“Holy shit!” I said out loud as a green mini-van swerved back into its lane. It took a minute to catch my breath following the close call on I-35 along the edge of Duluth.
“Mother f…” I stopped myself. You’re fine, I said under my breath. I was startled, but realized how lucky I was to still be on the road.
I noticed that I needed gas as my heart rate slowed back to normal, so I pulled off at the next exit to fill up. As I headed back towards the interstate, I noticed the all-to-familiar orange construction signs blocking the ramp to get back on. I figured there had to be a detour so I stayed on the country road, assuming I’d hop back on 35 in the next town.
The next town passed in the blink of an eye with no access to the freeway, so I kept going, getting a little nervous as the road started to twist and turn through the countryside. I whipped out my iPhone to pull up a map and figure out where I was, but had no signal.
Awesome, I thought. I had already driven 14 miles south and really didn’t want to backtrack. Small towns peppered the two-lane highway, but there was no where to stop and ask for directions. I came to the end of the highway and had to either turn left or right. I sat at the stop sign, trying to decide what to do. My natural instinct was to turn left, because I had turned right off I-35, but the road had turned so many times, I had no idea what direction I was even going in anymore.
I glanced quickly to the right as I was about to turn left against my better judgement and noticed a small sign that said “Veterans Evergreen Memorial Scenic Highway.” So right I went. Within a couple of miles I found myself cruising through towering pines that blocked the sun, save the limited rays that made it through the cover. It made the world around me glisten. The highway twisted and turned, rolled up and down and crossed over rivers that were exceptionally high due to the recent historic rainfall. It was absolutely breathtaking, and for a while, I forgot that I was even lost.
An oncoming car snapped me “awake” and I realized again that I needed to know where I was. I pulled out my phone again and found a roaming signal. Slowly a map loaded and I learned that I had been cruising parallel with the freeway. Breathing a sigh of relief, I decided to keep rolling on this interesting road.
Forty miles later I could tell I was getting closer to the interstate. The towns were closer together with higher populations. I found myself wishing I had stopped to take photos before returning to civilization, however I had been so preoccupied in making sure I wasn’t inadvertently driving to Canada, that it hadn’t really crossed my mind.
I turned around a bend onto a small bridge and slammed on my brakes as I coasted into the shoulder. I grabbed my camera and with adrenaline running from the risk of getting nailed by a car, I got off a few shots without checking the settings first. A car going the opposite direction pulled up slowly on the shoulder opposite of me. It was a sheriff.
“Everything ok?” he asked me as I held my camera behind my back.
“Yes sir,” I replied, slipping back into the driver’s seat of my car. I snapped my belt back on, signaled and eased back onto the highway. My heart was racing, wondering if he was going to whip around and pull me over. What law could I possibly have been breaking?
Before I could worry about it any further, the ramp onto the freeway presented itself and I quickly made my way back onto the express route home to the city.
The rest of the drive home, I thought about the detour I had taken. The rough and scary beginning, the search for the correct path, the beautiful revelations along the way, the potential roadblock and eventually the safe passage home. I thought about the parallels to my own life and it made me feel a little better about the “road” I’ve been on.
Getting lost last night felt almost organic. Like it was supposed to happen. Perhaps I think too deeply about things, but I think there are insights to life all around us in some of the most unexpected places. You just have to be open to seeing it.
So go on then. Get lost.