About a year and a half ago, I posted the saga of the most horrible week of my pregnancy with Annabelle, which happened while Travis was traveling for work. There was another saga that happened about a year ago while Travis was hunting out of state, which I never told on the blog. Until now.
It was October, aka the beginning of hunting season. Travis and most of his family had gone elk hunting in Colorado for a week. The girls and I had stayed back, since having a 2.5-year-old and a 6-month-old in a wall tent for a week would be an extreme form of torture. We had just been up to Bemidji to visit Travis’ sister, Carolyn, who had also opted to not go elk hunting. After a long day of driving (two hours both ways), shopping at Hobby Lobby for bridal shower decorations, and eating dinner at Applebee’s (during which Emma spilled her entire water all over me and Annabelle swiftly knocked her full container of yogurt to the ground), the girls and I were heading back home in the dark.
Everything was going fine. I was staying awake, the girls were content… oh and did I mention that I had the dogs along too? They had spent the day socializing with Carolyn’s two dogs, and were worn out too.
But then Annabelle started crying.
And she kept crying.
We were almost an hour from home, and in the middle of NOWHERE driving on a two-lane highway with no shoulders at night on a Sunday. The nearest gas station was 30 minutes away. Travis’ parents lived only about 15 minutes away, but in the opposite direction as our house and they were in Colorado with Travis.
I hoped Annabelle would stop crying on her own… but five minutes passed. Then 10. Which doesn’t sound like much but when your baby is screaming in the backseat, it feels like an ETERNITY. I started looking for places to pull over, thinking maybe if I just nursed her a bit, she’d be content enough to make it home without crying the whole way.
But it was pitch black outside so I couldn’t see any of the pull-outs soon enough to slow down for them. Finally, I saw a sign for an intersection with a county road. Perfect. I’d be able to drive slow enough on that road to find a spot to pull over.
I turned down the county road and there was a wide grassy shoulder that seemed to be pretty level and even. It didn’t seem to be a road that had much traffic on it, so a ways from the highway intersection, I started slowing down and pulled over onto the grass.
I didn’t understand what had happened right away because it was so unexpected. All I heard was a loud noise and saw that my car was all of a sudden at a very odd angle and I was looking at what looked like corn stalks out my windshield.
Panic surged through me, but I couldn’t panic because I was the lone adult with two kids and two dogs out in the middle of NOWHERE. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” I started repeating. My hands were shaking as I started trying to think logically about what was happening.
My car has fallen in some kind of a hole. My first idea was to try to back the car out. I put the car in reverse and gunned it a little, but the only effect was to make my car lean over even more precariously, and make me panic even more about completely tipping over into the field.
Ok, Plan B. I would call a towtruck. Where’s my phone? Where’s my phone? Oh yeah, Emma’s playing games on it. I pleaded with her to give it back to me. She probably heard the fear in my voice because she didn’t fight me on it.
Then I realized, It’s late on a Sunday night and I’m in the middle of EFFIN NOWHERE! Who is going to help me at this hour? No one local, that’s for sure. My brain was scrambling and all I could think was, What’s that acronym for car assistance? AARP? That doesn’t sound right... I googled “car towing” and discovered, Oh yeah, AAA. But when I tried calling the 800 number, it assumed I was in Colorado because of my cell phone number, and I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to figure out how to switch it. So screw that.
Plan C. Call Travis. Maybe he could help me think because now I was on the verge of tears and FREAKING OUT. But Travis didn’t answer. Dangit! I can’t call my parents because my mom will freak out even more than I am. Who else is with Travis? My mother-in-law Beth. She didn’t answer either. Double dangit! I called my brother-in-law Matthew. He answered. FINALLY! I tried to sound somewhat normal as I asked to talk to Travis. When Travis got on the line, though, I completely lost it. I started crying and babbling on about how I drove off the road and fell in a hole and couldn’t get out and I was so scared and I was in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.
Travis’ first words back to me were, “Are the girls still alive?”
Ok, maybe I should’ve led with that. “Yes, they are. We’re all fine.”
As I was talking with Travis, I decided that I should probably get out of the car to see what was really going on. I discovered that my front passenger tire fell in a hole up to the bumper, and my rear driver side tire was completely off the road by about 18 inches.
I’m sure I told Travis what I was seeing. I’m sure he suggested calling a towtruck or something along those lines. But after being on the phone with Travis not even five minutes, a man driving a pickup truck happened to turn down the county road I was on. Not only did he not hit me even though I was standing in the middle of the road, he slowed down to ask if I was ok. I sobbed that I wasn’t, and then asked if he could pull me out. He said, Yes, he could. As he got his chains out and set up, I told Travis about Pickup Man and said I’d call him back.
The man told me to get in my car, put it in reverse, and to gun it and turn the wheel when he said to. I did exactly that and in less than a minute, my car was back on the solid ground of the gravel road. I thanked the man profusely for saving us, and briefly thought about paying him, but I didn’t have any cash, and my brain was fried from stress. He looked my car over and said that amazingly, he didn’t see any damage. Then he warned me to not stop on the shoulder of back-country roads anymore, because they weren’t safe. I know that now, I thought.
Hands still shaking, I got back in my car, put my car in drive, and traveled a little farther down the county road before completing a 20-point turn to head east back to the highway. I passed Pickup Man, who was continuing west. I said a prayer of thanks to God, for the man who helped me (God knew who he was), and for God’s provision of a person, driving a pickup, with chains, who knew how to use them, to be there right then. From the time I drove in the hole to the time I was pulled out was probably only about 15 minutes.
After getting back out on the highway, I called Travis to tell him I was out of the hole, there was no damage to the car, and I was on my way home. Hallelujah! Oh, and I’m never stopping on a country road EVER. AGAIN.
A few weeks later, we were headed back up to Travis’ parents’ house for deer hunting. Travis was curious to see where “the incident” happened. In the broad light of day, we could see that the hole I drove into was really a culvert, and what I had thought was a cornfield was really a swamp. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. And it only happens when Travis is out of town.
Thankfully, his hunting trip this year has been much less eventful… So far. ::knock on wood::