This has been a pleasant journey so far, filled with gorgeous scenery, meeting friends and family along the way, we even visited my cousin Maura over breakfast yesterday in Springfield, Illinois. But as you know from past posts, we’ve had an adventure or two, barely escaping by the skin of our teeth. Not mere scrapes to get out of, but possibly catastophic trip-ending-take-what-we-can-put-in-the-truck-and-abandon-the-trailer kind of event. And let me tell you, what happened last night could have been the end. Again. Thankfully, I’m sitting here this morning, parked by a lake and drinking hot coffee in our little home on wheels, and the tires aren’t flat (that I know of!).
In the emergency of the moment, I wasn’t thinking of snapping any pictures on my phone for later documentation, so I’ll have to try to paint a picture for you and let your imagination take it from there. Chances are, you’ve watched The Wizard of Oz and there’s The Haunted Forest Dorothy and her friends have to walk through to get to the witch’s castle. Good. I just had to set the mood, plus it’s almost Halloween. Actually, it was just like that, except dark and getting darker.
We had found a nice park through the app we use and had punched the Navigate button to show us where to find it, and Siri was telling us where to go. Now, Siri has been a good and faithful servant, if you will, but for some reason, tonight? Siri LIED. We had been traveling west down US 36 towards Seneca, Kansas en route to our next overnight stop until our supposed turnoff, Highway 63. We take our turn and travel a little ways and go past the point Siri indicated our destination should be. We began to understand there may be a problem when we were further instructed to get out of the truck and start walking to our destination. Er, yeah. Since Robert was driving I looked on my phone for an actual physical address and found that all we needed to do is turn around and get back on US 36 a little more and we’d find the campground. Problem was, there weren’t any places to turn around, so we just kept driving a little more, then a little more, and soon there was nothing but little side roads and I was getting worried. Being the navigator, I found a way to use three right turns on these country roads so we would find ourselves pointed in the right direction on this highway, mainly, back towards town.
All three roads were connected on the Maps app that Apple has so generously provided on the smartphone I have, so we turned onto a well graveled lane. We passed by a well kept farm and continued down to the first corner as dusk settled in. Turned the corner, despite some concerns Robert was beginning to have due to the deteriorating condition of the not so graveled lane we found ourselves on, but it was a nice, wide corner and we had no problem going around it. The ruts were deepening at the bottom of the hill but smoothed out somewhat as we ascended into rattling fields of dried corn and soybeans waiting for harvesting. We passed by another trail that had trailers and farm equipment staged by it, which made sense because of the obvious harvest season. It should have told us that this was probably the only place with a chance to turn around easily but we were following directions; the map said it was possible to keep going so we did. As we crested the hill we were confronted by a darkening tunnel of bare trees steeply ending in a dark hole at the bottom. Robert backed the trailer up a little, hit the parking brake and got out to walk down and see what the trail looked like at the bottom. I leashed Moonlight and followed. The lane had turned into a trail, narrow and rutted with a sharp turn to the left at the bottom of the hill. There was half a bridge spanning a creek so no way to cross it. There may be a way for a Jeep or smaller SUV to ford the creek and not get stuck in mud down in that holler, but not the Excursion pulling a large trailer, even if we could successfully get through the tree tunnel and steep hill decent.
Robert walks fast and had started up the hill before me, so I was slightly alone with Moonlight sniffing and snorting back and forth in front of me. It had gotten dark and the wind was making all those bare-ish trees creak and moan around us, and the dried up cornstalks snapping and rattling made me think of the ghosts of old farmers stopping by on their nightly errands and whether they would soon have a ghost of a trailer to enjoy for eternity. Thankfully it was slightly less dark on top of the hill and we made a plan to back up as far as we could and hopefully not get stuck. After a couple of tries to avoid massive clods of tractor-dirt, we very gingerly backed the trailer up over the crest of the hill and then I saw a possible way to get turned back around. Robert looked it over and we decided to back up past it and pull into this field of freshly harvested corn stalks, then back the trailer up so that the nose of the truck would be pointed back towards were we wanted to go…OUT. Which we did, with minimal damage except to our rear jacks, which got hung up on ruts as the trailer was pushed out into the lane. You know, because only tractors are meant to be there. Anyway! Right after we got turned around the farmer showed up and Robert got out to talk to him and you KNOW the words, “You’re not from around here, are you?” were uttered this night. No. No, we are not. Because anyone who was from around here would have known that the bridge was washed out and that you can’t even take a tractor over that creek or if you go up the road another mile you’ll be able to turn around at the state park there.
But again, we are here at a nice RV park, able to take a shower and post a blog entry and drink coffee. There was a terrific storm last night and I’m glad we didn’t give up and try to stay put until morning because if we had, we would be stuck on that tractor trail until the mud dried next summer.
I don’t feel as foolish about trusting Siri as that person who drove off the end of a dock, but pretty close. So, no more country road side trips for us, not with this rig.