Since we’ve had the farm…5 years, give or take…I bet I’ve made the drive down by myself at least 20 times. It’s not hard. Especially from Des Moines. Straight south. Take an exit and go east. Then south again. Left on a gravel with an Amish food stand on the corner, so it’s hard to miss, if you’re paying attention.
It’s pretty safe to say that paying attention is one of my isshoos.
So, the other day I’m supposed drive down to pick Tom up at the farm so he can leave our ‘94 Geo Prism to be worked on by the cheap and good and honest mechanics of Trenton, MO.
Part of the conversation the night before my trip (around 10 p.m.):
Cherie: “What time do you want me there?”
Tom: “Oh, not until late afternoon. I’ve got a lot of stuff to do down here.”
Cherie: “Ok, I’ll leave around 3.”
Tom: “Sounds good.”
Which should put me there around 5-ish. Depending on how many sodas and/or cups of coffee in and out along the way.
Next morning (about 10 a.m.):
Cherie: “You still want me there around 5?”
Tom: “No. Come now. I’m all done here. I’ve got nothing to do.”
Cherie: “I thought you said late afternoon? I can’t go for a couple of hours. How about I leave here at 1, get there at 3?”
Tom: “Is that the best you can do? I can’t take the tractor out in the fields. I keep getting stuck…”
Cherie: “I’ll try to leave sooner.” (mentally shaking my head Nope)
I’m out the door at 1:15 p.m. 1:20 at the latest.
I know a shortcut to 35. In fact, it had worked really well when I’d driven down a few weeks before. I actually kind of figured it out on my own. I ran the route by Kate…who told me it was a good idea and told me exactly how to backtrack on I-80 (by going east instead of west for about 1 second) to catch 35 South.
Worked like a charm that day. Piece o’cake.
Fast forward to this day:
I’m sitting at the stoplight at the entrance to I-80: East or west? Crap. Can’t remember. Seems like I’m supposed to do something wanky like going east when I really want to go west. But that can’t be right. How can that be right?
So, I use my highly-prized left brain and go west…
To pass the time, I call my momma on the phone. Momma and I like to talk when I’m on the road.
Fast forward an hour.
I see 3 of those huge windmill turbine thingies, standing side by side.
Hmm. Those are new. Wonder when they put those up?
Wait a minute.
Oh, Lord, where AM I?
Oh, Lord gives me a sign: OMAHA 70 miles.
Crap. Crap. Triple crap.
I look at my trip mileage…I’ve gone 60 miles in the wrong direction.
After THAT sinks in, I think…well…maybe I’ve drifted south as I’ve gone west…maybe there’s a shortcut to the farm instead of going all the freaking way back to Des Moines.
I wake up GPS Girl who promptly shakes her finger at me and says “No Stinking Way.”
I call Tom (not happy) then call Momma back and drive the 60 miles back to Des Moines. Grab I-35 and head south. Got it made now, but just to be safe, I set the GPS for Princeton. I notice that GPS Girl has me cutting over to 65 on a road I don’t usually take. No biggy. I’ll take my usual route anyway, and shut her up if I have to.
Fast forward 45 minutes or so.
I miss my normal exit. (Momma and I are still talking.)
Ok, fine. I’ll do it GG’s way. I take the unknown exit and turn onto the road to Hell. It’s literally the world’s largest paved roller coaster. Hills and dips and 90º curves…one after another after another. Have to slow down or throw up. It’s that bad.
I’m way out of familiar territory…but I still know that I have to hit 65 South sooner or later. And I have to go east to do that. That’s exactly how much I know for sure. Everything else is pretty much a crap shoot.
I call Tom. “I think I’m going to be later than I told you last time.”
“WHY? Where are you?”
“Not exactly sure. I ended up taking some weird exit because I missed the one to Leon. This road sucks big time.”
So far we’re all okay…me and Tom and Momma and GPS girl. Until GG tells me my next turn is a right onto a road that’s closed.
Truthfully, at this point I have no idea if I’m in Missouri or Iowa or Nebraska.
Which is not a totally big deal for me…since I’m pretty much used to not knowing exactly where I am so. I’m not exactly happy…but what the hay?
Since I am so totally disgusted with the road I’ve just driven and I figure ALL roads must eventually lead to 65, I take a left at the closed road instead of a right (it’s a “T” intersection…the only other option was to go back the way I came), thinking I’ll hook back around with a right and a right again at the first opportunity.
45 minutes later I’m still lost on gravel roads. Intermittent calls to Momma (in and out of phone service – mostly out). Just enough to keep her anxiety up while I go from gravel to gravel and…as God as my witness…THE WORST paved roads I’ve ever seen in my life. WAY worse to drive on than the gravels. Torn up, huge hunks of pavement missing. Big open wounds of cut up pavement where you’re tires are supposed to go…like some giant concrete eating monster started dining a la carte in double lines down the road where I’m supposed to be driving. Mile after mile after mile after mile of that.
GG has pretty much stopped speaking to me…except to mumble the occasional “You have entered an area that is uncharted.” and a few weak suggestions to turn right and proceed with caution onto what can best be described as cow paths through an open field.
I’m not making this up.
Finally, after sitting in the middle of the “road” for 5 minutes looking at a set of Amish cart tracks through a CRP field (GG’s suggestion for my best route) wondering what to do, I suck it up and move forward. In less than ¼ mile, there’s an actual to God, bona fide paved county road. I take a right. Come in the back way to some little town I’ve never heard of…but which…hallelujah, Jesus…connects to 65.
I come rolling into the farm about 5:30. My 2-hour, 110 mile trip has taken me over 4 hours and 250 miles.
I’m not happy. Tom’s not happy. GPS Girl’s not happy.
But I soon as I call her and let her know I’m not lost anymore…Momma? She’s happy.