"

Yes, every bar was an announcement, a WELCOME announcement.

About 1030pm (yes, an hour later) we started seeing stuff that gave us some hope (no it was not the gas gauge that was now hovering alarmingly close to the dreaded red line of E)...cattle guard, windmills, A SIGN!!!

Tipton Ranch. 

No clue where Tipton Ranch is located, J kinda knew...well she knows where its located but we didnt exactly know where about on the Tipton Ranch we were located.  And of course...the road split.  I dont remember what direction we went....I think we just kept going straight hoping to see a farm house or something.....with lights and without cows on the front porch.

No lights or houses but we did find full stack yards, windmills and more cattle guards.  ALL good signs!

At some point we must have turned or the road curved or something because we came to ANOTHER sign.....Rush Creek - Avery summer range.  I LOVED IT!!!

Wanna know why I loved it...ok, Ill tell you....not because at this point in our adventure any sign was a welcome sign but because OUR summer grass backs up to Rush Creeks summer grass!!!  Meaning we were at least headed in the correct direction.  At least, we hoped we were headed in the correct direction but at least we had something to work with now.  We had a familiar name! 

Kept on doing what we do best...driving and was getting into some familiar looking country.  And fresh gravel!  Someone was taking care of the roads.  Hoping we would find our way out, if not, at least by Monday someone would drive down the roads.

Then the miracle happened.....the announcement of "I HAVE 2 BARS!!!" followed by "we are on Valentine Road".

Valentine Road runs straight through our summer range!!  I wouldnt have know that IF there hadnt been a suspected fire in October that was reported on Valentine Road and my dear husband and father in law went tearing off to fight it because it was our summer grass.

See....I do play attention.  and I had to get my husband off the pivot, out of the herd of deer he had been chasing for a month or so.....wives dont forget those conversations.

Kept on driving when the SECOND miracle happened.  First, J says "that looks familiar, I feel like I have ridden that or been here before"...then...... the shocker announcement and SOOOO exciting J said "GPS says we are on Silhassen Road."

Aka Sillassen Road.  Home of the Sillassen Ranch (that J and her hubby worked and lived at for awhile) and, oh yea, MY ROAD!!!! 

Somehow, one of the stars we followed thinking it was a cell tower (opps, did I leave that part out...) aligned with the moon and VOILA....our lost rear ends managed to wander to the place where J lived and where I still live. 

Ive never been so happy to see the freshly painted Sillassen Ranch sign in my life.  Ok, so Ive never really been excited to see the Sillassen Ranch sign but I was super excited at 1055pm on Friday night. 

J called her husband, who was patiently waiting at his moms house for us.  That may be a flat out lie but you need to know her husband to really appreciate the irony of "patient" and Shane in the same sentence.

I called Shawn but he was sleeping.  Im glad my 90 minute adventure of wandering around dark, desolate roads on windy nights didnt interfere with his beauty sleep. 

He would have come to find us.  Sure...right after a good nights sleep.....(he may or maynot be standing here watching me write this.....)

P did finally fall asleep, but was woken up by the yelling from the front seat as we went past the Sillassen Ranch.

We were good to go.  We could walk at least to the nearest cell phone signal and have someone come and get us, IF we ran out of gas.  Yes, we were running on fumes by this point.

Dropped J off at the garage where her husband was patiently adjusting his hat every 5 seconds as we pulled into the driveway and I went on to get a Diet Pepsi. Yes, it was 11pm but HI, I EARNED IT!! 

Pulled into the bar to find out that one of our other friends who was also at the party, was waiting on her sister, who imagine lost leaving as well.  See, we were in good company. 

Sounds crazy, and indeed it was but in all honestly, we had a great time!  Who gets lost going home after a jewelry party.  A whole 20 mile drive back to my house ended up taking 90 minutes and apprximately 26 miles in the wrong direction, making our total trip about 50 miles, give or take.  Thats a lot of dark, desolate gravel roads.

And its safe to say that J and I will never be allowed to go anywhere unsupervised again.  P will never get in the car with us, unsupervised, again.  We will never be in the lead when we go sledding again.  Not that we ever wanted to be or were before, in the lead sledding.....its way to easy to get lost doing that, and alot colder ;-)

But I dont really care about any of that becase in the end, we had lots of fun!  J did say "roadtrip!!" as we walked out of the bar and that exaclty what we did, an impromtu road trip to Garden County. 

To J - Thanks for the Good Great time friend!!!


  1. Maybe you have bought the car gps for your beloved vehicle at a very low price, for which you feel very much satisfied. Of course all the features have been well accepted by the majority of the car owners. The market has a very large possessing capacity. The quantity of brands is abundance. However, you may often come across the problems because of the high failure rate of the car dvd.

  2. What a great adventure. I did the same thing one time and it was exciting.

  3. This is Dad. I seem to remember in the far distant past when you and I went on an ADVENTURE and you said you would never get in the car with me again. I guess trying to get from Midland to Linwood and winding up in Gladwin does not seem such an adventure now. I only wish P had been with you also.