Despite the certainty that I will only wear one pair, I packed five pairs of shoes in my rarely used suitcase and took to the road in a rental car. I started out cautiously fidgeting with the many, many buttons and knobs in the temporary vehicle. In no time at all, I was singing loudly and keeping pace with the speediest car near me. Just as I was about to call Doug and tell him that I decided we are never returning the car that doesn’t require keys, Interstate traffic came to a halt. We sat and I sang. We sat and I sipped the last of my tea. We sat and I noticed the fuel light in the car was glowing. We sat and I started surveying the trees on the side of the road as my bladder complained about the quantity of tea it was holding. I texted while driving.
Technically, the car wasn’t moving, but it still felt wrong to sit behind the wheel of the car on an Interstate while tapping furiously on an iPad. Very kind and wise people informed me that the traffic would remain at that standstill for an additional three hours. I estimated that both the car and my bladder had less than thirty minutes of patience remaining. So, I did something worse than texting while driving. I pulled off the pavement, drove in the not-a-lane, did a u-turn on the Interstate and drove the wrong direction up an Interstate entrance ramp. It was not my finest moment.
I have mentioned a few hundred times that I have zero sense of direction. When I don’t know where I am, my terrible instinct is to keep driving in search of familiarity. When I found myself with a full bladder and an empty gas tank on a road I couldn’t identify, I zipped down that mystery road. Eventually, I found a teeny-tiny gas station with two old fashioned, non-electronic gas pumps and an outhouse instead of a bathroom. Big fun if you are a small child, but zero fun if you are adult who just sat in traffic for an hour.
I spent the next hour and a half in the middle of nowhere, on a road that shouldn’t be allowed to call itself two lanes. I drove by two beavers, a fox, a wild turkey and a dead deer. I did not drive past a street sign. I would get a phone signal for no more than five minutes at a time and zero, I mean ZERO of my navigation apps worked in the one place that I needed them the most. As a result, every time the phone actually worked, I would blurt everything I could see around me so that Doug would have something to tell the search and rescue helicopters.
I was traveling the modern version of a ghost town. Mailboxes sat silent at the end of short gravel driveways that began at empty lots where trailers once housed families. Trash and lost toys were evidence that some semblance of a community once existed on this road that is now lined with farms gone to seed and a few barbed wire fences with ‘trespassers will be shot’ signs guarding the meth, marijuana or moonshine that made asking for directions completely impossible.
When the phone was finally able to hold a signal, Doug virtually held my hand until I returned to the Interstate. I claimed that I could handle the rest of the journey without a helper. Twenty minutes later, Doug was on the phone with the hotel, giving them account information for the credit card that would pay for my hotel room. The credit card that I left at home where it could not be used for my weekend expenses.
On the plus side, if anyone is looking for extremely rural land, I now know where acres and acres of it is available for purchase. Well, I have a vague idea of where it is. I couldn’t find it again if I tried and I will NOT be trying.