We were two hours to our destination, with fifteen hours of road time firmly tucked behind us. Minus a rather disasterous hotel stay (in which children didn’t sleep, children fought incessantly, children jumped around the room screaming like apes on crack) that resulted in me shedding tears (it’s a long story that has little to do with the children and more to do with lack of coffee…) the trip had been a wild success.
3 MILE BACK UP AHEAD
45 MINUTE DELAY AHEAD
CONSIDER ALTERNATE ROUTE
The signs flashed at me as we buzzed through Illinois with St. Louis waiting for us just across the river. Consider alternate route? What alternate route?!
Then I saw the detour sign and, feeling brave and daring, I zipped off the highway and followed the orange arrow that promised to help me bypass whatever horrible traffic lie ahead. I figured going around the traffic would likely not save us time, but as long as we’re moving, the children think we’re making progress and they’re less likely to start throwing things at my head…
A mile into our detour I hit a snag. The sign pointed left, but my GPS firmly directed me to go right. I know this because she said, in her very smug and know it all voice, “At the fork, keep right.” I decided to trust her because she just sounded so confident in her direction.
So I turned right.
“In 300 yards, turn right onto County Road 1500, Essex Lane.”
I should have noted the hint of hesitancy in her voice at this point, but I was too busy admiring the scenery. In fact, I believe I congratulated her, and myself, for bringing us along such a scenic path. “Well, done,” I said as we entered an expanse of Illinois farmland.
“Who are you talking to?” Sloan asked.
“Look at the scenery guys!” I called to the backseat where the kids were sitting in a daze due to over consumption of junk food and the hypnotic rhythm of the car. “Isn’t it pretty?”
“When are we going to be there?” they asked.
No appreciation for geography, those three…
“In 200 yards, turn left on County Road 5687214, then keep right.”
It was this momnet when I began to doubt her ability to lead. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the horses that greeted me upon turning. Or perhaps it was the fact that I turned onto a one lane gravel road with nothing in sight on either side but corn and a few run down barns.
“Are you sure?” I asked her as we bumped along the narrow road. She didn’t answer. She’s very passive aggresive sometimes.
When I came to the end of the one lane road, I waited for her instruction. It was at this point that she began to mock me.
I turned right.
“You’ve gone a different way. Tap anywhere for new instructions.”
“Cannot find alternate route. Satelite lost.”
Then she laughed at me. If she had hands, I’m sure they would have been pointed in my direction in a haughty display of boastful glee. I looked before me to see where we were. It was another narrow, graveling road. “What is that noise?” Sloan shouted over the sound of loose rocks pelting the underbelly of our (smokin’ hot) minivan.
I tapped her screen again only to be met with silence. Basically, the GPS gave me a big fat middle finger.
So I turned right at the next intersection, assuming that the highway must be in that general direction. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I’m fairly certain God forgot to install my inner compass when He formed me. Every time my husband gets impatient with my lack of direction, I like to remind him that that quality of mine is both fearful and wonderful.
Finally, after an eternity of turning and passing rusted pickups and el Caminos, I decided it was time to give up on my beligerant GPS and stop for directions. The outside temperature read 111 degrees and I kind of wondered at what point my tires would begin to melt. Being stranded on a desert island is one thing. Being stranded in Illinois farmland is something completely different. I began looking for a place to stop.
That shack tucked back inside acres of tall corn? No…
The house standing next to a run down barn where a handful of cats sat baking in the sun? Definately not…
“We want to get to St. Louis!” the kids began to cry. So I pulled into the driveway of a normal looking home where two men stood in the garage chatting. They stopped and stared as I pulled my van into the driveway and put her in park. I hopped out and I could sense their bewilderment.
Minivan mom in a skirt with pink striped hair. I fit right in.
Turns out I was quite a long way from the highway. They gave me instructions on how to make my way back, their voices laced with amusement. I thanked them, hopped back in the car, backed up and…
“Did you have a nice ride?” her voice was sugary sweet, as though she simply had to step out to use the bathroom and had no idea we were terribly lost.
“In 400 yards, keep right, then turn left.”
She has a lot of nerve, I’ll give her that. Suddenly, as quickly as she left me she was back, smugly trying to get us out of the mess in which she’d left us. But I was wise to her wily ways. I clicked the exit button and her voice trailed off. Twenty minutes later we were back on the highway, having bypassed the traffic and seen parts of our country the kids wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
“Well that was an adventure,” Sloan piped.
“Pretty cool, huh?” I said and all three of the shrugged in unison.
“Not really,” he mumbled and I sighed. And deep in the recesses of her metal belly, I heard the GPS cackle grandly. I’m fairly certain she is out to sabatoge me.