I Once Was Lost

And no, I’m not singing that verse from Amazing Grace, one of the most beautiful gospel songs ever written either. Rather, it’s been a while since I wrote from a Sunday Scribblings prompt and when I saw the topic of the day – lost – I just had to write about my tale of the time I was lost driving home from Raleigh to Massachusetts in the summer of 2005. It was my worst driving experience EVER!

I had only recently moved to Raleigh after the 2004-2005 school year. Being a teacher at the time and having the summers off, I always loved to travel as much as possible and this particular summer was no different. However, this particular summer I decided I would make a lone trek from my new home in Raleigh back to my home state of Massachusetts to visit family and friends a week earlier than my husband. I thought, “It’s a long drive but it can’t be THAT hard, right?” Wrong.

I should’ve turned around when a half-hour into the trip I started to feel the nerves take over my insides. That should’ve been my first clue but I continued on anyway figuring that the nerves would eventually subside. I popped some Carrie Underwood, a bit of Kenny Chesney, and newcomers that year, Little Big Town into my CD player. I was in my groove and soon the drive from Raleigh to DC whizzed by. As a matter of fact, I was feeling pretty good! And that’s when everything went wrong.

Prior to my trip, I had mapped out the various routes I could take in case of traffic, weather, or if I just wanted a scenic alternative. The most obvious route was I-95 all the way to Connecticut and then 91 north to 84 east into Massachusetts. That’s the straight shot that would’ve taken me home in a reasonable amount of time but I absoutely despise driving 95. It’s a boring ride and it always bottlenecks an hour outside of DC through to the Delaware bridge (or at least it seems that way) and I equally despise traffic. “Stop and go…stop and go” is not my favorite way to get somewhere.

I was entering DC and because it was such a beautiful day, I decided I would take I-95 to Baltimore, then jump on the I-695 loop to I-83 straight to Harrisburg PA, pick up I-81 to Scranton and jump on I-84 all the way to Massachusetts. That ride is so beautiful, especially when you drive through the mountains of Pennsylvania. It was a good plan, but one that didn’t quite go the way I thought it would.

So, I’m on DC’s 95/495 corridor just chugging along, tapping to the radio, enjoying the view over the Potomac River bridge. It’s a pretty smooth ride; hardly any traffic but just about 1 mile after crossing over the Potomac, a deer begins to cross my side of the highway. He makes it with no problem and I have passed at which point he would’ve entered my lane. But, then I look back. He crosses one lane. Then another. It’s looking pretty good for him. He makes it through the third southbound lane and I’m thinking he’s almost there. Then… BAM! A vehicle hits him just as he’s nearly across the fourth lane.

“Ok, what do I do now? Where do I go from here?”

Of course, I’m watching this through my rearview mirror and completely horrified. So much so that I’ve lost all directional sense I had. Before I know it, I’m going completely around I-495 and missing my exit to continue on I-95 north. I could’ve just turned around but I figured I had planned for an alternate route and I must be getting close to I-83. Think about what that means. I thought I was close to I-83……in Baltimore when in reality I was still on I-495 in DC!
My mind is now racing, “Ok, what do I do now? Where do I go from here?” Panic has now set in so while driving I’m reading my map and I see that I could get off onto I-270 which becomes I-70 which then takes me to I-81. Sounds simple, right? Nah-uh.

But I follow it anyway. When I get to the end of I-270, there isn’t a sign clearly leading me to I-70 but I think I’m following the right path so I continue. I end up smack dab on the back roads of the mountains of northwestern Maryland. Quaint little towns but at this point, I’m not in the mood for quaint. I just want to go home! My mouth has already begun to taste like cotton, my stomach has turned inside out but I’m still hungry. Yet I feel like if I stop to eat anything I won’t be able to keep it down. I am completely in a state of utter panic and I’m in the middle of nowhere!

I pull to the side of the road in what appears to be a safe little mountain neighborhood. “Hi, Mom. Whatcha up to?” I ask after I’ve dialed her number at least twice before I got it right.

“Oh, Hi Lisa. Not much. Where are you?” Mom replies.

“Umm…I’m REALLY lost and I need you to help me figure out where to go,” I say.

What transpires for nearly an hour is my mother reading a map from her end and directing me by phone where to turn around, head back in the direction of which I came, jump on another route, which will in turn get me to State Highway 15 in northern Maryland straight into Pennyslvannia, eventually leading me into Harrisburg where I can pick up I-81. I follow her advice and once on 15, I feel like I have a better handle on where to go from there. I even stop at a busy gas station outside of Gettysburg, PA to fill up and grab some refreshments – bottles of water, ginger ale, and some pretzels. No lunch. I’m not ready for that yet.

Eventually, I make it into Harrisburg, pick up I-81 clear to Scranton. It’s dark by the time I get there but I-84 is pretty easy to find. It rains for most of the ride out of PA into New York and over the Hudson River but by this point while I have now been driving for nearly 13 hours already, I have only 3 more hours to go and I know how to “get there from here”.

I ended up making it to my mom’s home after 1am. What was supposed to have taken me at minimum 12 hours took 16. My detour through northwestern DC and Maryland and southern PA caused me to lose about four total hours of time. But, I made it. I drove all by myself from Raleigh to Massachusetts. I might’ve been tired and hungry when I got to my destination but I can say I did it! Now, have I ever done it again? Nope. Maybe someday I’ll try it again and this time, I plan to take I-95 all the way irregardless of traffic and weather. It won’t be scenic but at least I know that route like the back of my hand.

Lesson learned – I’m sticking to the routes I know unless I’m with someone else who can navigate the alternatives.


Lisa 🙂

6 Responses to “I Once Was Lost”
  1. Jeff B says:

    Holy Guacamole Batgirl!

    That was some trip. I’m tired and all I did was read about it.

  2. Jeff B says:

    Holy Guacamole Batgirl!

    That was some trip. I’m tired and all I did was read about it.

  3. Marguerite says:

    Glad you finally made it. Reminds me of a story I was going to write, but saved for another time. Great story!

  4. Marguerite says:

    Glad you finally made it. Reminds me of a story I was going to write, but saved for another time. Great story!

  5. Tumblewords: says:

    Wow! What a trip! Glad you made it…

  6. Tumblewords: says:

    Wow! What a trip! Glad you made it…

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