You know how they say curiosity killed the cat? How about those parents who always tell us we must learn from our mistakes?
Well, Iâ€™m kind of thinking both rang a little true in my life this afternoon.
It all started with a simple drive out to the middle of Nobles County – to the aptly named Midway Park – to take a picture to accompany a story in Wednesdayâ€™s edition of the Daily Globe. The route was easy enough to follow: Drive to Reading, turn left on County Road 14 and go west to just beyond Durfee Avenue. No problem!
I made it there just fine. I pulled off to the side of the road, snapped my photos, and then drove up a little ways to the entrance of the park. It was a bit muddy at the entrance, but I was able to get by – I wanted to see what this park had to offer.
Now, I consider myself a life-long resident of Nobles County, but this was all new territory for me. I can direct most people anywhere south of Worthington, but not so much on the north side of town. So, for obvious reasons, I spent more time looking at the surroundings than I did watching the pavement in front of me.
That wasnâ€™t the problem â€¦ and neither was the visit to the park. Despite an uneven surface for a driveway, the park was easy enough to maneuver my car through. I drove back a good distance before I started to get that creepy feeling â€¦ the one a single woman gets when sheâ€™s out in the middle of a strange, abandoned area with nothing but tall grass, trees and solitude. Yeah, that tends to freak me out a bit.
So, I turned my car around and headed back toward the main road.
Then, looking at the county map strewn across my passenger seat, something caught my eye – a designated Bluebird Prairie not too far away. Certainly, a visit could be justified as â€œon the way back to the office.â€
I turned south on County Road 13, then took a left onto 220th Street, drove up a hill and down a hill and â€¦ oh, would you look at that! Thereâ€™s water on both sides of the road – and ducks, pretty mallards, in fact.
I was so busy enjoying the scenery (and looking for some sign declaring a bluebird prairie) that I wasnâ€™t aware of the quickly changing road conditions before me. By the time I hit the sloppy gravel it was too late – there was no turning back.
Little did I know it would get worse â€¦ much worse!
The road suddenly seemed to turn into one of those minimum maintenance varieties – rutted by some adventurous truck driver, no doubt – and I began to panic.
My palms began to sweat, my heart began to pound and the voice inside my head wouldnâ€™t shut up: â€œBoy, youâ€™re stupid â€¦ Please, please donâ€™t get stuck â€¦ At least you have a cell phone â€¦ How are you going to explain this to the boss? â€¦ Whatâ€™s Dad going to say â€¦ and, finally â€¦ how the heck is anyone going to find me out here in the middle of nowhere!â€
Believe me, the quest for the bluebird prairie was the furthest from my mind at this point. (Although I did discover Pheasant Run 13 and â€¦ drum roll please â€¦ the Nobles County landfill.)
Of course, by the time Iâ€™d reached the landfill, I was ready to get out of the car and kiss the ground – it was a nice gravel surface there. A quarter-of-a-mile before that, however, I was gripping the steering wheel and praying I wouldnâ€™t bottom out, slide into the ditch or just plain get stuck.
When my car finally hit payment, oh how the mud was flying – probably enough to fill a five-gallon bucket, Iâ€™m guessing.
By the time I pulled up in front of the Daily Globe, my hands were still a bit shaky, but my heart had stopped its pounding.
Then I stepped out of my car to survey the damage. All I could do was laugh – and make a mental note to go through the car wash after work. (I wouldnâ€™t have needed to make the mental note – it was fairly obvious when I returned to my once pretty Pontiac a few hours later that, yes, Iâ€™d experienced quite the afternoon adventure!)
I was still smiling proudly when I stepped into the newsroom – catching the attention of several of my coworkers. I gave them all a word of advice: Yeah, so those country roads out there, theyâ€™re not in very good condition â€¦ just take my word for it!