Famous Last Words…Lets try a new Route

An added bonus to being married to a law enforcement officer who is familiar with every street in town is you never have to question what roads you are taking or why. He can visualize every intersection, street name, local business or landmark and map out in his mind exactly where the location under discussion is with pinpoint accuracy (sometimes with stories of having been to said locations to respond to calls there).

A few days ago he announced that he had a county road in mind he wanted to explore on our way to a neighboring town to have lunch at our favorite deli. Pondering this with some curiosity as to the “exploring” part and what that entailed, but still hungry and ready to get out of the house, I said let’s do it. We live on a county road but I do take pause sometimes as some are more traveled than others.

We piled into my Highlander and began our scenic drive. We ventured onto dirt roads surrounded by endless winter prairie views, rolling hills and the occasional hilltop rock formations. Occasionally I would be surprised with small clusters of homes further out from where I thought residential areas would have stopped. But everyone likes their privacy to varying degrees and the further out you go, the more savvy folks are at not needing to get to town every weekend and being without convenient services.

The county road thought to be the scenic route to lunch in the next town.

Then we lost all cell service. Not the end of the world for this part of the country, but I was paying more attention to where we were now.

After a few moments we passed a random set of train tracks seemingly in the middle of nowhere with a lonely train car covered in graffiti. He mentioned he had been called to recently to manage the “artists”. It’s moments like this I look around the miles and miles of isolation and imagine my spouse out there with no connectivity with dispatch and only his wits and training to keep him safe dealing with sometimes unruly individuals. I have these thoughts a lot.

As we kept motoring on wondering if we were indeed on the right path, I began to check our gas levels out of the corner of my eye. He caught me and confirmed “we are fine”.

The road took us to a dead end after another fifteen minutes of travel.

Because my father trained his daughters in the value of always having a road map despite whatever technology is out there, out came the ancient Rand McNally spiral book of all highways in the United States from under my seat. We checked ourselves and of course, this county road map appeared in the faintest of gray lines on the well-worn map near to where we were. Back we turned to see where we missed it. Of course nothing had a clear sign posted anywhere.

Signage would just be too practical.

Another fifteen minutes and we found ourselves on the correct country road next, despite the no trespassing signs posted on both sides of the road. My husband assessed carefully and determined this was indeed the right road but the owner of the surrounding land has posted signs to keep people off the land, rather, while the road was free to travel on.

Honey, are we sure we are on the right road?

We passed beautiful ranching properties and then we began to climb into muddy and higher ridges. This is where the warning signals and instinct began to kick in as while a Toyota Highlander is a fantastic SUV for meandering about, it does have its limits when dirt becomes muddy and a larger and heavier truck would be better suited.

Thus the marital questions began: “Are you sure this is the right road?” and “On a scale of 1-10, what is your confidence level that we’re on the right path?” and so forth. We finally pulled up over the highest point on the hill we were driving and were faced with a small overflow of water covering the way and snow as far as the eye could see thereafter. Clearly no one had been that far in ages.

And in true husbandly fashion, as that the situation now pointed with certainty to a no-go of the situation, he announced we were not going to make it and turned us around to re-start the trip back again to return to the traditional highways. Thus another forty-five minutes back to the paved world and the roads we knew. Having lost all interest in the deli now at least an hour away west, reverted to a closer restaurant thirty minutes away east. I think we made it to lunch around 2 or 3 o’clock at that point.

I gave him a hard time about this one, but true to his word, we did get to tour some beautiful land and we did find out where it led to. (And in fairness to the hubs who is knowledgeable in all things outdoors and safety-related, he would never take us anywhere unsafe – this was a fun drive now that I’ve seen where it leads to and what land it covers). Hopefully in spring we’ll try again and see the rest of this mystery road when it’s fully passable. I will absolutely be posting those pictures because it looked gorgeous!

And we will be taking the truck.

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