What to do when your tires hit the dirt

I should have known.

Most people would have figured it out in about 10 seconds, or certainly after a few minutes.

Not me.

I don’t like to brag, but sometimes I can be completely and utterly committed to making a big mistake.

It’s not that I seek out these little life lessons for myself. It’s more like I just ignore all signs of warning and logic and just keep plugging ahead.

It’s dedicated stupidity of the most spectacular sort.

Yesterday was a brilliant example.

I needed to make a road trip to Topaz to pick up my darling summer daughter from her visit with grandma. The kids stayed home with daddy and I had the car blissfully to myself.

I plugged the destination into the maps app on my iPhone, followed the prompts and indulged in a mini-marathon of my favorite podcast, NPR’s Snap Judgment.

For about 3 hours I listened to stories of lost loves reuniting, people overcoming fear and families reunited after centuries apart.

Then my tires hit a dirt road.


Uh oh. This can’t be right.

I stopped, turned off the podcast and looked around.

The road was very rocky, dusty and quite deserted.

This is wrong.

I looked at my phone and it showed me driving 5 miles and then turning right. I was only 30 minutes from my destination.

So on I drove.

Windows and sunroof open, I put all doubt aside and focused on enjoying the ride.

After a few minutes I found this:


I pulled over and read all about the Golden Gate Mine. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Look at me. Being all carefree and adventurous.

Then I came to a little stream that I had to cross.


Then the road got really steep and my tires were having trouble keeping up with the demands of the trail.

Still I had seen no cars. The only house I’d come across was abandoned and falling apart.

Fear started creeping in and I kept saying to myself, “this can’t be right.”

But I was committed to this route. I couldn’t make a U-turn, because then I’d have to drive all that again.

No going back

The road became gravel for a bit and my turn was only .5 miles away. Way to go Bridgette! You made it.

“Turn right.”

I looked all around. No turns.

No other roads or paths or anything. Just the same rocky dirt road leading further up the mountain.

Then I lost cell reception.

Now I was scared.

I got out of the car and just stood there.

“What do I do?” I said aloud.

I’m lost and all alone. Tears started in my eyes and I felt a rising panic in my gut.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.

Should I turn around or just keep going? What if the road gets worse and I blow a tire? What if it goes on for so long I run out of gas? What if I lose traction and skid down the hill and crash? I have no food, no water and it’s hot out.

The smart choice was to turn around and head back to the main road.

But that wasn’t fun and I just had to see this through. I’d come too far to turn around.

Dedicated stupidity at it’s finest.

I got back in the car and continued the climb.

Over another stream. Around and around and up and up. I knew I was going to be late now, but I had to see where this went. I kept thinking, the next turn it will become a paved road again.


After another 10 minutes of driving I reached the top of the hill. This is what I saw:


I got out of the car and the air was filled with the most gorgeous smell of pine. A breeze blew through my hair and I actually laughed.

Groups of people on horseback were just disappearing into the woods. I walked over to a woman in jeans and a t-shirt that had a surprised look on her face.

“I’m lost,” I told her and realized how funny I must look in my mommy SUV and flip-flops.

“You sure are,” she replied with a little laugh.

She had a beautiful smile and she gave me a big hug.

“You’ve reached Little Antelope Pack Station,” she said. “Welcome.”


She told me about a summer camp they were running for underprivileged kids. The kids get to ride horses, shoot BB guns and learn about nature.

“Want to ride a horse?” she offered. “Something brought you here.”

I used to ride horses all the time and I yearned to take her up on it. The thought actually brought tears to my eyes.

But people were waiting for me.

I have to be responsible.

She told me that I’d have to drive all the way back to the bottom.

No other way out.

I took a few pictures and hugged her goodbye.

“Come back when you have more time,” she said and waved to me as I pulled away.

The drive down the hill was easy and fast.

As I passed all the markers from before, I could remember all the emotions I felt at each spot; fear, excitement, doubt, joy, disappointment and happiness.

Now it all seemed so silly, pointless and wasteful.

I’m very lucky. All that came of my little escapade was a very dirty car and a flat tire (that happened a few hours later).

Things could have been so much worse.

I am tired of moving blindly and innocently forward without questioning things or listening to my instincts.

I’m so stubborn and my craving for adventure and excitement is ridiculous.

It is causing turmoil, pain and regret.

While the beauty I experienced yesterday is something I will always treasure, hopefully this will be a lesson learned.

I am a mother. People are counting on me.

Diversions can be dangerous.

11 thoughts on “What to do when your tires hit the dirt

  1. True, sometimes diversions can seem like an indulgence. But isn’t it great when you have that sense of achievement of dealing with it All By Yourself??!


    • You are very right. There is a sense of accomplishment that I did handle it all alone. What I wonder at is why I consistently put myself in situations like this. Sometimes I think I’m trying to prove something to myself. Or maybe it is to escape the boring reality of every day life. I struggle with balancing freedom and excitement with responsibility. Does that make sense?


      • Absolutely! I think it’s the dilemma many of us wrangle with. Much as we love our kids, there is that niggle that part of us is forever lost. Even our name is lost, we become known as “Billy’s Mum”. The hours we spend simply being “Sarah” become more precious. Go ahead and have more adventures 🙂


      • Yes Bridgette. It does make sense. Its experiences and events like this that make us feel alive. At some point those beautiful children will grow-up and move out on their own. You are still your own person and deserve to live your own life and enjoy your own experiences.


  2. You were lucky and fortunate at the same time, you got to experience the beauty of nature as well as the good nature of beautiful people. However, you were lucky that your car didn’t break down or that you got lost for days. You were also lucky as a lone female not to have encountered characters with bad intentions. it is a crazy world that we live in nowadays.


  3. Like the lady said, something brought you here. It was right of you to realize you had to turn around and be responsible, but every diversion is an adventure! Even if they seem scary they certainly teach you to be aware of the diverse world you live in. Who knows you might go back there some day and ride some horses! Loved the story and your thirst for adventure 🙂


  4. I’m so sorry, but I couldn’t stop laughing through this whole story! My GPS and I have a precarious relationship. She constantly leads me the wrong way, tells me to turn when there’s no road in site, and generally drives me bats. Unlike you, though, I don’t limit my comments to “This can’t be right.” No one can make me curse like the lady on my GPS!

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I’ll have to remember to blog about the time I got lost in Hawaii and saw the most exquisite sunset of my life. No GPS back then, just me with bad directions in a place where I couldn’t pronounce the street names. 🙂

    God bless! I look forward to reading more of your writing.


  5. I am a woman, married 39 years 4 grown kids who still depend on Mom, and now a widow. Not sure where I am suppose to go or be… But your story made me smile and think. I am ready for all the new adventures that are waiting for me. And never be afraid what is ahead.
    scary sometimes, life is wonderful.
    Thank You again for making me smile



  6. Oh my! Got here from the link on MSNBC, liked what I read about body image, and wanted to read more of you,.

    Just in the interest of giving you feedback, not saying I’m right or wrong, but I expected an entirely different conclusion as I read along. From my perspective, the lesson you were being offered is exactly the opposite of the one you drew!

    Now, I’m in my early 50s and just approaching grandmotherhood, so our times of life are not parallel, but what I’ve learned is that once in awhile, life throws you a curveball, a road less traveled by if you will.

    We are so programmed toward routine and responsibility…the first reaction is to deny ourselves adventure. There is ALWAYS something or somebody who needs us to be sane and reliable, believe me, that never goes away.

    When we can’t help but see the adventure based on a curveball like the one you described, the first response is to deny it. Turn back, be safe, take care, be cautious.

    This may often be wise, but around that curve, as you’ve shown in your story, can lie absolute joy. I thought and hoped what I would read is about how you contacted those waiting to say you’d be late, and renewed your spirit by doing what you so love to do and have been denying yourself.

    I thought the lesson would be about overcoming fear of the unknown and grabbing those fragile soapbubble moments that are offered.

    Please twist your prism a bit, and take that on as a possibility – I’ll be praying that you go back at once and ride those horses, girl!



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