We Get Lost Trying to Help Others
Copyright 2016 by Lori-Ann Willey
Earlier, I came inside with my shirt “bowl” full of clover blossoms for honey-making. With the cooler temperatures and winds, I thought about making rhubarb jam today as well. However, Paul was busy defrosting the freezer and had all refrigerator and freezer contents all over the kitchen. I figured it would be much easier to just wait my turn to have our small kitchen to myself. On the way past my laptop, as typical, I wiggled my mouse to wake it. Also, per my usual, I quickly checked for messages in passing. Nothing. I found a bowl for the blossoms and set them aside. Upon my return, I noticed a new message waiting for the reading. The preview showed that it was a friend of ours (I’ll refer to him as K.) and that read, “Hey the tracker with us in it has broke down we are past (name omitted) Pond could you go to camp and drive my truck up ….”. The “us”, meant he was with his cousin. I’ll refer to him as R.
Quickly, I spouted, “Oh No”, and that got Paul’s attention. With the message opened, K. relayed his location, which is an area that we know like the back of our hand. We knew exactly where “Right before the T” was located. He gave me the details needed to get into his truck, the location of his keys inside the camp, and asked if we could grab a couple tow straps, too. No biggie. We were on our way. I was just going to take our truck, but when the K messaged saying, “…but it’s pretty rough down here…”, Paul and I talked about how low our truck sits on Paul’s side due to the lowered floor for his wheelchair. Given that critical piece of information, we decided to navigate to the K.’s truck and take that instead.
I informed Paul that I’d go get the men so he could stay back, finish defrosting the freezer, and then, get some rest. At first, he agreed, but after more discussion about the vehicle broken down, he decided to go along, too. Maybe, I thought, he could fix the problem, help hook things up, bypass something, etc. I was very glad he decided to go with me because we had not been “that far up” on those logging roads in a few years. Honestly and truly, once upon a time, we both knew all those roads like the backs of our hand. Not a question, not a doubt, and probably even blindfolded!
Soon, we were on our way once again. There was no thinking about where to go. We just knew. We talked along the way about how much logging had taken place, and saying things like, “That’s a new road”, “There’s another new road”, “Man, it looks different up here now”, “There’s a moose”, etc. Of course, you would think those new roads would give us some sort of clue to be more careful, but they didn’t. In our minds, we knew exactly where we were going and there was no way in Hell we’d ever get lost ...evah! The song lyrics, “Famous last words of a fool” should have also come to mind.
After a few miles, we came across a snowmobile navigation post with lots of arrows and ITS trail route numbers for winter travel. I thought to myself, “I should stop and take a picture of that, and if we weren’t on a mission, I would. I can’t stop on the way back because we’ll be towing the Tracker.” We are so used to seeing these postings all year round, that I never gave it a second thought to actually read the signs. Remember, I knew EXACTLY where we were going? Paul never doubted my memory either, so he paid no attention, and instead enjoyed the newness of the area since we last adventured that way. “The road is in great shape. What does he mean it is rough?”, Paul asked me several times.
My first hint that something was “amiss” was when we crossed a partially washed out crushed culvert. “Hmmm! They must’ve put that in while logging because I don’t remember that being here. It is old though”. Shortly after that, another culvert that was never there. It was then, that I said something to Paul, “This doesn’t look right. We never crossed these culverts or wet areas like this before.” Yet, in my mind, everything looked familiar, so I kept driving. I recognized the large boulders along the road, and saw where we shot a few partridge several years ago, so we were in familiar territory for sure. It wasn’t until we came to a small wooden bridge that I knew we had somehow made a wrong turn. Paul laughed and said, “We should have known by how smooth the road is”, and then, laughed as if he was talking to K. himself, “What do you mean the road is rough?”
Paul was very confused. He said, “We’re on the wrong side of (unnamed) pond”, but I knew better. I said, “No, that’s the lake! Somehow I took a wrong turn, but where? I have to go back and take a left somewhere.” Paul questioned my judgment, but after I turned around, and a few miles down the road, he realized that we were definitely on the wrong logging road. Seeing those boulders, I knew where we were and how to get back to our camp, but we were both confused how we turned to get there and where was “straight”? The “turn” is now “straight”. It is part of the “main” logging road into that area of the woods now, and it was no longer a side road as it was for many, many years.
Finally, after a few minutes, Paul actually saw the boulders on the way back through. I asked him with a laugh, “How in Hell could you miss those?” Busting a gut, he replied, “I don’t know, I trusted you knew where to go. I wasn’t paying attention.” Snicker-laughing while sputtering a bit in disbelief, “I did ...once upon a time!” From there, Paul knew where I went wrong. Due to logging, I had followed what is now the “most” traveled “route” instead of staying straight onto the narrow, old, tree-covered road to get to the pond. The old "straight" was back at that sign post!
Due to the holiday weekend, it wasn’t long before we met a truck. The road was barely wide enough for one vehicle, never mind, two. As it was I dodged branches, broken off tree limbs, and large protruding rocks. The other driver showed no signs of pausing or backing up, so it was up to me to do that while driving another man’s truck that I had never driven before! The truck closed in on me quite quickly ….so quickly that I sputtered a few not so nice names at the bully-like driver, that if he had heard, his ears would still be ringing. I had barely backed to the beginning of the road, when the driver deemed it wide enough to pass to my right. His truck, not mine!
I am always telling people, “Making a wrong turn in here, means you can be up Shits Creek in a hurry, because you can go for miles and miles and miles in the wrong direction without any idea how to back track”. How does that saying go, “Case in Point”? After making the correct turn, it was without a doubt that we were finally on the right track. Both Paul and I recognized the “old” road immediately. It had grown in more than we expected, but once again, eh hem, we knew exactly where we were. By the time we reached K & R, some 1 ½ hours had passed. They had driven as far as the vehicle would allow and there they sat waiting for our arrival. Laughs and hugs were had by all. I wasted no time pleading guilty that thanks to me, we would have been there sooner if I hadn’t gotten lost. The look on K’s face was priceless, as he knew we knew these roads in here as well, if not better than he did …but that was “once upon a time”. The laugh was definitely on Paul and I at that point.
In the end, R. started the Tracker and both Paul and I recognized the symptom instantly. It was the same problem we had with the boat a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, K. filled the camp only vehicle with a can of winter gas, just as we had filled the boat with a can from last winter, too. He experienced a vapor lock, just as our boat had. The men did not need a tow after all. The engine had cooled down enough by then, that the Tracker was able to carefully putt-putt along. Paul rode with R. and I rode with K. During each incline, K. and I paid close attention to the Tracker. It would lose speed, but it climbed! We both expected that we’d have to back track and attach a tow rope, but the Tracker did well and held its own. Just a few hundred yards from K’s camp, we heard the Tracker sputtering something awful. She was dying fast, but she made it! WOO HOO!