We got ourselves into a sour onion this weekend. My dad said when you get into a pickle you are able to get out of the situation without too much trouble. This was not one of those situations. Tori and I headed to Seneca Rocks, WV yesterday after a bridal shower. I was in no way prepared for any type of wintery weather. On our way home today, I decided to write a little story…
What is an adventure? Jumping out of an airplane, careening toward earth until a parachute slows your fall so you can gently land? Paddling through class five white water rapids in an inflatable raft? Climbing sheer rocks with little more to catch you than some nylon rope?
Or is it something much more simple than that? Like tasting escargot for the first time. Or finding yourself lost on back roads in the middle of nowhere, and trying different routes until you find your way out. What is an adventure?
It seems that in our general lives, we live quite consistently. We go to work, fix dinner, relax a bit, and then go to bed. Some nights you may have to take your daughter to dance class, or your son to karate, but in general, we live by routine. It is comfortable and cozy and reliable.
Until we decide that life could use a little adventure. We like to spice our lives up to scoop us out of our routine. We take vacations to exotic islands. We visit museums to see relics from foreign lands. We travel to landmarks to have our picture taken next to iconic statues or rock formations.
Sometimes when we put ourselves into these situations, we find a little more adventure than we expect.
To watch a weather report in Maryland in the week leading up to March 6, 2013, it seemed that we all needed to rush out and buy 12 gallons of milk and enough toilet paper to last three weeks. We were prepared to receive 12 inches of snow and the winds were to be treacherous. As the day wore on, however, reports started changing.
“The snow will start by noon.”
“Now the snow will definitely start by 2:00.”
“Never mind, it will start at 3:00.”
“This is turning out to be an all rain event.”
The entire Central and Eastern Maryland counties received nothing but rain. It was the largest disappointment that meteorologists have predicted in recent memory. It did, however, snow very heavily in northern West Virginia.
Just outside of Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, is a mountain called Dolly Sods. A summertime visitor can be enamored by its beautiful overlook. In the summer, wild blueberries grow freely for hikers to pick. In the winter, when there is the kind of snowfall that there was on March 6, 2013, roads become impassable…apparently.
March ninth brought two friends to Dolly Sods in a trip they would soon regret. Tori and Katie were passing through the area of Dolly Sods and decided to take a quick look-around before the day ran out of sunlight. All of the roads were perfectly clear on their journey through West Virginia. Occasionally, patchy snow was visible, but the temperatures were in the 50s, so it was rapidly melting. The day was gorgeous. With more than an hour to look around the top of the mountain, the girls had nothing to worry about.
As they approached the entrance to the National Park road, they noticed a sign that read:
No Snow Removal Beyond This Point
To look at the road, any driver would assume that there was nothing to worry about. It looked slightly slushier than the dry roads that were lower on the mountain, which made sense because a plow had not been there, but the snow was melting away on its own. The girls decided to give it a go. After all, there were other tire tracks in the slush, so it was obviously a place where others had gone since the storm.
As they ascended the mountain, the roadway got a bit snowier, but it was nothing that a Jeep could not handle. Soon the girls realized that the snow was getting deeper, and it would be a wise decision to turn around and head back down. Unfortunately, the road was very narrow. On one side was the bank of a mountain, and on the other was a very steep ravine. The only option, it seemed, was to keep heading up until there was a place to turn around. There was eventually a perfect place to turn around, and they were headed out of there.
The road was very narrow, and with slippery snow on a downhill slant, it was a very real possibility that the car would slip down the ravine. This was not an option that the girls were willing to entertain, so they stayed close to the mountain and kept going ever so slowly. Eventually they found themselves a little too close to the mountain and the Jeep was stuck in a rut. Going forward was not an option. The car would only get stuck further. Going in reverse seemed like the only way out, but the tires only spun in place. It seemed they would need a good swift push. Tori hopped out and pushed while Katie tried taking it in reverse. When that was unsuccessful, Tori found a rock and a very large tree branch. It seemed that this was part of God’s plan for their day. That rock and stick were surely placed there to help these desperate girls get the much-needed traction for their tires. Tori placed the tree branch and rock under the tires, but to no avail, they were still stuck in the snow next to a ravine that seemed to grow larger with every minute.
Many parts of West Virginia are very remote. In this particular area, there is not a lot of development. There are a few scattered houses, and one gas station with a hand-written sign that reads:
Attention burglars: I sleep here and have a gun. You will get shot and may die.
This was not the type of area that is equipped with chain restaurants and department stores. Cell phone coverage is nearly nonexistent, and very unreliable.
On this particular day, miraculously, Tori’s cell phone was able to make a call. After an hour of trying tirelessly to get the car out, the girls decided they needed help. Tori’s brother back in Maryland found the phone number of a local police department, but suggested she call AAA. The yearly membership covers roadside assistance, and assistance is what was needed.
After one hour of explaining to the AAA representative about where they were, asking them to repeat what they said over and over because of the spotty reception, and being transferred to another representative who could be of better service, they declared that they were unable to help because the car was stuck on an untreated roadway. Daylight was fading, and so was their hope of a quick recovery.
Frustrated, the girls did not know where else to turn except the police. They called the phone number that Tori’s brother had given, and no police officers were on duty because it was now nearly 7:00. The recording suggested to call 911 if there was an emergency. After discussing that there really was no other option at this point, the girls decided that it had to be done.
The emergency operator gave the phone numbers of two towing companies, so they picked one to try first. Leroy answered and assured Tori that he would be there in about an hour. He had to get his son, Leroy out of the field where he was “huntin’ and playin’ around.”
The girls sat in the warmth and comfort of the car while they waited for the Leroys to arrive. Just as expected, they arrived in an hour and pulled the Jeep from its resting place. The girls drove safely down while the Leroys followed just in case their services would be needed again. By 9:00, Tori and Katie were safely on dry road, headed down from Dolly Sods with quite a story to tell.
What is an adventure? Driving up a snow-covered mountain on a sunny day? Getting stuck in a snow bank on a remote West Virginia mountainside for more than four hours? Praying to God that you stay on the up-side of the ravine? Calling a tow company and having the Leroys pull you out? All of the above.