The drive to our bed and breakfast has an eerie tale that put slow fear in our hearts and our minds and we’ll not soon forget. And as I write this account, I shiver remembering!
The day of our trip began with smiles and high spirits. We’d packed light, placed our bags in the car, backed out of the driveway and resolutely pulled away from the comfort of our home, leaving weeding and cleaning and all emotional cares behind. Without a doubt it would all still be there when we got back.
On the road, with a course set to our Inn in Gualala, California, as we followed the explicit directions from our navigational system and chosen to ignore the directions given from the nice lady that took our reservations on the phone. We trusted that our GPS knew better and thus would get us there. But then it happened. We came to a point in our destination where we needed to make a quick decision; so rather than take the exit from 101, which would have taken us through Petaluma, we chose to take an exit just past Santa Rosa. This put us on a small unnumbered route, though still on course, according to our navigational gadget.
Soon we’d realize that something had gone awfully wrong!
The beauty of a perfect day matched that of the scenery around us; of lush green mountains and flourishing trees in abundance, all beneath a sunny, bright blue sky. Perfection! Soon our present course would take us into steeper hills; we went higher and higher…when suddenly the piercing brightness of sunlight beaming wide upon my windshield made it impossible to see the road beyond. Yikes!
Yes, I was driving; and my heart was beating so hard against my chest I could scarcely breathe. I crept forward very, very slowly, for fear of the approaching unseen cars and of hitting “crossing cattle” (signs seen posted everywhere). I was driving practically blind, and this lasted about a good half hour. Sigh!
Finally we’d made it to the top. Hooray! Now that the sun was no longer a threat my heart began to calm, and we happily began our descent. Down, down the very steep hill we went, using the brakes as little as possible, desperately trying not to overheat them.
The drive on this treacherously steep mountain would take us well over an hour to get through. But it was after having driven about a half hour that we began to be aware of a number of things, in progression: like Hansel and Gretel we suddenly felt very lost, and it’d quickly begun to get dark. We were definitely deep in the woods now because moss was hanging in bunches on branches, like tinsel on a Christmas tree. We’d also noticed that we’d only seen one or two cars and a couple of falling-down houses, way-back-when. And to my further dismay the road narrowed to support only one car at a time.
Could this possibly get any worse?
We continued to descend, driving deeper and deeper into the heart of the woods, deeper and deeper into the darkness, and I suddenly knew real fear, even if it was self-induced.
My heart was racing and now I was fighting back tears that burned behind my eyes. I chanced to look at my hubby because he’d been very quiet, and asked if he was worried? “Only a little,” he said, “but we should be out of here soon.”
I thought him, then, a big fat liar! He had no idea where we were.
In the deafening silence I began to imagine the worst—and I am pretty good at letting my imagination run wild, in a really big way. I wondered if people out here, people we hadn’t yet seen, were flesh-eating cannibals, lonely lunatics, blood-thirsty and depraved!
This is when I knew I’d seen way too many horror movies. The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of Wax, Wrong Turn. And with shame I’ll now also admit that I wondered if werewolves and vampires might exist.
Yes, I was that afraid!
What if our car broke down, here, in the middle of nowhere? No-one would hear us scream. Out here, our GPS and cell phones were found useless; we’d lost signal from the moment we’d entered these mountains. We’d for sure be stranded, lost, perhaps murdered…. In the morning, maybe even days, they’d find us dead and stiff!
My thoughts persisted, tormenting me...when suddenly our navigational system came back to life, instructing that we needed to make a right turn in a couple of miles. We had not heard it speak in all that time, except to tell us, over a half hour back, “When possible make a legal u-turn,” when there was no other turn we could have made!
Sure enough, two-miles later, a sign ahead was telling us we were entering CA Route 1; we’d made it out of the woods and into civilization. We were safe at last!
We’d made it, alive and unscathed. And there is a small part of me that can now say I am not sorry we faced that little adventure, because, after all, that’s exactly what it was. An adventure!
We dream a life to be; we live to dream that life! (vka)