So it has been a very long time since we’ve chatted – four whole months – I checked. This, of course, is completely my fault. I’d like to blame it on the busyness of my schedule and all of that, but the truth is I didn’t make writing a priority for myself.
A lot can happen in four months. Like, I don’t know, the entire layout of the way WordPress posts are written. You know what that tells me? It’s high time I put more effort into my writing and my blog, and I am sorry about the hiatus.
But…you know…since we’re on speaking terms now… Do you want to hear about how I almost died for the second time in my life? It was definitely death; I could see at it – stared it right in the eye!
This is how it happened:
You would think for someone who will soon be earning a degree in English Literature I would read things (say…instructions?) a bit more closely. Although, in my own defense, I blame it fully on my shoddy memory and not my inability to read. Hell, it’s probably both.
I should have read the email closer, I should have remembered the bold “FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS TO GET TO THE CABIN” glaring at me from the white screen of my email. I should not have listened to my inner voice (something squeaky and thin) that said “Oh, it’s fine. The GPS knows what to do. That’s what it was designed for!” I should not have forgotten that the northern Michigan wilderness is not something one simply wanders into – it’s something that will eat you up, spit you out, and then make fun of your scroungy, damp appearance afterwards.
But did I remember the email’s directions? Nope. Not even a little.
So there we were, myself and three others, turning off I-75 onto a street called Waterby in the middle-of-nowhere Michigan on our way to a cabin we rented, listening to the new One Direction album at a decibel that made my eardrums vibrate. This exit did not lead to a town, not even a village. It was a road with no evidence of life once existing there except for a rundown Ford car sales lot on the right hand side.
“This looks familiar,” said one of my companions. She had been to the cabin before. She knew the way.
Or more correctly, I thought she knew the way.
So we continued to drive.
We made a couple of turns from one dirt road onto another, and soon it became apparently obvious to everyone involved – even those of use who had not been to the cabin previously – that nothing looked familiar. There weren’t houses, there weren’t people, and the only car we passed was an old Dodge Ram, red, dating back to some time before 2005.
Soon enough, just before dead-ending on yet another dirt road, we were instructed to take a left. Onto what? A path. A dirt path that consisted of two tire treads and NOTHING ELSE. Well, you might be thinking: why not turn around? Perhaps we had too much faith in the GPS, or perhaps we thought this dirt-path-that-couldn’t-possibly-be-a-road was going to be a temporary venture. We shouldn’t have. And it wasn’t.
It was a slow crawl along the path and it didn’t take us long to realize that turning around was not going to be an option as there was hardly room for a single car to pass along the trail, let along to make any sort of movement other than drive straight ahead. Woods began to surround us, and soon we were in the middle of the northern Michigan forest.
Reversing was disqualified as an option when we heard a thunk, thunk, thunk and felt the scrape of logs pass along the undercarriage of the car. Every scrape made us wince.
And then came the sand.
Half a foot of sand was piled in places along the trail, tire tracks from what seemed like years ago had barely passed through it, and much like the logs, we flinched as the sand hissed, passing along the car’s belly. There were puddles too. Questionably deep puddles, for the trail – clearly, at this point, not meant for cars – would dip down into a trough, and we could only guess that they were shallow; hope that they were shallow enough to let the car drive through them.
If that wasn’t bad enough, about halfway through this two mile escapade (the GPS continued to trek along as if this THING that we were driving on was an actual road) no trespassing signs began to appear. At first it was just one or two, and then it quickly became one every one or two yards. “No trespassing,” “private property.”
And the sun was beginning to set.
I know I have admitted in the past to fictionalizing pieces of the stories that I tell, but I give you my word that everything I am telling you in this post is 100% true. This actually happened to me. THIS IS MY REAL LIFE!
It was easy to imagine as we continued along the trail that should another car come up to us, facing the opposite direction, we would be at a complete stand-still, unable to move. And if this person was a serial killer, well…we’d all be dead.
The wolves too. We could easily have been eaten by wolves.
What if the car stalled? What if a tire popped? We would be stranded in the middle of the wilderness where absolutely NO ONE would find us. Not even the police dogs would be able to scent us out; that’s how far into the woods we were. On a trail that our GPS thought was a road.
Every so often as we drove an oil rig would pop up in a clearing a distance from the trail before disappearing one again into the thicket of the woods. At one time there was a maintenance shack that could have been a murder shed for all I know. I am from the city; while I like the idea of a quiet weekend up North by a lake, I have the survival instincts of a goldfish. I would definitely die if left to myself in the woods in the middle of winter: 100%.
At least there were four of us, however (moral support), and between the four of us we decided that our best option would be to venture forward on the road rather than to make an attempt at pulling off and circling back.
And then we went fully off the grid.
The purple line that our little car image had been following on the GPS’ map steered into the gray. No longer was our trail a road. We were in the dead center of the forest. No road. No hope.
So we did what any rational people would have done in that situation: we screamed. Loudly. So loudly that I could only just hear Harry Styles sing his melodic runs behind the ringing of panicked shrieks.
Now, I wish I could tell you that this story has some kind of epic conclusion. I wish I could tell you that we had to get out of the car and trek ten miles to the nearest road, hitchhike to town, and by our dinner with the money we earned from betting on pool in a local bar. Unfortunately, this story’s conclusion isn’t nearly that thrilling.
We continued strait along the trail and eventually our car on the GPS managed to find its way back to purple road. Only a little ways after that did we also find ourselves on an actual road (a dirt one, sure, but it was definitely a road!) We were still lost after that and it probably took us a good solid hour and a half to finally get to the cabin, which we did just prior to it getting dark.
I can honestly tell you it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I honestly thought that was it – the end of my days spent stranded in the middle of the Michigan wilderness. And all because I didn’t read an email closely enough.
As it turns out, we could have easily taken two main roads – two PAVED roads – to get to where we needed to be, it just wasn’t as direct a route (apparently) as the Trail of Doom our GPS recommended instead. I am still not sure how the GPS even knew about that “road,” and I’m really upset that no one thought to take video at the time so I could prove to you that I am absolutely, 100% telling the truth right now. Unfortunately we didn’t. We were far too busy screaming in terror. Ah well, it is what it is.