Carole and I had one moment of panic on the trip to Vermont. We were heading north from the south-central part of the state, dropping in on quaint general stores and finding foliage that was eye-rollingly fantastic.
That morning, on a whim, we had turned onto a backroad that lured us with a canopy of gold and orange and yellow leaves arching over the packed-dirt surface. It turned out to be a marvelous decision, as soon we were being escorted through incredible beauty, the kind of stuff that we had come to see. At one point, we stopped the car in the middle of the road (there were no other cars - period) and stepped out. Carole said something to the effect of, "Just listen to the silence." It was as though we had somehow been granted five minutes in heaven, and we struggled to soak in stimuli that our senses couldn't handle, at least not in heavy doses like this.
Later that afternoon, we chanced upon another backroad and decided that it was worth another go. This one was similar to the first...totally isolated and overflowing with color. There were places where the trees had shed enough leaves that we couldn't see the road. But our GPS kept assuring us that this was indeed a real road that would eventually deposit us back on our original state road.
Several miles into this foray, the road suddenly inclined upward and became more rugged. Also, there was a narrowing of the road as the trees crowded in. Then, we reached a place where there was a dip, and the lowering was filled with mud and water. We stopped and discussed the situation. Putting the rental car in reverse and backing down the road until we could turn around was not a good option. The road was too rough and twisty, and it would be a nail-biter to try and look over your shoulder for two or three miles of backward driving. But we had no clue as to what lay ahead...the road had been getting progressively worse, and despite what was on the GPS screen, it seemed to be dwindling down to nothing. So we prayed.
Getting stuck here would have problematic to the max. It was already mid-afternoon and would get dark soon. We were on a road with no name. We kept going in and out of cellphone coverage. The few houses we had seen weren't really houses - they were rusty trailers, surrounded by weeds, cars on blocks, and angry-looking dogs. And we were Republicans in state filled with Democrats and gay activists. After praying, we switched seats. Carole had been driving and I had been navigating and manning the camera. I hoped that our car had front-wheel drive and decided to forge ahead. We eased into the dip and the car started sliding sideways...but never quit going forward. Within 10 seconds or so, we were clear of the quagmire. But then, up ahead, lay an even larger swampy, muddy pig sty in the road.
By now the die was cast. Nothing to do but plow forward. Mimicking the first mudhole, the car began slip-sliding again, but determinedly pulled forward. Bingo! Cleared it. But how long could we keep this up? Well, we never found out. Just a few feet past swamp #2, there was a small opening on the right side of the road...just enough, perhaps, to turn the car around and begin the process of extricating ourselves from a bad decision. I pulled forward, then backed into the spare opening. If I went too far, the rear wheels would slip off a fairly steep edge and there really would be trouble. I slipped the car into "Drive", the wheels spun for just a split-second, and then we were moving forward and downhill and toward our escape. We still had to navigate through the two sluice-pits, and the car tried going sideways again in each of them, but we made it.
For some crazy reason, the foliage was even prettier on the way back down the road. And all the way, both of kept saying aloud, over and over, "God is good. God is sooo good!"