It had been a wonderful night with an even more wonderful person, but now it was time to see my family.
It was New Year’s Eve, and my boyfriend and I had just watched the Trans Siberian Orchestra rock their hearts out on stage, and were now starting our three-hour trek from Cleveland, Ohio to Hawking Hills State Park. It was dark and cold, and we were looking forward to spending time with great people, playing some games, and ringing in the new year.
Everything went smoothly, and we were nearing the end of our journey when our GPS told us to turn left down a dirt road. We stopped to read the massive road block which said, "Road Closed: Local Traffic Only." We assumed they just didn't want trucks on this old, dirt road, and we were going to a cabin in the middle of nowhere after all, so we proceeded on our trip.
A few minutes later, after driving on this dirt road with no lights and trees for miles on each side of us, we come upon another road block. This one is smaller, broken, and off to the side more so than the first one. We carefully drive his small Impala around the road block, and continue.
Shortly after, we see a huge, white boulder in the middle of the road. After several minutes of muscling the rock out of the road, we continue.
It's about 9 p.m. now and the GPS is still telling us we're on the right track when we come upon a massive wall of dirt...and a very definitive dead end.
The road ending was the least of our problems.
As we tried to back up to turn around, we realized something terrible: we had driven right into mud that was at least two feet deep.
To our left was the mound of dirt that seemed to defy the laws of physics and went almost 90 degrees straight up. To our right was a drop of just as steep as the dirt pile with no barrier other than a small piece of rope.
For two hours, we tried to pry the Impala from the clutches of Mother Earth to no avail. After a whole lot of stress bonding and both of us wanting to throw up (me from anxiety and him from over exertion) we decided to try to call for help. There was just one problem...
Neither of us had cell service.
It was clear that the road we were on had connected to the road we needed to be on at some point, but someone had decided to get rid of the connection. We could see the road we needed to be on, but we were doubtful that anyone could see use because of the dirt piled around us.
We managed to call his dad who then let my mom know we were trying to contact them but couldn't. I got in a few short phone calls to her, but both of our calls kept dropping, and our phones were almost completely dead after the long day we had had.
After a half hour, my phone finally got enough of a signal to find our location, and I sent it to my mom. We could see my aunt's truck on the road in front of us, but we had no way to flag them down. Even if we could have, there was no way for them to get to us from that side.
Finally, they saw us and back tracked until they found that long dirt road full of barriers we had embarked down over an hour ago.
They struggled to hook up straps to the Impala to pull it out because by now, we had dug ourselves into a hole so deep that you almost couldn't see its wheels. After many failed attempts and broken straps, we finally got one good pull in and could then just rock it back and forth to turn it around.
I watched my family to direct me because if I looked in the side mirrors, all I could see was how close I was to falling down that massive ledge.
After a whole lot of stress, sweat, and mud, we finally got it turned around and on solid ground again. We all happily returned to our vehicles and...
It was midnight.
Soon, we were all out of our cars again screaming "Happy New Year!" on a pitch black dirt road in the middle of nowhere, hugging each other tight, and thanking God we were safe and together again.
We had no idea that this was how we would be ringing in the New Year, but I don't regret going down that old dirt road, passed all the things telling us to turn around.
It reminded me to hold my loved ones just a little bit closer, and I learned that sometimes all it takes is getting a little mud on your tires to make a memory that will last a life time.
(Okay, maybe A LOT of mud in this case, and I'm good with just one memory like this one. No more road-blocked dirt roads for us!)