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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/681212-Road-To-Dangers
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Comedy · #681212
A spontaneous road trip.
The bad thing about spontaneous road trips is the lack of preparation involved, and the inevitable disappointment which occurs with the realization that a very important item has been left behind. Usually, awareness is made after the road trip is well under way, leaving you with two options: Buy the missing item, or do without it. I've forgotten many things in past road trips, i.e. a hair dryer, a pair of sandals which perfectly matched my favorite sundress, my underwear, (don't ask) and once, I even forgot my birth control pills.

This trip was no exception. The forgotten article was the road map. We ventured out of the house, loaded the car with spend-one-night-stuff, taking care not to forget our favorite CD's. But did anyone think to grab the road map? Three songs into the Evanescence CD, and the absence of the map was discovered. A short wave of anxiety flutter around my chest, however, Autumn, the teenage driver, reminded me we had the directions—stop worrying! And if it became necessary, we would stop to buy a map at a gas station. The directions were written in shorthand form in the back of my journal, given to me over the phone while fighting off interruptions from children, pets and the spouse. I elected NOT to tell Autumn some of my scribble was indecipherable and guesswork would be involved in the reading.

It took us four hours to get there, there being a little rural town in the mountains of North Georgia called Baitsville. Also known as 'Danger's", not on the map of course. Danger was a nickname given to the owner of the house where we would be staying. His real name was Neil, but everyone called him Papa Danger. They called his wife Grandma Danger, or Johney, but that's another story.

We could have made it to Danger's within three hours, maybe even two and a half. No sweat. After all, we had Autumn a.k.a Speed Demon sitting in the driver's seat. The two and a half hour goal was decisively struck down by our unfortunate luck of finding ourselves behind Mr. 'I refuse to drive over 35mph, even if, and especially when, the speed limit is 50mph.'. So, we crawled all the way down HWY 17 and 105 and any other junction we turned on, trying to focus on the beauty of the mountainous view rather than our time loss. The Scenic Tour cost us twenty minutes. Later, the real delay occurred. We became lost. Of course, it was dark by then because being lost and darkness go hand-in-hand. (Not to discount any daytime lost stories.) But being lost...in the mountains...in darkness...is what happened in this story. Anyway, the Lost Process began just as dusk settled in. We had been traveling on a road for several miles longer than the directions had indicated. Still in good spirits, with the radio volume blaring decibels past "Can't even hear myself think", we turned around to backtrack, in hopes of discovering our mistake. Our major problem was in locating 255 Alternate, not to be confused with Plain Ole 255. The direction giver did warn us that distinguishing between the two might be a problem.

After many wrong turns, frustrations rose, and the radio volume fell, (thank goodness). Although I did like that Ignition song and after hearing it five times already I was beginning to learn all the words. Every now and then, I mentioned stopping to ask for directions. "No!" was the reply. Spoken like a true driver. Several miles later, the palm of the driver's hand hit the steering wheel, much like her father's does when someone rudely cuts in front of him.

"Where are we???" Her voice filled with annoyance. I think it was the sight of the Ramada Inn Hotel coupled with the sudden awareness we had already seen that very same hotel 30 minutes ago. "We just drove in a Big Ass Circle." When she said the word 'ass', she dropped her voice to a whisper. She cut her eyes in my direction, trying to gauge my reaction to the inappropriate verbal offense. The "A-Word" wasn't part of our everyday conversation. Still, stopping for directions wasn't an option, even after our second big ass circle.

I settled myself in for a long drive, trying not to let Autumn's stress become my own. A Big Ass Circle? I'm sorry, but ass and circle don't exactly evoke similar images. At least not in my mind. Is a big ass circle kinda like a circle with two huge curves and one sharp turn? And what does that make a pothole? A dimple on the cheek of the big as circle? How big of an ass are we talking about anyway? Aretha Franklin big? What if the circle would have been Brad Pitt sized? I guess then she would have called it a 'tight ass circle'. And would driving in a tight ass circle for one hour produce the same level of frustration as the big ass circle did? Upon my better judgment, I decided not to share my mental commentary with her.

"Heeey!" It was Laney from the back seat, another teenager. Her presence during this trip would have been unnoticeable if it weren't for her non-stop karaoke performance. "Isn't that the Ramada Inn?"

"No!" the teenage driver yelled. Even though it was.

"It is too," Laney protested, speaking with strong conviction. "You know how I know?" She never gave either of us a chance to reply. "Cuz I've seen that very same building FOUR times in the past hour!"

I glanced over at Autumn and grinned.

"Okay!" Autumn said, trying not to smile. "I admit it. I'm lost."

With the status being officially upgraded from not-quite-sure-where-we-are to absolutely-lost I asked, "Now, can we stop and ask for directions?" I gave her a long begging look. Similar to the ones she gave me when she was four and really really wanted to stay up late past her bedtime so she could watch the ending of Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Or was it Great Adventure?

Even with the Ramada in eyesight when the green light for direction asking{i/} was given, we couldn't ask the employees in the lobby. I guess the Ramada didn't meet direction asking standards because we drove around in small ass circles looking for a suitable direction-asking place. Finally, we pulled into a parking lot of a local restaurant. The aroma of grilled steak filled my nostrils. We enlisted the help of the greeter/name-taker/table assigner lady. She was very helpful and explained to us how NOT to get confused between 255 Alternate and Plain Ole 255. Autumn was shaking her head and even asking some questions for verification. Good. I tuned out. Let her handle it. After all, she was the one who decided driving in Big Ass Circles was the appropriate way to reach our destination.

Sparked with a little bit of energy, we bounded back into the car. While buckling up, Autumn asked, "You did get all that...didn't you?"

"Noooo. I didn't," I giggled. The prospect of going back in to get a repeat of the directions wasn't funny, but...being stuck in a car for what, three and a half hours?, laughter was my better option.

"What?" she asked in disbelief. She too was giggling. The nice thing about laughter is that it's contagious.

"What do you mean you didn't? But you're the MOTHER!"

This is true and it made my giggles turn into laughter. "Yeah...I know...but...you're the DRIVER!"

Together, we compared notes, and slowly made our way to 255 Alternate in the darkness. It was quiet now, as we inched our way up the side of Pap Danger's mountain. Even the karaoke performer had stopped.

Our visit was wonderful but short as all visits to friends and family seem to be. While loading the car for our return trip home, I asked Autumn if a stop at the gas station was in order. For a map I mean.

"Nah! She waved her hand. "We'll just go the exact opposite of the way we came."

"Okay," I replied, "but no more Big Ass Circles."


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